Friday, December 23, 2005

All I want for Christmas ...

... is to be out of boxes.

Well, to have enough clear space to relax, anyhoo.

We're largely sorted - for the every-day stuff. We've got a lounge area - yes, area: there are still boxes at one end of the room. We've got a working kitchen - if you don't mind stepping round a box or two. We've got bedrooms (though ours looks like a store room). At least, the kids are sorted. We've got bathrooms (count 'em: 1, 2, 3!). So all in all, it's largely sorted.

The garage on the other hand ... well, let's just say you won't be able to fit the car in. Or, in fact, the bicycles. They're in the shed. Buried under a lawn-mower and a barbecue.

Roll on New Year!

Festive greetings to you all.

Friday, December 16, 2005

All together now ...

Well .. okay, so I've been a little lapse in blogging recently. I do have an excuse. Sort of. I've moved house - and the 'puter's been innabox.

Which brings us neatly (erm ...) to the matter of NTL and the bungled transfer of services. We booked the house move for the 14th December. I asked for a slot late in the shift as we knew we'd not be at the property until 2:00 pm. I had a text from their chaps confirming the afternoon of the 14th as the day to connect the new service. On the 5th, our service got cut off at the (old) house. Several frustrating calls later it transpired that they'd got the date wrong somehow. A few more calls later and we had the television services reinstated. Two more calls and we had broadband back again.

Come the big day, we arrived at the new property at around half past 2 to find a "we missed you" card from NTL saying they had called at 12:15. I called the number to contact the installation guy who was reluctant to come back as he had a Christmas party to go to. I pressed him and in the end he called in some help from another team who installed the new kit in double-quick time, and left without fully testing the service. A few calls later (can you spot the pattern here, yet?) we had broadband - but as we had no television yet we couldn't test the TV signal.

The following day - having plugged in our telly - we had interactive services, but no picture or sound. Another phone call got some channels working, some with jerky pictures and the odd squeak in the soundtrack, with BBC1 having no picture and just blips and farts for sound. By now they'd closed their helpline. Sleep well, NTL!

This morning, a last phone call (got straight through .. how does that work?), and a technician [who - no doubt - calls himself an engineer, Grr] who efficiently fixed the problem by fitting the appropriate filter. Seems the signal was too strong. Go figure!

Welcome to Derbyshire!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I'll be fine ..

.. as long as there's a bed beneath the stars that shine

Well: I've made a decision. I have accepted a job. I still need to sell the house and find another one to live in .. but at least we're a step nearer to nirvana.

On the home front, we've somehow managed to get ourselves down to one child in the house. It's all spookily quiet. This post could have had a line from that Bjork track, or a snatch of "I just don't know what to do with myself". This is all just a distraction, however.

Talking of which - despite the quiet - I can't concentrate, so I'll stop now.

Give me a minute, a man's got a limit ...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

So tell me, ma, what’s it gonna be ...

Would you believe it! You wait for ages, and then two come along at once. Job offers, that is - in this case.

Yes! The cat's out of the bag. Now that everyone knows, I can heave a sigh of relief - and perhaps start the process of getting my sanity back.

So, now: which to choose - and where to live? Right now, I'm stuffed if I know. I'm just trusting that it'll all become clear in good time to do something about it. Do I go here, or here? Answers on a postcard ...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Will you still need me, will you still feed me ...

.. perhaps not.

It appears that age discrimination is rife in the IT industry. The Register reports there are new regulations afoot to combat enforced early retirement - but perhaps that's not the whole story. According to Computer Weekly, the kids don't get an easy ride either. S'ard life, eh?

Don't ask me why this issue has been worrying me lately - just make sure you're not being patronised.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Turn, turn, turn

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
ecclesiastes 3:1-8

.. and a time to move on.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A, B, C, D, ...

... can I have my friend to tea?

I just got doorstepped by a young chap selling educational books. A fine summer job indeed! We haven't yet decided - but as we home educate (which I believe I've said before) - we might just make his day. The last one, I gather, before starting back at Uni. I don't normally go in for inviting salesmen into my humble abode - but hey, what goes around comes around, Right?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

But the money's no good ...

