Archives for category: Family

I didn’t have the steak after all, but I did enjoy a wonderful duck liver parfait (patè to the rest of us) and a gourmet burger from their special fixed price menu for £11. Three courses – if only I’d had the room for them – are £15, and at that quality you really cannot complain about the prices. Wander from the fixed prices and of course things go up dramatically, but the quality is a constant so the choice is yours. The sea-bass looked, and I’m told tasted, incredible. Without doubt, it was a delight and will most certainly be receiving a return visit.

There were tales of daring-do and stories of shaggy dogs and memoirs of recent events, all of which were most entertaining. Senior Ball received a couple of gifts in advance of his birthday and was suitably pleased with them.

Sister Ball has a new – I hesitate to use the word car – in fact, I hesitate to use the word Rollerskate. What is the word I’m looking for. Something very tiny with wheels…. It’s a Smart car. You know, those ones that look like the were going to be a real car and the they got fed up after drawing the driver and passenger seats so just didn’t draw any more. In fairness to describe it that way, while accurate is to do it a dis-service. In actuality it is a very cute and practical town car. There’s no road tax to pay, has an automatic gearbox and a surprisingly large amount of storage for something that looks like it has none. At £10k for a brand new one with all the whistles and bells it seems like a very “sensible” acquisition. Whatever next!?

She was in fine form and is off to America for some work shortly. Senior Ball is in the market for a new laptop and after much discussion and contributions for his birthday, Christmas, next two birthdays and four Christmases after that it appears that he’s going to invest in a MacBook Air. And thank god for that says I. Sister Ball has been tasked with picking one up while she’s in the US, not least because the £850 that they cost here becomes £620 over there.

After lunch it was back to the ponderosa for a cuppa before they all headed off and Mrs G and I had half an hour to put our feet up and recover. It was short lived though an four or five hours later I was putting the finishing touches to a pack of materials that I’ve built in preparation for our Monday review. Still waiting from some input from our most recently re-assigned member of the team, so I’m entirely expecting to have more to do later today. I can’t wait.

Was very glad of the extra hour in bed this morning, but body clocks don’t adjust instantly, so I was Awake at 6am which is now 7. John Le Carrè meant I didn’t actually get out of bed until 8.30 though. Daughter was equally glad of it because she and her friends had an extra hour clubbing last night – but then she’s in need of the recovery time too I suspect. A difficult balance to find.

Today’s plan involves visiting the brown’s to help them understand the nuances (because it’s certainly not complicated) of migrating from their trudging PC environment onto their newly arrived iMac. They’re always fun to see and their two year old is a riot, so an entertaining time awaits.

So on that note, it’s time I knocked up some breakfast and got my life in gear again. Depending on egg supplies I’m thinking “the full English” but I might have to play hunter-gatherer first.

Until next time. Stay safe.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Categories Dad, Dining Out, Family

Toasted Wheels

That was unexpected. Not at all part of the plan.

Saturday rolled around and Mrs G and I cycled to town to do a couple of little jobs. It was a beautifully warm day and no sign of any rain. By lunch time we were both starving and so took a trip out the far side of the city to a new-ish place in the docks… “On Toast”. You’ll never guess what their main food line is of course, but it is the only one of it’s kind in the country and is the home of the “Mars Bar on Toast”.


I briefly considered it and then plumped for the “Hawaiian” which is actually a Ham & Pineapple toasted sandwich. Mrs G had the Canadian which is Brie & Cranberry by mistake. The owner misheard the order and graciously replaced it with Brie & Bacon on his second attempt. Free refills on the coffee and a great seat looking over the docks makes this the perfect little snack shack and I have no doubt when they launch it as a franchise it’ll crop up everywhere and be gratefully received.

On the way home I suggested a quick look in “Go Outdoors” which is like B&Q for out-doorsy people. Tents, Boots, coats, rucksacks, fishing gear, climbing gear and bikes to name just a handful of their offerings. What I wasn’t expecting to do was buy another bike, but that’s what happened.

You may recall that I bought a couple of bikes a few months ago, one for Mrs G and one for myself. Now somehow or other daughter has pretty much commandeered Mrs G’s wheels and so Mrs G often either takes mine or ends up walking. Well, this just won’t do really, so now she has her own – or will do once it’s ready – and very pleased about that she is too.

