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Thursday, August 30, 2007

September Sun

August has finished. Month 8 has disappeared down the hole in the middle.

It wasn't been too bad, although bad news on the 10k run - I've twisted my knee, and now it hurts to run. So, unfortunately having to pull out of this one. However, I will keep the exercise up and hopefully do one in the future.
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Last week we went to Bournemouth for a couple of days, which was lovely, and the boys had a great time with their cousin.

They've another cousin due in a couple of weeks, and we'll be heading down again to meet him/her.
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I've noticed that the weather is changing. At least the temperature. Left the house this morning, and my breath was hanging in the air. A noticeable chill. Is Summer (what there was of it) now over?
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Facebook has become an obsession. Friends appear from all over the place, and the applications are great. Fancy a game of Scrabble?
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Only 24 days until we go away. We'll probably be ready for the sun by then, and I'm looking forward to relaxing by the pool; yeah right!
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I've not updated you on the fish for a while. You'll be pleased to know that Mickey the (Gold)Fish is doing very well. His tank is maintained regularly, and I've mastered the art of keeping the water clean. Even visitors have commented on how clear the water is. He seems to be happy; I just need to remember to keep feeding him. Number Three loves sitting next to the tank and peering in.
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On the Stocks and Shares front - the less said the better. The market took a battering, so there isn't much in the pot. However, as I've always maintained; it's for the long-term, so no need to panic.
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Short but sweet; and now there's work to do.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Family Update

Crikey Charlie. You should've woken me. I didn't realise it was so long since my last post. So, what have we been up to.

Well. Last Friday we went to Eureka in Halifax. It's a museum for children - they can touch everything. It's a great place to go, especially when the weather is bad.

On Saturday, I went for a run in the park. It went quite well, and I managed to complete 2 miles. Not the target, but I am certainly getting there.

I went again on Sunday, but it didn't go so well, and then again in the gym yesterday. Tonight I had a rest. Back tomorrow.

Sponsorship is coming along, and I now have about £150. I would like more, and will be canvassing around the office over the coming weeks. My parents have offered £10/km - so there's another £100.
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Saw The Bourne Ultimatum at the cinema on Sunday evening. Like the last one (The Bourne Supremacy) it's very fast paced, with the action moving along swiftly. A great film - well recommended.
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Some friends came round at the weekend to show us their holiday DVD. They've been on a cruise and it looked spectacular. They all said it was their best holiday - ever. We were so jealous; so I picked up some brochures. Well, it costs nothing to dream, does it?
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I'm off work next week, and the 2 oldest are going to stay with my parents, in Bournemouth, for a couple of nights, before we join them. They are sooo excited. I'll let you know how that goes.
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That's all for now. Not a lot else to report. See you soon.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Running Man

We had a lovely weekend. The weather was lovely, and we spent a lot of time outside.
Firstly, at 6.30; I decided to go for a run. Mad. You'd better believe it. I chose the wrong route, and nearly killed myself!

On Saturday we spent the day at Chester Zoo. Not wishing to sound like an advert, it's a fantastic day out, and the kids had a lovely time. We went in to the Bat House, saw the monkeys, elephants, took a boat ride, went on the monorail. Phew! I'm worn out just thinking how much we packed in.

In the evening, we went to see Hairspray. What a good film. It's the sort that you can just let wash over you. No need to think too much about what's happening. The music was great - I'm thinking about downloading some of it.




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On Sunday, I went for another run. This time I was more sensible with the route, and managed to stay relatively flat. I ran 1 whole mile.
Then, I took the boys swimming, so even more exercise. Am I becoming an exercise junkie? I hope not (although I've already planned my route for when we go to Bournemouth later in the month!)

After that, we went to see The Simpsons Movie. What a laugh. Entertainment on all levels. My nephew certainly enjoyed the slapstick elements, and overall it was good fun.

To some friends in the afternoon, then an early night.
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Tonight I went to the gym. Ran 3.5k and it's not getting easier. Should it be? Maybe I need to keep going. Bag is packed ready for tomorrow. Perhaps I should do more running along the road - would that be better for me?
Needless to say, my feet are sore, and I need to wear better socks!!
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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Training Begins

I've just returned from my first 'real' training session for the 10k run.
When I mean 'real', I refer to the fact this is the first time in the gym since deciding to take part in the charity event. Therefore, by default, it was the first proper session.
Now, by my standards, it was pretty good. I stuck 30 minutes on the time, for a random selection of hills and troughs, at level 2.
I set my speed at 6.4km/h and started jogging away. And do you know what? For the first 20 minutes it wasn't too bad. I pumped away, using my arms to help me; focused on the room in front of me and just kept going.
The last 10 minutes were not so pleasant, and it was then I realised that I need to put a lot more time and effort in, if I am ever to complete 10k. Today I managed: 2.3km. Hmmm!
I'm not too down. For the first time, I was pleased.
Next time, I think I'll forget 'Random' and set the pace on the level. Maybe I was being to ambitious.
There will be hills in the real thing, but I should build up to that, and not head straight in.
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On the sponsorship front, I already have the first few people, and some have even paid - so no pressure there then?
I'm looking to set up a page on justgiving.com - a website that manages charity collections. Once it's set up, I'll publish the details here.
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Tomorrow there'll be more running, and slowly and surely I will build stamina to get to the finish line.

Monday, August 06, 2007

10k Charity Run

I have decided that I will do a 10k run for charity. Yes. Me. I saw the posters in the gym, and thought "why not?"
So, in aid the the Robert Broude Appeal, I will help to raise funds for the Young Oncology Unit at Christies Hospital.

Here is a excerpt from the website:
Since the YOU opened in 1988 there has been a rise in the patient referrals from
a wide catchment area. In 2005 there were more than 2000 admissions to the
YOU for either in-patient or day care.
Robert was not only very intelligent,
but also observant, and recognised the need to expand the very limited day care
area within the unit. Our aim, in conjunction with Professor Tim Eden and
his dedicated team, is to create two treatment beds, and two treatment chairs,
along with all the support. At the moment treatment is being carried out
rather inadequately, on the in-patient ward area.
Expansion of the Day Care
Area will require the recreation area known as the Oasis Room, a fundamental
component of a teenage unit, to be relocated elsewhere in the YOU. The
Oasis Room is for patients and their friends only; it is their space and open 24
hours a day.
The run will take place on 16th September, in Heaton Park.
More details will follow, along with updates on my training.

A Bugs Life

It's been a few days since my last post, so thought it about time to catch up. I'm actually off from work today. The bug that struck my family last week has finally caught up with me.

Another stunning weekend for Lewis Hamilton, and he was lucky to be given pole position due to the nefarious doings of his team mate. A contradiction in terms really - they're not mates at all, and the relationship between them has hit rock bottom.

Still, under the pressure, the boy done good, and held off the attack from Kimi Raikkonen with great maturity.
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We went to the Doctor Who Exhibition on Friday, and the Museum of Science and Industry. It was quite good, if a little over-priced. The boys certainly enjoyed it. Then it was off the The Lowry for lunch, and somehow, we also bought two new suitcases!
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On Saturday we went to the Blue Planet Aquarium, near Chester. Another good place to go. The Baby was excited about seeing the fish, then took the attitude "seen one fish, seen them all". He soon lost interest. There was an interesting show featuring two scuba divers feeding the fish, and the obligatory play area outside.
After that, we made a stop at Cheshire Oaks Outlet Village. It's grown in the few years since we were last there. I bought a pair of running shoes from Nike, and then it was back home.
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Yesterday I met a customer from eBay, to handover some clothes. Saves on the postage, and the PayPal fees. Some friends came round in the afternoon, but I really wasn't in the mood, as I started to feel sick.
Then I was.
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And that's about it. Feeling rotten, so just going to take it easy today.

Keep well.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

August Is 'Ere

So, it's August. Where is the year going?

It has started with a sickness bug doing the rounds; just take a look at this:
  • Monday - The Baby was sick at the dentist
  • Monday Night - The Wife was sick
  • Tuesday - The Wife was sick
  • Tuesday Night - Number One was sick
  • Wednesday - Number One and Number Two were sick (Number One also went to hospital)
  • Wednesday Night - The Baby was sick again!!
Me - I'm the last man standing, hoping not to succumb to the perils of this bug.
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Tried to book a different hotel for the Grand Prix next year. Surprise, surprise - it's booked up. Strange, as it was only available for booking from today. Still, I have a reservation at another hostelry, so no worries there.
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So, in the night, as Number One was settling back down, we noticed that his Nintendo DS Lite was not where it should be. Where was it? What a mystery. Apparently it got into a draw all by itself. Even stranger, it managed to snap itself in two, all on its own!
He eventually admitted that it was he who broke it, albeit in excitement at getting to the next level of a game.
The Wife called Game, who gave a number. Nintendo Support were charming, and for the small price of £25.25p they will either repair or replace. Not bad. Considering I was on eBay this morning and watching a number of items. I'll report on the service when it's returned.
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I can only hope the rest of the month gets better. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Payday

It's the last day of July. Payday.
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It's been wet. Now, it's sunny. Cool, but Sunny. And for the first time I can wear sunglasses without them needing to be prescription. It's great.

