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Sunday, 31 July 2016

1607.31 SNIFFLES and NEW TOYS


It's been a bit of a difficult week for me mainly because I contracted a bit of a cold which has slowed me down a little. Thankfully it's stayed in my head so I've managed to work and keep up my cycling all be it on a limited scale. It's also been the long week at work (it's 6 days) which has been a bit of a slog through plus all the preparation for our up and coming holiday. This has given me very little free time. Once I get through today's shift I'll only have 5 more shifts in the next 2 weeks to get through.


On a plus I have a new toy. I've pondered getting an activity tracker for a while and a heart rate monitor for cycling. I decided to get a Garmin Vivosmart HR and kill 2 birds with one stone. I know a wrist based HR monitor aren't generally as accurate as chest straps but I'm never going to be a pro athlete so that's not too important.
New activity tracker and heart rate monitor
on my extremely hairy wrist
It's also a smart watch too.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

1607.28 CLASSIC COMEDIES

I was chatting with a few colleagues the other day and I'm not sure how the subject arose we started talking about old movies. I mentioned the likes of Laurel and Hardy, Harold Lloyd and the Marx Brothers. I was surprised, no in fact I was shocked that there were quite a number of my work mates had never heard of some if not all of those that I mentioned.

I remember watching classic black and white comedies, usually shown on BBC2 in the afternoons. Why are they not shown on TV anymore? We could have a channel for them. I've looked around the internet and there are a few lurking on YouTube. It's worth searching them out, they certainly still hold their own as comedy and even surpass modern cinematic efforts. 

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

1607.26 TOUR WEEK 3 and ROUND UP

Week 3 saw Mark Cavendish pull out to concentrate on his preparation for the Rio Olympics and Chris Froome further his lead and guarantee his hold on the Yellow Jersey. Quintana never got his challenge off the ground and some said that the Tour lacked drama. Although the challenges rarely came, the professionalism of Team Sky and the way they kept control was amazing.

Peter Segan wiped the floor in the points (Green Jersey) competition, ever the showman he certainly entertained.

So the Tour came to Paris and Froome took (or rather kept since he had it since his stage 8 victory) the Yellow Jersey for a third time. Surely a knighthood is deserved.
My free time is free again. I can't believe another Tour is over. Roll on La Vuelta!

Monday, 25 July 2016

1607.24 TRAMLINES

Sheffield has a music festival. It's different to most music festivals because it takes over the City Centre. Everyone gets involved. It's the Tramlines Festival.

For the last few years I've worked Tramlines. Don't get me wrong it's always been a fun way of earning a living, it's always a great atmosphere. This year however I'm off and I've not been asked to change my shift or swap. So Morticia and me decided it would be great to go and enjoy what promised to be an enjoyable event.

The streets were buzzing with crowds, music was everywhere. Street music, music in the pubs and bars.

Morticia and me (being photobombed - hi guys!) 
Whilst sat in the Brewdog enjoying a drink Steve Davis (the snooker player) came in and sat next to us. Before anyone asks, no I didn't get a picture, he was in for a drink like everyone else (it would have been rude).

We were out until the early evening taking in the music, atmosphere and partaking of some wonderful beers. We bumped into a number of friends whilst out (which is amazing considering the size of the city). 

Saturday, 23 July 2016

1607.21 STAR TREK TRIPLE

25 years ago as part of Star Trek's 25th Anniversary I attended a cinematic marathon where I watched Star Trek The Motion Picture through to Star Trek V - The Final Frontier, a five movie event that took about 12 hours to get through.

On Thursday, as part of the 50th Anniversary I attended my local Cineworld for a triple bill of the reboot movies which included the latest one, Star Trek Beyond - which came out today.

It was also my first time seeing an IMAX movie. This is how the evening progressed...
 
19:00 - I'm ready for 1st movie. I have my popcorn and my giant Coke Zero. Phone is on silent. No need for 3D glasses for this one.

21:14 - Star Trek has finished. Great to see it on the big screen again. Not a massive fan of 'Into Darkness', that's up next. Second giant drink purchased.

23:53 - I enjoyed 'Into Darkness' more than I expected (and I have seen it many times). I'll forgive the massive plot holes this once. I'm now waiting for the feature presentation. Third drink purchased.

Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk
2:09 - I did it. I got through all 3 movies and didn't nod off at all (like many predicted). The movie was awesome and the IMAX experience was worth the extra uplift (cost me a fiver on top of my Unlimited card). It's time for me to head home now... I have work in the morning.

The Captain's Movie Review
in Seven Words... 



FINALLY PROPER STAR TREK, FITTING NIMOY TRIBUTE
(I know the movie is also dedicated to the late Anton Yelchin but if you see it you'll understand).

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

1607.20 NEW TREK ARRIVING IN UK


Back in May I wrote about the exciting news (for me and other fans) about a new Star Trek television show. Yesterday I saw a teaser tweet from a certain tv streaming service and later that day read a news article stating that the new show would be exclusively shown on Netflix around the world (with the exception of the US and Canada). I'm really excited by this news - so happy I'll get to see the new show.


