Monday, April 30, 2007

Did the Earth move for you?

You might have heard about the earthquake that hit Kent this weekend.

It was not far from where I live, and people living much farther away have reported feeling it.

So, what is my story?

Well, I was trying to have a bit of a lay in, last week had been rather tiring and stressful so a few extra ZZzzzzs would have helped. I was not asleep, just hovering on the edge, aware of talking and movement around the house. Then the dog started barking.

Knowing that something was wrong, I leaped out of bed and rushed down stairs.

"What's that Custard? There is an earthquake and you think we should take cover under the stairs?"

Sorry, this is not a Lassie movie! I stayed in bed and the kids told Custard to shut up. There were no tremors, nothing rattled. We (not counting Custard, of course) did not know about the quake until it was announced on the news later that morning.

The only worrying thing was that an 'expert' stated fairly confidently that it was now over and we should not expect further quakes. QUICK, BETTER STOCK UP ON FOOD, WATER, CANDLES, BATTERIES, GUNS...

Well, we all know about 'experts'!

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Day in the Life of...

Logziella commented that she enjoys reading blogs about every day life, so here is one of from me.

Woke up in the morning to the sound of our local radio station. Thankfully they have replaced the idiot that was driving me insane a while ago, so this is not too bad. As I try to achieve full consciousness an Anastacia song comes on. I love her voice and this gets me moving a bit faster.

For breakfast I have a bowl of a new cereal that the kids have been raving about. I can't see anything special about it, but as it is a good healthy one I encourage them to eat it. I will go for something else in the future.

When I leave home I walk with my eldest son until he joins up with some friends for the rest of the trip to school, then I head for work. My mobile rings. It is my wife telling me that I have left my shirt behind, so I go back home for it before resuming my journey to work.

I am only half way there when the traffic grinds to a halt. It turns out that they have dug up the road in Canterbury, causing a 3-4 mile tailback. Still, this does not slow me down as much as it does the cars, so I am only a couple of minutes late for work.

At lunchtime I phone my wife to discover that we are in trouble with the bank because part of my regular income has not been paid in. It has taken her 2 hours to hopefully get it sorted out. Good job it is pay day soon!

After work I stay in Canterbury for the evening as it is wargames day. Dinner is at the local Mexican place that I go to a lot, the lure of cheese nachos and jalapenos is just too much for me!

Then off to meet the guys for an evening of toy soldiers. We are trying out a new game that is designed to recreate ancient Greek warfare. My game started off OK but things rapidly went wrong for me - even my general got killed, turning defeat into a catastrophe. An interesting game that we will come back to again!

Then it is time to head home. The road still has works in place, so most of the traffic seems to have taken a different route, which is great for me. Not needing to keep checking for cars I get home very quickly, grab a sandwich, make a fuss of the dog, freshen up and flop into bed.

So there you have it, a day in the life of me!

Thursday, April 26, 2007


On Sunday, we visited a small town near to where we live. It is not far away but we have never felt the urge to go there, so it was a new experience for us. Luckily my SIL lives near there, so we had been able to get some directions.

We arrived safely on the train and soon found the High Street and small Mall. My daughter immediately realised that this place had all she needed for the shopping spree that she is planning on for her birthday next month. Also a couple of computer game shops to keep the boys interested so it all looked good.

Then hunger set in. We had been told that there was a KFC there, but had been unable to find it. A quick call to the SIL gave us directions - right at the train station, under the bridge and onto the industrial park. Off we went.

On arrival in the industrial park, our immediate thought was that we were in the wrong place. Still, let's keep going, might be different around the corner. 10 minutes later, and we were starting to feel like we were in a Zombie movie, the industrial units were becoming increasingly desolate and surely cannot house proper businesses, only creatures that want to eat our brains!

Then we saw it - the distant sign for Carpet Warehouse. KFC is surely close to that! On we went, our hopes rising, closer and closer, we could almost smell the chicken.

Then our hopes were dashed. Between us and what we realised was a Trading Park (surely what the SIL meant!) was a 12 foot high fence.

The kids were stricken. Did this mean we had to go all the way back? Yes, I thought so.

But then feminine logic steped in. My wife said that there was no way that the hundreds of men working here will take the long way around when they want food. They would make a gap in the fence by whatever means necessary. As a now very hungry man, I agreed with this. In fact I was ready to chew my way through the damn fence myself!

A couple of minutes scouting and we found it - a huge, well trodden path through the fence, between the workers and their food supply. Yay for feminine logic!

