Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Christmas

I have had an amazing Christmas this year.

All of the kids have been home, and everyone has been in high spirits.  Not the most sociable of Christmases. but Armie's girl friend visited on Christmas Day and me had my mum over for Boxing Day dinner. Funny, but as my mum has got older she has become increasingly manipulative.  

My mum used to be the most selfless person ever, and still is when animals are involved, but with people she now likes to get her own way more and more.  So we had been planning our Boxing Day dinner when, at some point, she drops the comment that she has not had a good curry in a long time.

Not the most traditional of Boxing Day dinners, but it was rather good.  I made a really good curry with small chunks of beef in it - and the beef just melted in your mouth too.  It was a sort of korma, creamy, coconuty, and spicy enough to be delicious but not too hot.  This was served with home made naan breads and Mrs RC made some wonderful onion bhajis.  YUM!

This Christmas has also seen the return of my cooking mojo.  At some point I lost it, and have not wanted to cook for some time, but as Christmas got closer I felt something stir in me, and I have really enjoyed cooking again.  Mrs RC has also enjoyed letting me cook too!

Mrs RC has taken up crochet again, starting by making things for a local charity shop.  Having made some dinosaurs and reindeer and stuff for the shop, she decided to make a Yoshi for Number One Son.  This was done without a pattern...


Yes, she just made it up as she went, with no pattern of any sort to guide her!

As predicted, this Christmas was very Star Wars.  Not only was the new movie released and utterly wonderful, I got some new ships for my X-Wing Miniatures collection.

I knew I was getting these ones, including the big cockroach ship from The Empire Strikes Back:


But I actually got this lot!


They are getting an outing tomorrow, when 4 of us will be having a big battle at the local game store.  It is going to be spectacular!  I will try to remember to take photos...

Hope you all had a great Christmas!  I will be catching up soon.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Photo Post

I have been thinking that I have not taken many good photos this year.  On trawling through my files, I think I was wrong.  Here are a few of them.














Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Rolling into the holidays...

Only 2 and a bit days of work left now!


The Uni is open until 23 Dec, but I booked a few days off so I could finish on Friday.  Then Mrs RC announced that, due to the expected crush in the shops on Saturday, she was going to do hers on Friday!  That was not on!  She couldn't do that!  So I booked Friday off too, so we can go together.  Even if I only get to carry the bags, at least I will be there.


Then we will be ready.


Number One Son is home and settled in, much to everyone's relief.  Our daughter finishes work on Friday and Arnie finishes school then too.  Our daughter is really hyped for Christmas this year.  It is her first Christmas working, and she has been spending so much it makes my eyes water!  She even forced us to put up the decorations at the weekend, even though we all had colds and sniffles and would rather have just snuggled on the sofa and watched TV.  Still, it is all done now, thanks to her.


I guess this is going to go down in history as the biggest Star Wars Christmas ever?  The new movie will be huge, I know it.  They hype is now crushing, the nerds are bursting with excitement (OK I am in there too), and I am getting some new ships for my game.  The one I can't wait for is the Rebel Transporter.  Remember the ship that leads the escape from Hoth, the one that looks like a huge cockroach?  That is it.  It is going to be so much fun in games.  No guns or missiles, but it does have a bunch of nice abilities that just mess with the enemy.  And to just add to it all, between Christmas and New Year I am organising a big game at the local game store, which will feature as much of my collection as I can squeeze in.  Big ships, little ships, the Falcon being chased by Boba Fett, etc.  Ooooh yeah!  Going to be a real geekfest!


See you soon!  Hope you all have a great Christmas, but I am sure I will be back before then.

Monday, 7 December 2015

What are the odds?

The north of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland have been suffering the attentions of Storm Desmond, which has dumped a month's worth of rain in a day or so.


Number One Son's University is on the southern fringe of the area that has taken the most damage.  The city has escaped serious flooding, unlike some towns and cities further north, but they have lost their electricity.


On Sunday afternoon, the university announced that it was closing early for Christmas, everyone had to go home.  Easier said than done!  Number One Son relies on the train to bring him home for Christmas, and although they were offering free buses to where the trains were actually running we were doubtful that he would be able to complete his trip before the trains stopped running for the night, given the chaos that seemed to be reigning anywhere north of Liverpool.


