Archives for category: Hottub

So now it feels like it’s properly April although after such stunning weather over the weekend you might well have thought it was summer already.

This one’s just a quick diary catchup, just so I’m keeping track of the comings and goings, the why’s and wherefores, the strikes and the gutters. In this case, that means what the hell have I been up to in the last week? I mean I’ve mentioned a few things, and there’s been a couple of photo’s, but I do appear to have somewhat slipped from the habit of writing an entry everyday.

In part this is because of the distractions that the new year has brought. Work has changed dramatically and so I’ve been re-aligning myself to it. Bizarrely, I’m starting to get a bit of a kick out of it again. Something that hasn’t been the case for more than a couple of years. However, I’m all too aware of the fragility of the place. Things can disappear as quickly as they arrive, and vicky verky (which roughly translated means vice-versa)

Perhaps I should resolve to return to, which is after all, what got me into this mess in the first place. I might take a poke around at it if schedules permit, but let’s not count any chickens.

The other thing that’s diverted me is the use of instagr-am. Without doubt the coolest photography app on the iPhone, I find myself using it to document goings on without writing anything. I know they say a picture is worth a thousand words, but then they say all sorts of things don’t they. Many of which are just old wives and grandmothers tales. The immediacy of posting a photo to the blog is a big draw and apparently so much so that it is becoming my shorthand for writing an entry of any substance. It’s not a situation I’m particularly over-the-moon about.

I like words. No, that’s not right. I love words. They are solid concrete things that explain how the world around me looks, and feels and works and yet at the same time, they are malleable and as such I can bend them to my very will. I can use them to create beautiful structures, bold sentences and bull sh1t, as well as alliteration. (I see what you did there -Ed) They are immensely powerful and instantly disposable. Just like the old newspaper saying: “Today’s headline is just tomorrow’s chip wrapper” *. From Shakespeare to swearing and back again, words are a heavenly device, hence my feeling I should write more and photograph less.

For the geeks who were wondering how that hangs together…. A photo in my library or taken from within instagr-am itself is posted to the instagr-am site, Twitter, Posterous, Facebook and if it has location info attached to it, checks me in on Foursquare all simultaneously. The Posterous entry can then also create entries for Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress. You can see the appeal. Click-post-disseminate. Simples.

None of this is telling you about my week though is it. It is just procrastination which avoids the subject and diverts us away from the stated aims. So let’s get to it….

Monday – work, Tuesday – work, Wednesday – work, Thursday – work (and WTC very poorly administered by Jugs), Friday – work. I would like to expand on the work details, but I’ve signed an NDA, so I could tell you, but the I’d have to have you “taken care of” to put it as politely as possible. Besides that, the Badman puts it so much better than I. You really should take a look at

Friday night was a short bike ride (4 miles) with daughter on which I nearly died. I kid you not. At the time I was very concerned about my health and felt I might actually have been near some sort of heart malfunction. After some recuperation however, I’ve drawn the conclusion that there were actually four factors that contributed to my in-the-region-of-death experience (it wasn’t that near).

1: Illness. I’ve had a cold/flu thing over the last couple of weeks which I haven’t fully shaken off. It’s definitely on the wane now though. I suspect that my oxygen flow was far from at it’s peak with much coughing and spluttering.

2: Daughters Pace. She is after all, only 21 and as fit as a preverbal butchers dog. I probably shouldn’t try to out run her.

3: Weather. It was damn hot on Friday and I was no doubt a little de-hydrated, compounded by the fact that Fridays inconveniently fall after Thursdays (WTC). And finally…

4: Bike. Turns out the crank shaft bearings have gone, and so to keep pace with any normal bike, you end up pedalling almost double time, and there’s little or no free wheeling. It’s a (potential) killer.

Saturday started with some lawn mowing, and general garden tidying while daughter and Mrs G ran some town based errands. It then completely skipped over the Grand National which I had on my initial list as something to have a look at and then morphed into a spontaneous Bar-B-Q. Who knew?!! Mrs G, Daughter and I just thought as it was such a nice day we’d have a few friends round, open up the hot tub, fire up the bar-bee and crack a few tinnies, along with some carefully selected wines.

It’s on days like that that the hot tub shows itself as the sound investment it was. In fact, more of a cool tub on such a day. Having turned it down to a mere 30 degrees, it made for a most refreshing dip from the heat and was especially fun for the kids. The adults enjoyed the weather and frivolity. The bar-bee passed it’s first run of the year, and the iTunes DJ feature got a good testing. No party should be without it in this day and age. Most entertaining.