Sunday has seen a visitation from cousin P with G, K and little A (or Boo as she’s referred to). Daughter has become her new best friend, which was very funny and very cute, unlike Barney who is clearly no longer a child friendly cat. He is “of an age” and doesn’t enjoy being prodded or poked any more.

Granny and W joined us all for lunch and Granny had planned to be home in time for the Wimbledon Men’s Final. She likes a good natter, almost as much as she likes tennis (although there is nothing, and I mean nothing that she loves as much as tennis). He nattering resulted in her not leaving in time and having to suffer the glory of the Final in Full HD. She was very comfortable with it and we were all (except Mrs G – who physically detests the game) happy with the result. Well done Djokovic. Nice job.

There were a couple of emails but nothing too demanding, so the work situation is definitely on the wain. Monday sees me handing back the tennis related job (which I’d barely started, but this is the way of resource management) and trying – and failing – to reduce our costs for Pooh and I’s big adventure.

Fun times.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Categories Daughter, Dining Out, Family, Mrs G, Sport

Dog Day Afternoon

It seems I’ve done a great job of failing to write anything at all on here since Wednesday. As tomorrow is Monday (again) that’s pretty damn poor on my part and I can only but appologise to you dear reader.
The reason is simple.  Haven’t had spare brain cycles to even think about it – let alone do it.  Even with the weekend here, it’s just been non-stop and itisstill quite a shock to me that monday is literally 30 minutes away.
So Badman and I have been really hard at it. In point of fact, I’m not sure I can rememebr the last time I worked as hard as I have this year. But it’s been strangely satisfying and while it’s not over, it’s changing tack and I find myself still looking forward to whatever the next challenge we have will be.  We’ve sent a package to our cousins in the New World which they seem to be broadly pleased with. We have some more europeans to satisfy in a final round of “Is this alright then, or what?” which will be taking place on Tuesday and then it’s all down to the New World and no doubt yet more european agreement – which seems to be the thing that we have to collect most often.
While all that’s been going on, back in the real world Mrs G and I took a trip down to sunny Wiltshire to visit with Mr Ball senior and wish him a happy father’s day.  No sign of sister ball, so I’ll be trying to track her down this week, but granny ball – “Oh I’m fine!  I have to be.  I don’t have much choice!” was in fine form, as was auntie M ball.


We journeyed with the in-laws, both of whom were also in high spirits which was most enjoyable after the last 6 months. W’s treatment has finished and he seems to be recovering well and of course with next week being Wimbledon, Mrs G senior is in her element. Such a major fan, that Mrs G swears that she and her sister used to go unfed in their youth for two weeks every summer.
The Senior ball’s were also looking after “Mutley” (a close friends dog) who really is a lovely hound. Sadly Mrs G isn’t a doggy person – we are a cat houshold – and to be fair dogs are far more of a tie than cats are, but when you spend time with a dog like Mutley, it’s hard not to think it would be nice to have a fella like that around.


I had a Bassett Hound in my younger days, and I still miss him. But then Barney and Boo keep us busy enough, and if I can’t get my schedule organised well enough to write in my blog, I could hardly be trusted with a dog.
Having said that, daughter is house and dog sitting for Auntie S – and I think she’s angling for a hound to join the cats….
It’ll never happen.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Categories Daughter, Family, Mrs G

Roller Coaster

Now that has been a tough week. All a bit of an emotional roller coaster but the end is in sight – mostly.

Monday’s list of jobs went pretty well although the mowing and strimming took a back seat and got shuffled right out to Saturday just gone, in the end.

Daughter’s big day on Tuesday was a jolly use of time. we had a leisurely start to the day and then went off to Cabot’s Circus in Bristol. You might be fogiven for thinking there were clowns and performing elephants, however, there were none for it is the name of the relatively new shopping centre. If you’re wondering, the Cabot in question is John Cabot and there’s all the historical gen on him here: but the short version is that he was the first european since the vikings to explore mainland North America in 1497.


I’m sure he wasn’t planning on having a shopping center named after him, but we live in a strange world.

We also paid a visit to the scandinavian flat pack land that is Ikea. As always this resulted in a return trip being needed to take back what didn’t fit or to replace what was damaged under the packaging. This is a consistent and constant bug bear of what would otherwise be a very useful store of furnishings.