Monday, 18 July 2016

1607.18 BETTER THAN POKÉMON GO

Everyone seems to be talking about Pokémon Go, the game where you can capture virtual monsters using augmented reality on your smartphone.

In Sheffield, my hometown, there's a slightly different game going on - and I think it's more fun than Pokémon Go. A herd of 58 elephant sculptures and 72 elephant calves have arrived and can be found in parks and open spaces for the biggest public art mass participation event the city has ever seen.

Each elephant sculpture has been decorated by artists and are proving popular with everyone, the object is to find them all. The 'little herd' are sited at indoor venues and have been decorated by local schools.

I found my first one at the weekend outside the iconic Park Hill flats...
A photo posted by CaptainKirt™ (@captainkirt) on


Although I later found what I think will remain my favourite...

"This exciting initiative is brought to you by The Children’s Hospital Charity and Wild in Art, uniting businesses, communities, artists and schools, leaving a lasting legacy for the city."

If you're visiting Sheffield soon it's worth a look but be aware, it's very addictive and you might forget why you originally came.  There's an app for your phone where you can earn points for every elephant you track down. Check out the Herd of Sheffield website for more info or look for #herdofsheffield on social media. The herd are out all summer until 5th October 2016.

Definitely better than Pokémon. Join the stampede!

Saturday, 16 July 2016

1607.16 TOUR WEEK 2

Week 2 had an explosive start with Chris Froome amazing everyone with a stage win on Saturday and controversy over his 'punch' when an over enthusiastic fan got too close. 

We went into the first rest day on Monday with 3 of the 4 jerseys on the backs of British riders (Froome-yellow, Yates-white, Cav-green).

The week saw Mark Cavendish lose the green to Peter Segan but the yellow and white were retained by Froome and Yates.... but not without drama.

Nairo Quintana failed to ignite the expected battle with Froome and Alberto Contador abandoned the race.

The biggest drama happened on the iconic mountain finish of Mont Vento on Thursday. A crash within the last 2km involving a camera motorcycle left Froome without a bike.
Photo: CyclingNews.com
He was forced to leave his broken bike (run over by another motorcycle) behind and run up the mountain in a finish to a stage that had already been shortened because of high winds.
Photo: CyclingNews.com
By the time Froome got a replacement bike it had cost him more than a minute against his rivals for the overall in the Tour de France, the race officials later reversed the time gaps due to the crowd-induced chaos, keeping the Team Sky rider in the maillot jaune.

Chris Froome cemented his lead in Friday's time trial and goes into the final week looking strong with a 1 minute 47 second lead.

But as much as the Tour de France gives me pleasure it is tainted with sadness with the terrorist attack on families celebrating Bastille Day in Nice. My thoughts are with those affected by this. This year is unfortunately going to be remembered for the hatred of a few against the innocent. We must continue despite these attacks on our way of life. Ride on my friends... 

Friday, 15 July 2016

1607.15 PRIZE

Yesterday we were invited to attend my daughter's school for the end of year "Evening of Excellence". Rags had been nominated to receive a form tutor excellence award for the second year running. As the head teacher explained to the assembled parents, pupils (I think they call them students these days) and governors, out of 733 pupils only 40 were selected to win awards.

Rags goes from strength to strength and she has grown up to become a kind, thoughtful and clever young lady. As her father I have to say I am immensely proud.


Well done Rags!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

1607.13 LEAKY TOILET

At the weekend I received a frantic phone call from Morticia telling me that water was dripping from the kitchen ceiling. I was just finishing work so I rushed home (as fast as my legs would pedal). The water was coming from the inlet pipe from the cistern of the upstairs toilet. I isolated the water supply to the toilet so I could repair the leak in my next day off.

My day off was Monday so I put my DIY skills to good use.* I purchase a new inlet pipe and some O rings. It took me a couple of hours but it's now fixed, it flushes and doesn't leak. I was pretty proud of myself and please we hadn't had to call anyone out.

Add this almost disasterous event to the fact that our vacuum cleaner (our trusty old Dyson) started to smell of burning and I could see sparks coming from the motor. They say things come in threes, what's next?

Today we got a new Prime Minister and rather than pay tribute to the outgoing Mr Cameron I thought I'd talk about my toilet.

*My DIY skills are pretty poor, although I have done a fair bit of home plumbing.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

1607.12 HAPPY BIRTHDAY HARLEY

I've posted before about our relationship with our eldest daughter. I last spoke to her at Christmas and she has since made it clear that she doesn't want anything to do with Morticia or me, however we have tried to make it clear she's more than welcome and this will always be her home. We have no idea if she is safe or where she's even living. People often say that she'll come around one day, I've no idea if that will ever happen, the emptiness is hard to live with.
Harley at her Prom
Today this pain is polarised. It's 20 years ago today that I first became a father and Harley was born. I wish I was part of her special day, she's not a teenager anymore and I wish I could celebrate. I wish I could be part of her life but she is an adult and she has made her choice. If she changes her mind we'll be waiting.

