Sunday, December 31, 2006

Does Apple OS-X make you smell of wee?

My brother wanted a nice looking PC for work and decided that now they can run Windows he would buy an iMac. I told him they were all style over substance but as usual he would not listen.

His iMac arrived on Wednesday 27th December and as he is away for New Year he brought it round to me to have a play with.

First impressions are good. Everything is in one device so there is no real setting up to do, you just plug the power cable in and switch it on. Even the keyboard and mouse are wireless so there is only one cable. The machine looks amazing and everyone who has seen it has commented on what a looker it is. It is essentially an iPod PC, which is no bad thing as the iPod is a seriously good looking piece of kit if you ask me!! The 20 inch LCD screen was also very nice.

OS-X boots up in about 20 seconds but I assume that like Windows this will increase as you install more software. Correct me if I am wrong as this is the first time I have used a mac.

After a few more seconds after everything on the desktop has appeared the wireless network asks you if you want to connect to the Briddon wireless network. I entered the access password and that was all the setup that was needed. I was on the net and ready to go. Very impressive I thought.

The desktop is nice and clean and there are lots of nice animations to make it look cool when you minimise things and move things around. The machine was very responsive and I don't think it ever stuttered in the way that windows can do if things get a little busy. It did have a 2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 2GB Ram though so it should not do this anyway.

OS-X was also surprisingly easy to use even though I have been a Windows user for the past however many years Windows has been available. It was quite intuitive and if I didn't know how to do something I just thought about how I would do it if I were designing the OS and it generally worked in the way I wanted it to. How do you add an application to the toolbar thingy at the bottom of the screen? Drag it from the applications folder in Finder to the toolbar. It's all very good indeed.

There are some annoying things. Firstly, even though the Apple mice now come with a right click button it does not do anything in the OS. To do the equivalent of a right click you have to press CTRL+Left Click. I know that this is a throwback to single button mice but for god's sake there could be a right click option. Using the keyboard to get a content menu is really annoying. Windows has had this for 11 years now!

The other annoying thing was closing applications. Clicking the red X in the top left of a window does not always do the job, with the application hanging around on the toolbar. To close it down you have to go right to the top left of the screen and select the applications menu and select the close application option.

These are small issues but they really annoyed me, probably because I am a Windows user but I am sure that at least a right click option would be an improvement to OS-X.

OK, back to the good things. Front Row. This is the Apple Media Center application that is accessed by pressing menu on the little remote you get. The desktop melts away and the Front Row application appears giving you access to the Pictures, Movies, Music, and iTunes. The interface is great. If you select music it reproduces an iPod menu system. It's really easy to use and all accessed from the remote.

All in all I was pleasantly surprised by the iMac and by OS-X.

My brother wants to run Windows XP on his iMac. He had already installed it and although it runs fine, the boot camp application that you use to install it is still in beta. The other issue is drivers. The only drivers you can use are the ones supplied by Apple as part of the boot camp application. If you try to use the ATI drivers from the ATI website you get an error saying that you don't own the correct hardware. There are also other driver issues and there are (!) in the device manager where the drivers for various parts of the iMac have not yet been written. There is nothing you can do to fix this. Windows XP does seem to run very well on the Apple though, as well it should now that Apple are using Intel hardware.

So I'm impressed with the iMac. Will I be logging onto Apples website and ordering one?

No.

This particular iMac with the upgraded processor, extra RAM and 256mb Graphics card came in at around £1300! It's good looks and all-in-oneness also means there are no upgrades to be had. I was also disappointed to discover that although the Apple website tells you that the graphics chipset is an ATI X1600 that it is actually an ATI X1600 mobility. Not the same card at all!! In Windows it also steals some system memory which is really annoying. It probably does this in OS-X as well but I could not find out where to look to check. :-)

OS-X is not as spectacular as Apple evangelists would have you believe either. It's quick and it looks nice but it is clunkier than Windows to use and it does not offer anything that is better than Windows, especially the soon to be released and VERY tasty Windows Vista.

If you want to move to an apple computer because you believe the hype on the webpage or you believe what current users are saying about it being so much better than Windows, don't bother. All you will get is an expensive PC you can't upgrade and an OS that while being very nice is no better than the Microsoft offering.

If you want to buy an iMac because you want a PC that looks god damn cool and will impress all that see it, go for it.

Does Apple OS-X make you smell of wee? No, but you won't smell of roses either.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

It's Christmas!!!!