Wednesday found me back to the “rolling dung uphill” routine with the badman. We’re still pushing although we are sort of leaning on the ball and catching our breath ready for the next big push. Thursday was a trip to a starfleet outpost to gather the team and review the situation so far. General consensus is that we’re all going in the right direction and that Friday’s meeting in a different star system will be a turning point.

Which brings me to Friday. Funerals are never much fun. It was a terribly sad and moving occasion and everyone that was present felt the pain of the children that my cousins wife leaves behind. 41 is no age at all, and 15 and 17 is a hard time to loose your mother. They do have a hugely supportive group of family and friends and my cousin is doing his best to hold it all together, but the pain is very raw. The crematorium was standing room only and one hopes that this in a small way might provide some comfort to them in their hour of need. A rough day for everyone involved.


Friday evening, on our return journey from the forgotten county, Mrs G and I were able to catch up with A, L and A and this provided some light in an otherwise heavy and dark day.

Finally on Saturday I got the mower fired up for the second cut and the strimmer had it’s first run of the year. “Hoorah!!” said the lawn, which is now quite happy to show it’s face in public. I was beginning to think I’d never find the time, but it’s all ship shape and bristol fashion now.

The other half of Saturday was all about the remains of the 21st birthday celebrations. This time, it was to involve, grandparents, parents and friends of daughter all attending a local curry house for a bit of a nosh up and the onwards into Cheltenham for drinking, dancing and general shenanigans.


Of course, grandparents aren’t particularly suited to the clubbing scene so they snuck off home to open a nice bottle of red and have a game of scrabble probably. It turns out that Mrs G and I (and Aunty S & M) have reached that point in our lives where we too are not the best of bedfellows with a nightclub any longer. This came as quite a shock to me, having been at my most relaxed in such environments for many years. I supposed though, that it comes to all of us, and for the first time ever I found myself wanting a bit of a sit down and a chat as opposed to jumping around to some banging house tunes. Very disconcerting. Still, we made the best of the overpriced drinks and the underdressed youths and finally crawled off towards the night bus at around 1am. I’d never say never, but my clubbing days are numbered I believe.

And so to Mothering Sunday. The fun just keeps on coming… really I need a break, so I’m looking forward to being back at work just to stop the socialising and earn rather than spend. A journey up to Tewksbury and lunch in a nice old hotel followed by a little walk out by the river with Mrs G and both mothers (and other halves of course) made for a most welcome end to the weekend.


This all left me with no other option other than to collapse into a fitfull sleep of the sofa variety from about 4pm until 5ish…

Ordinarily I would have said that was a waste of an hour of my day, but in this occasion we’ve been fitting so much emotion into our days that exhaustion is taking over and it was an hour exceptionally well spent. If I’ve learnt one thing this week, it’s make the most of every moment you have.

To quote the great Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding “Get busy living, or get busy dying”

Until next time….

This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Categories Birthday, Daughter, Family, Lawn, Movies, Mrs G, Walking

War and Peace

The old blogging has been taking a bit of a back seat of late (not a good situation) and so to rectify that lapse, I present herewith “War and Peace”. So titled because not unlike Mr Tolstoy’s effort, it’s huge but sadly, that is where the similarity ends.  Apologies in advance.

To give you some semblance of what’s been happening, here’s the story so far….  or at least since the last entry of any detail.  Last friday was Gold Cup day, and Mrs G and I made an appearance.  We weren’t racing or riding but we were watching. You can read about that elsewhere.


Since then there’s been the rest of a weekend and almost a whole week for stuff to have happened in.

Saturday was filled with a trip to town.  It’s daughter’s 21st birthday next week and Mrs G has settled on what she’s having.  I’m a little disappointed as I had other plans for her “special gift” but Mrs G has insisted that these go on hold. Given the tough time daughter’s had over the last 12 months, I suppose she’s right….  oh and if she’s reading this – of course, she’s absolutely correct and I agree whole heartedly with her decision.  I’ve put the idea on the back burner and if finances permit then perhaps daughter will get a nice surprise later in the year.

The mission to collect the said gift was made all that much harder by the fact that daughter decided to join us on our visit to the city – and so there was to-ing and fro-ing and ducking and diving so that the item was secreted away without daughters knowledge. No mean feat, and MI5 would be proud.