... just get a grip on yourself

No. That's not at all relevent to this post - but hey, it's a great track. The Stranglers. OK, I'm probably showing my age here - but what a great band. Good enough for Keith Floyd; good enough for me. Cooking and drinking wine to the strains of "Peaches". Life doesn't get much better than that.

I had a "small world" moment the other day. Working away, chatting about an ex-colleague who left to roam the world and reading his blog. Glanced at the ol' Instant Messenger window (GAIM, if you must know - none of that M$ rubbish), and lo! There he was - online. Said "Hi!", had a quick chat - and got reminded that it was 2 a.m. in 'Frisco. Oops. Never will get the hang of that timezone stuff. Still: good to keep in touch with old friends on the other side of the planet.

Time for food and beer.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

It's Oh So Quiet ...

Not much chatter here, recently.

All I can say is: mum's the word.

And so peaceful until ..

Monday, September 05, 2005

Heard from friends of mine ...

Surprise #1: I got a 'phone call from the Estate Agent on Saturday. Apparently, a chap who had looked round our house recently wants to buy it. He made a cheeky offer, of course - still, there's a starter for negotiation.

Surprise #2: There was a knock at the door near Saturday lunchtime. There was an old friend. An ex-boyfriend of my wife's, actually. After the usual "blimey, how are you?" conversation, he said
"has the state agent called you?"
"Erm .. yes"
"It's me!"

Well, who'd have predicted that? Our house is to be sold to someone we know - and an ex at that! Small world ...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I'll ask 21 questions, and they all about us*

I love the questions children ask. Love meant in a sarcastic way - and then sometimes quite genuinely. My children are home-educated - as you may be aware - so questions are a important and should be answered truthfully and with enough information to either provoke further questions, or satisfy the curiosity.

No2 son asked his first "why" question yesterday - as has been documented elsewhere. Yesterday evening, No2 daughter - who's been picking away at the issue of babies, birth and more recently, conception, having an interest in biology - asked "so, how does the man's seed get into the woman, then?".

Answers on a postcard ...

[*] I would've picked a line from Eminem's "3 Questions" - but there weren't any clean ones ... and there were only two questions ;^)

Friday, August 12, 2005

So long farewell, auf weidersehen good-bye ...

Gone! All gone!

I bid a fond farewell to my trusty (and rusty) 400/4. I nice old bloke came to take it away.

I took my (now) wife for our first date on that bike. We went to see the bonfire celebrations .. and it broke down about a mile before we got there. A pivotal moment in our relationship.

I do have the reassurance that it'll be restored and running again sometime :^)

Bye, bye.

Friday, August 05, 2005

I'm on the road again ...


I've got my bike back. I've got my bike back! <insert photos here>

T'was only a chafed wire and a blown fuse - apparently. And they didn't charge me the earth for it. Good ol' Alf's.

What's more, my 400/4 has some bids: not as much as I'd like, but more that I'd feared.

.. shame it's raining today, really ... :^/

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Down down deeper and down ...

I don't believe it!

The day from hell ... and I get to sound more and more like Victor Meldrew.

I start my wonderful new motorbike (see previous post). I ride off to work. Well, towards work. I get about 1.5 miles and .. it breaks down. I don't believe it!

Now I take this fairly philosphically. I decide to phone the breakdown service. After much repeating of the information, I'm told someone will be with me in under an hour. Oh, well. It's not raining. I'll wait here, then.

An hour and a half later (though they had phoned me, to be fair), I'm on-board the truck and heading for the nearest bike garage. They're closed. Closed! I don't believe it! So: two hours after I set off, I'm back home - with a bike which won't go. :^(

I decide to take the morning off and go in after lunch. I tinker with the bike's electrics (which is my initial diagnosis: watch this space to find the cause - once it's fixed) to no avail.

Having hurried my lunch, I run to the station. I've just missed a train and the net one's not for twenty-five minutes. I don't believe it. Well, I suppose I do. I'm beginning to get rather fatalistic about today.

I try in vain to squeeze a day's work into half a day: it doesn't fit. On the way home .. the train braks down. I. Don't. Believe. It! This is getting silly. Everything I touch today turns up crap. Bummer. I'm supposed to be going over to see a mate tonight for a couple of beers. I vow not to take the car as it's the only form of transport left.