Sunday had the same weather again. We’d unfortunately had a rather sleepless night caused by some engineering works on the nearby railway. I understand that night time works are the least disruptive to the network, but they are still the most disruptive to our sleep patterns. On the plus side, Sunday meant we allowed ourselves a lie-in and I actually felt my cold/flu/thing lift a little.

So much so in fact, that Mrs G and resolved to cycle into the city and back out and over to her offices. The logic with a ride to her offices is in preparation for her daily commute. She’s intending to cycle with daughter and wanted to gauge the timing. Naturally after Friday’s events I wasn’t overly keen, but in point of fact, I had nothing to be concerned about. 2 out of 4 of my previous issues were dealt with (it was still hot and I have yet to have the crankshaft bearing replaced) and as a result, it was a most enjoyable outing. About 8 miles round trip – felt like 200 yards – a doddle.

For the final leg, Mrs G and I swapped bikes. What a dream it is to ride on a decent set of crankshaft bearings (said the actress to the bishop). The repair is imminent I feel.

And here we are, back at Monday. What does this week hold? Well at least one day will spent with the Badman in another Starfleet office. My diary has a few conference calls and meetings throughout but beyond that… I have no idea.

I’m hoping for a week as smooth as my new bearings will be. Have fun.

* For the American audience, I feel this one really needs a proper bit of explanation. Back in the day, the Brits used to buy “deep fried fish with french fries” on a Friday night as “take out”. The french fries would be wrapped up in yesterday’s newspaper. Waste not, want not. Today, Mr Health & Nanny State Safety, wouldn’t dream of allowing such a thing to take place, not least because newspaper ink is probably more toxic now than it was 30 years ago. Instead we have plain boring chip paper. Where’s the fun in that?

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

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

Most definetly BBQ weather today. Start off with coffee and tub scrubbing. The coffee’s great (although it’s not the OBJ). I’ve decided to finish of the Italian Espresso first, sort of saving the best for last.

The tub scrubbing is just good old fashioned hard work. It’s done with a special sort of gloop that has the look and consistency of fairy liquid. Be warned though it most definetly isn’t the aforementioned washing up soap stuff. This stuff burns a bit if you get it on your skin so you need to watch what your doing. It does a great job though and worth all the effort.

Filter and jets all go through the dishwasher nicely, although the filter goes on a ‘deep rinse’ with no dishwasher tablets. Soap in your filter causes nothing but bubbles of the wrong kind. Refilling the tub takes a good couple of hours as it’s around about 1000 litres and then reheating can take 24 hours from cold to a maximum 40 degrees C. I’ve got it set to 26 degrees for now, the weathers way to warm for much higher than this, and it saves a shedload of electricity of course.

Tomorrow is hoovering (which should correctly be referred to as vacuuming). Living the dream.

– Posted using BlogPress

{rant ON}
Without doubt, there are certain people that attempt to make life miserable. They automatically believe everything they’re told and for some reason they feel it’s their mission in life to pass this good news (or bad) on to you. Consistently it would seem that their problems aren’t actually their problems, but as far as they’re concerned, they are your problems. These individuals are clearly the desperate type who strive to hold what they believe to be the “high office” that is pencil pushing middle management.

However, what these people seem to forget, is that without us (in their opinion) lesser mortals their role would be (and is) completely pointless. I mention this because I’ve been working with one of them and it’s starting to get on my tits. Most impressively it’s the way that this person fails to understand that when I’m not working on their project I am not sat on my backside, twiddling my thumbs waiting for them to call me with the answer to a particular question. I’m actually working on other projects with people that have a better grasp of reality.
{rant OFF}

It was with this in mind that I trundled off to the WTC last night for a few sherberts to wind down and get over the whole thing. In general that worked well, but at 5am this morning I remembered why mixing Red Wine with Lager really isn’t as good an idea as it seemed at the time. A banging headache ensued which lasted until 8.30 post coffee and toast. I wasn’t heard to utter the immortal phrase “I’m never drinking again”, but I do have a better understanding of why people say it.

Meanwhile, back at the coal face this morning the wannabe ppmm was at it again, only this time with a second piece of work unrelated to the first before having completed the scope of the original one. What is wrong with these people? I fear this will only get worse if (as we’re told) there a fewer hands which will make for heavy work. But “Fear not!” said he for mighty dread had seized their troubled minds…. It’s Friday. I’ve only been back two days and it feels like a whole week already.