RE: The gift. Just to be clear….  this isn’t it:

Saturday night was a fine Jamie O lasagne. It tasted great, but rather fell apart on dissection. I suspect the sauce needed further reduction before the baking process – but what do I know about cooking? other than how to read the book.


Sunday being the day where stuff gets done around the house lent itself beautifully to a good sort out of the garden.  The weather was fine and dandy and actually felt like the proper first day of Spring. Bright sunshine allowed me to get the mower out and wave it about the lawn.  It’s a flymo, so rather than the coiffered cut of a Briggs & Stratton, it’s more like an all over number two – short and cropped and tidy if not elegant.

This is then followed by the beard trimmer and nasal hair remover of all lawn machinery – the strimmer – to go round the edges.  It’s a natty little Black & Decker with a self feeding strimmer line that extends itself as it inevitably gets worn away.  On this occasion it over extended itself and has in point of fact worn away completely. Being past 4pm at this stage of the game, a trip to B&Q (other DIY outlets are available) was out of the question – and so the nasal grass remains until I can crowbar in a retail opportunity.

Monday found me whizzing cross country in the roller skate to meet my mate the badman and another member of the crew to push forward the enormous boulder we’re hefting uphill.  Picture the dung beetle and there you have it.  It was a pleasure to spend time with the pair of them and they were both very generous and shared gifts with me.  The badman had some of his finest free range eggs from his very own chickens. An interesting mix of whites and blues and the odd very dark red / brown.

This reminds me – I must ask him what he’s been feeding them on…  presumably chalk, brick dust and something blue…   


Our other colleague, Brenda, (I can’t apologise enough for want of a better name), treated me to a cold & flu, which has been slowly chipping away at my energy resources ever since.  This, in part, is some of the reason the blog hasn’t been happening. I’m just too damn ughhhgdfg.  A head full of mucus is no way to think, let alone be creative and write something that you won’t want to read.

I try not to talk about work too much in here, but as it’s a new role for me and as it’s particularly taxing at the moment I’m allowing myself a little lapse on the basis that a problem shared is a problem halved.  Not that it’s particularly a problem, as the badman pointed out, he and I are stood with our necks aching looking up an extremely steep and high learning curve. Those that are slightly longer in the tooth at this game have an opportunity to take full advantage of our naivety and on occasion one or two of them try to do just that.  You got to get up early in the morning to catch us country boys out though 🙂

Tuesday changed the perspective of the whole week though. Work was fine – we moved things forward and played with the spreadsheet from hell. What wasn’t so good was a phone call from Mrs G senior and news from the around Bradford (not the one up north, the one on the Avon canal). I have cousins out that way one of whom is married with the regulatory 2.4 kids and until the last couple of years all was well in their world.  Sadly his wife was diagnosed with cancer, and even though she’d fought it and had an all clear, it made a most unwelcome reappearance. On Tuesday evening she lost her battle and my heart broke for them.

The rest of the week paled into insignificance.

It’s Friday morning now though, and I do feel like I’ve turned a corner.  Loaded up on Lemsip (other cold & flu remedies are available) I’m ready for another crack at hard work safe in the knowledge that I’ve got 3 days off next week.  Two to celebrate daughter’s big day and one to celebrate my cousin’s wife’s life.

Obviously mixed emotions.

Stay safe and tell your loved one’s you love them.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Categories Birthday, Blogging, Cheltenham Gold Cup, Daughter, Family, Lawn, Mrs G

In pursuit of the commute

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Why am I doing this? Can someone remind me again please.

It was lovely to have had Friday off. The wedding went with but one hitch and that was the one that was supposed to happen so all is well on that front. It didn’t rain while we were outside, the kids that were present screamed in the appropriate parts of the service, the women all cried, the speeches were short (almost to the point of non-existent), the bridesmaids were gorgeous (not that I’m biased) and there was dad dancing. The dad dancing wasn’t from me due to the back strain, but ordinarily would have been.
In summary a very British wedding and not a sniff of royalty in sight.