I went to the gym tonight. Wow, will I ache tomorrow, and Wednesday and Thursday. Actually, I think I might go swimming tomorrow evening. I took the boys on Sunday, and with the lenses I wore goggles. Normally I don't like wearing goggles, they're not very comfortable. However they are necessary, and actually it wasn't too bad.

So, after work, I'll get in the pool and do a few lengths. The most I've done in one session is 1km. That's 20 lengths. Now I think about it, I'm quite looking forward to it.
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Went to Tesco this evening to pick up some Goats milk. The Baby was extremely sick this afternoon, and so we're going to give him a lesser dairy option. Well, I say 'we', but actually I mean The Wife - she'll be the one doing it. I also bought a selection of Marmite snacks. I love Marmite - remember the advert? "You either love it or you hate it". Well, I love it. No-one else in the family likes it, so they're all mine. Hee hee.
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This month is the most posted for me this year. Not bad. I really hadn't imaged I would have made it this far. As for Facebook, that has just taken off. There's no controlling it. It's totally addictive, and terrific fun.

I'll see you in August.

Friday, July 27, 2007

That Was The (Wet) Month That Was

July is drawing to a close, and with it, one of the wettest months on record. I've already written about the floods that have caused devastation around the country. It's been a busy month at work, as momentum continues to build for the implementation of our new Oracle system.
  • The final installment of Harry Potter was published;
  • Lewis Hamilton admitted to 'messing it up' at Silverstone
  • Ferrari & McLaren are at loggerheads over stolen documents
  • Facebook continues apace, with more 'friends' - now they're in a legal wrangle with ConnectU
  • The biggest film of the summer (so far), Transformers, was released;
  • The Simpsons debuted on the big screen;
  • The BBC have just launched their iPlayer - more here
  • The rain continues to fall;
  • We should start a Sun Dance, to bring the sun back again. Do they do such a thing?
  • I started wearing contact lenses (although the left eye is causing me problems!)
  • The Boys broke up for the holidays - and The Wife is doing an excellent job of keeping them entertained and busy.
I am off each Friday, for the next 3 Fridays, making it a nice 4-day week, and a chance to spend some time with the children during the summer break.

We're planning a trip to Bournemouth at the end of August, and I've just paid for our holiday to Menorca (at the end of September).

So much to look forward to. But, first the weekend. Hope you have a good one. I certainly intend to.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Floods

I just wanted to add my own thoughts about the flooding crisis that has hit parts of the country over the last couple of weeks.
I can't begin to imagine what life must be like; it surely is the worst peact-time disaster to affect so many people.
No water and no power!
What does that mean?
  • Unable to wash
  • Unable to drink
  • Baby feeds can't be made (you can't use bottled water for babies, because of the mineral content)
  • Unable to cook
  • Businesses can't function - many businesses are ruined
  • The tourist trade decimated - hotels can't open without running water
  • Disease is a distinct possibility; due to lack of hygiene facilities
There are so many stories about individual feats to help and save people and possessions, and it doesn't appear to be over yet. Even though the waters appear to be receding, the weather forecast is not positive, with more rain due, leading to further surges down the rivers.

Something has to be done, but what. Without building huge dams or walls to keep the waters at bay, which would spoil the aethsetic look of the countryside, there needs to be a concerted effort to design and develop flood defences that can withstand the pressures of these events.

Let's not forget the fire services, who have been doing a remarkable job, in many cases, where the officers homes have also been flooded. I think they call it the Blitz Spirit. Everyone has combined efforts to help each other, and try to keep morale high.

It has been reported that there will be no mains water for up to 2 weeks. So, bowsers, bottles and tankers have been drafted in to provide the supplies necessary for essential cooking, drinking and cleaning.

These are dire times, and my thoughts go out to everyone who has been affected.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Can See Clearly Now

On Saturday I had my contact lenses fitted. It was a weird experience, followed by a short lesson on how to remove and refit them. It's quite unnatural to play with your eyes. There is such a strong reflex to protect them, through blinking. Over time I will get used to this, a countless others have before me. At the moment, I just need to persevere until I get used to it. Once they are in, it's amazing. There are no more 'edges' where the frames of the glasses were. Just plain vision.

I've been given one pair of lenses for the week, and 2 different types. Apparently, one is more comfortable (read 'expensive') than the other, but I wasn't told which. That way, I can make a more informed decision. I'll be going back at the end of the week for a check-up and to get the first lot of lenses.

It's been an interesting few days, and I'm slowly getting the hang of putting them in and taking them out; although first thing in the morning is not easy.
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Facebook is taking off. I mean, it's already popular with millions, but a certain inertia seems to have taken hold, and 'friends' are popping out of the woodwork (so to speak). It's great to hear from them. My friend base has almost doubled overnight!
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I went to the gym last night, and starting to feel it now. The pecs are tightening up. You know what that means, don't you. Yep - I'll have to go again.
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Tesco are coming tonight. I love this delivery to your door thing. It's lazy, but after a hard days work, who wants to schlepp around a supermarket?
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Right - that's enough chitter chatter. Back to work. More soon.

Friday, July 20, 2007

First Contact

The day has arrived that many have been waiting for. The final installment of the Harry Potter stories reaches the bookshelves at midnight.
Entitled "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows". Of course, at the moment, no-one knows what to expect, so I can't comment. Although JK Rowling has said that a couple of characters will die.
I hope the postman remembers to deliver my copy in the morning.
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Tomorrow is exciting in another way. You may remember some time ago I was all set to have laser surgery on my eyes. Well, that idea was scuppered by The Wife and my parents. So, I am going to get contact lenses. Yesterday evening, I was helped by a friend, who is an optician, to see if I could put the lenses in. It was quite a success, suprisingly. So, I have booked an appointment for a consultation tomorrow, and will hopefully become a contact lens wearer very soon.
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Planning to see "The Transformers" tomorrow night. Will probably be going with my brother-in-law and wife. Both of The Boys want to see it, and as it is a 12A, I will take the opportunity to check it beforehand.
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So - have a good weekend.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Donations Greatly Received

In the news yesterday, it was reported that the Chief Medical Officer wants everyone to automatically become an organ donor, by default.
In other words, when we die, if we have any suitable organs, they will be removed (and re-used) regardless.
It will be up to us to Opt Out of this scheme which, in itself, presents a number of questions.
  1. How easy would it be to opt out?
  2. How much would this option be advertised?
  3. What happens if we die before we have opted out?
What would happen if the person had opted out, but the hospital made a mistake and harvested the organs. Who would be responsible? Where are the checks?

There's also the religious aspect. There are many religions who don't agree with organ donation; we should leave this earth as we arrived. How would they be assured that their views and beliefs weren't ignored? Or, would they have to Opt Out as well?

I appreciate that donors are in short supply. However, maybe access to Donor Cards could be made more widely available. Perhaps, instead of free CDs and DVDs, our daily newspapers could distribute these cards to the masses. I am sure the take up would be much greater than just having them in doctors surgeries and hospitals.

Quite frankly, this scares me. The government should concentrate more on getting people to opt in, and continue with getting the NHS back on track.