I was about to ring my brother and ask if he fancied driving to Lancaster and back over night when a reply appeared on Facebook in reply to a forlorn message that I had posted.  I had asked if any of Number One Son's friends had electricity, and I got a sheepish "um, yes" from his best friend up there. 


Somehow, in a city that is in total darkness, (according to the news the city and its surroundings have 55,000 houses with no power) one house has power. 


Theirs.


So he trotted down and took refuge with them, and is staying there until the trains get running again, hopefully Wednesday or Thursday.


So, what are the odds?


I think it is our own little Christmas Miracle.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

The End is Nigh!

The end of term, that is!  Just over a week to go!


Then Number One Son will be back from Uni and Christmas can really get under way.  We are planning on a good family Christmas this year - lots of fun together, less of the expensive presents - the kids are having trouble thinking of things they need anyway, so it is coming to things like gym membership for Arnie the power-lifter.  Oh, I am suspicious about one present that is being bought.  I am sure it is for me and I think I know what it is.  If I am right I will be a very happy bunny  :-)


Talking of bunnies, ours are getting into a breakfast in bed routine!  When I go to feed them in the mornings they look out of the bedroom part of their house and wait for me to poke food through the bars for them - going down to the food bowl is obviously too much effort these days, bless them!  Of course, I am happy to oblige, they look so cute!


OK, time to nip out for lunch before I take a small class this afternoon.  It is generally grey out there these days, but reasonably warm - VERY warm for the time of year!  Trying not to get too used to it, it is going to be a real shock when (if) the snow arrives!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

December!

December is here, and the Spirit of Christmas is starting to stir in me.

I am wearing a Christmas t-shirt.

My DVD of "A Christmas Story" is close at hand.

I have bought a Christmas present (Secret Santa at work), and tried to buy another but failed, as it was sold out.  I will have to hit Amazon for that, I guess!

Spot is still living with us.  My mum is back at home, but not up to walking Spot just yet so he is living with us and visiting, which seems to work well.  Spot is enjoying having two homes at the moment, trying to stop the cats taking charge of my mum's house when he visits...

Work has changed a fair bit in recent months, as I have been relieved of my more mundane work and given more time to work on mapping exercises for students as well as some headroom to start probing some research interests.  All good stuff, but more taxing on the brain.  No more "oh I feel like doing something that doesn't need thought, I will update the registers".  No, my brain is engaged all day, which is good, very good, but it does mean that I am losing my grip on my Sci-fi novel, which is a shame.  I am hoping that I will adjust and be able to get back to it.  I was enjoying it.  The heroes have just "stolen" a battle cruiser and flown off to see what is really happening in the galaxy... I used quotes above because can the Galactic Emperor really steal a ship that belongs to his own navy?  If Obama decided to take Airforce 1 for a quick fly around would it be thought of as stealing?  Discuss  :-)

Monday, 16 November 2015

For now...

...enjoy this:


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Life, eh?

The weekend started off well enough - a great day on Saturday playing Star Wars games.  I came last (my fleet was designed for fun not winning) but had an amazing time doing it.


Then, on Sunday morning, it all went pear shaped.  My mum had a fall and broke her leg.  Into hospital, metal rod screwed in place by mid afternoon, all seemed as good as it could be.  With luck she would be home by next weekend.  Except now they are saying probably another week or two, as they don't think she is improving fast enough.  Really?  She has arthritis in both knees and now has a broken leg to recover from, how much do they expect from her?  We have got her dog, Spot (previously my dad's dog, they divorced years ago but stayed on reasonably good terms) living with us now and have offered to have her stay with us for a while too if necessary, so we will see.


Our dogs seem happy enough to have the visitor staying with us, although from time to time we do catch Frou Frou with a sort of "Is he STILL here?" expression on her face.  She is a funny little thing.  At least he seems to be distracting her from trying to bite the young fish through the fish tank's glass.  It is a wonder she hasn't chipped a tooth!


Ah well, more soon.  Have a good week!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Poor Neglected Blog...