Saturday was to have been Alleycats golf, but I very wisely rested instead, despite the peer pressure, and as a result the pain has eased. Although not fully recovered it’s well on it’s way and I have no doubt that as long as I’m careful this week it’ll be back (no pun intended – or existing) to normal very soon.
Keen to find out why Shep looks so miserable about the whole thing, especially as he has new golf clubs. 🙂

Sunday was all about birthday lunch with Mother-in-law. Always a pleasure, never a chore. General topic of discussion was what a terrible start to the year we’ve all been having. In truth it can only better, although on a couple of issues it most certainly will get worse. Personally I’m trying to stay away from hospitals, but that isn’t the case for some of the more frail members of the clan. Our thoughts are with them all.

Lunch was wonderful though. Rounded the day off with daughter and Mrs G on the sofa, a glass of red wine and dancing on ice. Not normally something I’d bother with, but they love it and it does have a smidgen of entertainment about it.

Now we have arrived at Monday morning. Back down to London for a 10am meeting. While 10am might seem like a leisurely start to the day (and when working from home it most certainly is) the logistics involved mean it’s actually quite a challenge.

Alarm goes off at 5.45 giving me 20 minutes to get up and out the door. 30 minutes to walk to the station and a massive 10 minutes spare to get coffee and settled before the 6.45 departure. Arrives at London Paddington at 8.45 and it then takes a further 40 minutes (if all goes to plan) to get into the city proper on the tube which leaves me 35 minutes to make the 10 minute walk to the office and into the 10am meeting. Perfect.

Today however, I’ve been sat on the train at the station since 6.55 as it was late arriving. It’s now 7.18 and we’re just pulling out of the station so my 25 minutes of spare time has gone before I’ve even started. Unless the time is made up en route I will be late. Awesome start to the week.

The long list of reasons start with the speedometer not working, the central door locking not working and then some unspecified engine problem which had to be attended to by engineers. This doesn’t bode well for the rest of the journey. There’s also no hot food or sandwiches on board (as if I care!)

I also take the precaution of reserving a seat when I pre-book my ticket. I like to be forward facing at a table, just in case I fancy joining laptop club and preferably by the window. This is just for my comfort and is not essential. However, to really wind me up, why not accept the booking without comment and plonk me in an aisle seat, rear facing without a table…. Is it really that difficult ? I can see the table with no-one sat at it from here!

Ah well, at least I can feel self assured that we get value for money in rail travel in the UK. D’oh!!!

This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Categories Birthday, Coffee, Daughter, Dining Out, Family, Golf, Home Working, Mrs G, Public Transport, The Lads, Weddings, Weekend

High plains drifting through the deepest darkest Cotswolds

What a truly excellent Friday that felt like a Saturday. It’s always nice when you feel like you’re getting an extra day and yesterday was no exception.
As planned – although not on schedule as events involving so many kids never are – we trundled off to Cooper’s Hill (made famous by the rolling of the Cheese) for an energetic hike through the woods to Cranham.,-2.152033&spn=0.028064,0.084114&t=h&output=embed
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The push to the top of Cooper’s Hill is one of those climbs that leaves you feeling like you don’t do enough exercise no matter how much exercise you actually do do. (Did you just write do do ?? Ed). However, on days like this it also leaves you in no doubt that it’s absolutely worth the lung busting burning agony.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

At this time of year the tree colours are incredible. To see the luscious greens slowly turning to reds and oranges before disappearing altogether is a sight that anyone would be heartbroken to lose, and just reminds me that I don’t want to live on the Mediterranean or the west coast of the US really, even if I think I do.
From here we head south easterly along a short stretch of the cotswold way through the woods. A left turn and down hill past the woodsmans cottage and the across the road and back into the woods to drop down into Cranham itself.

It’s a beautiful little village trapped in a valley and feels like it’s cut off from the world. Near the top of one of the tiny roads is an equally tiny pub “The Black Horse”. With a proper open fire and proper beer and a proper home cooked (not too fancy but huge portions) menu, it was just what was required.

