Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hardly any days left!


Christmas is now hurtling at us like a freight train, but I think we are nearly ready - except for the last of the food!

Cards are sent, presents, except for a few stocking fillers, are bought and around half of them wrapped. Yep, we are getting there!

Food wise, we are switching back to a routine that we had a few years back.

On Christmas Eve we do a large gammon and eat this with cheese, rice and fresh home made rolls. This is something that we all enjoy - quite an achievement in our house!

On Christmas Day we do not have a set meal, but allow everyone to eat tons of biscuits, chocolate, etc, and then cook a series of savoury things throughout the day to be eaten as a buffet. We find that this works well as it means that we are not telling the kids to leave the goodies alone all day, not dishing up a huge meal when no one is actually hungry and finally not slaving in the kitchen when there is fun to be had elsewhere!

Boxing Day sees the big dinner, but instead of the massive ostrich sized turkey that we often feel obliged to buy we are either having a variety of other meat - beef, pork and duck - or an alternative that the kids like the sound of is to cook a batch of small chickens and have one each! We will see how it turns out!

Most of all we are hoping that the holiday will give us time to relax and get ourselves sorted out physically and emotionally to take on 2008 - who knows what that will have in store for us?

This might be my last post of the year - if it is I wish you a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic New Year. May all your wishes, dreams and prayers come true in 2008.

Love and hugs (if appropriate)

Rock Chef

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Thinking of S-E-X as a running race...

Guys, picture this.

You are at the race track, all geared up in your shorts, shirt and spikes ready for a race. You persuade a lovely female runner to race with you. She agrees and off you go, pelting down the track as fast as your legs can carry you. You hurtle around the track and complete the lap just as she finishes getting organised on the starting blocks. She is ready to go and you are just not ready to go round again - not JUST yet anyway!

Do this too often and no one will want to race you, will they?

Familiar? I hope not, but if it is, read on.


Here are a few hints that will make running with you more appealing:
  • Do not try to "win" the race.
  • Give the other runner a head start - warm up on the start line for a while so she can at least get going before you set off after her. Letting her complete a couple of laps first will make her much more likely to want to race you again.
  • When you finally do set off, don't sprint, pace yourself. Soldiers often use a mix of jogging and fast walking to allow them to cover very long distances without tiring...
  • Remember that you will probably only get to do one lap without a good rest, so try to make sure that you both cross the finish line at the same time.
  • You may find that, after all this the other runner is all fired up for another lap or two. Do what you can to make sure she succeeds. Again, this will make her more likely to want to race you again.

That is all for today.

Happy racing everyone!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Another odd dream...

Well, Saturday saw the final of the UK X-Factor competition - a show where they try to find a new pop superstar, or at least someone that will guarantee Simon Cowell the Christmas Number 1 slot!



The final three were a very strange Welshman (in white), a young Scot who was good at singing like Frank Sanatra (in black) and a brother-sister act (called Same Difference) who were like High School Musical meets Donny and Marie meeting happy pills (oh come on, you really need to be told which ones they are?). Of the three they were by far the most entertaining, but they came 3rd. My kids were incensed. The show is about pop music and these two were about as pop music as it comes, but no, the Scottish crooner won.


We watched something else, I finished my bottle of wine, had a bath and headed for bed.


I then had the same dream 3 times in a row!


I had won the lottery (a rollover, so it was a big one) and had asked the kids what they really wanted for Christmas. The unanimous decision was that they wanted Same Difference to be number 1 for Christmas, so I had arranged and paid for them to release a CD!


3 times I dreamed that!


On Sunday morning, I checked my numbers and found that - I hadn't won a penny, so it was, as they say, just a dream. Oh well.

Friday, December 14, 2007

It doesn't get much better than this...

Here I sit, doing light, untaxing work, with a slice of Christmas cake and a bottle of Coke nearby, and "A Christmas Story" playing on a computer. Check out Terri's post on this movie!

Life is good.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Stuff

Well Christmas is well and truly on its way - the weather has snapped to beautifully clear skies, no wind and very low temperatures. Frost was forming as I walked the dog at 7.30pm yesterday and feathery strands of freezing fog floated in the air. I felt like Shaggy with Scooby-Doo!

Last night was also the High School Prize Giving ceremony and my oldest son won his year prize for computing and also the "Best in Year" award. It was so good to see him going up onto the stage to get his prizes, [end of proud parent's rambling on].

Now that we have money again, I was able to spend lunch dashing around grabbing some presents, somehow managing to find everything I was looking for and get something to eat into the bargain!

Hey, things must really be looking up - I have actually managed to write some cards (well 3 actually) too! Amazing! Now I just have to knuckle down and do the rest!

Not long left now: http://www.auburn.edu/~vestmon/xmas_cnt.htm

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Santa Claus IS coming to town...

Well, now that the crisis is over, I think I can talk about it. This was the final straw last week when I wrote about the world crapping on my head...


We were contacted by the Taxman - we owe him a ton of money and can we pay it back?


No we don't owe him any money and no, we couldn't pay that back right now even if we wanted to! He then agreed that it was a mistake, in fact he owes US money! He will try to sort it out as soon as possible.


Well, after a week with no money (their original mistake caused a total screw up with the bank) they have finally sorted it out - we have money, we can afford Christmas, Santa IS coming to town!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Santa Pooh's Grotto

I finally got started on the Christmas decorations. The main focus was setting up my older daughter's Winnie the Pooh tree in our front porch. My daughter was a Pooh fanatic, even when she was ill in hospital, at the age of 17, her Pooh Bear blankets, pajamas, hair bands, etc, were her trade mark with the nurses.



We only blocked this in during the summer so it is the first time we have decorated it.

The final addition was her biggest Pooh wearing my old Santa outfit:



Pooh Bear's Grotto is complete. My wife has done the living room. I still have to finish the hall and diningroom...

Friday, December 07, 2007

An evening stroll with the dog

Last night I took Custard out for rather longer than usual.

To start with I had to pop to my Mom's house to collect the food for her pony - she had a fall the other day and has not been able to get out since, so I have been feeding per pony, Humphrey, each morning on my way to work.

While there, Custard had is first encounter with cats inside a house. He put up his hackles, bouced around and woofed, but they just looked down their noses at him and snuggled deeper into the chairs.

After leaving mom's house I headed for the beach. It was a very nice evening, the wind had dropped,the sky was clear with lots of stars, and the beach was not far away. It was a wonderful view - to the East was the main seafront of the town with its amusement arcades, leisure centre, clock tower, etc all lit up like, well like a British seaside town, I guess! To the North, out in the Thames estuary were white lights indicating where the ships were and red light announcing the off shore wind farm that we have got. Finally, to the West I could see the lights of other towns - Whitstable, The Isle of Sheppey and the distant glow in the sky that marked Chatham and Rochester. We strolled along the prom for a mile or so, Custard enjoying the new smells, I having a nostalgia trip back to my youth when I would walk this path on a daily basis.

We reached a point that jutted into the sea, at which point a line of rocks ran out for a further few hundred yards. I could hear the water gurgling and swashing over them. Funny. As a kid, those rocks seemed so massive when we climbed on them, but they are actually only a couple of feet high! I guess everything seems huge when you are tiny!

Then we ambled back home, Custard draining his water bowl while I hunted for a cold beer.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The 3 bears................the real story

A far more accurate account of the events of that fateful morning.....


Baby bear goes downstairs, sits in his small chair at the table, and he looks into his small bowl. It is empty. "Who's been eating my porridge?" he squeaks.


Daddy Bear arrives at the big table and sits in his big chair. He looks into his big bowl and it is also empty. "Who's been eating my porridge?!?" he roars.


Mummy Bear puts her head through the serving hatch from the kitchen and yells, "For God's sake, how many times do we have to go through this with you idiots?


It was Mummy Bear who got up first.


It was Mummy Bear who woke everyone in the house.


It was Mummy Bear who made the coffee.


It was Mummy Bear who unloaded the dishwasher from last night and put everything away.


It was Mummy Bear who went out in the cold early morning air to fetch the newspaper and croissants.


It was Mummy Bear who set the damn table.


It was Mummy Bear who put the bloody cats out, cleaned the litter boxes, gave the cats their food, and refilled their water. And now that you've decided to drag your sorry bear-asses downstairs and grace Mummy Bear with your grumpy presence, listen carefully, because I'm only going to say this once.....................................................................