There - said it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter and the Blue Screen of Death

Wow - it's Tuesday. Doesn't time fly.
I'm typing this on a replacement laptop - mine died "The Blue Screen of Death"! I'm still waiting for someone to repair it, so in the meantime, I have this heap of junk, with a dodgy keyboard, and virtually no processing power.
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We went to the Trafford Centre on Saturday, which was quite pleasant. Number One came off best, as much was purchased ready for his starting in Junior school.
In the evening we went to Pizza Express with a couple of friends, and we had a lovely time.
I took the boys swimming on Sunday, and in the afternoon, we played on the Wii.
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I've just realised that the new Harry Potter book is out on Saturday. I hope the postman doesn't let me down and deliver it in a timely fashion. I've also paid for a copy of the new Mario game, bought on eBay. So looking forward to that dropping through the letter box, hopefully in time for the weekend.
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I've also put some stuff up for sale on eBay. Some Playstation 2 games that I don't play, and one for the Wii (well, I hope it sells for more that I can get in part-x at the shop).
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On Friday I booked the hotel for next years British Grand Prix. However, I found out last night that there is a school do on the same day, so it looks like I won't be able to go. Never mind, we'll save it for another year. Now, to cancel the booking.
On the subject of the Grand Prix, it seems McLaren are in a spot of bother over the Ferrari documentation affair. We'll have to wait about 10 days for the FIA hearing, but I hope that they are not found guilty. Apparently, the punishment could reverberate around the team, and Lewis may find himself short of a few points. We'll have to watch this space.
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Facebook is providing much muse at the moment. Everyone seems to be 'biting' each other, and I've slowly started to add some more friends. It's a strange concept that just seems to have taken off.
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Right - back to work. There'll be more later in the week. That is, if I don't suffer too much after my workout at the gym tonight!! Ouch.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bookworm

In this edition, I want to talk about books. I am a bit of a book worm, and recently have read a number of ripping yarns. So, I thought I'd share them with you.
Firstly, I should explain that I have a very varied tastes in genres, from mystery and thriller, to comedy and adventure. Some of them contain all.
So, let me introduce the first - a book by Tess Gerritsen.
Vanish.

I'll start by giving you the first paragraph from the back cover:


The beautiful woman appears to be just another corpse in the morgue. But when medical examiner Maura Isles looks down at the body, she gets the fright of
her life. The corpse opens its eyes.

Tess Gerritsen writes fast-moving thrillers. As a trained doctor, she convincingly captures the medical aspects, whilst keeping you hooked to the last page. I recommend it.

Next, something completely different.
The Time Traveler's Wife (yes, I spelt it the American way).
Written by Audrey Niffenegger, this is a love story with a difference.
It's the story of Clare and Henry, who met when Clare was six and Henry was 36,
and were married when Clare was 22 and Henry thirty.
I don't want to give away too much. It's a lovely story, which, whilst sometimes tricky to grasp in terms of time, is truly original.
It's also being made into a movie; with Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams in the leading roles. Due for release sometime in 2008 - you'll need to have read the book to really appreciate the film.

Finally - The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde. This actually came out last year, and the follow up has just been published. As I haven't read the new one yet, I thought I'd give you a flavour of what they're about. Just read this:


It's Easter in Reading - a bad time for eggs - and the shattered, tuxedo-clad corpse of local businessman Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III has been found lying beneath a wall in a shabby part of town.
This is a story of the Nursery Crime Division, and DI Jack Spratt. It's funny, surreal, in places absurd and quite frankly one of the funniest books I've read.

Which is why I've just bought The Fourth Bear.
The Gingerbreadman - psychopath, genius, convicted murderer and biscuit - is loose on the streets of Reading. Another case for DI Jack Spratt. The final paragraph on the back cover says it all:


...how could the bears' porridge be at such disparate temperatures when they were poured at the same time?
So, if want want to try something new, if you haven't read them already, then you won't be disappointed. If you have read them - post a comment and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thoughts Of A Tired Man

It's 9 o'clock in the morning.
Wednesday.
By rights, I should be fast asleep after getting home at 3.15.
That's right, six hours ago I was leaving the M60 to get home after a marathon 18 hour day in the office.

I should be catching up on some sleep. Recharging my batteries. So, why am I sitting here writing this, with that hazy feeling of cotton wool inside my head?

Personally I think the body is amazing.
  • Take the brain. This mass of cells, each with a task of its own, practically floating inside our skull. The massive network of nerves that send electrical impulses to muscles, which move and act in a totally natural, unconscious way. The way we 'learn' and remember. A filing system bigger than any computer could have.
  • The heart, constantly pumping red blood cells around the arteries, veins and capilliaries, like a huge road network, carrying the necessary oxygen to the organs.
  • The white blood cells waiting to be called into action, should infection occur.
  • Our skeleton holding the organs in place, and containing much needed nutrients to help us remain healthy.
  • Our lungs, consistently inflating and deflating as we breathe in the air around us.
  • The skin, itself a mass of cells, holding everything together, keeping the weather out, whilst at the same time helping to regulate the temperature within.
  • Our eyes, ears, nose.
  • Our mouth. Teeth. Even our tongue is divided into sections to help us appreciate the taste of food.
We need to sleep. All day long our bodies are working. Sleep helps it to regenerate. Our brains take the opportunity to file away our thoughts, our memories. Without rest, we become fractious as we 'fight' to keep going. How much rest we need is always in debate. I like my sleep, but others can recharge their batteries in a few hours.

So why, after a relatively short sleep, has my body decided that I've had enough and I awake to another day?

Thankfully, I'm not going to work today. I don't think I could manage the journey. So I will take it slowly, and I'll have an early night.

Our body is amazing. It's important that we look after it, as it has been 'designed' to look after us.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Green Issue

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
That's the new mantra these days. Use less. Re-use what we can of what we haven't already used, and recycle the rest, so that someone else has the use of what we bought too much of.

It seems that we are not doing quite as much as we should to 'save the planet'. I fully agree, as I have just noticed how much paper there is in my office. I had to move a mountain of it to find something, and that has prompted me to type this blog.

Household bills. Notes. Magazines (lots of magazines). Brochures. Manuals.

Not to mention the boxes, books, packaging and general accumulation of 'stuff'.

OK. I could stop it all going in the waste, and let it build up and up. That would definitely save the landfill.

Then I'd have nowhere to sit, and wouldn't be able to access my computer, which, by the way, is left on 24/7 - because I have broadband that is "always on". This means more power being used during the day, for no reason. I'm at work all day during the week. So, I could just turn it off.

But then I'd be paying for something that is "always on" but 'Off'!

Stay with me here.

As for the rubbish. Most of it needs to be shredded, to prevent my personal information falling into the hands of identity thieves. I can see them now, prowling around outside the house, waiting for me to put the bins out!

Once I've shredded (which, let me tell you, is going to be a few evenings work to get through the backlog), I then have to put the strips of paper somewhere.
  • A plastic bin liner. Not very green.
  • A cardboard box maybe - labelled as such, so that the collectors take it away.

Alternatively, I could use them to make decorations - but that would be taking recycling a little too far - don't you think?

Now, I like to think that we do our bit for the environment, but isn't it all just common sense?

I admit, the council have made it much easier to recycle, by providing different coloured bins to put our waste in. It's now about educating the children. No - put that in the bin. Now - put that in the green bag, and the bottle in the blue bin.

We also have a waste disposal unit in the sink. This has helped to reduce the volume of waste quite considerably. It also reduces the smell in the kitchen.

I'm considering a composte bin for the garden. It's just that The Wife doesn't want creepy crawlies anywhere near. Personally, I think it's a great idea, and another way to prevent landfill. We should also get a water butt to save the rain water - and there's been enough of that lately to water a few gardens.

So, all in all, recycling isn't difficult. It's jut a mindset sort of thing.

Go on. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.



Sunday, July 08, 2007

A Grand (Prix) Day Out

What a day!
  • Alarm - 05:00

  • Left hotel - 05:30

  • Arrived Cherwell Valley Services (to leave my car) - 06:00

  • Arrived Silverstone (car park) - 06:50

  • Found a spot - 07:00

It was quite cool, but at least the sun was shining. The first race of the day was at 09:00 - a GP2 race. This started to get everyone in the mood.

This was followed by a Porsche race, which was actually quite exciting. The F1 drivers were then paraded around the circuit on the back of a low-loader.

Whilst they got prepared, The Red Arrows did their stuff (to lots of ooohs and aaaahs!)


Finally, at 13:00 the race got underway, and whilst Lewis made an excellent start, he was no match for the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. It was lucky that Felipe Massa had trouble at the start, otherwise he may not have been on the podium.


So, he is 12 points clear in the championship, and with 2 in the top 3, McLaren extend their lead in the Constructors Championship.

And the day itself? Apart from having to queue 30 minutes for the toilet, it was a fantastic day out, and thanks to My Dad for providing the company. We had a lot of fun. Thanks also to My Mum for providing a stellar food supply (which was much nicer than the c**p being served up).

The drive home was a little laborious, but I had the tennis on Radio 5 Live to keep me company, as well as a few showers and heavy downpours.

Whatever - I hope we can do it again sometime.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Grand Prix Fever

The free practice sessions today saw Ferrari dominate the McLarens, however as we don't know the setup of the cars, it doesn't really matter until tomorrows qualifying.

Yet another team has been embroiled in the saga surrounding team secrets etc. It seems a shame that Lewis' results are being undermined by those who are jealous of his achievements. Just let the talented 22 year old get on with his job. He has proved he has the pace, whilst at one point today being the fastest on the track.
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I have just checked the weather report and it is looking really good for the rest of the weekend. I might even need to take some sun cream with!