Of course the ordering and delivery of food and beverages is made over complicated by the shear numbers of people involved and the fact that everyone wants something slightly different but the Barman did an excellent job of keeping us all organised and the food and superb beer were quaffed and enjoyed greatly.
The return journey involves a lot of up hill work and on this occasion took the same route as before. As the kids explained this is a particularly dangerous strategy, because by going back the way you came the Indians are sure to know where you’ve been and are likely to ambush you. All too late had I realized we’d forgotten to cover our tracks on the way in to the village. A schoolboy error (apparently). This gem of very useful information was made all the more pertinent when the kids also revealed this logic to have been proven by their cousins who never retrace their steps and instead strive to find an alternate route. The system must work, as the cousins, as yet have never been ambushed by said Indians, in these or any other parts. Fun times.
The beauty of conversations with 7 year olds is the way their logic produces all sorts of hitherto unknown facts. For example, I hadn’t realised that I’m now logically a grandparent. It turns out that once you’re kids are no longer kids and are grown up, you’re no longer a parent, but automatically a grand parent. Well thanks for that nephew of mine. I shall remember it for future use and try my best to embarrass you with it at a later date. Probably during your university application.
By this time we’d also had the sad news that daughter was required to help out at work in the evening and so our little party of scattered family was to come to a close. We traipsed back to the bottom of the Cheesey hill and from there back home. For those wishing to try it out, we made it last almost 3 and half hours, but two of those were spent sat in the pub eating, so a 45 minute walk each way. Longer if you’re covering your tracks.

All was not completely lost though, as Mrs G and I were able to join them all again in the evening for a well deserved curry, frivolity, a number of “was-lovely-to-see-yous” and couple of “we’ll-be-up-to-visit-you-all-soons” before they were due to head back north to bonnie Scotland.
One tiny bit of tech note…  Daughter’s new camera was the test bed for these photo’s (A Samsung PL150 – £130 – other cameras are available) which she’ll be taking on her forthcoming Thailand trip. It’s done a good job. Might be a little small for my clunky hands, but it takes a damn good picture as I’m sure you’ll agree.
And then there’s a beutiful little app for the iPad called “TiltShiftGen” Which enabled me to take this shot of Tesco’s…

….and turn it into this beautiful model village…

Best of all, it’s now only just Saturday morning. The weekend awaits and I hear there’s a beer festival at The New Inn in Gloucester. Ahhh, to sip, perchance to drink.. Who knows, but gotta keep an eye out for the Injuns, especially at my age.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Categories Cheese Rolling, Dining Out, Family, Tech, Walking

Beavering, Banqueting & Bicycling

It’s been one of those weeks at starfleet. My brain has been well and truly frazzled with yet more changes to the way things are done and in fact the total dissolution of the department that I work in. One has to wonder if ‘they’ know what they’re doing.

I fully understand that change is a necessity and without it your business will stagnate and die, but that doesn’t mean it has to be constant and in my opinion if you don’t stop and look occasionally, you’ll miss the vista.

That said, in Microsoft’s case, ‘missing the vista’ might have been just the right thing to do. A shockingly poor OS. I digress.

I’m not over concerned. I have secured a new position within this vast and complex borganisation (see what I did there? Apologies to fans of the original series) and I’m looking forward to the challenges that will bring, all be it not until next January.

Having fixed my destiny, I’ve been focused on the current workload hence my appalling lack of blogging. I did micro blog for those of you that twatter, (as some call it) but only in the sense that I shared some of the more interesting tech news.

Now that Friday has arrived, the pace has abated somewhat, not least because both Mrs G and I have yet another day off. The Scottish contingent are on their way back up north from their trip to the south and are having a stop over at mother-in-laws en route and so we’ve parked the working week to enjoy their rare company.

To this end we’re all getting together for what promises to be an entertaining cotswold pub lunch. There’s a little boozer tucked away in a village behind a steep hill and through some dense woods not very far from the rabbit warren and this is to be our destination. Part driven to, part rambled to, we shall make our way through the autumnal semi frosted fields and woods to the sanctity of a warm and inviting open fireside for steak sandwiches or a ploughman’s lunch or something similar. (the ploughman will be livid -Ed). Pictures to follow.

I know not what the rest of the weekend has in store, but that’s the best sort of weekend there is. As long as there’s no ‘crashing & burning’ like last weekend, I’ll be perfectly happy.

A final passage of note on the subject of bicycling. Regular readers will know I recently purchased bicycles for Mrs G and I on the premise that we’d use them to get back into shape after two very slovenly summers. I’m thoroughly enjoying the process, Mrs G less so, and so it was with this in mind that the arrival of an email from France has given me something intriguing to strive for.