I HAVEN'T MADE THE F***ING PORRIDGE YET!!!

(Made me smile anyway!)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sport

Over the years that have been a range of scandals affecting sports of various types - steroid abuse and match/race fixing being the first to come to mind.

European soccer is currently under scrutiny for match fixing. Now I am not a fan of soccer and do not really care if the matches are fixed or not, but if things are going to be fixed they might as well do it in style! Let's look at what the next World Cup Final could look like...


Well, Bob, it looks like England are about to lose out to their old rivals, Germany.

Yes, Jerry, it is 1970 all over again, England just can't keep up with this German squ-

Hold on there, Bob, I don't believe what I am seeing here, but the Germans seem to have 6 balls on the pitch at the same time, the English don't have a chance now! The goalie just can't stop 6 balls at once.

Come on, where is the ref? He is being distracted by the German manager and his two sexy young girlfriends...

[Loud rock music starts]

Whoa! What's happening now? Bob, is this what I think it is?

Yes, Jerry, it is! The American team has come onto the pitch too and is helping out the English team! I haven't seen anything like this before! The Special Relationship really IS unshakable!

Oh no, Bob, I can't look! The German substitutes have now gone onto the pitch, and they hav got FOLDING CHAIRS!!!!!


There, now wouldn't that be much more fun?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...

This morning I was laying in bed, in that half asleep, half awake state, half listening to the early morning radio show that we use as our alarm.

Suddenly, my wife woke up with a start.

"Wha! Oh I just had a horrible dream!" She looked visibly shaken by whatever it was - perhaps the old "being eaten alive by rats" one?

I hugged her, telling her it was OK, just a dream.

"But it was horrible. The tree. You decorated my tree and it was horrible!"

Notice "my tree".

The she went on to describe how I had decorated the tree in her dream. As she talked about the details I mentally ticked off items - yes, yes, yes, ooh that's a good idea, yes, yes...

"So, if I did the tree even remotely like that it would be bad, would it?"

"Well, in my dream I was trying to work out now much I could change it each day without anyone else noticing until I could live with it".

In the discussion that followed we came to the conclusion that I might have to give up my claim on the living room and be happy with the porch and hall - the thought of me doing the tree has clearly traumatised my poor wife!

I will still endeavour to take pictures, though...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

How many children...

Going back to the subject of children, I always find it interesting to compare people's reactions to family sizes.

As our family grew the reactions changed:

One child: Ah, that's nice. Have you thought of having another one to keep her company?

Two children: Yes, we decided to have two, any more and we would have to buy a bigger house.

Three children: How do you manage? It must be mayhem in your house.

Four children: Are you Catholic? No? [Thinks: "Must just be insane then".]

The strange thing is, in our experience, the amount of effort involved in having more children did not increase in direct proportion to the numbers. The second only seemed to require about half as much additional work as the first, the third half that again until the fourth just seemed to fit in without any noticable change! Others have probably felt differently, perhaps two felt like MORE THAN twice as much work as one? I would be interested to hear views on this.

[Hm, do you think that will distract them from the Christmas decoration thing? Will they forget about the photos? If I keep quiet I might get away with it...]

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Decorations...

In our house we usually have 2 distinct types of decoration.

In the living room, my wife performs wonders of good taste - twinkling white lights, red ribbons, an angel here and there. It looks like something from a life-style magazine.

The hall and kitchen are usually where me and the kids are let loose. This is where the second tree groans under the weight of my older daughter's Winnie the Pooh decorations, where we have the singing Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore live, where the garish LED disco ball lights go, where the home made paper chains are hung, where the dozens of multicoloured mirror balls hang from the ceiling. In other words it is the absolute opposite of how our livingroom looks.

This year looks like being a bit different - it looks like I, that is ME will be let loose in the livingroom! Yes, the haven of good taste is going to be taken over by my crass, garish, wonderful decorating! The tree will not know what hit it! I have seen the amazing new tree docorations and stuff to string across the ceiling and - ooh I can't wait!

Hahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa!!!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!!!!!

Who knows, I might even post photos if you are really unlucky!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Infertility...

Recently I have kept thinking back to when my wife and I were first together. My wife had been married already and was undergoing infertility treatment, but the basic message from the experts was "forget it, you will never have children". Here are a few of my strongest memories from this time.

It seemed that everyone else was able to pop out babies at will. "We are thinking of having another baby - ooh look, I'm pregnant". [Plop] "Ah, it's a boy!"

It seemed that the vast majority of parents wished they did not have their kids. We would be bursting with rage - why have them if all you are going to do is shout at them and beat them while you are doing the shopping? We only wanted one and these people seemed to have about 10 each that they did not want!

There were times when we had to stop ourselves stealing babies! I remember going past a shop with a screaming baby in a pram outside and no one in sight looking after it. I know that stealing children is a terrible thing to do, but we were THAT close, believe me!

Oh, and the tests! My wife went through all sorts of horrible tests as they tried to find out what was wrong. It was awful. Meanwhile, there was only one test that I could do and that wasn't too bad, just terribly embarassing! Once they asked for a sample that was less than 15 minutes old and I live an hour away from the hospital... Eeeeeeeeewwwwww!

The worst thing was the way the clinics were arranged at the hospital. We would be sitting in the waiting room, usually for over an hour because the doctors were always running late. In the SAME waiting room would be the families with multiple births - hordes of twins and triplets! It felt like they were all sitting there shouting "In your face! We got 3 in one go!"

Well, somehow we managed to produce 4 kids, much to the dismay of the doctors who still maintained that it was not possible! I think it was a combination of luck, prayer and good old fashioned HARD WORK ;-)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Emus!

Kenady has kindly given me an AWARD:


I was really pleased to get this for a number of reasons.
Firstly it is good to know that people read and enjoy my blog.
SecondlyI love emus - they are such strange looking creatures with real attitude. If I had a big enough place I would have a pet one.
Finally, emus remind me of my childhood.

This is Rod Hull and Emu. I don't know how famous they are overseas, but any Brit who is older than around 25 will recognise them. At the peak of their fame they went on prime-time chat shows and repeatedly attacked the presenters - as a child it was amazing to see such pillars of the establishment as Michael Parkinson cringe in the face of a puppet:




before being physically assaulted:



Ah, they don't make TV like that anymore!

Now I have to give this award to someone else! Let's see:

Ali's blog is always one of the first I read each day, and is now compulsory reading as the Butterbean Countdown continues!

I always pay homage to the Princess of the Universe.

I also love reading Mindy Does Minneapolis, mainly because she continually fails to live up to the trashiness that she seems to promise!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Product Names

I have seen a lot of things over the years that discuss how a product name that is used successfully in one country has failed terribly in another country because the name already means something else in the new country. Examples of this are a drink whose name translated as "urine" or a car whose name translated as "small penis".

"Hey baby, you wanna see my car? I've got a small penis!"

No, doesn't work, does it?

Anyway, I was in one of the posher shops in town today when I was confronted by a huge display of these:



and their friends. Now I am not a coffee drinker and the smell of strong coffee makes me feel ill. So imagine my mirth when I read the name: GAGGIA.

Now where I come from, "gagging" is that feeling you get in your throat just before you vomit! What a great name! I wonder if they know that the name of their product suggests vomitting? Perhaps it is a marketing ploy aimed at models who are trying to fit into size 0 dresses?

Who can tell?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Strangeness

We were staying in a very large house with large, ornate gardens all around.


Suddenly there was a loud crash outside, so we all rushed to see what it was. There, right in the middle of what had been an ornate patio area was a large lump of some sort of rock. After a pause we decided that we had better have a go at clearing up the mess, but no matter what we did we could not move or break up the rock.


While we stood there thinking, someone appeared from the cellar with a bottle of something and poured it over the rock, which promptly began to melt in the way the expanded polystyrene does when you put the wrong glue on it. In a few moments all we had was a small puddle which we thought would soon evaporate.


Not so, it started to bubble and expand. Then it split and a man crawled out - a man who appeared to be made of shiny black stone. He then set to work lifting things out off the bubbling mass, statues of varying size - horses, trains, etc, which he proceeded to take into the house and arrange on shelves and in corners. We tried to stop him but he just pushed us aside and carried on.