Christmas is finally here!! I have been looking forward to it for the last few weeks as it means I am off work for 2 weeks!!

Victoria has been cooking her heart out to prepare for our meal on Christmas Eve and the house is looking very Christmassy indeed. Alice has also got into the spirit of the season by making some edible tree decorations (with Victoria's help obviously) and then eating them, followed by eating all the other chocolate tree decorations!!! I'm sure she thought she was helping.

Our plans for the festive season are : Home for Christmas Eve. Victoria's mum is coming round and Victoria is cooking a meal. Christmas day at my mum's, Boxing Day we are going out for lunch and the day after we are going to my mum's again.

I have already started the ball rolling with the pictures as you can see here, and you can probably guess that there will be many more added over the next week or so, probably mostly of Alice wearing tinsle or something like a Christmas cake outfit. You know the drill by now. :-)

Anyway, Merry Christmas to everyone I know and the same to those I don't. I hope you all have a great time.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Jools Holland - Sheffield City Hall

Victoria and I went to see Jools Holland last night at the Sheffield City Hall. If you remember, Victoria bought these for me as a wedding anniversary gift and after much deliberation I decided to take her with me. ;-)

I've not been to the city hall for years and they have given it a major refurb recently. To be honest it didn't look much different apart from the bar being very red. Most of the changes seem to be outside in Barkers Pool. It's always a good place to see a band though as wherever you sit you get a good view and as Jools went to great lengths to mention it is very good accoustically so it always sounds good.

Our seats were in the stalls on row G so we were pretty close to the front. It still amazes me how close you are to the performers at this venue when you compare it so places like the Arena, where even at the front you still seem to be very seperated from the artist.

First came the support act. I singer called Laura Michelle Kelly. She is apparently also an actress and is in the new Tim Burton version of Sweeny Todd. Her music is a sort of lite jazz. A kind of Norah Jones sound but with more guitar. Check it out. I really liked it.

At about 20:15 Jools Holland came on. He walked on stage and just started belting out the most amazing piano you can imagine. Then the band came on. There were 16 of them comprising of 5 sax players (2 tenor, 2 alto and one baritone) 4 trombone players, 3 trumpets, bass guitar, drummer, organ and guitar. Of course fronting them all was Mr Holland.

They spent an hour or so banging out the most amazing music. I didn't know many of the songs but that didn't matter.

Each of the band members took it in turn to do a solo and they were all fantastic musicians. They were also joined on stage by Ruby Turner, Jools Holland regular and famous singer in her own right, who has an amazing voice.

Things were going well until the 'special guest' was introduced. It was Lulu.

We had enjoyed a good hour of fantastic music and when Lulu appeared it all went a little flat. She came on and sang a few songs, finishing with 'Shout'. My god, how long can anyone dine out on one song?

She also looked ridiculous. Imagine your mum dressed like Cher and you kind of get the picture.

Anyway, she buggered off after a bit and things got going again. Another 45 minutes of great music.

We both really enjoyed this gig and we will probably be booking for next year as he apparently comes to Sheffield every Christmas. If you are thinking of going though book early. Victoria bought our tickets in June!!!

To sum it up, bloody brilliant apart from Lulu.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Grown Man Reduced To Tears

This evening Victoria and I put Alice to bed as usual.

She was all tucked up in bed (Alice, not Victoria) and I gave her a kiss good night as usual and said "Night night, love you"

Alice replied for the first time with " Night night, I love you"

GULP!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

An Excited Alice

This weekend we bought and put up our Christmas tree. Alice didn't really know what was happening and I'm pretty sure she has no recall of her previous two Christmas' so this is all still pretty new to her.

I put the tree in the stand (after the usual 30 minutes hacking at the base to make it fit!!) and brought it in the house.

Alice saw it and spent 45 minutes dancing round in a circle saying "A twee, a twee".

When I told her it was actually a Christmas tree she repeated "It's a Cwismas Twee."

She get's cuter every day and we've not even decorated the tree yet!!!

Alice also recently went to a friends birthday party. It was a fancy dress party and she went as Fifi from Fifi And The Flowertots. She looked really cute and you can see a picture of her here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Movie Review - Casino Royale

Victoria and I watched 'Casino Royale' this weekend. Neither of us were expecting much of this film as we had heard before that they were 'Restarting the Bond series' and that this time it would be 'a harder, more human bond'. They said it with 'Die Another Day' and apart from a great opening it was poo!!