Click here to see the latest forecast for Towcester, from the BBC.
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On Monday, it is The Wifes birthday, and as I won't be around on Sunday, I have decided to forgo my lie-in tomorrow morning. It will give me the chance to get the boys to write the birthday cards, and at some point tomorrow we will have to go and buy a present - but what?

Answers on a postcard - or by clicking the link below.
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So, an early night, in preparation for a long(ish) day tomorrow. There probably won't be any more blogs until after Sunday (can't think why, I must be busy...).
If you're going to watch the race on TV, then let's hope it's a good one.

Sleep well and enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Reaching Out

I've decided to try to push this blog further into the blogosphere. It's time to go public.

Since I started this, at the beginning of the year, it's only been between me and you, but the time has come to try to get this further out there.

So, now you can subscribe via an RSS feed (Really Simple Syndication). Without getting too technical, this means you can use a reader, such as Feedburner, or add it to the likes of Google or Yahoo, and the updates will be posted for you to read at your leisure.

Alternatively, you can subscribe through the wonders of email. Just enter your email address in the boxout on the right and follow the instructions. Updates to this blog will then be delivered, automatically, to your inbox.

I've also added a link on my profile page on Facebook.

I'll keep you updated on how this is going, and feedback on numbers!
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Whilst I am keeping an eye on the weather forecast for this weekend, I haven't really mentioned the current state of the Great British Summer.

You've probably read it in the papers, but hailstorms in July is not my idea of fun, and driving home in the pouring rain, EVERY night this week has been hard going. So much so, that I had to stop at the services the other evening for a rest.
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I got one. Eventually. Wii Play has arrived and Number One was ecstatic. The bid on eBay fell through, so I checked around and found stock in Argos. So, I reserved one and picked it up this evening on my way home from work. We had a quick play before bedtime, and it looks a lot of fun. I think 2-player will be quite exciting...
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That's all for now.
Although I realise that the posts are going to have to become a little more interesting and less self-absorbed if I want to attract a regular audience.
However, there is always the forum to feedback - just click on the comments link below.

Weather Watch

With the weekend fast approaching, I've been keeping a keen eye on the weather forecast.

You can click here for the BBC Weather for Towcester. Well, I need to know if it's wellies or shorts (or both!)

Membership...

Finally. At Last.
My McLaren membership pack has arrived. I only ordered it on 8th March!
Yes, nearly 4 months ago.
We're now half way through the season, and eventually (and after a few emails and phone calls, it's actually arrived).
It included 2 caps, 2 polo shirts (exclusive - not available through the shop), membership cards, and I've already been receiving the Racing Line magazine.
I'd forgotten about the caps, and have already bought one of the drivers caps - see previous blog. They're adult size, but maybe Number One can wear one!
That's all for today. Off to get a cup of coffee, then read a document prior to a meeting.
Have a good day.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

In more ways than one, today is Independence Day. For one man this is, indeed, a long-awaited day, as after 114 days in captivity, Alan Johnston has finally been released by his captors.
We may never know the whole story of his release, and no doubt Hamas will see this as a major PR coup, but nevertheless, this is a wonderful day.
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On another note, Mickey the (Gold)fish is doing really well, and I will be working to keep his tank clear. It always seems a little murky - which I can't understand. Still - it's not as bad as when he was in the vase. He seems happy, and swims about much more - so that's good news.
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I brought home the latest Nintendo Official Magazine yesterday, and Number One has been pouring over it - he even wants to take it to school. He was quite surprised there is a whole magazine dedicated to Nintendo games. This morning he was in bed, reading the articles. I'm not sure how much he actually understands, but he's definitely not just looking at the pictures.
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More Wimbledon today - although this is the wettest since 1982. Poor Rafael Nadal has been playing his 3rd round match over 4 days; he's not a happy bunny. It's not fair on the players (not to mention the spectators) and there is no momentum in the matches at the moment. How long will the finals take?
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Happy Independence Day

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Five Days To Go

I'm so excited. It's just five days until the British Grand Prix. So checklist time:
  • Hotel - booked.
  • Wellies - ready, just in case
  • Radio - a couple of Walkman radios to listen to the 5 Live commentary.
  • McLaren shirt - ready
  • McLaren drivers cap - ready
  • Tickets - ready
More revelations today about Ferrari and McLaren team members apparently behaving badly. Who'd have thought it eh? Watch this space for further developments.

That's it for today. Short and sweet.
Back soon.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Birthday Surprise

So, another year has passed, and I enter my 40th year. Yes. It's my birthday today. Not sure why I didn't mention it earlier, but anyway.
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We went to parents evening, and I am happy to report that they are both doing very well. Apparently they work hard, and Number One's SATS results were terrific - 2 x 2B and 1 x 2A (for maths). We are both very proud of them.
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After we finished at school, I popped into a friends to pick up a pair of wellies. I think I might need them next weekend at Silverstone, for the Grand Prix. Then it was to a restaurant for a meal.
We had arranged to go with my brother-in-law and his wife, as they are celebrating their wedding anniversary. When we got there, who did we see but my mum and dad.
In itself not amazing. Except they live in Bournemouth! That's 230 miles - for dinner! They hadn't called. What would have happened if we changed our minds, I don't know. But - it was absolutely lovely to see them.
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That's it for today. Sleep well.

8 out of 8

Good morning. Welcome to the first post of July. I'd like to say it's a bright, sunny morning. Only it isn't. It's wet and miserable with the temperature just above 15 degrees.
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However, if you are in the Lewis Hamilton household, it's probably hot, hot, hot. After taking 3rd place in yesterdays French Grand Prix (the last at Magny Cours), and taking his 8th podium finish, out of 8 races, Lewis has stretched his championship lead to 14 points. He is now the first British driver, since Damon Hill, to go into the Silverstone round ahead in the championship.
It must be said that McLaren have some work to do though. The Prancing Horse found it's feet yesterday and trumped the British outfit, proven when Raikkonen took the second place at the start of the first lap. It's down to Halfords for Ron Dennis, to get some fresh parts!

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Did you see Concert for Diana. It was a great show, with some terrific acts - Rod Stewart seemed to be enjoying himself; especially kicking the footballs into the crowd. Everyone appeared to be enjoying themselves. My only gripe was the television presentation. Whilst it was 'live' and therefore gaps were expected, why was the sound faded out at the end of an act. I would have thought hearing the cheering and clapping was part of the atmosphere.
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It's parents evening tonight, so we'll hear what the teachers think of the boys progress at school. Personally, I think they're doing quite well. In fact, that was my reasoning for buying a Nintendo Wii at the weekend. I wanted to say 'well done' to them.
It's a great little machine, and the concept is quite a clever one. I was happily playing tennis, bowling and baseball, and Number One was enjoying the boxing. I just need to get the Wii Play game (it comes with a controller, making it a cheap way to get the remote. No-one has stock, so I've placed a bid on eBay.
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That's it for now. Need to do some work, so I'll write more soon.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Post 15

It's that time again. Another Grand Prix weekend is nearly here, with first practice tomorrow. I saw this short video about Lewis Hamilton on the BBC website, and thought I'd share it with you.

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So, Mickey is settling nicely into his new home, and has even braved showing himself in front of the bushes!
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Hooray - it's Friday tomorrow. Sorry. Got carried away. I'm just pleased that the weekend is nearly here. Oh, I mentioned that already.
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So, I'm sitting here, minding my own business, watching TV (Brothers and Sisters if you wondered) and suddenly The Wife mentioned going to Las Vegas in February. Her sister-in-law's sister is getting married there, I promised that I would take her for our 40th, and she thought this would be a good opportunity. Anyway; I investigated some prices. Now she just had to decide (and it depends on her brother).
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Late news today - they've arrested someone over the Madeleine McCann story. Let's keep fingers crossed that it comes to something.
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So, back to the telly. Have a good night.
Oh yes - did you notice the title of this 'episode'? Yep - I've beaten May.