Then Kirk Douglas came leaping over a wall, dressed as Spartacus. Sword in hand he attacked the man, but was unable to make any impression. Fearing that our hero would be injured, I rushed into the house, found a large sword that went with one of the suits of armour and went to help him. The sword did no damage but I was able to cause a diversion so everyone was at last able to get into the house and barricade the doors.


Then we sat down to decide what to do next. If it was a movie there would be a weakness that we could exploit to save the day. Looking at the bottle that the liquid had come from we found that it had contained some sort of bacteria. Ah ha! We had Anti-bacterial washing up liquid in the kitchen! A quick test on one of the statues that were in the house proved that this was the secret, so we all loaded water pistols, super soakers and squeezy bottles with washing up liquid and, following behind Spartacus, burst out of the house and destroyed the man that had come out of the foam.


Now was that a strange dream or what? The next night my dream involved nukes and Sean Connery!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Eight meme

Kiki kindly tagged me for this - here goes!

8 things I am passionate about:

  1. My family
  2. Playing my guitars
  3. Dogs
  4. Reading
  5. My work
  6. Cycling
  7. Food
  8. Um, "being married" if you get my drift...

8 things I often say:

  1. Quotes from The Simpsons
  2. Can I have a quesadilla with cheesy nachos and a Coke
  3. Did you HAVE to drive that close you *&%$!
  4. I am hungry
  5. Can I buy a new set of strings?
  6. Is it that late already?
  7. Where did the weekend go?
  8. Sorry I did not mean to turn it up THAT loud

8 books I have read recently:

  1. Bill Bryson, Down Under
  2. Stuff about the Black Prince and the Battle of Poitiers
  3. An alternative history about what might have happened if the Spanish Armada had succeeded in conquering England
  4. Stuff about the Polish army in the 17th Century
  5. Stuff about doing maps on computers, related to my work
  6. Something by Terry Pratchett
  7. The Penguin Dictionary of The Bible, with maps by me(!)
  8. Stuff about the Romans


8 things to do before I die:

  1. Play in a band again
  2. See my kids through to adulthood, hey maybe even see a grandchild!
  3. Take the coast to coast train journey across Canada, taking a few detours to visit people
  4. Write a book
  5. Write and publish a set of wargame rules
  6. Learn to play the piano
  7. Learn to play the drums
  8. Finish painting all of my toy soldiers


8 songs I could listen to over and over again:

  1. Strangers in the Darkness by Gary Moore
  2. Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd
  3. Stormy Monday by The Allman Brothers
  4. While My Guitar Gently Weeps, as played by Jeff Healey
  5. The song that Ray Charles sings in The Blues Brothers
  6. Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd
  7. Helleluyah I Love Her So, as played by Humble Pie
  8. The karaoki version of Ebony and Ivory from the movie Undercover Brother

8 things that attract me to my friends
  1. A sense of humour
  2. Intelligence
  3. Similar interests
  4. Can't think of anything else - I just tend to click with people or not!

8 things I have learned in the last year
  1. How great blogging is
  2. That Doctors can do whatever they like and not have to answer for it
  3. How much my wife loves me
  4. Lots of stuff about maps and computers
  5. How little we really know about what happened in the past - so much British history seems to have been made up by the Victorians
  6. Lots of new stuff on the guitar
  7. I have got one particular, really good friend that I met a couple of years ago. This year I realised that we actually met once over 25 years ago, had planned to meet up again but never did until recently.
  8. I love bagels
Phew, made it! Anyone else want to try this one? I won't tag anyone because I am nice ;-)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Little Guy...

My "Little Guy" is 9 now, and he is not so little, standing head and shoulders above most others in his class at school.

He is very into his "look" - skater boy hair, mainly orange and brown clothes, bead necklaces and wrist bands, skull and crossbones sweat bands. When he goes out he is a picture of carefully planned scruffiness.

He is also amazingly clever, doing a lot of school work 2 years ahead of the rest of his class, but he somehow remains Cool and is not a geek in any way. He was playing the Yu-Gi-Oh card game at the age of 5, and as a result learned how to do 4 digit mental arithmetic at that age. These card games can be VERY educational!

His name, Ira, is a nod to the Jewish blood that is in my family. Jews have a reputation, right or wrong, when it comes to money, and my Little Guy is VERY careful with his cash. He gets regular pocket money and always spends less than he gets, always on the hunt for a good bargain. He recently found that in Tesco he could get 2 large bottles of lemonade and 2 large bars of chocolate for around £1 - he admitted that it was not quite as nice as the expensive stuff but hey, at that price, he thought he was getting a good deal. His piggy bank currently holds around £80.

Of course, being a younger brother, his main aim in life is to drive Big Brother insane. For example a few weeks ago we were having a big fried breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage, etc. The Little Guy had a big slice of bacon that he kept pushing to one side as he ate, hinting that he might not have room for it. Big Brother was hooked, waiting eagerly for his chance to claim it. Eventually, Ira speared it with his fork, lifted it up and asked Big Brother if he wanted it. Eager nodding followed. Then, in one swift, perfectly timed move, Ira stuffed the bacon into his mouth and it was gone, accompanied by wails of anguish from Big Brother.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Little Miss...

My daughter has got this odd, yet very cute, little pose that she does, usually in response to praise from me. She holds here hands either side of her face and spreads out her fingers, so she looks like a flower. She will then say something in a little baby voice that just melts my heart, and she knows it.

Yesterday lunchtime everyone else had already grabbed something to eat and she decided that she wanted to cook herself something nice. She worked really hard at it, choosing ingredients, chopping things up, whisking eggs, etc and ended up with a Chinese omlette, with ham, garlic, onion, baby sweetcorn, etc, in it. The smell was amazing, especially when all I had eaten was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! I decided to try my luck.

"Mm, that smells amazing! It was so nice of you to cook it for me!"

"It's not for you, it's for me."

"No, I am sure I heard you say it was for me. Didn't you hear that mummy?"

"It's not for you, it's for me!"

"But you are such a sweet, kind, lovely girl-"

At this point she turned round, struck the pose I described above and said, in the baby voice:

"No I'm not!"

And sat down and ate the omlette.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mr Diplomatic

My children are, generally, very nice and polite children. However, as my older son moves into his teens he is becoming increasingly outspoken, as you would expect.

A recent incident, which took place at the local youth club, still makes me both cringe and laugh out loud.

My daughter was with a couple of her friends and things had become increasingly tense between these 2 friends, with my daughter stuck in the middle. Eventually it turned into a shouting and pushing match, with both girls hurling horrible insults at each other about ugly they were. Finally my son lost patience with them, and stepped between them, pushing them apart.

"Can you two stop it, please?"

Isn't that nice? I was so proud of him. Then he delivered the punchline:

"We know you have both got real facial problems, so can we just leave it there?"

Do you think he may have a future in politics? International diplomacy?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Smile, it's Hump Day!

I went into my usual place for lunch today, a Philadelphia Cheese Steak Sandwich - YUM! As I finished ordering the woman there asked how I was today.

"Oh, OK, I think. Things have been a bit difficult recently but we seem to be on the upward curve now."

"Well at least it is Hump Day" she says with a smile, "my husband and I like Hump Day."

I froze for a moment. My instant translation of "Hump" had been "having relations" and "being married" to use the phrases that a couple of you out there use. Was she telling me that tonight is THEIR NIGHT?! Now I know some couples settle into a sort of routine that fits with their lives, but surely you don't go telling people about it even if they have been regular customers for 3 years or more!

"Sorry?" was the best I could manage.

"Wednesday is Hump Day, didn't you know that?"

"No."

"Yep, once you are past Wednesday you are over the hump and the weekend is coming."

Gling! On came the light. Of course, it made sense now.

"Oh, I was thinking of a totally different meaning for 'hump'" came out before I could stop it.

Luckily she saw the funny side of it...

Monday, November 05, 2007

Guy Fawkes Night


Tonight is Guy Fawkes Night!

We don't have 4th July or Thanks Giving, but this is our big night for fireworks and jolly good it is too.

Guy Fawkes was a member of a gang of traitors who attempted to blow up the King and Parliament but was foiled at the last minute.

His fate was the usual for this sort of crime...