Back for another visit to my poor, tumbleweed infested blog.


What has been happening in the world of RC?


Hm....


Flu. 


Yes, we have had a plague ravaging the house.  Mrs RC is in her third week of feeling bad, I am in my second week, thought I had shaken it but it is still lingering.


We had a parents evening at school for Arnie, our youngest.  Mrs RC usually goes, but as she was deep in the misery of flu I went along instead.  Nothing but praise for our guy (forgot the Proud Parent Warning, sorry!).  But he is doing a great job, getting his work done in good time, getting to the gym, having a social life.  He even took one of the teachers to task for being late giving out some homework because it messed with his timetable!


England seems to have a blanket of fog at the moment, there are some great photos showing just the tops of London's tallest buildings poking out of it, eg...


It is pretty think, often dropping visibility to about 50 yards, which makes the roads a bit dicey at times!

Had a good ride in the fog on Sunday.  I had been planning a day with lots of rest, but early on the light tube in the main bathroom died, so I decided to go for a stroll down to the local hardware shop to buy a replacement.  I ambled down there only to find they were out of stock, so I ambled back home again.

The next nearest hardware store is about 2 miles away, or 3 if you take the meandering lanes which are much safer in the fog.  So I jumped on my bike, peddled over (following the lanes for safety), bought the tube and peddled back again.

As soon as I took the tube out of the box I knew it wasn't right.  They are not supposed to rattle!

So back to the shop, along the lanes again, grabbing a replacement that did not rattle (4th time lucky!), and then home again.

This one did keep me hanging for a couple of minutes before it actually came on, but it did work in the end.

By this time it was mid afternoon, and Mrs RC was just putting a huge roast dinner on the table, so all was well in the end.  And no one had to have a bath in the dark that night...

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Seeing Doves in a New Light

I have spoken about doves a fair bit this year.

It started with the dumb pair who were trying to nest in a ridiculous place.


Then I got to thinking that doves are just the natural victims of the bird world.  I see them bullying each other, but I also see them being bullied by every other bird that comes along.  They just don't seem to have any fight in them.

But that view changed today.

As I was leaving for work, I looked up at the nest that is on our house, with its third pair of babies.  Yes, the dumb doves certainly know how to reproduce now they have a good place to do it!  The mother had just hopped from the next to the roof, possibly on her way to find breakfast, possibly because she sensed that something was wrong.

There on the roof was a magpie - notorious eaters of other people's babies.

The magpie hopped closer to the dove.

The dove lifted off, then dived at the magpie, attacking with all the ferocity of a mother defending her babies.

The magpie retreated, looking shocked, but this retreat was clearly not enough, and the psychotic dove dived on it again, forcing the magpie to flee!

Yeah.

Look at the photo above again with admiration, she is a real tough cookie!


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Good stuff

I guess it had to happen - Country music is getting bigger and bigger over here, and sooner or later some Brits would have to try their hand.

I think these two do a pretty good job, watch out for them!


Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Long Haul

Took Number One Son back to Uni on Sunday, a round trip of a little over 600 miles.  My butt is still recovering from sitting down for so long...


The traffic going up was pretty good, except for one incident.  We were rolling along merrily, over half way there.  All I did was say how good the traffic was being.


I caught the look from by brother who was driving.


Then I realised that there was no traffic coming the other way.  Not a good sign.  Within seconds our side of the road had ground to a halt, and then crawled for a couple of miles.  We then reached the crash site, which had just been cleared, and everything moved off as normal again.  The blockage on our side seemed to be solely caused by people "rubber-necking"!


The Uni was reasonably quiet when we arrived.  The Saturday had been the big arrival day, so we dodged a bullet there!  My son is back in the same room as last year, which was rather nice for him.  We quickly unloaded, then headed to get some lunch at a pub that we are starting to feel like regulars at.  Then is was time to say goodbye and head southwards for home.  The return traffic was rather less pleasant, but not the worst we have experienced, but we passed the time in the usual way with a constant stream of chatter about everything from Syria to queuing in shops.


