Saturday, 31 December 2016

1612.31 THE END

As year draws to a close many reflect on the events of the year. Some say that 2016 has been a really bad year and in many respects. Political upheaval, celebrity deaths as well as the usual war and terror. It's difficult not to say it's been a bad year. 

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

1612.28 MAY THE FORCE BE WITH HER

As I sit here trying to contemplate what to write I am still numb with shock at the passing of Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher. The world were hoping for her recovery following her suffering a heart attack on a flight from the UK as she travelled home for Christmas. I am truly gutted.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

1612.25 THE CAPTAIN'S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

Well that's another year almost over, another year closer to the grave. So Christmas comes around once again and as always I find myself reflecting on the year behind me.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

1612.24 T'WAS THE NIGHT BEFORE...

So we made it here. The shopping is done and all the wrapping is complete. Now it's time to sit back, relax and maybe have a beer.

As we all breathe a sigh of relief I'd like to share a little Christmas miracle with you.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

1612.22 WHAT ABOUT BOB CRATCHETT?

Watching or reading most Christmas media shows the build up to the big day as a pleasant experience where everyone smiles whilst shopping and brass bands play carols in the background. Is this a really the case?

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

1612.20 BERLIN

I was about to write a post about the lead up to Christmas (and I still might) but then suddenly last night things were horrorfyingly put into perspective.

Monday, 19 December 2016

1612.19 CHRISTMAS TV PICK II

So as promised, here is my pick for festive TV for that 'no mans land' of Christmas, the middle bit between the big day and New Year.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

1612.15 THE TRAIT I SHARE WITH DAN AYKROYD...

...and others.

I've been asked about fact #2 from my previous blog post (Versatile Award) where I revealed that a shared a trait with a number of celebrities.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

1612.14 VERSATILE AWARD AND BIG PRAISE

I love these awards where you are nominated by fellow bloggers. Earlier this year I was nominated for the Liebster Award which was a huge honour. To be recognised by other bloggers for doing something you enjoy is a wonderful thing.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

1612.11 CHRISTMAS TV PICK

It's a Christmas tradition in many households to get the TV listings magazine and scour it for seasonal offerings. In these days of digital guides and EPGs it's nice to have something tangible and physical. My choice (as it is with so many others) is the seasonal edition of the oldest of the TV listings magazines; Radio Times.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

1612.07 DOCTOR STRANGE

Tonight I went to see Marvel's latest offering, "Doctor Strange" starring Benedict Cumberlandsausage.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

1612.06 CRACK OUT THE CHRISTMAS MOVIES

We normally put up the tree and decorations on the first weekend in December. Unfortunately this year I was working so we've had to try and fit it in during the week. Yesterday I ventured into the loft to get the boxes of Christmas decorations.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

1612.03 OUR SONG

A lot of couples have a song. A song is a particular tune that reminds you of each other and the love you share together. Many people choose a song that they think reflects what that have but I am a firm believer that the song chooses you. That's what happened for us.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

1611.29 SHOPPING IN NIGHTWEAR

It's something I see a lot. Too much. When I visit one of my local supermarkets I inevitably see someone shopping in either pyjamas or a onesie. It's not someone popping out in a desperate rush for emergency supplies, most of the time it's people doing a shop. How hard is it to throw a few clothes on?

Last week I called into my local Tesco Express for some milk. Whilst in there I saw a chap in pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers shopping with a basket browsing the shelves. Why!? Just get dressed!

It really annoys me and it's not confined to shops either. I've passed primary schools where mothers have taken their kids to school in their jim jams. Come on!

There are times and places for certain types of clothing. You don't wear your winter coat to bed, you don't wear swimwear at a court appearance. So why do certain people think it's ok to wear house/nightwear to the shops? Please just stop!

Saturday, 26 November 2016

1611.26 HOME ALONE

This weekend Morticia has gone away with the girls so I've been left 'home alone', well not quite. I'm here with Rags and we are enjoying a bit of quality time together. We've been catching up on all our favourite superhero TV shows and eating junk food. We're having a great time.

When she goes to bed I've been working on new graphics for my website/blog ready for next year. Next year is a big milestone for my website. It'll be 15 years old. Although in the early years I gave it loads of attention it's only in the last year that I've given it renewed vigor and in that time I've 'met' loads of new friends. Well the new graphics I'm working on will show my commitment to this outlet. Although I am active on social media I fell out of love with it some time ago. Blogging allows me to express myself emotionally and creativly whilst still having control.
A first look at some of the new graphics
(I'm not quite happy with the menu bar yet).
Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent...