A Moving Experience

This morning, Mickey the (Gold)Fish moved into his new home. It's a lovely big tank (well, bigger than the vase he was in), with plants and gravel. The move went quite smoothly, and now he has the space to splash to his hearts content. That is if he isn't traumatised.
If I get the chance, I'll take a photo and put it here for you to see.
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On the weather front; it's a beautiful morning, if a little chilly. You really wouldn't think it was the end of June, and apparently we are in for another wet weekend. My heart goes out to those that have lost their homes in the deluge, especially as there is more on the way.
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So, last night The Wife commandered my laptop, and as already mentioned, has joined the ranks on Facebook. I'm not sure what she'll get out of it, as she doesn't use the computer half as much as I do, although I have suggested getting her a laptop of her own, that she can use in the evenings. She certainly wasn't averse to the idea; I just need to find a cheap one.
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I played the Center Parcs DVD to The Boys last night. (I forgot to mention this in the late post yesterday). They weren't too keen, and The Wife was not impressed by my choice of music. It's a Ragtime piece; taken from the film "The Sting", with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. How can you not like the music from that film. So; I'm going to have to find something else a little more contemporary. Apparently it must be upbeat.
The Boys were not impressed with the old film effect (jumpy, black and white, with the scratches on the picture...) I shouldn't be surprised. They're used to digital, crystal clarity. They wouldn't understand the poignancy of using that film type to remember the past.
So, it's back to the editing suite and see what I can do to salvage the project.
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Tim is on court at 1pm today. That's 4 days in a row, and it's only his second match. Katie O'Brien is also in action, so I'll be looking out for her as well.
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No further news at the moment. Except to say, this is Post 14 for June. Which equals May. No doubt I'll be able to add another one, if not two, before the month is over.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Music To My Ears

I am pleased to announce that Mickey the (Gold)Fish is moving. My Wife has bought him a brand new tank, complete with gravel, shrubs and pump with filter to keep the water clean and fresh.
He'll be moving in tomorrow morning. I hope to do the honours before I go to work. Let's hope he makes it through the night tonight.
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So, Great Britain has a new Prime Minister. It's 52nd. The 11th during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It was quite a day, and whilst I'm not a Labour supporter, it was interesting to see the events unfolding, and the traditional way in which the Queen asked Gordon Brown to build a government.
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Tony Blair as Envoy to the Middle East. He is a great orator. But, after stance on Iraq, is he really the man to broker peace between possibly the two greatest 'enemies' in the region. Notwithstanding that there is a split amongst the Palestinians themselves, so what hope is there for Israel to get involved. I hope he will bide his time and wait for the right moment, and not just barge in and try to start the process.
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Wimbledon was, again, a washout. Poor Tim will have to play for the fourth day in a row. This can't be fair, when others get a rest. He really is going to have to find something special to win the match.
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The Wife is now on Facebook. It's good fun, and messages have been back and forwards during this evening. I just don't think I have that many friends to really worry about it.
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Number One now has a CD player in his room. He went to bed listening to Horrid Henry stories. Well, I'm going to bed now, and on the way will get my iPod so I can listen to some soothing music as I drift off.

Sleep well.

Henmania Is Back...

Day Three.
Our Tim is through to the next round of Wimbledon, after a marathon 5th set against Carlos Moya(13 games to 11).
It's amazing.
He has only won one match, and already they're talking about how he can now win the Championship.
Come on guys. It's great to see him doing well, but he made hard work of the first match. He'll never win the tournament based on that performance. He needs to up the ante, dig deep and make every point count.
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I've also noticed that little is made of Katie O'Brien. She is Britains Womens Number 1 player, and she has also progressed to round 2. This is the first time she has made it past the first round. How come there isn't as much support for her? This is a report from the BBC website
Who knows, maybe one day we could watch her from O'Brien Heights. It sounds quite idyllic.
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Other news .... Mickey the (Gold)Fish is flipping his fins.
I don't want to tempt fate, so no further comment - except, the vase needs cleaning out.
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The first cut of the video has been completed. I didn't get to bed until 12:40, so am a little tired today. However, I'm quite pleased with the result, and will show The Boys this evening, to see what they think. It is just over 5 minutes long, which I think is just enough to remember the holiday.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It's Day Two...

No, I'm not referring to Wimbledon, although Tim Henman has got his work cut out against Carlos Moya to remain in the Championship. It's a shame that Andy Murray had to pull out.

No. I'm referring the survival of Mickey the (Gold)Fish. Once again he has beaten the odds (and the strangely shaped vase) to survive another night. Phew!
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Stopped at Tesco this morning to pick up some fruit and a sandwich for lunch. Also ended up with deodrant, Soreen, chewing gum and a 4-pack of J2O (Orange & Passion Fruit). Why can't I just buy what I need?
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I've been thinking about the video I'm putting together for Center Parcs. I've sorted through the photos, and this evening will create a montage. I might even put it on You Tube; as a sort of teaser to the full video.
I have my own channel there.
You can also get to it via my other blog at http://www.jetpictures.co.uk/. This doesn't get updated as often, but I still use it to link through to my videos.
I also need to work out the credits for the video. They're always fun to think up.
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Right - I'm at work, so I'd better look busy. Off to the machine to get a cup of coffee, then work out what I need to do today.
Don't work too hard.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Why Am I Still Up?

It's late. It's gone 11pm. It's a school night. OK, so not school.
I've been busy this evening, putting together the video from our Center Parcs trip, back in May. I thought it was about time.
So, I have received a couple of discs with photos (as I lost my camera - did I mention that?) I have created a nice little segment about the Zip Wire activity we did; and added some music to create the atmosphere. I now need to add the photos, slideshow fashion, to finish it off. I also need some music for that - if anyone has any ideas, please let me know!
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So, I have joined Facebook. It's a social networking site. It's the sort of thing that is interesting for a couple of weeks, then it gets boring. However, I've managed to maintain this blog since the start of the year. Nearly 6 months gone, and there has been an entry or three every month. February was the best month with 19 posts, closely followed by May. June is the next busiest month. Can I top 19? We'll have to wait and see.
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OK - enough is enough. The eyes have it (they're closing fast). I'm off to bed.
Sleep well. Oh - and see you in Facebook sometime...

Survival of the Fish Kind

It is with great relief that I can report Mickey alive and well this morning.
I was half expecting to find him floating at the top of the water, but, there he (or she) was, gently swimming around the vase.
Yes, a vase.
We don't own a goldfish bowl, or fish-tank, and so have resorted to a vase.
It's not round. But it is quite big, and should be sufficient for Mickey to have a good exercise.
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Whilst I'm here, I thought I'd update you on my shares portfolio. You may recall that I invested in some shares a while back, and have been keenly watching the value ebb and flow with the stock market.
Well, things haven't been going so well. Everything has fallen in value, with my darling, Stagecoach, being the worst offender. OK, so I had a return of £40 when the dividend was paid, but then the quantity of shares was consolidated, so now I have less, with a much less return. In fact, the value now is a paltry fiver!
Tesco has slid backwards as well, worth just over a pound, and even Standard Life has reduced to just over £200.
BSkyB is holding on around the £12 mark.
BT were doing OK, but have also slid back.
Still - as I've always maintained, this is a long term investment, so hopefully things'll improve with time.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Little Fishy

It's Sunday. Another weekend over. They go so fast, don't they? Finish work on Friday, then in no time at all, it's back to work on Monday.
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It's been quite busy, even though the weather has been horrid for the time of year. It should be nice and sunny, preferably with a gentle breeze to keep the heat down.
Yesterday we stayed in for most of the day. Last night we watched a Sandra Bullock film; "Premonition". Not bad, but quite confusing, and from a continuity perspective; a nightmare to check. I've just checked on IMDB.com and there are 10 listed continuity errors.
Today - wet, wet, wet. Started with my niece's birthday party, then back home for a couple of hours. The boys wanted me to play my game on the PlayStation - Kingdom Hearts II.
I haven't played it for a while, and they were quite mesmerised by it.
Then, this afternoon, it was the school Garden Party. Now, it started at 12, but we didn't go until 2. We must have missed the best of it, because when we arrived, the heavens opened, and the afternoon turned into a total washout. I think everyone had a good time - and we came home with a goldfish - named Mickey?
We have had to manage the expectations of it's survival, with the children. The last one we had lasted about 3 days.
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Only one more week to the French Grand Prix at Magny Cours. I have been to that race - in 1994. My dad and I took the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre. Drove to the circuit, watched the race, the drove back to Le Harve for the return crossing. What a day. It must have been one of the hottest, and a fire engine kept driving around the track, spraying the spectators with water to keep up cool.
Not going there this year - got Silverstone to look forward to in a couple of weeks.
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Right - back to the TV and see what's on.
Have a good week at work. Will write again soon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Eyes Have It.

OK.
I've changed my mind.
Actually, I've had it changed for me.
Laser Eye Surgery is off the agenda.
The Wife was so against it, she called my mother. They had a nice long chat, and have persuaded me that it is not a good idea.
So - I called and cancelled.
I was a bit disappointed, but I'm sure I'll get over it. Anyway - maybe I'll consider contact lenses.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Speechless...

I'm running out of adjectives for Lewis Hamilton. I've also run out of breath. Yep. You guessed it. He's done it again. After getting himself on Pole Position, he has won the USA Grand Prix, at Indianapolis. Now with 58 World Championship points in the bag, notwithstanding this is only his seventh Grand Prix, what else can be said.