First off he was tortured - I mean REAL torture, the sort of torture that inspired men to smash their own heads in against their cell walls so they would not have to face it. This persuaded him to give the names of his accomplices.


Then he was executed. Again, we are talking nasty - he was hung, drawn and quartered.
Hung: not dropped so the neck broke for a quick death, but raised up so he choked, but did not die.
Drawn: the stomach was slit open and the insides slowly pulled out. If done properly the victim would remain conscious the whole time.
Quartered: finally, he was beheaded and dismembered.


Mel Gibson recreates this really well at the end of Braveheart...

Guy Fawkes night - the day we celebrate a time when the punishment really did fit the crime.
Have a good one!

Friday, November 02, 2007

The True Meaning of...

There has been a lot of talk over recent years about the increasing commercialisation of Christmas. It is all about the presents and parties, and not about the true intent of the festival. There is an easy explanation for this:

God: After careful thought I have decided that Christians around the world need a day when they can focus on the true meanings of Christianity, a time for love, peace and hope for the future. I will call it CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Satan: Hm, don't like the sound of that too much. I need something really BAD that will take their minds off of it all. I have got it, this is great, probably my best one ever! I will create CHRISTMAS SHOPPING!!!!!! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAA!!!!!!!!

In revenge, God seems to have more or less corrupted Halloween - gone are the nights of witchcraft and talking to the dead and in comes dressing up as rabbits, Wonderwoman and monkeys :-) This is, of course, all good fun but far from the night's origins don't you think?

So, next year I think we should return to the true meaning of Halloween. The evening could run something like this:
  • Dress up in suitable witch and devil costumes.
  • Gather with friends in a dark, damp cellar or disused church.
  • Commune with the dead using Ouija boards etc, possibly becoming possessed by an evil spirit or two.
  • Sacrifice a goat and drink its blood.
  • Move on to nearby graveyard and dance around it anti-clockwise, reciting The Lord's Prayer backwards.
  • Have an orgy in the graveyard.
  • Go home for drinks and nibbles.

What do you think? If Satan gets Halloween back, maybe God can have Christmas back!

(PS you might have noticed that this is not totally serious...)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cats

Thanks for the comments to my last rant - made me feel much better!

Do not worry about me - statistically a cyclist has to ride 14 million miles before it is his turn to die, so I have plenty of time to go ;-)

Anyway, I saw this today and thought it was very funny, so I thought I would share it. The person who made this clearly has the same view of cats as I do! Hope you like it!



Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why are people so DUMB???!



Today I intend to be very unreasonable and uncharitable about humans. Why? Because too many people are just plain DUMB and I am getting sick and tired of stupid idiots nearly killing me and/or generally bringing down the tone of the neighbourhood.


Case Number 1


I went into the local shop last night. I have mentioned it before, being run by a really nice family from Sri Lanka. They get a lot of racist c$%p thrown at them on a daily basis.


As I went in, some teenagers were coming out. They were not happy. The guy in the shop told me the story. They were clearly under 18 and wanted to buy cigarettes. To do this they had "borrowed" some ID. What they had been too dumb to work out was that the ID only indicated that they were 17! Dumb?


Case Number 2

Imagine the scene. You are driving along a narrow road - one so narrow, in fact, that passing cars often clip each other's mirrors (there are bits all along the road as proof of this!). You come up behind a cyclist. There is another car coming the other way. Do you:


  1. Wait until the car has passed you before overtaking the cyclist?

  2. Move to overtake the cyclist in the hope that the other car will stop to let you through? If they don't stop you still have the option of side-swiping the cyclist into the bushes.

  3. Slam your foot to the floor and try to get past the cyclist before the other car gets in the way.

OK, now I know that my readers are all intelligent, sensible people (why else would you be reading my blog?) so you will clearly choose option 1. However, in my experience, many people out there will choose options 2 or 3, and it is beginning to wear very thin. I have taken to venting my spleen at them, shouting and making gestures. Not that they care, of course, they probably go home and laugh about the nutty cyclist that they passed on the way home.


Ah well. Maybe I should have added a Bazooka to my Christmas list...


That would make them think twice!

Monday, October 29, 2007

What I want for Christmas

Following on from Logziella's Christmas Meme, here are my 3 top presents this year - not that I can actually afford them at the moment...I had a go on one of these the other day, and it is really nice. You can never have too many guitars. I could annoy the neighbours with my rendition of "A Fairytale of New York" or "I believe in Father Christmas", which are both coming along nicely...

It is always nice to have a few new toy soldiers for Christmas, and these are really rather tasty. You can never have too many toy soldiers...

I would love to get a little friend for Custard, and a Westie would be ideal - he gets on really well with them and they are great little characters. It was one of these that we were going to buy for my daughter's 18th birthday, so in a way I still think we are destined to own one at some point in the future.

So there you have the 3 presents that I would love to see under the Christmas tree this year. If you have not already done so, please share your Christmas list!

Friday, October 26, 2007

A movie about me, Meme

This sounded like a nice easy Meme to do!

A movie about my life called:

The Path of Least Resistance

This is generally how I have tried to live my life, going with the flow rather than battling to achieve - every time I have tried to battle things have gone very wrong for me!

I would be played by:

Once, when The Lord of the Rings was at the cimena a young boy pointed at me and said I was Aragorn! Who am I to argue with that? ;-)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Getting a new family dog

After losing a dog people often say that they will never get another one. Here is my story.

Many years ago, my mom and I were involved with rescuing dogs. We were terrible. We would take one in with full intentions of re-homing it, but then decide that we could not pass it on to someone else, so we would keep it. The peak was when we reached 21 dogs!

Then my mom got married again and moved to Scotland, taking most of the dogs with her. Some stayed behind with me. One of these was Sid, a small, black Welsh Collie cross. He was really cute and really smart . After a while it became clear that we could not keep him, so we re-homed him with someone that was also involved with animal rescue. Seemed the ideal solution.

Then we moved house, along the coast to the next town. A week or so after arriving there I was riding my motor bike (this was before I became a dedicated cyclist) through the town and saw Sid walking along, all alone. I stopped and called him. It was a meeting of old friends. The Police Station was nearby so I locked my bike and took him there to report that I had found him and was taking him home. I called at the house where I had re-homed him but there was no sign of the owner and no one contacted the Police about him.

So we kept him for the next 10 years, until he was taken seriously ill and we decided to part with him - he was old and we do not agree with putting them through unnecessary treatment. I took him to the vets in the town we had previously lived in (about 6 miles away) in a taxi, stayed with him while he was put down and then walked back home. It was late evening - I could have taken a taxi again, or the train or a bus most of the way, but at times like that I like to walk. Sid was the last of the 21 dogs that my mom and I had owned years before. At that point I decided I did not want another dog. And life seemed to agree - we became very busy, moving house again, and it just seemed impossible to make the time for a dog again.

Time passed. The kids started asking about getting a dog. My eldest daughter wanted a West Highland White, and we were planning to get her one for her 18th birthday, but fate decided that she would not live to see that day. However, the thought had been planted and we came to thinking that having a dog might do us good as a family, but I still had my reservations. Slowly but surely the hunt for a new dog began, in local rescue centres and in the ads for breeders. Eventually we ended up, one spring morning, in a farm yard looking at a Golden Labrador and her 2 remaining puppies, and it was only now that I felt that I was really ready for another dog, 5 years after we had lost Sid.

As you will know from reading previous posts, we bought Custard and have not regretted it for a single moment.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Welcome back my friends....

...to the show that never ends!
So glad you could attend
Come inside, come inside.

There behind the glass
Lays a real blade of grass
Be careful as you pass
Movin' on, movin' on.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer, some time last century


OK, so I am not as young as you are, but in my day it as all doom and gloom about the fate of The World. If it wasn't the Ruskies blowing us all to bits, it was over-population that was going to get us - see the movie Soylent Green for a great indication of how people thought the world was heading. Both of those have subsided (OK, Putin is getting a bit big for his boots, but compared to Soviet power in the 1970s he is a little kitten), giving way to international terrorism and Global Warming. Before The Cold War we had a real war (although I would also count Vietnam and Korea as real wars too), before that The Depression, and another big war...

Doesn't this sound a bit like life, huh? There is always something going on that you could do without - get rid of one problem and BAM! turn the corner and you walk slap into something else. Can't we just have a break, where nothing exciting is happening and we can just roll along in bliss?