Every relationship is different but I feel it's healthy to spend a little time apart and (after Rags has gone to bed) some time alone. I'm making the most of my time and getting some great quality time with my daughter. Today I'm making Toad in the Hole and we are going to watch movies. It's going to be a great day.

Supplemental 1611.27;
Today had promise but has been sadly marred by a nasty migraine which has left me in bed for most of the day. The movies we planned to watch remain unwatched and the quality time I planned was reduced significantly. I'm very disappointed with how the weekend has panned out in the end. We got in some quality time but not as much as I'd hoped. 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

1611.19 CYCLE CLUB DO

Have you ever been to a sports club presentation? They're pretty much the same as one another. The only difference with the one I went to this weekend was that I was a member of the club.

It was the annual Rockingham Cycling Club Prize Giving on Saturday and I was attending with Morticia. It would be the first time she'd met my cycling buddies. I hadn't raced so I knew there was no prizes for me (maybe I'd win the raffle though?). It was really good to see the achievements of my fellow riders honoured.

The buffet food was out of this world with freshly carved meats and a vast selection of delicious goodies. After the food was the raffle and despite a few close calls we didn't win a thing. Oh well, maybe next year.
Morticia and me at cycling presentation 
My cycling this year has been pretty poor in my opinion but having the opportunity to socialise with a room full of cyclists really reinvigorated my desire to ride. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, even Morticia said she enjoyed herself!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

1611.21 TO BALDLY GO THRO TIME AND SPACE

There are 2 big Sci Fi shows on the horizon that have me excited.

There is Star Trek Discovery which I've mentioned before. The show has had a number of hiccups along the way. It was put back to May next year and then showrunner, Brian Fuller took a back seat (blaming his non-Trek workload). I am at this point a little worried about this show. It's destined for streaming which isn't a bad thing except in the US it's going on the networks own streaming service. The rest of the world (except Canada) get it on Netflix. There's little more known about the show other than a basic premise, no actors have been announced or even suggested at this point. In this case no news is definitely not good news.

Secondly, our home grown Sci Fi legend that is Doctor Who returns after a year long 'rest' with the now traditional Christmas Day Special. 'Children In Need' on Friday featured a trailer to the upcoming episode "The Return of Doctor Mysterio". This episode pits the Doctor against a superhero and features Matt Lucus (Little Britain, Alice in Wonderland). There's a new series next year.

Sci Fi is in the doldrums at the moment, it's good to have something to look forward to.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

1611.17 PRELUDE TO CHRISTMAS

Well the Christmas preamble is well on it's way with retailers in full festive mode pushing their wares on the great unwashed. I have to admit I've been dragged into this shopping frenzy by Morticia (under duress you understand).

As well as the shops the media is also getting in on the action, pop up channels 'Christmas 24' and 'True Christmas'  are churning out cheesy American Christmas movies 24 hours a day.
Formula for cheesy American Christmas movie is...

Santa's child/sibling/elf arrives in American town/city to find love
+
single parent with sickly cute kid
=
some sort of caper where someone learns true meaning of Christmas oh and the two get together.

You can tweak the basics but most follow this formula. 

What about the pre Christmas traditions? Most are new and created for the purpose of making the said great unwashed buy stuff they don't want.

The John Lewis Ad
This only started back in 2007 and only became a 'thing' more recently. This year's is a bit shit. Better than the pervert on the moon from last year though. You can see this year's ad featuring Buster the dog here.
Buster the dog ©John Lewis
Other retailers such as Marks and Spencer and Sainsburys (and more recently the likes of Aldi) have tried to muscle in on the act. My favourite has to be Sainsburys (their ads are far superior in my opinion), see the latest one here.
©Sainsburys 
None of the ads have encouraged me to shop in the respective outlets so whilst entertaining, they seem to be ineffective.

Black Friday
This nasty little 'tradition' was first brought to our shores (from America) in 2013 by Asda, the Leeds based supermarket chain which also happens to be a subsidy of US retail giant, Walmart. Since then it has spread like a plague being peddled by the likes of Amazon, Tesco and Argos. Black Friday has to be the worst example of greed I've ever seen. I view this 'thing' with absolute contempt. The behaviour it encourages is beyond despicable, watching mad mobs fight over a discounted telly is soul destroying.
Image subject to copyright 
Christmas is a great time to connect with family and friends, eat and drink a bit too much and watch cheesy movies (I do secretly enjoy those cheesy movies) but the greed, especially from big business is unacceptable. Enjoy this time but don't get caught up in the commercialised mess that Christmas has become.