He is a genius behind the wheel of a Formula 1 racing car. The way in which he held off a challenge from his team-mate, Fernando Alonso, was pure brilliance. Not flinching. Not waivering. He just did what he had to do.

I am so looking forward to the British Grand Prix - it's going to be packed (and we'll need to make an early start if we're to get a good vantage point.)

I've bought the Drivers Cap, to go with the official team shirt. I've also invested in a couple of Walkman radios, so that we can hear what's happening around the track.
The Wife thinks I'm crazy. She can't understand why we're going all that way, to listen to it.

I've also bought a pair of sunglasses. Normal ones. Not sighted. This is the week. Laser surgery here I come. I can't say that nerves are not beginning to creep in. But I am very excited about it, and having done the research, spoken to people that have had it done, and to opticians (with favourable and unfavourable comments), then all I can say is "bring it on".

Friday, June 15, 2007

Showstoppers

We've just returned from a coupled of nights in London. Just the two of us. The children stayed at home (with the in-laws), and we had time to ourselves - with no clock watching.
We saw loads, and went to two fantastic shows.

Wicked is all about the Witches of Oz, before the story The Wizard of Oz. The sets and lighting were fab and the music was just outstanding. I'd forgotten how amazing a West End production is. It's currently showing at the Apollo Theatre, Victoria. A truly phenomenal show.

On Wednesday night, we saw "The Sound of Music".

Not so much of a surprise as Wicked, as the story is so well known. However, it was a pure delight, with amazing sets, and the music was terrific. Connie Fisher, winner of the BBC show "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?" was in it, and she has made the part her own.
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What else did we do? We went on the London Eye and took a Duck Tour. We walked and walked.
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We went on Virgin Trains, which took the strain out of the journey. It was great to relax and watch the countryside rush by.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Boy Done Good

Well, we had a lovely weekend, and it was topped off with the maiden victory for Lewis Hamilton.
It was an inspired drive by the rookie, in only his 6th Grand Prix, and with 4 safety car deployments, and a major crash by Robert Kubica.
McLaren have certainly delivered the package this year, and Alonso should be feeling extremely concerned for the defence of his championship.

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We spent the day in the garden, and inflated the Thomas the Tank Engine paddling pool. The Cousins came round, and they all splashed together. The Baby got in on the act too.
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Walking is the name of the game at the moment. The Baby has now started pulling himself up everywhere, and is attempting to get what he wants. This means moving his legs in a walking motion, and it won't be long before he's toddling around. The other two won't be too impressed when they realise he can follow them quicker than on hands and knees.
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Tomorrow, we're going to London for a couple of nights. We're both looking forward to it, and seeing the shows. We're letting the train take the strain, and have booked seats on the Virgin service to Euston. I'll report back, on our return.

Have a good few days.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Say Cheese

It's arrived. My new toy arrived, courtesy of Amazon, (well not courtesy because I had to pay them, but you know what I mean!) The Canon Ixus 850 IS is a dinky little thing. I've had a play and the image quality is startling, and the features amazing. In fact there are probably more features than I'll ever use, but now there's no excuse for not taking a good pic.
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Worked late tonight, and didn't get home until after 9.15. Knackered! That's why I'm still up. I need some time to wind down before going to bed. Still, mission accomplished (but I bet it's not appreciated in the slightest - I wouldn't be surprised. They just expect).
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At least it's Friday tomorrow, and another chance to wear my Vodafone McLaren Mercedes official top. It's the Montreal Grand Prix this weekend, and starting at 6pm, means I'll get to watch most of it.
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OK - that's about it. Sleep well and I'll write more soon.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

It Makes No Sense...

I know I've written once already today, but now I've had a chance to think about it, there is a little more to say.
  1. The bathroom is finally paid for
  2. I've paid off a lot of my credit card
  3. The Wife has just asked me to get a moth that's bothering her...
  4. The new Paul McCartney album "Memory Almost Full" is terrific
  5. The new logo for the 2012 Olympic Games is 'interesting'. Plenty of criticism now, but I bet it grows on us
  6. But for £400,000 of public money - can I get a refund?
  7. I will start editing the new Center Parcs video later this week. There isn't much to work with, so I might have to 'borrow' some footage from previous years

That's all. Just a reminder about little Madeleine McCann. Her parents are doing a sterling job by keeping her kidnapping in the public eye. I personally wonder how much longer the general public will continue to pay any attention. However, with 3 children of my own, I can't begin to understand their pain, but I can appreciate their need to keep up the pressure.

There was a report in the news today about parents letting their children only play out when supervised. One mother said that her son would not be allowed out on his own until he is 13. Mine aren't that old yet, and they are certainly not allowed out without one of us. It's indicitive of the times in which we live, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

Please also do not forget Alan Johnston; who this week was paraded on television (although no-one knows how old the video is).

Please remember to pray for their safe return.

We're baaaacckk...

Hi, miss me?
The car was loaded (roof box and three bikes on the back), the journey was non-eventful and the first Tuna Melt Pancake was delicious.
The weather wasn't wonderful, but otherwise we had a great time in Center Parcs. The kids had a ball, the activities were great (even though I never got to go scuba diving) and all-in-all we had fun.
  • Day one - swimming and barbeque
  • Day two - archery, zip wire (what a blast) and swimming
  • Day three - Club and swimming
  • Day four - Club and swimming
  • Day five - Pack the car and swimming
OK - so that isn't the extent of it, but it gives you a flavour of what we got up to.

Obituary
I was going to post a couple of photos to show you what we did... but I lost my camera.
My lovely Canon Ixus i5 decided to jump out of my pocket. I didn't notice and that was that. It was a great camera, that was easy to use, allowed a little creativity and the quality of the images was superb. Now, either someone else is using it, or it succumbed to the rain and damp and is no more.
Gone to that Megapixel in the Sky.
No Flowers.

However, don't be too upset. I've ordered a replacement, and this time have taken the opportunity to upgrade to 7,000,000 pixels (or 7 megapixels). The Canon Ixus 850IS - looks like a lovely little camera, and hopefully it will arrive soon.

So, now back at work, but there's plenty to look forward to. We've already booked Center Parcs for next year. This might be the last time here, and we might be looking to go further afield in 2009 (but let's not get too ahead of ourselves just yet).
Next week it's London for me and The Wife. Two nights aways, seeing a couple of shows and generally mooching about. (Better load the credit card...)

The week after I am due to have my laser-eye surgery.

So don't stray too far, I'll keep on posting, if you keep on visiting.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Two Sleeps To Go

First of all, without the wish to bore you, but it's only 2 more sleeps until we go to Center Parcs. I found it on Google Earth the other day, and showed the boys where we're going. The clarity is amazing, and it was exciting to see the pool, the playgrounds, villas and surrounding areas.
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Tomorrows Monaco Grand Prix looks like it's going to be an exciting one. Lewis Hamilton did an amazing job, and was just beaten to pole, by his team mate, Fernando Alonso. Massa did well to come back - but it's an all McLaren front row, and it would be amazing if Lewis pulled off his maiden F1 victory here. I'd have a bet, but the odds would be rubbish now.
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The Baby is going to his first birthday party tomorrow. He hasn't got a clue, but The Wife is looking forward to it.
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Going to pack the car in the afternoon, so we can make an early start on Monday. So lots of packing to do during the day, to make sure we've got everything.
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Possibly going to see Pirates of the Caribbean - At Worlds End, tomorrow night, with my brother-in-law. Still to be confirmed, and the boys will be very jealous. They've got a pack of Top Trumps from the last Pirates film, and they want to see this film as well. It's rated as a 12A, but I'll see it first, to check it out.
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Right - time to go to bed, for the first of the last 2 sleeps. If I don't write again for a week - please forgive me. I'll report on the holiday when we return.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It's Grand Prix Weekend

This is probably the greatest Grand Prix circuit in the world, in one of the most majestic of settings.
Monaco, on the south coast of France, has all the ingredients for a perfect race weekend.
The people, the setting, the weather.
As for the championship, Lewis is 2 points clear, and although he has found the limit, during practice yesterday, I'm sure he'll find himself on the podium for a fifth consecutive outing. What an achievement that'll be.
To quote Ron Dennis;
"This is a mistake all drivers make of all standards. It's not something I will level any criticism at. I'd obviously rather not have a bent racing car but, under the circumstances, we're pretty comfortable with his contribution to this season. He still has a few Brownie points in hand."

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Not Long Now...