KFC found, we all stuffed our faces until we could nolonger move. A reward that was all the more appreciated because of the fun we had finding it. I had trouble convincing the kids that getting lost was NOT MY FAULT (see earlier blog on this). We were going where we had been told to go. This almost worked, until on the return journey we found that we had gone under the wrong bridge. My reputation was in ruins again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The strangest gig I ever did

In my late teens, I was in a number of bands - often 2 or 3 at the same time! Bass players were in sort supply...

One of the bands played a lot of gigs in a variety of places, but the strangest was an L shaped pub in Dover.

I will try to describe the set up.

The bar was along the right side of the upright.

The people filled the rest of the upright area.

The stage was on the upper part of the horizontal area.

Attached to the wall along the lower part of the horizontal area was a massive mirror.

Got that?

The result was that the audience did not watch us, they watched our REFLECTIONS in the mirror. This was a very strange experience, especially at the end of a song where there would be a load of applause and cheering from people we could not directly see, just dim reflections in the mirror.

This was also the gig where 2 band members suddenly had to dash off to the toilet, leaving me and the singer on the stage. The result was a jazzy jam song - "Andy and Jim have gone to the toilet"...

Happy days...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Puff, pant...

Not much time to blog at the moment, as I am playing mom again while my wife is visiting her ill mother. Back to normal soon, I hope.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

What's that smell? Is it Arabel?

This comes from one of our favourite books for children. It follows a well tried pattern.

"What's that smell? Is it Arabel?" (Arabel is a toddler).

Turn the page.

"No, it's mummy making cakes!"

After several of these the book finishes with "Yes, it IS Arabel! Eeew!"

Well, we have been reliving this story in our house. In the old days, any nasty smell was blamed on me. Then we got Custard the dog, who is capable of making incredibly disgusting smells, so he started getting the blame.

Now we have a new, even more nasty smell that appears in the house. It stings the throat and makes eyes run. It is foul and toxic. It must have taken us a week to work out what it was. It was Number 1 Son.

In recent weeks he has started cooking snacks for himself when he returns from school. Cool, all boys should be able to hold their own in a kitchen, so we have been leaving him to it. Then we found out what he has been eating every day after school. Beans with garlic seasoning. Yes, he has been putting garlic with the world famous fart pill, and now seems to have reached critical mass where he is expelling something that could easily be classed as a Weapon Of Mass Destruction. Even the dog is avoiding him!

He protests that we should be happy that he is eating health food, good for the digestive system and blood. He knows this from Biology classes. Well maybe he should drop one in his next Biology class and see what is teacher has to say about it!

I think we might have to hide the garlic seasoning....

So, mothers with small children, it is not over, it just changes!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Let's go this way!

Like all men, I have an infallible sense of direction. As with all men, I am fully capable of travelling 500 miles to a location that I have never been to before without taking a wrong turning and all without the aid of a map or Sat-Nav.

Sadly, nobody else in my family believes this!


Well it all started a few weeks after my wife and I started seeing each other. We had decided that, as it was such a wonderful summers day, we would go for a nice walk in the woods with our dogs. Off we went, heading through the woods along bridle paths, passing others out for walks or riding horses. It was a lovely day. Then we got to a point where we decided that it was time to head for home - we were all getting hungry and the water bottles were now empty.

Then I said it:

"Let's go this way! It will be quicker!"

So off we went along a new path, me confidently striding ahead while my girlfriend and the dogs followed, confident that I knew where I was going.

To this day I do not know where I went wrong, but as we came out of the woods we were looking at the wrong town. DON'T LAUGH!!! We were about 8 miles from where we should have been. On the bright side, there was a pub nearby, but we quickly found that this had just closed for the afternoon, which made things even worse. The rest of the trip, retracing our steps, was in stony silence. I had distinctly failed to impress.

And I have never quite redeemed myself in that respect. Whenever we are out and I can clearly see that there is a good short cut to be had, my wife and the kids cringe in terror and go the other way! One day I will show them, one day...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Summer is here!

Today is the first day of the summer school term - the kids went off in their summer uniforms, the sun is shining, the sky is blue, there is not a cloud in the sky! The result of this wonderful day is that I have declared Unilateral Summer. This means that I am in shorts and shirts from now on regardless of what happens to the weather. I took to doing this after a couple of really nasty summers where spring seemed to skip straight to autumn without summer getting a look in, and as I had been waiting for the nice weather to arrive before I get out the shorts I missed it! So, have a great summer everyone, even if you are still waiting for your snow to go away for good!