The new film starts in black and white and has Bond hiding in a room while his victim arrives home. The pre-credits sequence is a conversation between our hero and his intended victim which cleverly tells us where we are in Bond's history. He is an assasin working for MI-6. He is not yet a '00' and he has not killed many people. This conversation is cleverly cut with a grainy black and white fight scene where we see Bond make his first kill. All in all an excellent opener.

After the credits and us having to listen the the terrible theme song, Bond has been given '00' status and 'M' does not seem to think he will last long.

His first mission is to go to the Casino Royale and beat the baddie at a 100 million dollar poker game. This will stop the bad guy from using the money to fund terrorism and force him to come to MI-6 for help.

Much of the film is set during this poker game but as it lasts for several days there is lots for Bond to do when not sat at the table.

The whole film is so much better than the rubbish we have been watching for the last few movies. There are very few gadgets, lots of far more realistic fights, Bond gets beaten up and actually has cuts and bruises on his face, and the story is much more plot driven. I think that for the first time we have seen something resembling Flemming's character on screen.

Daniel Craig is excellent. Anyone who was moaning about the choice of actor will surely have changed their minds by the end of this film. He actually looks like he would be good in a fight, and he looks like he would kick your ass!!

'Casino Royale' gets a big thumbs up from the Briddon household.

The Good :
The chase scene over the tops of buildings.
Daniel Craig
The fight scenes
The plot
Eva Green

The Bad :
The terrible theme song

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bruce Springsteen - Sheffield Arena

Victoria and I went to see Bruce Springsteen at the Sheffield Arena last night. He is touring behind his 'Seeger Sessions' album 'We Shall Overcome'.

As I have said in my review of the album, the music he is playing at the moment is cover versions of American Folk songs. He's trying to pay homage to the people who created the type of music he plays.

Victoria and I love the album and were looking forward to hearing it live.

Our tickets were in the standing area of the arena so we got nice and close. Victoria being quite little had a few issues seeing the stage but this was rectified by the tall woman standing in front of her fainting.

Bruce and his band came on at about 20:15 and the first this I thought was 'my god, there are loads of them'. I think there were about 16 band members plus Bruce himself. It made the stage look rather small and gave this rather large venue a kind of intimate feel.

The first song he sang was 'Blinded By The Light'. This was track one from his first album in 1972 so I was pleased he was singing some of his older songs. He actually did quite a few of his own songs including 'The River', 'Adam Raised A Cain', 'Atlantic City' and others. These were all done in a Seeger Sessions way to fit in with the rest of the music. This meant that I only recognised many of the songs by the lyrics. The new versions were amazing though. The rest of the songs were mainly from the 'Seeger Sessions' album.

The amazing thing about this show was the band. They were all so bloody talented. They were all obviously enjoying themselves and they could all play like they had sold their souls to the devil.

The music was totally acoustic. The instruments being used were trombones, trumpets, tubas, violins, penny whistle, acoustic guitars, banjo's, piano , harmonica and accordion. There was also a tin can on a piece of string and a washboard. I think that the accordion player was very happy that his years of practice had finally payed off as he was looking very cool.

The sound they all made together was fantastic. The horn section and the violins were especially good, as was the banjo. Actually they were all amazing.

Bruce played for nearly 3 hours and the crowd were all tired at the end. At least Victoria and I were. We got home at about midnight and just collapsed.

This was probably the best concert I have ever been to. There are many people who say they don't like Bruce Springsteen but I challenge anyone who loves music not to have enjoyed this show. It may be me getting older but I feel you just can't beat well played acoustic music, and I think that all bands should have a horns section!!

I know I can't tell you all to go and catch the show as there are only 4 nights left on the tour, they are all in Ireland and they have been sold out for months. I can however suggest you get a copy of the album. Even if you don't like his music, give it a go.

For those interested, here is the entire set list :

Setlist: Blinded By the Light/John Henry/Old Dan Tucker/Adam Raised a Cain/The River/Jesse James/O Mary Don't You Weep/Youngstown/Erie Canal/My Oklahoma Home/Atlantic City/Devils & Dust/Mrs. McGrath/How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?/Jacob's Ladder/Growin' Up/Open All Night/Pay Me My Money Down
Encore: Bring 'Em Home/You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)/When the Saints Go Marching In/This Little Light of Mine/American Land/Froggie Went A Courtin'


Next : Jooles Holland on the 18th December at the City Hall!!!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

It's My Birthday

Today is my birthday.

I am 37 years old.

I went round to my mum's for lunch and my step-father David kindly supplied me with a generous amount of red wine.