Only a few days until we go to Center Parcs. Quite frankly, and I'm sure I've mentioned this a few times, but I can't wait.
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There isn't much to report at the moment. Had a couple of late nights at work, with a heavy schedule to get completed. Personally, I'd like to get it done before I finish on Friday, and the way things are going, this is a possibility.
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My brother-in-law has come up with a business idea, and he has asked me to print out some images, for the patent office. There are 37 pages, and I'm not yet halfway through - but they're good quality, and hopefully he'll be pleased with the results. I should get them to him by Friday.
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It's our 10th wedding anniversary on Friday - I know, I can't believe it either. Where have they gone. Anyway, apparently, 10 is Tin, so I thought about buying a roll of aluminium tin foil, and a baking tray! No!

I've already said there won't be any flowers - especially as we won't be here to enjoy them. And as we're also going to see a couple of shows in London, then I think that's enough.
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The Wife has gone off the idea of laser eye surgery. A number of people she has spoken to have put her off. Me, on the other hand, have spoken to people who are quite happy, and even my parents aren't against the idea. In fact, they've offered to come up and chauffeur me to and from the appointment. How surprised was I!
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Well, that's all for now. I'm looking forward to the practice and Monaco Grand Prix this weekend - Go Lewis...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Burning the midnight oil

It's nearly midnight, and I'm still up.
I can't seem to drag myself away from the PC, and whilst I'm exhausted, hopefully I can have a lie-in tomorrow morning.
I've been surfing around, looking at blogs, and wandering what I can do differently, to generate some interest.
I notice that I am fairly insular (and talk about me quite a lot), but then, that is what this blog is about. My family, and my take on what's going on around me.
However, maybe I should focus on some of the important things in the world;
like Madeleine McCann who has been missing for 2 weeks. Or Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped 2 months ago. These are the important people.
Global warming is important. So what am I doing about it? I'm going to measure my 'carbon footprint' then see what can be done to reduce it.
We already recycle as much as we can, but I know there is more we can do.
OK - it's bed time.
Please pray for Madeleine and Alan. We live in troubled times, and hope is all we have for their safe return.

Quote Me Happy...

At last - Friday.
I was quoted by the BBC today. On their "Have Your Say" page they had a thread called "What is your favourite beach".

I couldn't resist - "You can't beat the beaches in Bournemouth. During the summer, I used to walk along the beach to get to work in Bournemouth town centre. On a beautiful sunny day, when the crowds have yet to descend onto the sands, it's a lovely place to be. So peaceful. Just the sound of the waves lapping onto the beach. Happy memories. "

Anyway - later I went back to the "Have Your Say" page, to see if there were any new discussions, and at the top there was my quote "You can't beat the beaches in Bournemouth." Attributed to me as well.
Chuffed? I should co co.
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So, it's the weekend, the weather forecast doesn't look all that good, so need to think of something to keep the kids busy. Maybe their cousins can come round to play.
Even better - we could go to them and save the mess!!
There will be karate on Sunday, which they both enjoy, and maybe we'll go swimming (if there are no parties).
I'll report back after the weekend.
Enjoy yourselves.

Finding Madeleine

It's been two weeks, and still little Madeleine McCann is missing. Snatched from her bed at a resort in Praia da Luz, on the Algarve, this is a heart-rending story, and we can only pray for her safe return.
I have attached a banner on the right, you can see the full one below.

Banner1

Please click on the banner, which will take you to their website.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Labouring The Point

Welcome to Thursday. Yes, just one day until the weekend. And what a week it's been. Well, actually, it's not been too bad, but I've been so tired...
Anyway.
The bathroom is finally finished, and the boys have christened the bath. There'll be a final photo here soon.
The Baby has discovered he can pull the plug out (something he couldn't do in the old bath). He also managed to climb onto the door of the dishwasher as The Wife was emptying it. She turned around and there he was, sat in a pool of water!
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Shares are doing quite well at the moment. Currently on a high, with a 25% gain (that's £289 in money terms). So, I'm quite pleased.
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Now, what's this about Gordon Brown having to wait 6 weeks before he can officially become Prime Minister. What's the point in waiting. There is no leadership challenge - did you really think there would be - so instead of pansying about, let Tony leave now, and let Gordon get on with the job in hand. I'm not a Labour supporter, I just want what's best for everyone, and letting TB have a prolonged exit is no good for the country.
There, said it.
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Not long until Center Parcs. The Boys are so excited (and so am I).
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OK - Hustle is on TV now - so off to watch some great drama from the BBC...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Go Lewis... Go Lewis

Wow - what a race. Lewis Hamilton. What an amazing young man. Now, that wasn't meant to sound condescending, but c'mon. At 22 years, he is leading the Formula 1 world championship, in his debut year, and the next race is Monace. He hasn't lost in Monaco.
I have never known a Grand Prix season like it.

So what else can I tell you. I wasn't well over the weekend, but feel a whole lot better now.

The bathroom is nearly finished. Just the basin to be plumbed in and that's it.

Oh yeah - and I've re-arranged my eye appointment. The name of the company is Optimax. They have places all over the country, and this is in the centre of Manchester. It costs £600 less than the quoted price, and someone I know had their eyes done last week at the same place.
Bought the surgery on eBay! Actually, I just called them and asked for the eBay price and jobs done.

Only 2 weeks to Center Parcs. I've completed the online pre-registration, which will speed things up when we arrive. I can't wait for the scuba diving. But then there's also the zip wire, swimming, archery and laser fight. (What is it with me and lasers!) Hopefully, we'll all have a great time.

Right, time to do a little more studying, then it's to bed for a good nights sleep.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Lewis Hamilton - Popular or what?

With the Spanish Grand Prix taking place this weekend, and the F1 talk all about Lewis Hamilton, this graph shows how popular he is in the online world.
He has already posted the fastest time in practice today - with the top 8 coming within a second of each other.
It should be a great race, and with a new chicane, hopefully some good overtaking opportunities.

Posts that contain Lewis Hamilton per day for the last 30 days.
Technorati Chart
Get your own chart!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bathroom Update

Hi all
Just thought I'd drop by and update you on the progress so far.
With the bath installed, the tiling has been completed, along with feature tiles, and the grouting.
The radiator has been given a new lick of paint, and the shower and screen have been fitted.
The plan for tomorrow is to fit the lino flooring and skirting board.

I've not been too well over the last couple of days, and neither has Number Two. We've both had temperatures, and other symptoms. I have a feeling this could be something we picked up at the pool at the weekend, as that is the only thing we have in common, and none of the others came with.

Anyway, I feel a lot better today, and have also lost 5lbs! I also took the opportunity to do some studying today. I've nearly finished the PRINCE2 course, and will start the case studies in the next couple of days.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Wonder of Wonders

I'm so excited... apparently my course materials have arrived, so now I can work towards my the PRINCE2 foundation exam. It will add another string to my bow - and another qualification on my CV.
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Before I forget, I wanted to tell you about a small show we're going to see next weekend. "The Gruffalos' Child" is being put on at The Lowry, and my cousin is the director of the theatre group putting the show on. Tall Stories has been going since 1996, and has had productions Off-Broadway in New York.

Anyway, they did The Gruffalo, the production of which can be bought on DVD, and now the follow-up story is heading north.

I'm so proud of her, and we're looking forward to seeing the next show.
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The electricians turned up today - so now there is light in the bathroom.
Miracles never cease, and I can't wait to see them.
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The Center Parcs information pack arrived today, so now we can book our activities. The Boys already appear to have a busy schedule, with Fencing and Archery amongst them. Some friends are coming round this evening to have a look and choose.
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That's it.

It's nearly the weekend, so relax and enjoy.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Polling Day

It's voting day, for the local elections. I feel it's important to have a say. We have a democratic right to vote, and even though the choice isn't strong, if we don't vote we can't complain about the state of the political scene. Since I've never voted Labour, I have to choose between Tory or Lib Dems...
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You may have noticed the image on the right, of Alan Johnston, the BBC reporter kidnapped in Gaza. You can click on the image to get more information, and add your name to the petition to get him released.
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I also wanted to report on an amazing day yesterday, for my shares.
BSkyB announced their annual results, which were way above market expectations, pushing their share price up 7%. I sat and watched the value of my holding increase overall by £20 in one day.
OK - so it's not a vast amount, and The Wife brought me down to earth by saying that today they could lose £30! Spoil sport.
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I spent an hour in the gym last night. Had a really good workout - concentrating on cardio exercise, as well as some weights.
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Tiling has begun in the bathroom. Good progress being made there.
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Finally - I've decided to look into laser eye surgery. It would be wonderful not having to wear glasses. And, The Wife is all for the idea. I've requested an information pack and will keep you informed.
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Right then - it's off to work.
Have a good day.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Twice In One Day

I just wanted to report on two things.