Monday, 14 November 2016

1611.13 LEST WE FORGET

6 years ago I had cause to speak to an elderly chap in his nineties who told me about his experiences during WWII. He lost his entire family in a bombing raid over Sheffield and immediately went to sign up for the army, lying about his age to get in.  It brought a tear to my eye and made me really think about the debt of gratitude we will always owe him and his generation.

Back to today and this morning, my youngest daughter (who is an Army Cadet) was marching with her detachment in Rotherham Town Centre for the Remembrance Sunday parade. Yesterday she was in town selling poppies for the Royal British Legion.

Rags (right) with her friend
It's safe to say that I'm a very proud Dad.

video

The march was a great success and a perfect balance of reflection and celebration.

A special mention goes to the South Yorkshire Police Band (in which I have friends) who did a fantastic job.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

1611.09 TRUMPED

So the polls closed and the results started rolling in. I awoke this morning expecting to find out the winner of the election. I had work so staying up all night was never going to be an option (not that I would have chosen to). Instead of BBC Breakfast reporting the results the election coverage was still running. 
The BBC US Election Coverage Team
The result wasn't in but it wasn't looking good. Trump was leading and only a few results were expected. By the time I got to work my BBC news app had confirmed the news that Donald Trump was to be the next American president . The world is in shock. 

You have to ask what happened to the polls? That's the 3rd time they got it disastrously wrong. They missed the general election result by a mile, they failed to call Brexit and now this. 

As the United States and indeed the world digests this I'll leave you with this tweet from a guy who I think won the internet today...

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

1611.08 BEGINNING OF THE END?

I've never really followed American politics, not really my business. Sure I noticed it but only as part as a general interest in world news. Then the media began to follow the billionaire and reality tv star, Donald Trump as he attempted to gain nomination to run for the next President.

Did you know that in the UK trump is another word for fart that is primarily used by children.

At first it was funny, akin to our own bumbling idiot, Boris Johnson. Then he got nominated and the hate began to spew from his orange gob. The more he spoke the more I was puzzled as to why people followed him. I see him blaming other groups of people for the problems of the world. It's very much like sitting next to the fucktard on the bus who sits there blaming all their issues on "bloody immigrants" without backing it up with any decent facts.

I'm not too sure about Hillary Clinton either but I do know that 1) she's very similar to the lady president in '24', and 2) she is so much better than the alternative.
Image subject to copyright
You could say it's none of my business but having said that you can't deny that America is so big any major political decisions have worldwide repercussions. So in a way it is my business, it's everyone's business. I just hope that the American people do the right thing and realise that hate is not the way forward.

Monday, 7 November 2016

1611.07 TREASON AND PLOT

Of course I'm not talking about the upcoming American Presidential election, this post talks about the weekend just gone. Saturday was (of course) the 5th which everyone in the UK knows was Bonfire (or Guy Fawkes) Night.
Guy Fawkes was a member of a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
Together with Thomas Winsor and Robert Catesby, Fawkes planned to assassinate King James I and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne.
The plotters leased an undercroft beneath the House of Lords, and Fawkes was placed in charge of the gunpowder they stockpiled there. Prompted by the receipt of an anonymous letter, the authorities searched Westminster Palace during the early hours of 5 November, and found Fawkes guarding the explosives. Over the next few days, he was questioned and tortured, and eventually he confessed.Fawkes became synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, the failure of which has been commemorated since 5 November 1605. His effigy is traditionally burned on a bonfire, commonly accompanied by a fireworks display. - Source, Wikipedia
Usually on the build up to bonfire night there are kids outside shops with a home made 'Guy' asking passers by "Penny for the Guy?". I have to say there have been a lot less this year, maybe as a tradition it's dying out. It was always the case that this 'Guy' would be burned on the fire come bonfire night.

My daughter was away at Army Cadet camp this weekend so Morticia and I went out for a meal on Saturday evening. As I get older I find myself not wanting to volunteer to be outside for prolonged periods in the cold (and temperatures were around 3°) so I didn't fancy standing in a field watching a fire. I would have gladly done so if my daughter was tagging along (she attended her own at camp). After the food we drove to the top of the valley to watch all the fireworks over the city from the warmth of our car.


via GIPHY

So now that's all over with now it's just freefall to Christmas. For me I'm just waiting for spring again, I really wish hibernation was an option!