I am more than a little drunk.

I love you all. :-)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Alice la Exploradora

Alice is learning to speak at an alarming rate. She seems to pick up words every day and is stringing them together in sentences more and more.

Counting though is more of an issue.

She knows all the numbers and can recognise them in books but she seems to have a blind spot after three and before eight. She goes 1,2,3,8,9,10, 11, 12, 13, 14.

You can imagine our surprise then when we heard her counting to 5 in spanish!! Victoria also heard her saying 'ayúdeme' as well during the day. We thought it was a new word that she could not yet pronounce but no, it was later discovered that it means 'Help Me' in spanish. She was also jumping up and down saying 'salto' which we later realised was spanish for 'jump' and she has also been heard to say 'subia' which is 'climb' in spanish.

Where was she getting these phrases we wondered? Neither Victoria or I know any spanish beyond hello, thankyou, beer and a few looked up in a dictionary swear words.

The answer is that she has been watching 'Dora The Explorer'. For those who don't know, this is a hateful kids program from America about a massive headed latin american girl who goes on pointless adventures with her friend Boots the monkey. It's mostly in english but they meet spanish speaking characters along the way and Alice has obviously been picking up both languages.

This can't be a bad thing and it is amazing to see how quickly and naturally she picks up two languages at the same time and is able to differentiate between the two. It does however make Victoria and I look a bit thick!! :-)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Alice's 2nd Birthday

Wednesday was Alice's second birthday. Two years since she was born. How time flies!!

Victoria and I tried to start her day with a rousing chorus of 'Happy Birthday' but she looked scared and about to cry so we stopped. Oh well, she has obviously not developed a taste for good singing yet. :-)

Victoria had put up balloons and banners the evening before and Alice was very excited to see them. Unlike her first birthday she now loves balloons.

We opened her presents first. We bought Alice lots of Peppa Pig toys, including a remote controlled Peppa Pig car. OK, so it's a bit childish but at least it's a remote controlled car. :-)

She also got lots of other pressies from lots of other people. Thanks to you all.

For her birthday trip we decided to take her to the newly re-opend Western Park Museum. It's been almost totally rebuilt but still has many of the same exhibits that I remember as a child, the balding lion for instance!

There was plenty for Alice to enjoy and I'd recommend it to anyone, either with or without kids, and I can recommend the cafe which is where we had lunch afterwards.

Alice is having an actual birthday party today (Friday the 3rd) which will be starting about the time I am typing this (13:50) and Victoria has made an amazing cake for her. You will notice that it is a chocolate cake.

As an amazing coincidence we had our new settee's delivered yesterday. I'm very worried about there being lots of 2 year olds with chocolate covered hands in my house. Time to start praying I think!!

Happy birthday Alice. :-)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Victoria and I Visit London - 14th & 15th October : Part 2

If you have not read part 1 yet (and actually want to) click here.

After a great Saturday night in London Sunday started with a bit if a sore head. Thankfully the price of the room included a full English breakfast, the greatest hangover cure ever created.

We had to check out of the hotel at 11am so after breakfast we packed and checked out. Luckily we were able to leave the bag at the hotel so that I didn't have to lug it round London all day.

We headed up The Mall towards Buckingham Palace. This is a nice pleasant walk on a Sunday as it is closed to traffic. When we got to Buckingham palace there was a flag flying, which I believe means the Queen was there. Sadly she could not even be bothered to come down to say hello. I must write to her Maj to complain.

As well as visiting the palace we also wanted to do a bit of shopping so we headed towards Knightsbridge.

The first shop we got to was Harvey Nichols. I was not very impressed really. It was just like any other department store. There was a shop inside selling Jimmy Choo shoes which Victoria was eyeing up (£500 a pair?? I think not), and when you get to the top floor there is quite a nice food floor. Their booze section has a nice selection of Louise Trés cognac at about £1300 a bottle. If that is a bit expensive for you they have a hip-flask sized bottle for only £200.

Anyway, we left after about 20 minutes to head for that Mecca for all London tourist shoppers, Harrods.

The last time I was in Harrods I was about 10, and the first thing that struck us when we entered this time is how tacky it is. Egyptian staircase indeed.

Apart from this 'you can't buy class' look there are some great products on sale. We didn't see it all but our favourite sections were the toy dept and the food halls. The toy department had everything you could ever think of, including a 'toy' Ferrari for £39,995 which I am sure will make some spoilt little shit happy this Christmas.