A glance at my diary for this weekend shows it is completely and utterly empty – oh thank the omnipresent being which may or may not exist.

I did get the hottub drained last week, but the weather prevented the rest of the tasks I had in mind for it. It’s a situation which I’ll be rectifying this weekend. If things go well we may yet get to spend the entire 48 hours in the garden sipping cold drinks and getting a suntan – now that would be nice. Say what you like about the english weather, but when summer finally breaks through there is nowhere else on earth I’d rather be.

Daughter has nearly finished her run at special school, just two more days left (Saturday and Sunday) and then on Tuesday she will be officially especially special. She’s not particularly looking forward to Saturday though has she’s going to get “CS Gassed” (That’s o-Chlorobenzylidene Malononitrile to me and you). Another great gift from the people of Wiltshire (It was developed at Porton Down in the 50’s). But then it’s all part of the training, and if you’re going to dish it out, you’ve got to be able to take it.

May your Friday be free from ppmm’s and your weekend full of sunshine and special people.

So bank holiday Monday came and went and included Cheese Rolling by the rebellion. First one we’ve missed in 5 years I think, but we’ll be there next year I’m sure. For most, today means back to work. Ha ha! Not me though – no-sir-ee. I very sensibly booked two days holiday. I have a little trip on Wednesday to collect daughter from the airport on her return from Egypt unless her friends have sold her for a camel (customs will be a nightmare if that’s the case) and it seemed daft to go back to the ship just for one day. So here I sit on the holodeck.

Monday morning did indeed include mowing and netting installation so the garden’s looking pretty good. Next job is the hot tub. Details coming up.

But first – Door Stops & Triffids. Mrs G and I have been looking for a doorstop for the master bedroom door for some time. It’s not that it’s difficult, but that there are so many to choose from. On Sunday when we failed yet again to find a suitable one I came to my senses an explained to Mrs G that we didn’t need a door stop. What we actually needed was something of weight to prop the door open with. This means it could be any heavy object and all of a sudden our options are wide open.

Gloucester has a couple of great antiques centers and this, dear reader, is where we stumbled upon the perfect objet d’art for the purpose. An old stone hot water bottle (now half filled with sand) is just perfect for the job and works a treat. Bingo.

An afternoon of movie watching led to Triffids. The Day of the Triffids is a 1951 story written by John Wyndham. Its been the subject of many Radio Plays & TV Movies, and Sci-Fi enthusiasts the world over, know the story well. For those of you unfamiliar with the plot, it says here:

“The protagonist is Bill Masen, an Englishman who has made his living working with “Triffids”, plants capable of aggressive and seemingly intelligent behaviour: they are able to move about on their three “legs”, appear to communicate with each other and possess a deadly whip-like poisonous sting that enables them to kill and feed on the rotting carcasses of their victims. The book implies they were bioengineered in the Soviet Union and then accidentally released into the wild when a plane carrying their seeds was shot down. Triffids begin sprouting all over the world, and their extracts prove to be superior to existing vegetable oils. The result is worldwide cultivation of Triffids.”

Last Christmas the BBC made yet another dramatisation of it and it’s a cracking job. Sort of Doctor Who/Torchwood on steroids. A proper movie (almost). I recorded it on Sky plus and it’s languished there, taking up valuable disk space and waiting for the moment when I had an appropriate slot in my schedule to watch it.

Eddie Izzard plays bad guy ‘Torrence’, Dougray Scott plays the role of Bill Masen and Brian Cox plays Bill’s father. Eddie has become a great all rounder and one of those people you can’t help but admire for his drive, ambition and monumental sense of humour. I’ve long been a fan of his stand-up, so I wasn’t convinced about his acting future – but he’s more than pulled it off. In fact he is officially a Hollywood Heavyweight. Good for him. He doesn’t let the side down here either.

Mr Cox has had a long run of bad guy roles (what with him being the original Hannibal Lecter) but here he plays a good guy reminding us just what a great character actor he is as well. There’s also appearances from Vanessa Redgrave & Jason Priestly.

My only real critisism of the piece would be the triffids themsleves. I’m afraid I failed to be convinced that a plant could catch someone – which us a real problem for a story about killer plants especially when the plant looks a bit like rubber on a stick (which it probably was). Regardless, it’s a good looking, well made enjoyable romp.