A good friend of mine (let’s call him Bart to preserve his identity) lives ‘sur la continent’ and has suggested that he and I and a few others might try to cycle from London to Paris next October. Initially I was sceptical. Now I am relishing the idea. Obviously it will require France to still exist and allow other europeans entrance. Watching the news this week, the place looks like its about to spontaneously combust. But that’s the French for you.

This also means however that I have a lot of work to do between now and then. I’ll try not to blather on about it too much, but expect regular updates on the subject in the coming months.

I do love a challenge – especially one that involves beer and cheese (or wine & meat)

See and download the full gallery on posterous

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Categories Dining Out, Family, Mrs G, Starfleet

Golfing, Swarming, Reading, Eating & Drinking… It’s all hard work.

Well that was a rather stuffed weekend.  Full to the brim of frippery, family, food, firewater, and frivolity.  Fun times and so it’s back to work with a bump.

Friday was the Smithy open and a lot of fun that is. We were very lucky with the weather. In fact this has been true all weekend. Not a raincloud in sight.  Very warm though. Close, as the old folks would say. All went off without a hitch, and although I didn’t win, it’s not about the winning or loosing… it’s about the winning. Well done Stanlar.

Our evening entertainment was an eclectic mix of establishments on the Bath road in Cheltenham, including The Exmouth Arms, The Brown Jug and the 5 Alls. Extremes, but all very enjoyable. Pleased to see the 6X of my home town on tap in the Brown Jug.  I’ve been in here plenty of times before, and always enjoyed it and it’s also good to see the 5 Alls having a lick of paint. All a bit of a blur, but generally a nice bunch of boozers. There’s more about that over on the WTC site though. ’nuff said.

Friday night was also the launch of the Cheltenham Literature Festival which this year, we’ve failed miserably to get properly involved with. What is does mean is that Cheltenham gets very busy and is a generally slightly more interesting place to be for the week. That’s not to say that it isn’t always interesting, it’s just this week (like any Cheltenham Festival week) is more so. The streets are littered with interesting characters, both well known and completely unidentifiable that make people watching an excellent pastime.

For example, on Friday we had Melvyn Bragg, Simon Hoggart, Mark Kermode & Andrew Marr.  Gutted that I missed Dr K of course, but would also have loved to have heard Andrew Marr after writing about him earlier in the year. I hear reports that he was having a go at bloggers. More on that here and here. Very entertaining stuff I’m sure.

On Saturday, as regular readers will be aware, it was Cheltenham’s attempt at a SuperSwarm that drew Mrs G, Daughter and I to “The Bank House” in the town, as well as a few other bits and pieces of shopping that needed to be done. It was interesting to finally put some actual faces to Twitter names that I’ve read about and followed. The likes of @AdrianEXG & @jonnop to name but two. It was a valiant effort and there was a decent buzz (all puns intended even if not achieved) about the place that made it look like there was a chance of achieving it. In fact, The Literature Festival itself drew a large enough crowd to aquire a spontaneous “Swarm” badge* (a group of 50) during the morning.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. The crowd peaked at 120, and 250 is the target. Of course this is still something of a success. Even 120 people is no mean feat, but while the Literature Festival does bring a lot of people to Cheltenham, they may not necessarily be the people that are foursquare savvy. A more likely target – given the numbers of people involved would be Cheltenham races. Punters are twitterer’s because they’re looking for the inside line on the horses s this makes them a natural progression for Foursquare. Maybe the team will have a pop at the Festival in March ??. There’s racing on Friday/Saturday too but more on that later in the week.

Saturday’s LitFest names included Sebastian Faulks, Alastair Campbell & Darling (although not together) & “the Dark Lord”, Peter Madelson. Also ran… Armstrong & Miller and Derren Brown. Needless to say we hadn’t arranged tickets for any of these shows this year and that truly is a travesty. Sunday had Stephen Hawking, Clive Anderson, Graham Norton, Germain Greer, Martin Jarvis and so the list goes on and on and on…Of the approximately 200 well known faces to appear this year, the worst one to miss of the lot is next Friday. 12-1pm Mr Stephen Fry. He is the king of twitter and a national treasure.

Next year, Mrs G and I will be having a week off and planning it properly.

After the people-watching and book browsing of the day, the early evening saw the arrival of the Scottish contingent who are staying with us until Tuesday. This is Mrs G’s sister & D along with the three little ones, A, W & F.