HAPPY 20th BIRTHDAY TO MY PRINCESS, MY FIRST BORN.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HARLEY. XXX

She is never far from my thoughts.

Supplemental 17:30;
Harley visited this afternoon. It was unexpected and most welcome. It's a shame Morticia wasn't here at the time but Harley has promised to come and visit at another time. I am awash with emotion at the moment, scared to get my hopes up but still needing to be hopeful. 

Sunday, 10 July 2016

1607.10 EXTRA HOURS

It's been a long week at work as for the first time in ages we got offered overtime (something of a rarity since austerity kicked in). I used to eat hours like this up back in the times where extra hours we aplenty but now it's proving difficult to get through. It was normal to get 16-20 hours a month extra, sometimes even more. It really helped out when you needed some extra cash. Sadly those days have gone and overtime is a rare occurrence.

Still, think of the money. It's come around at the right time, about a month before our holiday. At least I have Monday and Tuesday off to recover.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

1607.09 TOUR WEEK 1

Well there's been one name that stands out for this first week of the Tour de France - Mark Cavendish. He's had a great week winning 3 stages, getting to wear the maillot jaune (yellow jersey) for the first time and ending in the Green. His wins have put him ahead of Bernard Hinault (The Badger) and second only to the great Eddy Merckx for individual stage victories. 
Cav in Yellow
Froome and Quintana are sitting in 6th and 7th places respectively and are in perfect position to go head to head in the following weeks. Contador is nursing some injuries following multiple crashes early on. Nibali is not having a great tour and is possibly still not recovered from his success at the Giro but I still wouldn't write him off just yet.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

1607.07 BASIC CHILD SAFETY ONLINE

I was prompted to write this post after seeing a friend's child cropping up all over social media and in my opinion started putting themselves in potential danger.

I've always been strict about my children's use of the internet. This lead to quite a bit of friction with my eldest back in the difficult period (which we won't go into now). My rules, hopefully, have kept my kids as safe as can be whilst letting them access to the internet. I supervise as much as I can, online devices must remain downstairs at all times and a parent must have access to all online accounts. Now I know this isn't foolproof but it's also about teaching responsible use of online services. It a frightening world out there and young people are exposed to it too soon these days.

It concerns me when I see other parents not giving a damn about what their kids do online. They hand over a smartphone and don't give a second thought to what they're doing or who they may be chatting to (or worse?).
There's loads of advice online for kids and parents and I think it's a good idea to sit down with a child and discuss it. I have with both my kids. For more info check out CEOP.

In my work I've visited schools and spoken to children about internet safely and hopefully my words have made an impression to some of those kids. At the end of the day it's not up to me, every parent needs to take responsibility for their child's activity online. 

Monday, 4 July 2016

1607.04 POST HATE

Since the Brexit vote over a week ago there has been a nationwide increase in hate crime against immigrants and those perceived to be. It is being blamed on how certain groups ran the 'leave' campaign however I think that certain people are just using this as an excuse to exercise their prejudices. It's sad that in the 21st century these xenophobic attitudes prevail in our country.

With all this comes the rise in the humble safety pin. You may have noticed certain people wearing these on their clothes. No, it's not punk rock making a comeback but a statement, a sign of solidarity with those who share this island with us. To show that the person wearing the pin is a 'safe' person to sit with on public transport or stand with in a shop or pub.
Safety pin on my fleece
I am wearing my pin on my clothes and my uniform at work to show my support. I am disappointed with some of my fellow countrymen(and women) and stand together with decent hardworking people who have decided to make Great Britain their home.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

1607.03 SEVENTEEN YEARS

Today is Morticia and my wedding anniversary but because it was Saturday yesterday we planned to go out and celebrate last night. I did have to dash out and buy a card at the last minute. I booked a table at our favourite Chinese restaurant to be followed by drinks in town. It's not a special number but we do feel that every year is special to us.
Our Wedding Day
We started our evening as planned at our favourite restaurant. We were treated really well by the owner (who is a friend of ours), the meal was wonderful as always and washed down with a bottle of prosseco.
We had a wonderful evening
Afterwards we ventured into town where one of the local pubs were having a rock music festival ("Slamfest").
Slamfest
Now, where alcohol's concerned I'm a bit of a lightweight. So unfortunately last night took its toil on me despite only drinking a small amount,  and this morning I woke up feeling worse for wear which put paid to a planned cycle ride with my club.

This afternoon we enjoyed a family meal and tonight we plan just a quiet night in front of the TV.


Friday, 1 July 2016

1607.01 ALMOST LE TOUR

After all the doom and gloom of the last week I'm glad that it's finally July which means Le Tour de France, 3 weeks of the best road cycling set against some of the most beautiful scenery. This year promises to be a threeway battle between Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana. Following some very grand departs in Yorkshire (which I was there for) and various other locations, this year is a more domestic affair starting in Mont-Saint-Michel and finishing at Utah Beach Sainte-Marie-du-Mont.
The next three weeks promises to be exciting, anything can happen and invariably does.