My wife has a view on this - she thinks life like that would be dreadfully dull. Human nature being what it is we NEED something to fight against, at a personal and national level. It is what makes us human. Without this need we would still be sitting in caves going "Ug".

Friday, October 19, 2007

Not Responding

That is what my PC keeps telling me. Every time I ask it to do something slightly taxing, the window freezes and I get that little message...

I think my PC has decided that the weekend is here already and just wants to slack off for the rest of the afternoon.

I wonder what its plans are for the weekend?

Maybe it has a date with that new slutty PC from accounting - I hear rumour that everyone has full privileges with her...

Maybe it has got a party to go to where it can network with some of the big boys, looking for some good connections.

Maybe it is depressed because it knows that it will never be capable of running Vista and knows that retirement is fast approaching.

Maybe my PC is a pervert and likes to surf the net looking for pictures of RAM, hard drives and processors.

Maybe it is going to do an exchange with a PC from abroad? If my keyboard thinks it is in Japanese on Monday I will know why!

Who knows?

I just wish it would stop sending me that £$%& message!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Desktop

Terri tagged me for this meme, so here is what is on the desktop of the Mac that I use:


I also use a Windows machine but the desktop on that is locked to show a set university image, links and stuff, so I left that one alone.


As you can see, it is pretty messy, as I tend to put stuff there as I work and then have a tidy up when I run out of space.


The photo is of Custard, the day we got him, so here it is without all the junk on top:

If you want to do one of these and are not sure how to do it, all of the instructions are on Terri's blog - see above for the link. No point replicating it all here...

Monday, October 15, 2007

An Interview with Mother Nature

There has been a lot of talk about Global Warming in recent years - the world is warming up, the ice caps are melting, weather systems are changing, we are going to destroy THE WORLD.


All sorts of people have expressed their views, from raging hippies to politicians to owners of oil companies - each has his view, each puts his spin on what is going on. But so far, no one has asked the person at the centre of it all - Mother Nature.
So, in the interests of getting a wider view on events, I went out and found her....
Me: Hello, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Mother Nature: Yeah, whatever.
Me: The theory of Global Warming is causing a lot of discussion and concern amongst humans. Can you comment on the different views? Who is right?
Mother Nature: Well I get hot and cold flushes from time to time, but what woman doesn't?
Me: So it is not caused my Human action?
Mother Nature: Well those little rats get me a bit hot under the collar sometimes, but nah, most of the time I don't notice they are there.
Me: So Global Warming is not going to destroy you, then?
Mother Nature: Destroy me? Are you kidding? I like a bit of a suntan, don't you?
Me: Well yes, but there are theories that if the earth continues to warm up, life as we know it may be virtually wiped out...
Mother Nature: Oh, sure, you humans might have it a bit rough, but hey, you've had it coming to you haven't you? Besides, I like a change of outfit from time to time, you understand? I like a bit of variety. Maybe it's time for the insects to have a go at being in charge, what do you think? They like it hot.
Me: So that is it? Humans are out?
Mother Nature: Could be! Who knows what the next fashion could be? I've put up with you for 10,000 years! I've treated you pretty well, I think, given you more chances than you deserved but now you are starting to piss me off,so if you don't mind, I've got things to do...
So there you have it. Come in, Human Race, your time is up! Mother Nature, meanwhile, has plans for the future.

A warming winter breakfast

Autumn is definitely here, now, and the mornings and evenings are getting noticeably colder, hinting at Winter with all that has to offer, even in these days of Global Warming ;-)

Well I think I have discovered the perfect winter breakfast! Here goes!

Now we all know how wonderful porridge is - oats, milk, sugar.... Mmmmm.


Well while shopping on Sunday I discovered Carnation Caramel in a can - the sort of stuff you make Banoffee Pie with, but already done for you!

So I grabbed a can, intent on committing Banoffee-Pie-icide.

But this morning, when I got up and looked out at the fog, I decided I wanted something really good for breakfast. I went to the kitchen and got out my usual oats and milk. Then the fruit bowl caught my eye. Hm, bananas in my porridge, that would be good. Then I remembered the caramel. BANOFFEE PORRIDGE! Yes! YES! YES!!!!!! (See, guys can do it too!)

So there you have it - when that winter sets in and the snow is piling up, don't leave home without a belly full of Rock Chef's Banoffee Porridge! YEAH!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Castaway

This is a little Meme that I thought up while walking Custard.

You are stranded on a desert island, like Tom Hanks in Castaway, and 10 items have been washed up with you. What are they? You cannot choose anything that will prevent you being stranded, ie no helicopters, PCs with Internet access, etc.

My answers are in red.
  1. A solar powered DVD player with one movie - what is the movie? The Lord of the Rings.


  2. A solar powered CD player and 1 music CD - what is on the CD? "In your Honour", Foo Fighters.


  3. A huge crate filled with a single food item that will not go bad, eg potatoes, steak, chocolate - what is the food? Potatoes, you can do so much with them!


  4. A huge crate filled with a type of drink - what is it? Coke!


  5. A book - which book? "Small Gods" by Terry Pratchett.


  6. A piece of furniture - what is it? A really nice bed.


  7. A picture - what is it? One of our wedding photos.


  8. A piece of clothing in addition to what you were wearing - what is it? A nice thick towelling robe.


  9. A box containing everything you need to learn a new skill - what is the skill? Playing the piano.


  10. One more crate is washed up - what is in it? Cooking equipment.

Well? What about you?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Custard

This is my dog, Custard.
As you can see, he is devilishly handsome, rather like his owner :-)
In the background of the picture above, you can see his bed that is in our sitting room. My wife made it from an old wooden bunk bed. The headboard is now the back and the foot board is now the 2 sides. My wife is very clever like that! He has a variety of different covers that go on his cushion. I think he is rather spoilt, don't you?

He will be 2 years old just before Christmas.

He is extremely friendly to everyone except cats and teenagers in hoodies, which we think is a good thing!
When he sees a dog in the distance he lies down and waits for it to either go away or come over and say hello. This is generally a good thing unless you are in a hurry or it is pouring with rain!
My children utterly adore him and he can do no wrong in their eyes. This means that when I am cooking and Custard decides that the best place for a snooze is spread out on the kitchen floor, I get told off by the kids if I use my foot to encourage him to move. It is not like I kick him or anything, I just slide him along until he is not in the way!
Although Labradors have a reputation for chewing things up, Custard only destroys things that he knows are his. He has a lot of toys and these live in his toy box. Did I mention that he is spoilt?
Custard loves to cuddle, and loves to curl up on someone's lap (quite a feat given his size) or to be held like a baby with his legs up in the air (again, quite a feat...)
Custard is quite a fussy eater and will only eat things that he likes - we often have to add something nice to his dinner to get him to eat it, otherwise he will happily leave it for a couple of days! We use our George Forman grill quite a lot, so he tends to get the juice and fat from that poured over his food...

So there you are - my dog, Custard!


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Chinese - the ultimate family food?

My youngest was 9 on Saturday, so he could choose what we did.

He was up and opening his presents by around 6.30am (we had sent him back to bed when he originally came into our bedroom at 4am!) and was very pleased with what we had bought him. The morning was spent with the kids trying out the new Playstation and Wii games, "Destroy all Humans 2" being a real hit...

Then, as lunchtime approached we suggested going somewhere. After brief thought he decided that we would go into town and have dinner at the Chinese restaurant. Half an hour of steady walking later, we were there, the walk having really gotten our hunger going.

Looking at the menu it was easy for each of us to pick a favourite, and then I ordered some extras to go in the middle of the table so we could help ourselves. Chinese food is especially wonderful for this sort of eating, and it was not long before we were busy stuffing ourselves with various meats, rice, noodles, prawn crackers, etc, etc. Too full to contemplate dessert, we paid the amazingly small bill and headed out to stroll around the shops, giving the kids a chance to spend a bit of cash. This allowed lunch to settle a bit and make room for dessert, which came in the form of ice creams and cream cakes. Mmmmm.

Totally pooped, we headed for home, returning to the task of destroying the human race for a while and then watching Family Guy on DVD - another present.

All in all, a very nice day to celebrate our little guy's day. I love birthdays. I love Chinese food. I love family days like that.