1. Today I invested in more shares. In Photo-Me International. They're cheap (75p), and they appear to be on the up. So, we'll watch and see. The Standard Life shares powered ahead, and even Sky didn't do too badly. Tesco, on the other hand, didn't fair so well, and was one of the FTSEs biggest fallers of the day. Stagecoach remained fairly static, as did BT.

2. The bath has now been installed in the bathroom. Maybe that should have been point number one.

That's all.

Center Parcs - Here we come...

Finally, it's just a month until our annual trip to Center Parcs.

The Wife has written a list of all the things we need to take. I'm a little concerned that the kitchen sink is being left behind! Given everything else on the list, it would be easier to bring Center Parcs to us...

But really, it's fantastic fun, with lots of fresh air, swimming, walking and cycling.

We're waiting for the pack that they send, which has all the activities in, so we can pre-book.
The boys will go to club, and I think Number One is interested in doing the archery this year.
I quite fancy doing scuba diving, so I might book that.

Then we'll take it in turns for a boys night / girls night, with the other half babysitting.

What's more, it won't matter what the weather is like, we always go prepared. And so what if it rains. We can just go to the pool, and get wet there.

This is beginning to sound like an advert for the place, but this is our 5th time, so it must be good.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Payday

Yep, it's the last day of April (where is the year going?) and I got paid today.

What's more, the bathroom has now been painted, and some of the floorboards have been replaced. The plan tomorrow, apparently, is for the electrician to do his stuff, and the bath to be installed.

Then, the tiling, then the flooring. We should really start to see some changes now. But, I've included an up to date pic so you can see where we're at.


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Just watched the latest episode from 'Lost'. Wow. What a great show, and the cliffhanger is terrific. I've just updated my iPod with the latest podcast 'The Lost Initiative'. Fans discuss the theories and the goings on about what's happening on the island. It's totally over the top, but a great listen.
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Had a lovely weekend, and we went cycling in Heaton Park yesterday. Even I got my bike out and went for a ride.

On Saturday, I bought a bike carrier, so we can take the bikes away to Center Parcs. It works out cheaper than hiring them, and also means we don't have to queue for ages.
We also went swimming, so overall, a very keep fit kinda weekend.
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That's about it really. I'm off for an early night. I stayed up and watched "The Sting" last night. A great film with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. If you've not seen it - watch it. The music is also fantastic, with one of my all time favourites, "The Entertainer", played beautifully on the piano.

Sleep well.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Who needs a title - just read...

It's Thursday at last.
Over halfway through the week.
On Monday evening, we spontaneously decided to go to the theatre. There was an Agatha Christie play at The Lowry, called "The Unexpected Guest" and I quite fancied going to see it.
Since I had finished work at 3 o'clock (due to a late finish on Friday), there was no particular rush.

So I booked the tickets, and got seats 6 rows from the front. Excellent view, and the play was terrific. Normally we go to shows, but this was something different. No song and dance, just good, old fashioned acting. And it was very well performed.
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I've decided to give up the spread-betting business. It was not doing my health any good, and it's impossible to concentrate when at work. Still, the shares still exist, and I'll keep an eye on them.
In fact, I can report that in the 8 weeks since I started, the value of my holdings has risen by £100. Not a bad return on investment, with Stagecoach seeing an 18% rise on their own.
Find me a savings account that returns that amount!
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Bathroom is now plastered and looking more like a room. Waiting for the electrician to come and put the lights in.
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So, off to work now. More regression testing - borrrring. Still, that's what we're there to do, so will make the most of it.

Have a nice day

Monday, April 23, 2007

Happy St Georges' Day

Here we go again. You'll notice from the time of this blog, that I'm up early ready to attack another day.
The weather is looking very overcast, although we've come to expect more from April.

Yesterday was my nephews birthday party. He's 2 today. There was a bouncy castle in the garden, and thankfully it didn't rain, so the boys threw themselves around a bit.

My brother-in-law is due to restart the bathroom project, now that his wife is home, with their newborn. She is so tiny (the newborn, not the wife).

I took Number Two for a short bike ride yesterday. Well, he wanted some exercise, and he needs to get more confident. However, I did notice that the saddle is a little too low, so his knees come up to his chin, as he pedals. I'll sort that out next weekend.

Number Three is extremely active now, seemingly being able to get anywhere. Now he can kneel up at the table in the lounge, that area of safety is no longer.
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So last week I forgot to mention my latest fuel bill. A HUGE £700 for one quarter. Followed by a letter from Powergen, telling me that my monthly direct debits were being raised to £287. Ouch.
I called them, and we finally managed on a £160 monthly DD, but I had to settle £200 up front! I know fuel prices had risen (and are about to drop again) but that was crazy. And I gave the readings, so it wasn't even an estimated bill.
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On the spread betting front, I'm not going to get too greedy this week. I have read some articles, done more research, and am going to put a plan in place. Nice and steady.

It wasn't a good week on the shares front either. But by close of business on Friday, the markets had rallied, and now my holding is at its highest point. So, good news there.
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Right, that's a quick update for you. I'm going to gather my stuff togethere, and head off to work.

There'll be more later in the week.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Spread 'em

Quite a lot has been happening over the last few days - not least the fact that my brother-in-law plumber has become a dad 3 weeks earlier than expected. So the bathroom re-fitting is now on hold for approximately a week.
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Place your bets - I wish I had. The Baby successfully chose the winner of this years Grand National, Silver Birch. The odds were 33/1 but I didn't place a bet, so failed to capitalise on his brilliance!

On the subject of bets, I have recently started Spread betting.

This is a method of speculating on a number of things, whether financial, sporting or political. I am more interested in the financial specualtion, and it is great fun watching how the markets perform and taking a punt on what will happen next.

Last Friday I bet (£2/point) that the FTSE100 would go up in value. It was a roller-coaster ride until lunchtime, when things started to even out, and I finished the day £70 up. Not bad for a starter.

I'm using a company called IG Index and they have a training programme called Tradesense. This is a six week course, during which the bets can be just pence, therefore allowing you to get comfortable with the overall concept of spread betting.

Finally - some news on my shares. Not a good week. The market dropped quite low on Thursday, which meant some of the value was reduced. However, Stagecoach bounced back like a trooper.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Hot Stuff (and I don't just mean the plumbing!)


Just In - New photos showing progress of the bathroom.

Here you can see the plumbing for the shower on the wall, and the new pipework for the bath, under the window.

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Malaysian Grand Prix

Phew! That was one of the most exciting grand prix races I have seen in years. The Mercedes Mclarens of Fernando Alonso disappearing into the distance, and Lewis Hamilton as he held off the attack from Felipe Massa, and later in the race, Kimi Raikkonen, was a joy to watch.

It was breathtaking, edge of the seat stuff.

That is what Formula 1 is all about.

With Lewis having taken 2nd and 3rd place in his first two races, I'm looking forward to his maiden grand prix victory.

Roll on Bahrain...

I started by listening to the race on BBC Radio 5 Live (on my digital radio) and watching the pictures on ITV. I then decided to join the rest of the family, and finished watching the race with ITV commentary. I have decided, though, that I will get a couple of cheap 'transistor' radios and take them to the British Grand Prix later this year. I can then hear the whole commentary and know what is happening on the part of the track I can't see (which will be most of it!)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

I've not written for a while, so thought I would take this opportunity to play catch-up.

The bathroom work is moving on apace; the first fix is now complete, with all plumbing in place. The ceiling has also been done, and the new loft hatch in place. Next job is to plasterboard the walls.

More photos will be added soon. So watch this space. Well, not this space, but another entry in the blog!!
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It's Bank Holiday weekend, and today we went to Moss Bank Park in Bolton. The weather was scorching (reaching an unseasonal 18 degrees). The kids had fun in the sun, sandpit and on the fairground attractions. Number One Son also had a go on his Heeley's; to the amusement of many.

The Baby had fun crawling everywhere, and discovered that he can climb up steps (although has difficulty coming down, without hurting himself). I sat him in the climbing frame this evening and he enjoyed looking out of the different openings.

Tomorrow we're planning on going to Chester Zoo - the weather is expected to be exceptional again, so should be fun.

It's also the Malaysian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton is 4th on the grid, so fingers-crossed for another fine performance. I wanted to wear my Vodafone Mclaren Mercedes top, but The Wife has decreed that I can't wear 100% polyester t-shirt to the zoo! I don't see why not. Other people wear their favourite football shirts.
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So you're wondering how the shares are looking? Well, it's been an up and down week, but on the whole, progress has been good. But - as I've said before, it's a long-term thing, so let's not worry about the small downs, and hope for the eventual growth.
Mind you - the legal battle between Sky and Virgin could have a nasty effect...

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