Follow that with the second part of “Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal” (8 out of 10 which is exceptionally high scoring, bearing in mind I’ve only ever given one 10) and a take away curry with Mrs G and my weekend was made…..

So to the tub. We haven’t used it for about a month and it’s been switched off, so it needs a full drain, scrub down, refill, new chemicals and ph balance and a warm up again. That’s going to be a large part of the day and the weather doesn’t appear to be on my side. But then at least I’m not at work….

PS: I cocked up my coffee selection by running for the bus on Saturday (to enjoy the abusive public) instead of wandering around Whittards – had to pick up some Lavazza in Tesco. However, if the weather continues to be blughehhggh (technical term) today, then a trip to Chelter’s could resolve the situation and Italian Expresso, Monsoon Malabar or Cafe Francais will be the selection.

Failed miserably to write my 750 words yesterday and I hold my oldest (not eldest) friend entirely responsible for that. I have some catching up to do. Clearly he led me astray with alcohol and food and general chat of people we know, places we’ve seen and the goings on of the world itself. We set the world to rights and it was loads of fun.

So A&L&LittleA showed up mid afternoon Saturday, and we spread out in the garden and enjoyed the sunshine. A really beautiful day on Saturday meant that as well as consuming the odd beverage or two a full on bar-b-q (using the newly reconditioned BBQ) was the perfect way to watch the sun go down. LittleA has really become a great little character (she’s 14 months now) and gurgle’s away, points, says the odd intelligent word (like cat-cat or some such) and has an interest in absolutely everything for at least 35 seconds before being dis-squrriel-tracted.

Daughter arrived with S (and later C and Son’s “friend” S2). S had made fresh kebabs with Daughter which went down well and we spoofed for who would be first in the tub fully clothed. All very silly but entertaining stuff. By the time the wee small hours arrived we’d migrated back in doors to a game of Buzz and a bit of Singstar before we were all fully worn out and had to sleep. There’s only so much Lady GaGa as sung by the youths and mangled by the adults that you can take.

Early start Sunday morning because as anyone with kids will you tell you they set the agenda from the moment they awake, although this is perfectly normal in our house where we’re normally early birds. So by 9 o’clock we were all up and had feasted on a proper english cooked breakfast. The five of us (A&L&LittleA, Mrs G and I) took a stroll into the city and around the newly refurbished docks (Oh what a floor that is) ending up appropriately in Robert Raikes’ House for a spot of lunch.

Oh what a floor that is…

It’s appropriate because it was a Sunday and Mr Raikes was the founder of the Sunday School movement. In fact he was the founder of schooling in general (as Sunday Schools came before the state school system) and they where first held on a Sunday because the rest of the time, the kids were all at work (up chimneys, in factories etc etc. – Oh for the good old days) Today his house is a pub, and a very beautiful one it is too. Can’t say that the food and drink really lives up to the surroundings which is a great shame, but it’s still perfectly edible and quaffable. A greatly enjoyed weekend that we don’t do often enough. Luckily there are bank holidays on the near horizon and L has her special birthday coming up – so a weekend in Wiltshire with more buffoonery and catching up with more of the west country gang isn’t far away.

This morning I have a disaster on my hands though. A and I finished off the “Old Brown Java” on Sunday morning which means I’ve had to revert to the Lavazza, which while good is not the same. So at some point this week I have to have a trip to Whittards to pickup both more OBJ and either some Italian Expresso, Monsoon Malabar or Cafe Francais. Life without coffee would be like life without oxygen probably.

I also seem to be having some very odd goings on with my broadband connection this morning. It’s up and down like a pair of whore’s draws and I’m damned if I can figure out why. My router is particularly old and has been 100% reliable so I’m doubting that’s the problem. Of more concern may be network activity caused by some rouge piece of software. Now I have a fairly solid set of tools on the Mac that allow me to see exactly what it’s up to and nothing appears out of place there, so my suspicions point towards the slightly more volatile Windows systems that sit on my LAN. The work box only does work and nothing else (at least as far as is humanly possible) so I doubt that’s picked anything up, but it’s not impossible. I think a full scan is in order and we all know how tedious that is…..

At last. After scrimping and saving and digging for coins behind the sofa I’ve managed to scrape together enough dosh to splash out on my own little bit of pop-star stylie luxury. Hot-tub arrives on Thursday.

There may be trouble ahead…