Thursday, 3 November 2016

1611.03 IT'S NOT M.E. IT'S YOU

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is a long-term (chronic), fluctuating, neurological condition that causes symptoms affecting many body systems, more commonly the nervous and immune systems. ME affects an estimated 250,000 people in the UK, and around 17 million people worldwide.

Morticia has suffered from ME for around 10 years now, it's a condition that has completely affected her life and the life of our family. The condition is sometimes referred to as 'Chronic Fatigue Syndrome' (CFS) but I feel this term doesn't do it justice. It's still difficult to get medical types to take this seriously and we've encountered some very close minded and judgemental GPs in our time.
My attention was peaked when I saw this on the BBC and initially thought that finally the NHS was rolling out a treatment/therapy. Then my heart sank a little when I found out it was about a 'so called' landmark chronic fatigue trial could treat two-thirds of children who suffer with ME.

The problem with this treatment is that they are suggesting a psychological treatment for a neurological disorder, that's like applying ointment on a severed limb and hoping it'll grow back. Suggesting that ME is 'all in the mind' is detrimental to the many who suffer from this chronic, fluctuating and varied neurological condition that affects sufferers in a variety of ways.

The only positive from this example of frankly lazy journalism is that it's given the whole issue some exposure even if the facts are wrong. I guess any exposure about this - often swept under the carpet condition - is good and it has facilitated some discussion. I'll take this small positive from it.

Monday, 31 October 2016

1610.31 GOLDEN BROWN AND ORANGE

It's that time of year again. It's getting darker and colder, the nights are longer and Christmas stuff is in the shops (although it's been in store since August). I do love the colours of the Autumn season although I don't enjoy the change in the weather. I think so far this year we've been lucky and it's been fairly dry round here. I used to love the nights drawing in, I used to think of it as a warm blanket I could wrap myself in. As I get older I think I feel the cold more and the darkness becomes a prison warden that keeps me indoors.
The turning of the leaves at Centertainment 
It's Halloween tonight and it's our busy time at work. So I'm stuck here whilst Morticia deals with the 'trick or treat'ers.
Rags has done a great job with the pumpkins this year. I remember when I was a kid pumpkins were rare (I don't think I'd ever seen one), we used to make our Jack O'Lanterns out of turnips.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

1610.30 TEN YEARS ON THE JOB

Ten years ago today I ended my long stint as a bus driver and embarked on a new career path. Some know what I do for a living, some don't. I have my reasons for not telling in a public arena, mainly I get to keep my freedom of speech and expression. 

Anyway, those parts of my blog that cover this period are archived and no longer in the public arena but here for your delight and curiosity is the entry I posted on that day...

0610.30 FIRST DAY

I started my training today as a [deleted] at the Hilton Hotel in Sheffield.

There are two classes of 15 here. We are being trained by [deleted] and a [deleted]. Today was the usual icebreaker session. The group I am training with seems like a good bunch. This afternoon we had a talk from the [deleted, basically the assistant boss].

So here I am 10 years later. So much has changed in the last decade, I've survived the cuts, accidents and a mental breakdown, but I'm still here. No idea where I'll be in the next 10 years. Will I still be doing this job? Honestly? I hope I'm not - I hope I'm by the sea enjoying life. 

Friday, 28 October 2016

1610.28 DREAM CAR?

What would most people do if they had a windfall, say like winning the lottery? It's a discussion I've had with quite a few friends. It's nice to dream. The subject always moves on to what dream car would you have. Most answer with supercars like Aston Martins, Lamborghinis, Ferraris etc etc. Then they ask me. They're usually shocked when I tell them I want a van.

That's right, a van!

Ok, not just any old van. It'd be a nice van like a Mercedes (other vans are available). I'd have the top of the range and kit out the inside with secure storage for about 3 bikes. I'd have a kitchenette fitted so I could make a brew and deck it out luxuriously, it'd be the perfect base for cycling adventures. The exterior would be white and I'd have it painted up with Star Trek style decals (trademarks recognised). Imagine the attention it'd get at ComicCons! 
An artist's (me) impression of my dream van
It's nice to dream, I do realise that I've got a greater chance of been hit by a meteor than I have of hitting the jackpot on the lottery but it's one of my dreams and one day it might just come true. 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

1610.25 WELSH WEEKEND

Or penwythnos Cymreig.