I had the foresight to book Monday as holiday, so I had a bit of a laying, then Mrs RC and I went out for breakfast that had become lunch by the time we arrived.  Having eaten we then did a bit of shopping before heading home for a fairly lazy afternoon and evening! 


I totally slept through the red moon thing that happened, it was at its best over here between 3am and dawn, which is not a time that I tend to be awake.  Never mind, my camera is not great for that sort of shot anyway...


Hope you are having a great week!  More soon.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Critters


Life seems to revolve around animals at the moment.

The baby fish are growing rapidly, and are now clearly fish, even if you can see through them.



 Finally got a photo or 2 of Mr Chuffington.  I had to dig him out of his bed so we could move everything around in the rabbit/hedgehog area.  He was not happy but refrained from hissing at me.



The bugs are having a final harvest as the flowers reach their end and autumn moves in.



I got up early this morning and walked the dogs.  Not my favourite way of spending Sunday mornings, but I did find this little dew covered guy whose web was sporting a rainbow.  I love this pic, one of the best I have ever taken, IMO.


So, the weekend drifts to an end and work awaits again on Monday.  It is Freshers Week, so mayhem awaits...

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Remember me?

Wow, is it really that long since I posted last?


Been ridiculously busy, work has been insane but I am coming out of it all smelling of roses, which is nice!


Anything worth mentioning?


Um.


Oh, the baby fish are continuing to grow and thrive, although at amazingly varied rates.  Some don't seem to have grown much at all, still looking like little tadpoles, but others have grown into real fish, about half an inch long now, with fins, tails and everything.  I will try to get some more photos soon.


Arnie, our younger son, is back at school again working on his A Levels which he will finish when he is 18 and ready for Uni.  Seems to be enjoying it, a lot of his friends are doing the same thing, plus there are a few more that have moved across from other schools.  He has already met up with someone that he went to junior school with but they then went to different schools when they turned 11.  Also he does not have to wear school uniform any more, which he likes.  No more blazers with school badges!  He is a grown up!


My bike was getting a bit creaky and rattly (??) so I decided something needed to be done.  I love that bike and did not want to replace it, so I paid for it to be completely stripped down and rebuilt.  It was not as expensive as I had expected it to be and the result is fantastic - like riding a brand new bike, except it is my old faithful.  Think it might need some new pedals in the near future, though...


So, that is about it right now, more soon, I hope!  Time to catch up on reading blogs too!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Babies

The RC garden has been very productive this year.  In addition to the masses of baby birds (mainly Sparrows and Starlings, but also Dunnocks, a Magpie and various others) that seem to live entirely off of our bird tables, we have the doves that have nested in Mrs RC's home made nest.


This is the second pair of babies that this pair have produced.  We just hope that they are more intelligent than their parents...


We also have a mass of baby goldfish.  These have been separated from the big fish.  Some are in a pond outside, while a small group has been moved indoors for closer monitoring.


|You can see the reflections on the surface of the water.


We are trying to keep both lots safe from predators and things that might compete with them for food, but otherwise we are letting nature take its course.  No chemicals, no culling of those that do not meet certain criteria for shape, colour, etc.  This is Mrs RC's project, but it is fascinating, and we often find that, while watching TV in the evenings we keep looking at the tank to see what our little friends are up to.  The other evening we had a lot of interruptions when mosquito larvae were spotted and had to be removed - Mrs RC is getting good at catching them with long tweezers, snatching them out of the water before they know what is happening.

She is now getting ideas about breeding other things - notably Custard, our Labrador who is now approaching 10 years of age...


Do you think the world needs more Custard?


Saturday, 22 August 2015

Summer Part 3

So my 2 weeks off work draws to an end.  It has been a great time, although generally busier than I had expected.  Plenty of family time, a bit of game time playing with my latest Star Wars space ships (this lot being bounty hunters and mercenaries) and also a bit more work on the Flying V bass guitar that I have been fiddling with for the last couple of years, on and off.

Here are a few of the highlights of the last couple of weeks.

My birthday!  Had a really nice day, with some great presents, including a case of Maltese beer that my daughter had ordered for me.

Camping. 


The weather was rubbish, starting as drizzle and building to a huge thunder storm on our last day.