Love and Marriage

OK, a switch of subject. Broken relationships are everywhere. The news seems to regularly give increasing divorce rates. Films and TV shows make them a stock item, making it seem that failure of a relationship is inevitable.

My favourite line for this comes from the film Clue:

"Life after death is about as probable as sex after marriage".

So there are times when my wife and I look at each other and wonder where we are going wrong! Why aren't we arguing, throwing things at each other, having affairs, splitting up?

From the Harry Enfield show:

"You're holding me back! I should be on my 4th husband by now, and I haven't even got a brown baby!"

But, do you know something? I don't know if I just got lucky, but reading the blogs that I do has made me realise that we are NOT alone. There are others out there that also have wonderful, loving relationships! So here's to us all!

Give the one you love a big hug tonight, and prove that there is life after death :-)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Radio DJs

Is being a complete imbecile a job requirement for DJs? Let me explain.

Each morning my radio switches on to wake me up. I have it tuned into the local station as they play some reasonable music, and they have news slots where they talk about which schools are closed for whatever reason and tell you where there have been car crashes so you know the best route to work etc. But the DJs can be real plonkers.

Take this morning.

First off, he announces a great new track by someone or other, tells how it is going to fill the floor at the club he is appearing at tonight (plug plug) and what a great bass line it has got.

Hm, great bass line? I am thinking Geddy Lee, Stanley Clark, Mark King...

On comes a total abomination that is a looped sample of the chorus of a classic 60s track with a thumping synth bass. Great track? I think not.

Then he decides to comment on the latest news stories but gets it all completely wrong, twisting things so he can make a cheap joke. Funny? At 6.30am? I think not!

Finally he gets round to the weather, telling us what a cracking day it is already and how it is going to be shorts and t-shirt weather today. Now this programme is being broadcast from 3 miles up the road. We went past the studio while walking the dog the other evening. Outside MY house it is freezing fog! Has this idiot actually looked outside since he arrived at the studio, presumably while it was still dark?

"It's Friday the 13th - is it really a bad day?" he asks.

Well waking up listening to him certainly started things off on the wrong foot!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Adventures in Parenthood, Part 1

This happened when my eldest daughter was a toddler in nappies - something that is very important to this story!

We were in our living room and my daughter was enjoying her new freedom now that she could finally walk - it had taken her a long time to learn due to her dyspraxia, but we did not know that at the time.

Anyway, it was one of those quiet, lazy days. I think I was reading.

"Penny!", said my daughter. We looked up and there she was, holding a 5p coin in her hand. Suddenly, without any warning, she popped it into her mouth and swallowed.

And started to choke.

Quick as a flash, my wife had her suspended my her ankles and slapped her between the shoulder blades.

A cough.

A clinking sound as the coin hit my daughter's teeth.

A swallow.

Coin gone.

Oh god, that was a big coin, what if it gets stuck?

So off to the hospital for an x-ray. I really wish we could have kept that x-ray. We could see all of her tiny, delicate little bones and there, slap in the middle, the white circle that was the coin, safely in her stomach.

So back home, everything should be OK, just make sure that the coin comes out at some point. Yes, you guessed it. We had 2 weeks of closely examining every single dirty nappy, searching for that coin. After 2 weeks I was wanting to give up, I could not face another one, we must have missed it, but then it happened.


Her face went red, then darker red, then her eyes watered, then a sigh of relief. It was finally out.

And we still have that (thoroughly cleaned) 5p coin, safely stored away in her memory box.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

In the beginning...

Well, thanks to Mr Zig for tagging me! I will say now that I am quite sure that everyone who I read has already been tagged, so this particular line of tags stops here. Sorry!

Anyway, it all started for me last autumn when James emailed me to say that he had started blogging and asked me if I wanted to read it. While reading his blog I created one for myself, entitled "Don't talk to me about life". I had intended that this would be a place where I would dump all sorts of anger, hatred and loathing that I was feeling at the time. I only made , 2 very short posts before I decided that this would be a bad idea. I continued to read James's blog and started to follow links from comments that were left by others and started reading their blogs too. I had expected blogging to feel much like an email discussion group, but it is actually a totally different experience, and I love it and the new people that I have met through it.

After some bullying from James, I decided that I would get back to doing my own blog. My original one was far too negative - I wanted to blog about the things love in life, while still acknowledging that SHIT HAPPENS. The result is Cycling Thoughts, what I hope is a diverse and entertaining series of ramblings about me, my life, what I do and think. Thank you for reading it, making comments and making my world a better place.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A gentle stroll...