Monday, October 08, 2007

And today's weather will be...

...nonexistent!

As a cyclist, I tend to notice the weather - it is up close and personal!

Today, as I cycled to work I pondered the local weather conditions:

  • Temperature: Moderate, I suppose, not warm, but not cold.
  • Wind: None at all, not even anything to disturb the tops of the trees.
  • The sky: A thin veneer of grey cloud covered the entire sky, enough to blot out direct sunlight yet not thick enough for me to really feel that it is "a cloudy day".
  • Precipitation: None.

So, as you can see, there is no weather today, it is like living in a huge futuristic dome city, no wind, no rain, no sunshine, no real clouds!

A strange day...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mistaken Identity

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by everything that is going on around me at the moment, some good, some bad - stuff that I don't want to talk about at the moment. But I have to write something - otherwise I get these comments and emails from a certain regular reader - you know who you are... :-)

Anyway, I decided that I would type my name into Google, see what came up and then write something based on that. So in went my name and up popped a photo of a soccer player:

One of these guys has the same name as me and plays for the biggest team in this area. No, he is not the cool looking coloured guy, he is the pathetic specimen that is getting trampled into the turf, which is about right for this team.

Although I am not a soccer fan (in fact I think that Britain in particular would be a much better place without it!) I know about this guy.

Why?

Because I sometimes get phone calls for him! I guess someone looks up the name in the area, gets a short list and works their way down. The calls tend to be from journalists wanting an interview. Last season I was getting really mad about it and decided that, next time someone called I would pretend to be him and see what happened. I started to think about the sort of comments that I could make that might stir up a bit of excitement in the press - match fixing, dodgey referees, hints at sex scandals among the players, their wives and the team management, you get the idea.

Sadly, I have had no further calls...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Return of Hell's Grannies?


As I left the Mexican place where I usually buy my lunch, there was a group of teenagers who were reluctantly making way for a woman in a mobility scooter (like the one in the picture).

She stopped, placed her order in the Mexican and waited for her food. As I passed I decided to make conversation.

"My wife has said that if she gets one of these she will have spikes and blades sticking out of the axles, like Queen Boadicea."

The woman looked up at me and grinned a marvelous grin.

"Oh I have been thinking about that for YEARS! They'd soon shift if I went along taking out their Achilles tendons!"

"That would be great - you have even got the right hair colour for it."

"This was supposed to be brown but something went wrong and it came out red. I like it, though."

"So do I. Next time maybe you should get a blue streak put in."

"You know, I saw a picture of a woman whose hair had gone completely white and she had done that! Look great! I want to do that when mine finally goes completely white."

"You're a real rebel aren't you?"

"Yep. When I was young we weren't allowed to do anything or go anywhere. Now it is just me and I do what the hell I like. It's great."

We parted company as I promised to keep an eye out for her with her spikes and blue streak.

Could this be the future? Gangs of rebellious oldsters creating a wave of terror in our towns and cities? I sure hope so!

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Injustice of it all!

Have you noticed that there are things that it is OK for one gender to do but not the other? Is it time to let go of gender stereotyping and allow a level playing field for all?

For example:
  • It is cute when a girl takes to wearing her boyfriend's/husband's sports top. However, if she comes home and finds HIM wearing something of HERS...
  • If a guy is dating a different girl each day of the week, there are nudges and nods - he is a stud. If a girl does that she is a tramp.
  • If a girl is upset about something, she gets to sulk and pout. A guy who does this is going to get a slap!
  • If a girl is having a bad day there are knowing looks and everyone steers clear. A guy will be challenged and asked what the hell is wrong!
  • There are guy things and girl things. Guys are supposed to know about cars. A guy who cannot engage in talk about stripping out engines and breaks gets odd looks. A guy who is more at home with a crochet hook than a spanner MUST be gay. I am and I am not!

You get the idea? Agree? Disagree? Please help me add to the list above!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday again!!!!

Just where did that week go? With any luck I can make things slow down a bit for the weekend, just so I can feel that we have had one!

I will be angling towards family movie time, watching X-Factor (OK I know it is only slightly higher level than The Batchelor...), a family dog walk or two if the rain eases up, comfort food, etc. Oh, and I also have to fit in a bass guitar lesson for Number 1 Son...

Ooh, almost forgot to mention this one - my wife has suggested that it might be fun to sound proof the shed some more and install a drum kit. I know my youngest would love this, but I would get out there a lot too. It has been years since I tried drumming, so who knows? I might be able to do it now!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Just what do dogs smell?


A long time ago, I read a book (Fluke by James Herbert, I think) that was about life as a dog. It used the idea that when a dog peed it left a sort of recorded message, rather like an answering machine:
"I'm Buster the 200lb Rottweiler. Stay off my patch."
"Hi, I'm Fifi. I'm a total tramp. Stop by anytime."
Interesting theory, I guess.
Now my dog, Custard, is a Golden Retriever. Sniffing is a big part of his life and walks can be very slow with lots of stopping while he investigates all of the different, exciting smells that he finds.
But last night he found a REALLY good one. He just stopped, with his nose to the ground. No loud sniffing, no licking the ground (Yuck!). No moving around a little bit. Nothing. He was totally motionless.
So I waited.
And waited.
And waited.
Still nothing.
Well the clouds were closing in and we were still a good half a mile from home, so I gave him a gentle tug. Suddenly his head shot up and he looked around, all confused, like someone waking up on a train and wondering if they have missed their stop. Then he looked at me, shook himself and set off for home.
What on earth was that sniff?
What if James Herbert was right, that must have been some message! Perhaps they have discovered how to blog? If so, I will have to allow more time for walks in the future!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

OK, I will come clean. I am a Coke addict!

I normally have a good supply tucked away under my desk, so I can help myself during the day, but it has all gone wrong.

Yesterday morning I ran out. No worries, I can get some more at lunchtime. That did not work out, though, as I spent most of my time checking out birthday presents for my youngest son (9 soon!). This meant that I had to get through the afternoon without any at all.

Not to worry, I can pick up some on the way to work in the morning. No, I left home without any cash and did not have time to go to the cash machine AND buy more Coke. Argh! I arrived at work, wondering how I was going to get through the morning. Hm, chocolate might help. I dug under my desk in search of the bars of brown heaven that I knew where there. Found them. Then, as I pulled my hand back my fingers brushed something cool and metallic. What was that? Could it be? YES it was! A can of cool, delicious, wonderful Coca Cola!

Where had it come from?

How long had it been there?

I do not know the answers to these questions.

Perhaps my Guardian Angel put it there?

Who knows?

Who cares?

Monday, September 24, 2007

I would like to thank...

Logzie for giving me this award!


It is always wonderful when someone gives me something like this - hey, of all of the bloggers out there, she chose ME!

So now I have to nominate someone else to receive this wonderful award, which is a really difficult job, I must say, as I tend to read blogs that make me smile! So here goes:

Ali always gives me a good grin, especially now that she is pouting again.

I love reading Mr Zig's blog because of the odd spin he puts on his topic of the day. He has also recently shown off what a good guitar player he is, while using his dog as a front man. Now you can't argue with style like that!

My final award goes to Krista's Dramatic Intensity because she has a totally insane sense of humour. I hope that this will encourage her to blog more regularly!

Hm, just realised that all 3 of my awards have gone to Winnipeg! Hm, wonder if there is some sort of Canadian conspiracy going on?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Get Gorgeous...

We were watching TV last night when an ad came on. A chemist chain is giving away DVDs on make up. The DVD is called "Get Gorgeous".

As the ad finished, my daughter looked up and said "Please, daddy, can you get me that tomorrow?"

"Sure."

Then my wife looked over and said "You're not worried that they will think it is for you, then?"

Now I could have responded in a number of ways. I buy anything and everything for my wife and kids, so any thoughts of "ooh, that's a girly thing" went away long ago! A simple "no" would have done the trick. However, I could not prevent the reply that DID come out.

"Of course they will know it's not for me. I'm totally gorgeous already!"

At this point, my older son exploded into a fit of uncontrollable laughter, falling off the sofa onto the floor. Even after he had calmed down, he still kept snickering to himself for the rest of the evening.

I am sure it was not really that funny. If it was, maybe I should consider a career change!