Actually from there, the day wasn't so bad - though I did spend over an hour getting to, and over an hour getting home from the mate's house .. only to spend 50 minutes there 'cos the last train's really early round here.

Do-be-do down, down.

Friday, July 29, 2005

I'm gonna hit the highway like a battering ram ...

Well, it's not silver and black, but ...

I've got a new bike! I've got a new bike!

Actually, of course, I've got two - but the old one will now be disposed of (preferably for profit).

The kids think it's cool (and so do I). I've nearly got the hang of it, too :^)

.. when the metal is hot and the engine is hungry ...

Gotta go ..!

Friday, July 22, 2005

And so as you hear these words telling you now of my state*

A classic conversation (well, monologue really) overheard on the train this morning:

"They're always following me. They walk behind me all the way from the station. But they're really clever: every day it's a different person."

.. just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you!

[*] for the Garbage fans, this should perhaps be subtitled "I nailed my faith to the sticking pole"

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Call the cops!

OK, OK. I understand that the bombing in London is bound to have some effects. It was terrible. We were listening from miles away and we were still in shock.

What I wasn't prepared for is police carrying guns at my local station. Now, I know that they're most likely to be highly trained. Trained in handling firearms safely. Trained to spot suspicious behaviour. But I'm thinking: well, suspicious behaviour is likely to include sympoms of being tense or nervous. And here's my problem: when I see a couple of coppers younger than me brandishing automatic rifles, I'm feeling tense and nervous. So I'm trying to act calm. But hang on - isn't that just what a suspect will be doing? Should I go ahead and act nervous? I can see that the magazines are translucent and I can see the rounds. Damn! I don't really like this!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Somebody's watching me ...

... and I have no privacy.

Eek! I've been infiltrated!![1] The missus has not only linked to my blog, but commented, too. Better watch my Ps and Qs properly, now ;^)

This weekend was a bit weird: eldest daughter has gone to Portugal for a fortnight and eldest son went to Crusaders' Spree camp. Oddly quiet. Until, that is, Sunday morning (mid lie-in) we got a call to say that he was sick during the night and could we please come to take him home early? We duly race across the county to be greeted by him bouncing across the field to us, obviously feeling much better. Still: he enjoyed himself - whch was the main point. Another hurdle cleared. It's all a bit scary, this children-growing-up thing. Leaving the nest step by step. Having to let go.

Introversion aside, we did gain the fringe benefit of a relaxing afternoon, cooking in the sunshine (glad we weren't stuck in a traffic-jam), drinking beer. Very pleasant it was, too.

I'm now left with glowing skin, mild dehydration, a mild headache and slightly blurred vision. To be honest, the blurred vision is largely because I forgot my glasses this morning. C'est le vie :^)

[1] I'll stop with the exclamation marks right there. You know what they say: one indicates surprise, two suggests shock and three is probably Parkinson's. Not funny if you've got Parkinson's, of course - but a good rule of thumb anyhow.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The best part of breaking up ...

I thought some about this one ... and ended up googling (like you do). I found a joke, and here it is:

A guy is at home watching the football, when his wife interrupts “Could you fix the Fridge door? It won’t close properly.” “Fix the fridge door? Does it look like I have Zanussi written on my forehead? I don’t think so.”
“Fine!” she says, “Then could you at least fix the steps to the front door? They’re about to break.”
“Does it look like I’ve got Ronseal written on my forehead? I don’t think so. I’ve had enough of this, I’m going to the pub!” So he goes to the pub and drinks for a couple of hours. When he arrives home, he notices that the steps are fixed. He goes to the fridge to get a beer and notices that the fridge door is also fixed. “Honey, how’d this all get fixed?”
“Well” she says, “when you left, I sat outside and cried. Just then a nice and very handsome young man asked me what was wrong, so I told him. He offered to do all the repairs, and all I had to do was bake him a cake OR have sex with him.”
“So, what kind of cake did you bake him?”, he asked.
She replied: “HELLO!!?... Do you see Mr. Kipling written on my forehead?............I don’t think so!!"