Had a really good Easter break - 6 days off in all!

What went on? Let me see.

Lots of painting of Toy Soldiers! I got my armies finished for a show that is coming up (see an earlier post on this!) and they do look rather good. This leaves me a month to make the scenary which is plenty of time!

I totally avoided doing any DIY, so I have not inflicted a horrible injury on myself, have not had to spend time in a hospital, catch a nasty infection and die!

I have succeeded in eating vast amounts of chocolate, to the extent that I am currently drinking Coca Cola Zero so my sugar levels get a chance to go down!

I did huge amounts of laundry, which was really good as the weather has been fantastic, making drying the stuff very easy. Yes I did hang it out "right" and did not deliberately do it "wrong"!

With the wonderful weather, the kids' bikes have come out of the shed and have seen lots of use. The 2 youngest have taken to riding along with us when we take the dog out for his walks. This is great exercise for THEM as it means they are getting 3-4 miles of cycling in each day, but it has a nasty side effect that Custard, the dog, gets worried if he loses sight of them and drags me along until he can see them again! Due to his deformed rear leg joints we are not allowed to let him run loose, so he is limited to his extending leash. Being dragged along has brought about the return of my Old War Wound. OK, not a war wound, it is sciatica, an occasional reminder of when I worked in a factory, lifting and carrying things that were rather too heavy to be lifted and carried...

With the warm evenings I have taken to spending an hour sitting in the garden with a guitar, my FX box and earphones, rocking away to myself. Such a great way to settle down for the evening.

Finally, yesterday was Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Day on TV. This is my wife's all time favourite programme, so it was on all day and my wife had a day of rest and watched it all. It is very rare that she will do something like this, so it was good to see. Meanwhile, The Rock Chef was in the kitchen cooking up roast pork with potatoes, salad and home made bread rolls - healthy brown and granary ones, of course!

So all in all a rather good break, now I am back and ready for anything!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Today is my last day at work until after the Easter weekend - that will make it my longest break since Christmas and I think I am ready.

I love Easter.

It is a great excuse to scoff down obscene amounts of chocolate and sweets.

It is a great family weekend, when we can all get together for a nice meal, to drink, chat and play.

It is a traditional weekend for DIY, where we rush around getting jobs done so that we are ready for the summer. The hospitals are bracing themselves, waiting for the people who fall off ladders, smash fingers with hammers, drill through part of themselves, slip a disk by lifting something that is too heavy, etc. Such fun. I do my best to avoid all of this, of course.

It is a time for theological debate! Wouldn't it have been better if Jesus had not been crucified? What would have happened if he had lived longer? Perhaps the Romans could have been converted 300 years earlier than they were! Perhaps he could have convinced the Jews that he really was the Massiah. How would THAT have affected history? Why is the timing of a Christian festival determined by the moon? Sounds a bit pagan! Just what has chocolate got to do with it all anyway?

It is generally the weekend that sees winter's last attempt to throw something nasty at us. Unbelievably, in the UK we are more likely to have a White Easter than a White Christmas! Bing missed a trick there, I think!

From Easter onwards we are headed for summer, barbeques, hot days with a beer in the garden, cool evenings with a beer while watching the inner city riots on TV and painting toy soldiers, thunder storms which often knock out the electricity supply for half a day, spoiling viewing of riots and threatening to ruin the food in the freezers, syphoning the bath water down to the garden because it is illegal to use hosepipes.

Yes, I love Easter.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Doing things "right"

Sorry to say I was not able to do much about my School of Rock plan this weekend, as my wife was not feeling too good. As a result I spent a lot of my time cooking (which is usual for weekends anyway), washing, walking the dog, looking after the kids, etc. I did manage to fit in an hour of painting my toy soldiers on Saturday and about half an hour on guitar on Sunday, but not much else. Oh well, at least we have the long Easter weekend coming up, and I have extended it by taking Wednesday and Thursday of too! Yippee!

Anyway, on to the topic of today's blog. It was while I was pegging out clothes on the washing line that I realised that my wife was watching me.

"Just checking that you are doing it right".

This is a trait that runs in her family. The women have a fixation with how certain things are done, such as how washing is hung out. If it is done wrong they will march out into the garden and, regardless of how ill they are supposed to be, repeg every single piece until it is "right".

Some times friends will ask if it bothers me. Nope, I just learn the "right" way and do it that way. OK, so she still checks on me, but what the heck. It means I can tease her by deliberately doing it "wrong". He he.