I can always trust my kids for a reality check!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Give 'im a lick o' the cat!




Arrr. In case ye did not know it, today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, so please use every chance to use phrases such as "that it be" and "aye cap'n", with lots of "Arrr"s spread around.


Well, it was a good excuse to spice up the blog with a photo of good old Johnny Depp. Isn't he great?








By amazing coincidence, a friend of mine has just received a load of Pirate figures for playing wargames with. Here is a photo of one of them.


Not as sexy as Johnny, of course, but still rather good. Can't wait to get a game with these little guys - we have even been promised a rum ration while we play - can't argue with that!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Feeling strange...

today.

The weekend was not quite as I had planned it - we went to the local town instead of Broadstairs, but a friend has informed me that the Darth Vader day is in early December, so that will be a good one in the run up to Christmas!

I also failed to find time for the bass guitar lesson with my son or for making bagels :-( Oh well, we hope to fit in the lesson tonight instead, but the bagels might have to wait longer. On Sunday I took the kids swimming, which was great fun. We more or less had the pool to ourselves which was really good for your youngest who finds it hard to get going if there are lots of people splashing around and getting in the way. My daughter is a really good swimmer and has now worked out how to swim like The Man From Atlantis - for those too young to remember him, he swam with his arms by his sides and held his legs together like a mermaid.

But, as I said, today I am feeling strange. It is more like I am a spectator watching myself go through the day, rather than actually doing it. Does that make sense? I usually only experience this sort of thing when things are happening quickly and I rely on instinct and reflexes, but not all of the time. It is an odd feeling, not sure I like it!

Anyone else had this?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thank Crunchie it's Friday!!!!

I never thought this week would end, but it has at last!

Our weekends are often total chaos and tend to be over before I realise they have started!

Anyway, this weekend I hope to:
  • Give my son his first bass guitar lesson. Still unsure which one to start him on, 4 strings or 5 strings. Will probably try him with 5 strings first, but we will see.
  • Get out some soldiers and try out a couple of new sets of rules that I have got hold of. Both look like a lot of fun!
  • I will probably make some more bagels on Sunday - a big batch this time!
  • See if we can get to Broadstairs for a day - there is a games shop there that is having a Star Wars day soon, with storm troopers, David Prowse (the actor who played Darth Vader) and also the guy who was inside R2D2, the little droid, and I want to check out the date.
  • Decide it Rock Chef will put in an entry for that contest that Jay Grey gave me the link to.

So, looks like a pretty busy weekend, to me, as everyone else will have their own ideas about what should be happening...

Have a good one yourselves, and please, no disasters, traumas, falling down toilets, etc, etc.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Toilets

Inspired by Ali's post on this subject, thought I would add to the discussion.

Leaving the seat up. What is the big deal here? It is up or it is down. Set it how you want it when you arrive, do not expect someone else to pre-empt who will arrive next and how they will want it. Nobody complains when they switch on the TV and find it is not on the channel they wanted, do they? They just turn over. The same logic should apply to toilet seats!

Worst toilets. These must be some that I found in Malta. At first I thought they were great, as there was an attendant there who kept things clean and clearly prevented graffiti and vandalism. The I went into the cubicle (hey this door is pretty low), shut the door and sat down. Hm, the top of the door was only just above head level. Oh well, on with the task in hand. Then the attendant started talking to me. Nice day, where are you from? Oh, I have got a sister in Kent, blah, blah, blah. As he is talking I notice his voice is getting louder. Looking up I see he is standing right there, looking at me over the top of the door! What is he, a politician or something (woo, satire!). Luckily at some point he took the hint that I was not going to chat to him in that situation and retreated, allowing me the scant privacy that the stupid little door offered! So, if you go to Malta, watch out!

As for British public toilets, they tend to be totally disgusting, having all sorts of stuff on the floor and walls (use your imagination, it will not be worse that the reality!) plus the added joys of discarded needles and the occasional bit of p0rn - I always check before the kids go in - those that will actually use them, that is!


Star Wars - an alternative scene inspired by Ali's response to the above.

Princess Leia: You could not turn Luke to The Dark Side and you will not turn me!

Darth Vader: Well I suppose you must be right. Another drink?

Princess Leia: No thanks, I have had enough already. Where is the toilet in this place, I need to pee.

Darth Vader: Out of the door, second on the left.

Princess Leia: You left the seat up. I CAN'T BELIEVE IT, THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE UNIVERSE LEAVES THE SEAT UP!!!!

Darth Vader: Yes, give in to your ang - OW, NO, SWEET JESUS HELP ME, AAAARRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

School of Rock...

I know I wrote about this idea some time ago, but it looks like it is finally going to happen.

Starting tonight, I am officially giving my niece guitar lessons. She has been having lessons from someone else for 2 years now, but has been becoming increasingly frustrated by a lack of progress - still doing the same sort of thing she was when she started, and wanting to get more adventurous.

Similarly, Arthur, my son, has asked for bass guitar lessons which I intend to start at the weekend. I think he has the ideal temperament for playing bass and should learn really fast.

Now it is just a case of smoothing things over between these two so they will work together (remember the Bhangra head dress incident back in July?)...

To add to this, my daughter has started fiddling around on our keyboard thingy that we have and has started making up little tunes, so I might be able to rope her in at some point.

Just the drums now - my youngest would love to be a drummer and I have noticed that electric kits are dropping in price rather nicely...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Bagels 2

Back to normality after the unashamed daftness of my last post.


By the way, I took the photo from the web, this is not me or anyone I know, OK?

On Sunday I decided to make some bagels, having found a simple looking recipe on the web a few days before. I immediately found that I had a problem - no yeast! Hm, won't get far without that, so I took a stroll in the morning sun up to the local corner shop which is owned by some really nice guys from Sri Lanka. As immigrants, they tend to get a bit of a bad deal from some (OK a lot) of the locals, but they are great people and work hard at their business. I also feel for them as they lost a total of 14 relatives to the Tsunami! To put that into perspective, I don't think I KNOW 14 of my relatives! Anyway, while there I met up with my daughter and one of her friends, so got hit for some extra funds. Oh well, I am putty in her hands, how can I refuse?

Back in the kitchen, I set to work, mixing and kneading the dough. I love making this sort of thing, there is something wonderful about the feel of a good dough on the hands.

A nice cold beer while the dough rises, then on to the next stage, shaping the bagels, which was a bit fiddly at first but by about number 4 I had the knack.

Another cold beer to give more time to rise, then on to the broiling stage. This was something totally new to me, but it seemed to go OK - a wire rack suspended 5 inches above a gas burner seemed to give just what I needed.

Another cold beer? No, better not, a coke instead this time.

Now it was time to boil them. This was the bit that worried me. Surely they would just go soggy and fall to pieces? No, they didn't! Ha ha! Rock Chef rules!

Finally on to the easy bit, baking them. 25 minutes later I am taking a dozen golden brown bagels out of the oven and after allowing a couple of minutes for them to cool enough for me to cut one, my wife and I are sampling the results.

Well, even though this is going to sound like boasting, they were absolutely fantastic, totally different to the horrible things they sell in our supermarkets, and once the kids realised they were ready the rest of them vanished in short order.

So, if you fancy trying your hand, have a go and give your taste buds a treat! They are certainly going to be a regular thing in our house from now on!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Rock Chef - the Alter-ego

As I settle in to regular cycling again, following a relatively lazy summer, my mind has started to wander again, as it tends to do during a good ride. Inspired by a few other blogs and comments, I have put more thought into who and what Rock Chef could be...



By day, he is a celebrity chef, hosting a regular TV show called, amazingly, The Rock Chef. Each show features a guest from the world of rock music, and consists of a mix of great food, fun, and rock music. Episodes include:


  • Blaze of Glory, featuring Jon Bon Jovi and how to barbeque.

  • Trampled Underfoot, featuring Led Zeppelin and traditional wine making methods.

  • Let there be Wok, featuring AC/DC and oriental stir-frying.

  • Jump, featuring David Lee Roth and the food of love (or whatever).

In true TV fashion, the climax of the show is putting together the finished meal for the guests to eat, with a ticking clock and a chorus of The Final Countdown...


Note that special care is taken to keep those who have lived the rock and roll lifestyle to the full, e.g. Ozzy Osbourne, away from naked flames and sharp knives.