Custard thought it was the best holiday ever, though, as he had been feeling the heat of the previous week or so.  For him, sitting and laying on the damp grass in the drizzle was heaven.  Frou Frou did not enjoy it, though, being much more of a town mouse. She spent a lot of time in bed or being cuddled.

Despite the weather, we all had a great time, often drinking cider and playing card and board games.  Lots of fun and laughter to be had.

The Air Show.

video

In contrast to many things that our town fails at, this year's air show was amazing.  I was filming blind most of the time, just pointing the camera and hoping to catch something.  I hope it conveys some of the excitement.  Here are a few photos that I took:

The Red Arrows



A seal that came to see what the fuss was about.  These are a rare site here.


Some geek enjoying a beer during a break.


Replica World War 1 planes.



A display team using home made planes.


The woman in this plane made lots of hearts stop...


The last Vulcan bomber.


Eurojet Fighter.  This was incredibly loud.  When the afterburners kicked in it felt like someone was thumping you in the chest.


(Just saw on the news that there has been a fatal crash at another air show, with a jet crashing onto a busy road, killing several people.  The second that I know of this year in England.  As you will probably have worked out, I got a great view of this show, on a long jetty that runs into the sea, where the planes were performing.  At the time, I joked with another spectator that although we had a great view, if anything went wrong we would be toast.  It seemed like a joke at the time, but is a bit too close to the truth now.)



Our younger daughter is learning to drive.  Mrs RC and I do not drive, so we were expecting our kids to have trouble learning to drive, but she is doing great and loving it.  As some have said, she has not watched us driving badly so is starting from a clean sheet, probably making it easier for her to learn to do it properly.

Finally, our younger son has just got the results of his exams (he is 16).  I had to be restrained on FB, but here I will totally brag that he got the best results in the entire school.  Proud?  You bet!  He drove some of his teachers a bit nuts because he does not stress about his work and does not seem to try very hard either.  He just knows what works for him.  And he is, of course, very very clever!

We had a meal out today to celebrate and he is now spending the afternoon at the beach with this friends.  A great kid.

PS a load of the fish eggs hatched. We now have several hundred babies, some in a tank indoors, some in a small pond in the garden, so the big fish will not eat them.  They are growing, but still tiny, have not managed to get any good pics yet.  More on these as they develop.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Summer Part 2

So, the rest of the summer hols kick in tonight. 


Off for 2 weeks! 


Woo hoo!


We will be taking in the usual spot of camping at our usual place.   We are nothing if not predictable, but we really love going back to the same site and village each year, it is like having a holiday home on the cheap.


The rest of the time will be around our home town, a few days out, a few lunch dates for Mrs RC and myself, a few dog walks together etc.  Oh, my birthday also falls in this break (totally planned, working on my birthday is gains my religion).


Oh, before I go, more animal related news.  You might remember our fish, Lonesome George, Toffee Penny and Nemo?  Well Nemo and Toffee Penny have started to lay eggs and it looks like George is actually a male and is doing what comes naturally is such a situation.  Mrs RC has collected some of the eggs to see if they hatch.  Any that hatch in the pond are likely to get eaten, so we might end up with a second pond for a while....


I will be dropping in here from time to time, hopefully posting a few photos.  In the mean time, have a great summer!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Animals

A while back, Mrs RC made a nest box for a pair of doves that were extremely bad at nest building.
The box worked, the doves moved in and here are the babies they had!


The adults have now rebuilt the nest and seem intent on having more babies before the summer ends...


When we found this in the garden I thought it was some sort of snake at first.  Turns out to be the caterpillar of a Giant Hawk Moth.



Having looked it up we decided that my mum has the ideal plants in her garden both for the caterpillar and the moth when it hatches.  We wish him well!


Bees and butterflies also seem to like our garden.





 On my ride to work this morning I passed this.  The road is supposed to be closed for repairs, but at least one vehicle came this way last night.


There are a lot of people who just will not get rid of their junk properly and just dump it.  Some call them animals, but I don't think that this term is at all appropriate, do you?


Monday, 3 August 2015

Summer Part 1

Back to things after a week's break, mainly at home.


