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 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?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Just when they thought it was safe...

Yes, am signing off for a couple of weeks so I can totally vege out and forget everything I do at work.
We are not going away but will be having days out as a family, plus the odd wargame day, including one that I will be running at home for the guys while my wonderful wife supplies us with food and drink.
Hey, I will also turn 44 while I am away (I NEVER work on my birthday). Is that some sort of magic number? Stay tuned for the next year and you may find out!
What do I want for my birthday? How nice of you to ask! Let me see...
I usually have some new toy soldiers but I am resisting that this year, as I have piles that I really must get painted before I embark on anything new. Zulus are tempting, though...
Books. I love books. I am looking for a good book on the Battle of Poitiers at the moment...
Music. Music makes my world go round - I currently have a CD of classic rock tracks going, Saxon, Wheels of Steel is currently on. Who? I hear you ask? Oh, you must be too young... I will probably get a new CD or 2. Need more Foo Fighters, haven't got the CD with Learn to Fly yet. Looking bigger, my wife promised a visit to the guitar shops in Canterbury on my birthday, so who knows. I am having increasing thoughts about getting back into a band so a nice, new, big guitar amp would be nice...
Well, whatever happens, I hope you all have a wonderful time while I am away. May God bless you all and keep you safe and well!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Blogging: Light Relief?

When I started this at the beginning of the year it was all just a bit of fun. Posting a few odd thoughts each day, reading a few other blogs, that was it. Something for coffee breaks to take my mind away from things.

It is not that simple, though, is it? There was a recent exchange where we talked about our "blog family" and how we all had so much in common, how much we could relate to many of the problems that others had, sharing stories that have bonded us, even though most of us have never met.

The last few days have brought this home to me even more - reading about the problems that some of you are currently facing was really hard, while there is also increasing excitement about babies that are on the way. Then I woke up this morning to news of the bridge disaster in Minneapolis and instantly became concerned about bloggers from that area.

Seems that my "bit of fun" has taken on a life of its own, something that I could not have imagined a few short months ago. Isn't blogging amazing?