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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.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

1610.20 TAKING A TRIP

We have been planning a short break for the half term holiday for some time. I've kept tight lipped about it because there has always been a chance that it wouldn't happen but now it's all looking likely. I'm not going to reveal where I'm going just yet since I'm still not wanting to jinx it all.

All will be revealed next week when I'll post all about it. Of course if you can't wait until then my social media feeds will reveal everything 'as it happens'.

It's an early start in the morning so I'm hoping for an early night.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

1610.17 SQUEEZED IN

We live in a small house. It's got 3 bedrooms but they are small. It's fine for us. So when Morticia's father turned up on our doorstep last week having been kicked out by his partner we struggled to figure out where to accommodate him. I know our eldest daughter doesn't live with us but her room (which is the smallest room) is still her room and she is storing loads of her things in there (so much so that the room is unusable). So at the moment he's on our settee which is inconvenient to say the least and probably uncomfortable for him.

It's looking like he might be here for the long term which it already making our lives difficult. Not sure how this is going to pan out but it's a bit of a squeeze.

Supplemental 1610.25; After we returned from our Welsh break my father-in-law had moved out. He's back in his previous home which is a volatile situation still.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

1610.15 AUNTIE DOREEN

On Thursday we lost my Great Auntie Doreen, she was 86 years old.

Friday, 14 October 2016

1610.14 COULROPHOBIA

It seems the world is going mad. My country is falling apart yet still committing itself to building a railway line nobody wants. The US is on the brink of electing a megalomaniac dictator that would give any James Bond villain a run for their money.

Then what do we get? Bloody CLOWNS! Not just any clowns, evil clowns! Now I don't like clowns. They give me the heebie jeebies.  There has been an epidemic of sighting of these scary clowns (all clowns are scary to me though) all over South Yorkshire and the rest of the country. Some have even been reported to have been carrying knives.

South Yorkshire Police issued this statement:
Between 21 September and today (12 October), concerns have been raised by 61 members of the public relating to incidents involving people dressed as clowns in South Yorkshire. 
The incidents include people being dressed as clowns knocking on windows and doors, and children and adults being frightened. There have also been two reports of clowns with knives, which are being investigated by police.

An incident last night (11 October) is also under investigation after a 17-year-old boy was assaulted by a man dressed as a clown.
Superintendent Colin McFarlane said: “There is a clear distinction to be drawn between young people who might be dressing up as we move into the Guy Fawkes and Halloween period and those that are dressing as clowns in order to commit public order offences or harassment.

"Clearly those that are crossing the threshold of criminality and especially if they are carrying weapons will be dealt with accordingly. I need people to understand that consequences of their actions and to take responsibility for them - South Yorkshire Police will not tolerate criminal behaviour.
“I urge anyone who feels frightened or threatened to report it to police.”

This happened about 3 years ago and quickly fizzled out. I hope this goes away a quickly as it arrived. I haven't had the misfortune of coming across one of these costumed monstrosities. Not yet anyway.

Did I mention that I hate clowns? 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

1610.11 LIEBSTER AWARD

I am honoured that Susan Leighton of Woman on a Ledge has nominated me for a Liebster Award. Susan blogs about life and does so in an honest way which makes for refreshing reading. It soon feels like you're chatting away to an old friend. I am happy to accept this token of appreciation.

The Liebster is a way for bloggers to acknowledge other bloggers whom they feel have a unique, entertaining, informative or educational voice.  It is also a terrific way to promote and spotlight hidden gems in the blogging community. For more information and the official rules, please visit the Global Aussie website.

One of the requirements for all nominees is to write a short essay on their favorite blog.  Well I'm going to write about a guy named Stu. Stu writes a blog about his life as an Englishman living in Holland and how his life has adapted to the customs and culture there. Why have I picked him? Because he's an excellent cartoonist too and it was him that inspired me it start drawing cartoons again and use them in my blog. Sadly his blog posts are a little sporadic these days as he juggles family and professional life with a bit of live improv. He's still an entertaining read and I love his (cartoon) work. You can find his blog at InvadingHolland.com.

Then I have to nominate my own choice for an award. This is a difficult choice since all the blogs I read and/or comment on are excellent for their own reasons. I'm supposed to choose blogs with less than 200 followers but I'm not going to go about asking for that information, I've taken a guess based on what I've observed on their pages.

List of 2016 Nominees:

Military Wife and Pug Life - 'MiliWifey' is pug loving, Marvel maniac and (obviously) military wife who loves to recap really bad movies.

Life From a Seated Perspective - Mark Rankin is a fellow Yorkshireman and writes about the challenges of his life being wheelchair bound.

Cat Hair and Glitter - Holly writes about her life in Kentucky (not the chicken shop) as a mother and potential cat lady (she has 6 cats and 2 dogs!).

Not Meatloaf Again - I first came across 'Chocolat Lover' when I used to follow her husband James' blog. She writes about their lives with young daughter Evie.

Yet Another Coffee to Go - Retired life in North Wales with Eileen. She writes about life with her husband and her dogs.
Liebster nominees must do is provide 10 random facts about themselves set by the nominator. Bring it on...

10 Questions about me:

Q: If travel was something everyone did as a rite of passage growing up where would you recommend they go and why? (one country only)
A: Lake Ullswater in the Lake District. I did an outward bound course there when I was 16 and it had a profound effect on my life.

Q: What is the last show you binge watched?
A: Mr Robot - blog post coming soon!

Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Obviously Yorkshire Puddings!

Q: Give a tip for other bloggers or potential blog starters. 
A: Be yourself, that's all it takes.

Q: If you had to choose between living with TV or music, which one would you choose?
A: I'd choose TV over music anyway. Music isn't a massive part of my life.

Q: Who has been the most influential person in your life?
A: It has to be my wife, Morticia. She pushes me through my doubt and encourages me to be the best version of me.

Q: If you could travel back in time, what year would you visit and why?
A: I'd love to be a time traveler and be an observer of history. I'd love to see my home city back at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century.

Q: The gun or the cannoli?
A: Don't really understand the question. Don't like guns, we don't really have them in the UK. Cannoli? Had to Google it and it's got cheese in it. Yuk! Is this some sort of American question?

Q: Who is your favorite author?
A: My favourite author is probably Peter David, the best Star Trek novel writer out there (in my opinion).

Q: What is the last movie you saw?
A: I assume this is referring to the cinema? The last film I saw at the cinema was Star Trek Beyond.

To the people that I nominated, if you choose to accept, please read the rules from the original post (link is at the top of this post).

Here are my 10 questions for my nominees... 

Why did you start blogging? 

If you were a time traveler, would you go forwards or backwards? 

What is your idea of a great evening? 

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with? 

What scares you, I mean really scares you? 

If you were a cartoon character which one would you be? 

If you won the lottery (or came into a large sum of money) what would you go out and buy first? 

When you're in the car alone (if you don't drive then think of a similar circumstance where you're alone with a radio) what would you turn the radio on to? 

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Gravy or no gravy?

There it is, anyone else want to answer these questions please put your responses in the comments. 

Monday, 10 October 2016

1610.10 THIS WEEKEND

We were on a mission this weekend. We have been working on friends' wedding photos (which Morticia had taken) and we planned to drop them off. These friends live close to Morticia's mother so the plan was to combine the two things together.
The drive is just over 2 hours and is quite dull. The A1 South is just a duel carriageway that feels like it goes on forever. We headed down Friday night with the idea of presenting the wedding photos over a late lunch the next day.

We'd booked a table at a local 'Brewer's Fayre pub (a typical chain establishment). I'd not visited a Brewer's Fayre for many years and in the past found them a little generic. The menu was indeed very standard but I was pleased with the fact that you could get free refills on soft drinks (and hot drinks too), a rarity for such an establishment. The photos were handed over to our newlywedded friends who were very pleased with their boxed memories. At the end of the afternoon just before we left the pub I noticed they had Rev James on draught at the bar, such a shame since I wasn't drinking, I'd never seen it this far out of Wales before (except in bottles).
They even had the classic pump clip.
The whole weekend was just the relaxing break I needed. As many know my head hasn't been in the right place recently and this trip gave me the opportunity to (to use old computer parlance) defrag my mind.

The drive home yesterday was uneventful and today I wait for the routine of my life to kick back in. I have the satisfaction of knowing I'll be going with a clear head, at least for now.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

1610.06 NEW FIVER

Last month in the UK a new £5 banknote printed on polymer, a thin flexible plastic film, was issued. The new note bears the image of wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill on the reverse. The new note can apparently last about five years longer than paper notes and features loads of new security features, making the note extra hard to counterfeit. They include a see through window featuring the Queen’s portrait as well as the Elizabeth Tower (commonly mistakenly known as Big Ben) depicted in gold foil on the front of the note and silver on the back. The £5 will be joined shortly by new £10 and £20 notes which also will be printed on polymer.

Since the new notes came into circulation there has been a movement on social media under the hashtags of #firstfiver and #fivergiver to donate the first £5 note you receive to charity.
I got my first one this week and thought it was a great idea to give it away so I donated my first fiver to Action for ME, a life changing condition my wonderful Morticia has struggled with for almost 10 years.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

1610.04 XV

My youngest daughter was born fifteen years ago this day.

Everything changed. Even though I had been a father for 5 years previous to that point I wasn't prepared for the difference Rags would make to my life.
Baby Rags with her big sister
She is wise beyond her years, she has a sense of fun than rivals anyone I know. She has intelligence and wit with a grounding that I envy.
Rags
She has grown into a beautiful young woman and I am immensely proud of her. Happy 15th birthday Rags. I love you with all my heart.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

1610.01 AUDIOHYPNO

Before I start I'd like to thank everyone for their kind words regarding my last couple of posts. I am feeling much better now, I know I've a long way to go and this isn't the last time I go to that dark place. For now I must get on with life and that's what I intend to do.

A couple of weeks ago Morticia visited a hypnotist with some friends with a view to losing a few pounds. She came away with a recording to play at night. I'm not an expert in such things but I've heard of these subliminal suggestion techniques but never had any experience of such things.

She started playing the recording before sleeping and of course this was the last thing I heard before sleeping. It was a woman telling her (and I guess me) to breath and relax, I'd be asleep before I heard anymore. I've no idea of the exact content of the recording.

On the days that followed I noticed I was snacking less and generally keeping within my calorie intake goals. I'm not actually on any sort of diet, I just like to monitor my food intake. Snacking has always been my biggest problem.

Then I had my 'blip' and Morticia didn't play the recording for a few days. I'm not sure if it's my mental well being or the absence of the recording but I've started to hit the Doritos pretty hard.
My Nemesis
There are too many variables to understand whether the hypnosis recording is having an effect or not but I do think it's worth more study. Morticia resumed playing the recording last night.