Naturally, the Chef's rugged good looks, charming personality and awesome musicianship combine to make the show compulsory viewing for millions around the world.


By night, Rock Chef is a crime fighting superhero, chasing villains on his customised Domino's Pizza delivery bike, and overpowering them with his special form of martial arts, using sharpened spatulas. The Rock Chef denies any connection with a recent spate of drug dealers who have choked to death on Domino's Pizza. This is just a fortunate coincidence.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sex-changes are Painless!

No, this is not a rewrite of the old MASH theme tune!

Thanks to Terri, I am, as you can see, a Rockin' Girl Blogger!

I consider this to be a great honour - just so long as I don't have to give birth or go through any of that other nasty stuff that women have to put up with.

Having said that, though, I think I can feel a mood swing coming on...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

ASSICONS

Sorry if you have seen these before, but they are new to me and thought I would share them.

We all know about "emoticons", where

:)
or
:-)
is a smile. Well we now have ASSICONS. Here goes:

(_!_) a regular ass
(__!__) a fat ass
(!) a tight ass
(_*_) a sore ass
{_!_} a swishy ass
(_o_) as ass that's been around
(_x_) kiss my ass
(_X_) leave my ass alone
(_zzz_) a tired ass
(_$_) money coming out of his ass
(_?_) a dumb ass
and my favourite:
(_E=mc2_) a smart ass
Have a great day, and don't be an (_!_)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Another Milestone

Today is the day my 11 year old daughter starts secondary school. It is amazing how she has grown and changed in the last year. Last summer she was a chubby little girl - now she is taller (don't they grow fast at that age?), slimmer (I am not allowed to know how much weight she has lost, but she looks perfect), has a new shorter, more grown up hair style and is bursting with confidence. Seeing her in her new uniform was quite a shock, where has my little girl gone? I would have been sad if I was not so proud of her.

Can't wait to get home to hear about her first day - did she get lost in that maze of a school? Does she like her teachers? How many times was she asked if she was "Arthur's sister" (she really does not want to be known as Arthur's Sister, she wants to make her own mark!)...

Hey, a few more years and we will be looking at them going off to University, but that is currently someone else's story, eh Terri?

Hm, but we have 2 Universities within easy travelling distance of home, so maybe they will NOT go away...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Whose children are they?

Time for another moralising rant, I am afraid!

Over the years I have noticed an increasing trend, at least in the UK, that has been highlighted following the recent shooting of an 11 year old boy in Liverpool by a so far unidentified teenager. The mother of the victim has been brave enough to speak out, saying that she blames the killer's parents, that people are failing to bring their children up as members of society, allowing them to act as they please.

And she is right.

I have seen this first hand. It can start when the children are very young:
  • It is nursery school's job to potty train the child.
  • It is the school's job to teach the child to read, write and count.
  • The parent is too busy or uncaring to teach the child right from wrong - sometimes the parents don't actually know themselves...
  • Keeping the child close to home is too much like hard work, so the child roams the streets, probably from the age of around 6, getting into trouble increasingly frequently for increasingly serious acts. The parents do not blame the child or themselves, they blame the Police and those who report problems to them. "Oh, you can't watch them all the time, can you?" My answer is "Yes you can - we do!"

Something that seems to make this worse is that it does not seem to be "politically correct" to tell someone that they are a bad parent and that it is all their fault. Will we ever have politician who is brave enough to stand up and demand that parents control their children and make them accountable if they do not? Maybe, but he might not last long...

Friday, August 31, 2007

Sometimes I think I am being unfair...

... when I constantly expect the worst.

But them something will happen that proves I was right!

Let me explain.

We never let our dog, Custard, off his lead. When we go for walks we have him on an extending lead that gives him a fair amount of freedom, but still leaves us in control. We have been told that this is cruel.

But we have reasons.

The first is that he has deformed hips. He is fine now, but too much running and playing could easily cause injury, forcing very expensive operations which may or may not return him to full fitness.

Secondly, there are just too many busy roads around with cars that go much too fast. Dogs can be trained but it only takes a moment of forgetfulness and it is too late. I lost a dog that way when I was 13, and have no intention of repeating the experience!

Thirdly, too many folks near me have got dogs that I just plain don't like and don't trust. Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Rottweilers are the order of the day. Now I am happy to accept that with reasonably good owners these breeds of dog can be very good pets. But if the owner is less responsible they can be an utter nightmare. All summer I have been trying to avoid a confrontation with a pair of young male Rottweilers that like stalking, and increasingly, attacking other dogs. If Custard is on a lead, I can haul him in and protect him.

Yesterday's local news paper contained proof that my caution is sensible. A Yorkshire Terrier was attacked and literally ripped to pieces by 2 Rottweilers (not the ones I have been avoiding, another pair) only couple of hundred yards from where I live, on a lane where I often walk Custard.

So I will continue to keep Custard on his lead and will, in addition, now be taking a heavy walking stick with me when I go out...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Back to Work

I think it has just sunk in - summer hols are over, I am back at work for the new term. Next stop Christmas...

I think that one of the features of working in education is that your life is a series of year-long cycles, starting around now - the run up to the new academic year, Freshers Week, the return of the 2nd and 3rd year students, the handbooks, the lectures, assignment deadlines, the assorted problems and crises that staff and students suffer, field trips, the exams, wrapping it all up, then summer arrives again, things slow down, we drift along, take time off, relax, forget everything we know - then it all starts again. I love my job and the people I meet because of it, but right now it is almost like staring down the barrel of a gun.

Most other jobs don't have that - there may be cycles but they will tend to be shorter, possibly overlapping with other tasks, some are just plain repetitive and one week is no different from the next. I have done a range of work, but there is something about the big year-long rollercoaster that I love.

Here we go again!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bagels


Bagels have only really started to become common in the UK fairly recently. They are in supermarkets, McDonalds, etc, and are making an impression on the market.

Until a couple of days ago, the attraction eluded me. They are just a bread roll with a stupid hole in the middle! What is so great about them?

Then, on Monday, my son and I came in to work on the bus. As both of us are vulnerable to travel sickness we skipped breakfast so we could eat after we arrived. While walking from the bus station to where I work, we passed the Mexican place where I often eat – which you will surely know if you read my blog regularly. They were open for breakfast, so we went in. Top of the menu was a cheese and bacon bagel. Now the guy who owns this place is a New Yorker, almost a Hollywood cliché, loud and confident. He has a deal going with a lot of his regulars – if you don’t like something he sells you, tell him and he will give you a replacement free. I have never had to make him stand by his word on this! So I go for the bagel, reasoning that this guy is a New Yorker and maybe his bagels will be different to what is generally available.

That was the best Monday morning decision I have ever made. It was fantastic. I am now a convert to proper bagels. I think I will have to search for a good recipe so I can make my own – the ones in the shops just don’t cut it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Back in Black

Well, in spite of the unbelievably bad weather we have had this summer (there is currently a thunderstorm outside) I had a great 2 weeks off.

My birthday was a hoot, and I have spent many long hours fiddling with the new guitar amplifier to find out what it can do, which seems to be just about everything from clean country to Death Metal, with Van Halen, Santana and Rush thrown in for good measure. Really thinking about getting into a band again now!



We did not go away anywhere, but had some fun days out, managing to get a couple of sunny days on Broadstairs beach. It is a great little town that has everything you need for a day out. It is also interesting in that Charles Dickens, the famous author, lived there. You can see his house in the picture, Bleak House (which the book was named after), the brown building on the sky line, upper right. In the summer the town has a lot of events, such as the Dickens Festival and the Folk Music Festival, which includes lots of free shows, Morris Dancers, etc. All good fun.

I also ran my summer wargame at home, with plenty of food and drink laid on to keep the players happy. We played a series of small battles as each player attempted to become the most powerful nobleman in England. One player took a beating and decided to spend the rest of his time pandering to the French King, while the other three fought it out. Arthur, my son, was playing and almost won, but the other 2 ganged up on him in a final showdown, beating him. An uneasy truce was declared but I think we will be returning to this again in the future.

This week I have Arthur with me doing some work experience, so it is a nice way of easing back into work as I try to remember what on earth I am supposed to be doing here! He is enjoying it, especially lunchtimes for some reason. Teenagers and food, eh?