Not a very restful week, but still great fun, including going to a niece's wedding in the village that Mrs RC grew up in.  We had a family stroll through the village while being regaled with childhood memories, including admiring the tight bend on the road where Mrs RC's mum once fell out of the car and had to run along the road to catch up.


On Friday, Mrs RC and I also snuck out for a meal together, just the two of us.  A problem with the rabbits (two of them have started fighting each other, so have had to be separated) meant that we could not go far, so we headed to the sea front, wandered along hand in hand until we found the place that we wanted and then grabbed a table.


We had a drink each and a plate of ribs and stuff each and just sat and chatted about whatever subject came to us.  It was really nice.  We love having our kids around, and family meals are a big thing for us, but just sneaking in the odd few hours with just the two of us is very relaxing and good for us.  I guess that, as the kids grow older we will be getting more time like this, so why not get in some practice  :-)


Oh, one more thing before I go.  The council have given me an early birthday present.  Most of the road between home and work is closed for pot hole repairs.  I continue to use it, of course, so this week is going to be great for cycling.  After that I am on holiday for another 2 weeks, including a spot of camping and my birthday.  In addition the good weather seems to have returned, so everything is looking rosy right now!


Back soon with photos of the latest creepy-crawly to appear in our garden...



Monday, 20 July 2015

Another Proud Parent Moment...

On Sunday, we took our youngest (Arnie the power lifter) to his second competition.


He was not sure how he would get on, as the last couple of weeks had seen his sleep, exercise and diet regimes all somewhat out of whack.


On the train there he was red-eyed and dozing.


On arrival he was greeted enthusiastically, given a quick tour, some forms to fill in and weighed.  He came in a good few pounds under his category boundary, which made him happy.


Then Mrs RC and I found seats to watch while Arnie went to get warmed up.


They did two events. 


Bench-press, where you lie on your back, lower the weight bar to your chest and then push it back up again.  He managed 102.5kg (225.5 pounds).  This was the same as he did at his last competition back in Feb.


Then it was the Deadlift, where you grab the weight bar and then stand up straight.  Last time he lifted 202.5kg (445.5 pounds).  This time I thought he would try 205kg, but Mrs RC said he was hoping to lift 210kg (462 pounds).  Instead he went for 212.5kg (467.5 pounds, 2.5 times his own weight), the most he has ever lifted.  He has not even done that it training! 


And he did it - just!  I am sure that the cheering, screaming girls at the back had a lot to do with it...


He beat everyone close to his own age, and a lot of the older lifters too!  (The best lift by anyone all day was 270kg (594 pounds) by a guy in his mid 20s.)


So he now has his sights set on a regional competition in November.  He is aiming high for this one, looking to Deadlift 227.5kg (500.5 pounds).  500 pounds is a very symbolic number, I think.


Are we proud?


Is The Pope Catholic?

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Random Photos


While out walking the dogs the other day, I stopped to take a pic of some of the grasses that have turned to some wonderful colours, only to find the even more wonderful spider getting into the shot!  A spider with camo is new to me!


This gull is now a fairly regular visitor to our front garden.  He is a tight fit onto this feeding table, but he seems to think it is worth the effort.


Another friend I made while walking the dogs.


Mrs RC has been hard at work in the garden.  This is a sheltered seating area for two that my mum has adopted for her and Spot.  In this pic she is sharing some sausages between the dogs.


Frou Frou on the bridge over our pond.



A vapourer moth caterpillar that has made its home in one of our plants.  An amazing looking thing, I am sure you will agree!  I was a bit worried by it but a friend of mine on Facebook told me what it is.


Finally, an example of the silliness that we get around here when it comes to cycle routes.  This insane arrangement saves the cyclist about 100 yards, but sends them into the face of oncoming traffic, with cars cutting across at 2 points in this short stretch. (It all looks quiet in the photo, but when it gets busy it can be very unpleasant.)

And, of course, this is just a tiny,isolated bit of cycle track, the orange bit is all there is.  I guess it is enough for the council to tick a box somewhere.  Needless to say, I will not be using this, I will go the extra 100 yards and stay safe...