Anyhoo .. the fridge door broke yesterday. Huge fridge; big door. Hinges not-quite-up-to-the-job it seems. (Not hepled, it has to be said, by its users who load the heavy milk bottles right away from the hinge.) All of the components are switchable - so I'll just hang it the other way. Undo the hinge bits. Fit the top one. Fit the middle one (between the fridge and freezer doors). [Didn't I say? It's a fridge-freezer.] And now, the bottom hinge .. which .. doesn't go the other side. Bugger. Back to square one .. and all back to the original way round. So whadda we do now? Fix the effing thing - that's what.

All back now, and hastily patched with a frankenstein metal-plate-and-screws affair [photos to follow] and mucho wood glue ('cos it sets good'n' hard).

Another evening gone ...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Ain't she sweet ...?

Just remembered: a conversation from holiday. [NB: this is a precis, as I don't have perfect memory!]

Eldest son and youngest daughter - overheard passing a buffalo enclosure at the Suffolk Wildlife Park in Kessingland near Lowestoft:

son:[having read sign] oh, those are buffalo
daughter:there's no such thing as a buffalo
son:yes, of course there is
me:yes, there is: there's one over there
daughter:but I read it in a book: "there's no such thing as a buffalo"
me:which book?
daughter:"The Buffalo"
[pause while I ponder this one]
[flash of inspiration]
me:do you mean "The Gruffalo"?
daughter:oh, yes

Dontcha love kids?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Holiday ...


As my wife has discovered that I read her blog, it seems fair to assume that she'll read mine. Ah: but I can employ the power of inane drivel! that might just deter her from reading it [in the belief that there's nothing worth reading]. Then again ...

We've just [well, the evening of the day before yesterday] returned from holiday. Very relaxing it was too. In fact, perhaps the most relaxing holiday ever.

Chapter 1: What I did on my holidays

We did a mini trip round England. Not all of it, of course: that would take more that the fortnight we had. So: we can't say we did the country justice, but we did take in Suffolk, Yorkshire and the West Midlands.

A few years ago we did a similar, slightly more adventurous trip. This time, we had three more children and a whole load of kit. So: fewer stops. The whole "camp" took around two and a half hours to set up each time. And the same to pack it up again. We did manage this pack-up .. drive .. set-up in one day - but boy was it tiring!

Chapter 2: Equipment

  1. Big, big tent

    Despite the fact that we drive a boxy ol' people carrier, we could park the car in the living area of this baby. The last site we pitched on got their tape measures out and declared it 8m x 6m, with a note of caution that some sites wouldn't be able to accommodate it! Oops.

  2. High-rise queen-size airbed with built-in pump

    Oooh: it's huge! And my but it's comfortable! Many complaints from the children that their beds were no where near as good.

  3. Powered coolbox

    Keep those beers good'n' chilly. Works in the car, too. Carried on working for a fortnight straight without problems. Gotta keep it out of the sun, though [else it doesn't work so good].


Now I sit in my shorts in the air-conditioned office, looking at the cloudy skies and thinking that, on balance, perhaps I should have worn grown-up trousers.

Ho, hum.

Good to be back, good to be back ...


OK - enough with the Gary Glitter. After a long absence, I've decided to revisit my blog. With renewed enthusiasm [yeah, right] I will record my life, loves and discoveries for all to see.

For all to see: wow, that sounds a bit heavy when you think about it. For all to see. That's, like, everybody - potentially - on the planet. Woah. Better mind my Ps and Qs. Don't want to end up like that air hostess [sorry, Flight Attendant] who lost her job over her blog, now do I?

OK: so [in theory, at least] my words are being monitored. If not now, then perhaps in the future. You've see the WayBackMachine, right? See this. Kewl, no? It all means that it'll all be seen by everyone forever. Heavy.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

All is quiet on New Year's Day ...

And, so: back to work. Same old, same old. Or is it? New Year, new beginning. Opportunities to start over: to rights the wrongs, correct the faults, make it shiny and bright.

This year: no resolutions, just a determination to avoid slipping back into bad, old habits.

And make sure to get the future sorted. (Oh, to be forty and out-of-debt!)