Good company, good food & good wine made for a most enjoyable evening and onwards into the wee small hours of Sunday morning. Daughter & Son where out with friends but bother were tucked up asleep by the time the rest of the house arose by 9am. Sunday meant a roast dinner in the pub with Grandparents. More excellent socialising and the early evening led to kids hot-tubbing which had meant a bit of work for me to prep it having not used it for the last couple of months. Auntie S brought the cousins (E&E) round as well, so the house was fit to burst with kids and adults all having a great time and bemoaning the quality of the X-Factor among other things. All provoking much giggling, pointing and oooo-ing and ahhh-ing. Fun times.

Finally exhausted, all retired for the evening, save myself and D who with a night-cap in hand enjoyed a run of The Big Lebowski before admitting defeat and turning in for the night. Try as I might, time & tide waits for no man and with the inevitability of the sun rising, so the working week begins and all I can do is get on with it whilst wishing for the new year and the start of the new job. L&D & Kids are off to Slimbridge with Grandparents while the rest of us work for a living. They’ll be back this evening for one last night of socialising before heading off to the south coast for the week.

Hey ho – back to it.

* If you want to know more about all of the Foursquare badges – details can be seen here:

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Categories Books, Cheltenham, Daughter, Dining Out, Family, Golf, Hottub, Lebowski, Mrs G, Son

A lot of good work for charadee….

The weekend is almost upon us and it’s a jam packed one this week. In fact it’s sooo busy that I’ve had to take an extra day off on Friday just to try and cram it all in.  The rabbits will go unfed as I won’t be in the warren, so if you’re passing please drop off a carrot, or some cabbage. (More on that in a bit). There’s also been another tranche of geekery announced, some of which I have an opinion on, so I’ll get to that but in the next post…   over lunch….

First of all, let’s see what’s in store…  Friday and there’s a game of golf in the shape of the “Smithy Open”. Unfortunately it clashes with a charity game of golf that Mr Ball Senior is involved with in Wiltshire. I normally attend with him so we have some giggles, a pint, play some poor golf and help raise some cash for Lukemia. Even I can’t be everywhere at once, so this year the Smithy open wins it. I’ll still make a donation though. 

On the subject of donations, a good friend of mine is doing his bit for charity next week by sleeping out on the cold streets of London as part of Byte Night 2010 ( Each year hundreds of individuals and teams from across the IT and business community spend a night exposed to the worst of the British weather to raise both sponsorship and awareness of “Action for Children” and their work, so please feel free to show your support here: if you feel like it.

Mrs G and I are paying host to the Scottish contingent this weekend, which will be a delight. They’re stopping in for a day or two on their way south, so there’s bound to be plenty of entertainment surrounding their visit. If they arrive in time, they might even get to Swarm….

Saturday means I’ll have a quick trip into Chelter’s to join up with the SuperSwarmUK effort and win a rare Foursquare badge, as well as sample some bargain priced food and beverages at the Bank House. 1PM to 4PM if you’re in that neck of the woods ….,-2.075603&sspn=0.001347,0.002881&ie=UTF8&hnear=Cheltenham,+United+Kingdom&ll=51.90123,-2.075601&spn=0.001728,0.003412&t=h&output=embed
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(Clarence Street, in what used to be called Que Pasa) 

…. and would like to be involved in something rare and unusual ….

You just need a method for checking into foursquare.  Read all about it here or here.

Sunday is that magical date, The 10th of the 10th, 2010… and as a result there is a very clever little project running, called “One Day On Earth”. They want some help documenting the world’s story for just one day and they state their objective as:

To create an open shareable archive and documentary film of the world on 10/10/10. We hope to enlighten, teach and benefit humanity through global collaboration and inspired media creation. We seek to find a deeper understanding of life on this planet.

Interesting idea. It’s also a stepping stone to supporting a cause. You’ll see stuff about it at this hash tag on twitter: #101010 or buy visiting their website: Definetly worth a look.

Monday will be, straight back at it. Nose to the grind stone, etc etc…. but with a slightly refreshed outlook. I’m officially starting a new job, although sadly not for 3 months due to contractual issues that I’m not over the moon about, but I have to live with. Fun times when all is said and done. I just hope I can remain motivated until Christmas.  Should be fine as long as I avoid the X-Factor.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Categories Family, FourSquare, Golf, Mrs G, Starfleet