Ok most people probably guessed my trip this weekend was to WALES. I like to think I'm consistent. Some people may say boring, predictable, I say consistent.

We have friends in Wales who we visited during our last holiday, whilst there they invited us to come stay with them for a few days at half term. I didn't broadcast the plan as I was a little concerned that it might have been one of those 'of the moment' remarks some people make that after a little thought they wish they'd not said. We made sure a few weeks ago that it was still OK for us to visit. They responded enthusiastically so we made the plans.

Friday 10:52 - And so here we are cruising through Snowdonia heading west to the coast. It was an early start (6:25) with heavy traffic through Manchester, Morticia was a little grumpy setting off but was so much better after a sleep.

The views are a beautiful as ever and whilst it's a bit chilly out there, the weather is perfect.
The road through Snowdonia 
Friday 12:43 - We've arrived at New Quay (Cei Newydd), it's all quite surreal really after all it was only a few months ago since we were here last. This time is different of course, we are hear to see friends as well as visit this place.

New Quay is my spiritual home.

Friday 16:02 - Shortly after arriving we made our way to our host's house where we spent the afternoon chatting in their conservatory. Mike, Chris and Sam (together with Sam's daughter Alice) are really the nicest people I've ever met. We have known them for many years but for them to invite us to their home is truly a most kind and generous act. We are staying in a caravan situated on the garden, it's a beautiful van.

Friday 21:35 - We just visited the club on the caravan site next door together with our hosts.
The barman was on the thin side
It's a lovely club, Rags played with and occupied Alice (she's only 4 years old), they tired each other out I think. We're back at the caravan now, it's probably not long until we go to bed. It's been a long and enjoyable day.

Nos da.

Saturday 9:30 - Wow it's cold. It certainly brings back memories of cold mornings of my youth (there was no central heating when I was a kid). Time to turn on the fire and grab a hot cuppa.

Saturday 15:18 - We decided to visit the sea front and perhaps grab some fish and chips. Whilst there we saw Brett who has a gift shop and also runs the SeaMôr boat trips. Whilst chatting he offered us a place on his next trip as his guest, we were more than happy to graciously accept.
The view of New Quay (Cei Newydd) from the boat
The SeaMôr boat trips are a must for any visitor to New Quay. Rather than a pleasure cruise it's an educational experience. As well as learning about the local area you are presented with examples of the area's marine wildlife.
The marine biologist shows off a dog fish / small shark
It was a little more chilly than last time we were on this boat but still as enjoyable. As always Morticia jinxed any chance of dolphin sightings (we've never seen any dolphins from a boat although we've seen loads from the pier over the years).
Morticia never sees dolphins
from the boat
Finally I get my fish and chips and a decent cup of tea.
You can't bear fish and chips by the sea
Saturday 23:53 - We were invited by our hosts to accompany them to an engagement party in the Black Lion. We had a great night meeting local people, some of which we already knew. I had a few pints of Moho, a local beer.

Lechyd da.

I came home with Mike leaving Morticia with Sam and her friend. I've gone to bed, not sure when she will return but glad she'll be having a good time. I'm gonna catch some sleep.

Sunday 8:34 - Morticia rolled in at 1:30 and as such is still in bed. I'm guessing she had a good time.

Sunday 12:52 - We found out that the Dolau Inn is closing it's doors for the last time next week. I'm absolutely horrified that the owners, SA Brains (Brewery), plan to turn the building into accommodation. See the news story here
This historic pub is set for closure - I love this place 
Other than signing the online petition there isn't much I can do so I thought I'd better have one last drink in there. It's pretty run down and needs a refurb but could easily be good again.
My last Rev James in the Dolau Inn
Sunday 23:00 - We treated our hosts to a meal in the Pencnwc Holiday Park as a small appreciation for putting us up. Afterwards we chatted for a while before retiring for our last night.
This burger was a little big for me
Mwynhewch eich bwyd.

Monday 12:57 - A day of relaxing. Rags is playing with Alice and I'm enjoying a cup of tea. I know soon it'll be time to head home, although is it really home when I'd rather be here than there?

We have had a wonderful break spent with some wonderful people. It's sad that we are going home but happy at the memories we've made. I hope we can do this again soon, I feel a little closer today to this place - the place I love more than anywhere in the world.

Hwyl fawr.