The food hall was even better. It is about the size of a city block and has everything you can think of.

We hit our stride immediately by entering in the cheese section. There were so many gorgeous looking cheeses on display we were in fromage heaven. We saw a giant gorgonzola on display and they were serving it with a big spoon, just scooping the runny smelly cheese out of the middle. We obviously could not resist and bought a big dollop. We also loaded up on Paté and bought our mum's some special French macaroon's as a gift for looking after Alice.

When we left Harrods we decided to walk to Piccadilly Circus. Along the way we stopped at Starbucks for a refreshing drink. We had to really as every other shop was a Starbucks or a Cafe Nero.

We got to Picadilly circus and I felt a bit disappointed really. It's nowhere near as big as I thought it was going to be. Still, been there, done that.

After that it was time to head back to the hotel to get our bags and then to St Pancras to get the train home.

We had a great time in London. I've never done the tourist bit before or seen a west end play and I can now see the attraction. It is also amazing how many feelings of deja vu I had, especially as we were walking up The Mall. It took me a while to realise that I was actually recognising the places from playing Project Gotham Racing on my Xbox. How sad am I? :-)

Finally, one suggestion to London's council. Put some more bins out. We walked for miles and didn't see one. Where exactly is one supposed to dispose of ones rubbish?

Photo's are here.

Victoria and I Visit London - 14th & 15th October : Part 1

Victoria and I took our long anticipated trip to London this weekend. As it is our fourth wedding anniversary on the 18th we thought this was a good excuse to head darn sarf and stay in a nice hotel/see a show/have a nice meal out.

While we were away Alice was being looked after by mine and Victoria's mum's. Sheila (Victoria's mum) had Alice from about 5pm last Friday night which meant that we could go out for a drink in a pub that evening!!!!! WOW!!! We walked to The Blue Stoopes in Dronfield, had a few pints and then walked home again with a bag of chips. What decadence!!

My mum picked us up the next day at 7am and took us to Chesterfield station to catch the 07:45 train to London. This was a nice trip as we were travelling first class. We booked so early it only cost us £17 each way per person. Bargain.

After we reached our destination it was simply a case of hopping on to the nearest tube to Charring Cross and we were at our hotel. We stayed at the Charring Cross Thistle and as it was offered to us for a reasonable extra fee we upgraded to a suite. It is a lovely hotel, build in the 1800's and still having very high ornate ceilings. All the staff were really nice and the room was fantastic. In fact we had the worlds most giantist bed!!!!

We had some time to kill before Evita started so we went for a walk. We were eating at a floating restaurant called 'The Hispaniola' so we thought a trip down to the Thames to check it out would be a good idea. It looked great and had a view of the London Eye. More on the Hispaniola later.

After finding the restaurant we walked along the River until we reached the Houses Of Parliament. Although we have both been to London before neither Victoria or I have ever done the tourist bit and been to see all the buildings. We were both very impressed by the architecture and the beauty of the building, especially the Houses Of Parliament which was amazing. Strangly enough though there is a life sized plastic cow in the grounds which is dressed up like a judge. Probably to satisfy some politicians fetish I am guessing!!!

We walked back to the hotel for a quick brush up before heading off to the theatre to see Evita which you can read about below. Once again though, it was amazing!!!!

After the show we chilled out for a while in the hotel room and at about 19:30 we went out the the restaurant. It was weird on the 'Hispaniola'. Neither of us have ever been to a restaurant that rocks before, and I don't mean in a 'You Rock' kind of way. I mean it rocks because it is a boat. When a decently sized craft sails by it also rocks some more. Great fun!!!!

After a quick G & T in the bar we were shown to our table. We were sat about 2 thirds towards the front of the restaurant (boat) and due to the design of the ship our table was tilted slightly to the left and towards the back. Also great fun. Strangly, neither of us ordered the soup!!

Starters first. I had the Venison Terrine and Victoria had the scallops. Both were excellent. For the main courses I had the fillet steak with gorgonzola and Victoria had the wild boar. Once again both were excellent. Strangly enough though when I asked for my steak to be cooked 'Blue' the waiter gave me a look like I had just asked for a shit sandwich!! When he brought the meal he said 'Here is your steak, cooked blue, just like you asked' in a 'you asked for it and there is no turning back now' kind of way. I suppose some people must order steak blue and not know what it is but I love it, and I loved it when I had it last Saturday night.

I was stuffed after my 'A good vet could save it' steak so I didn't have a dessert but Victoria did. She had a Tiramisu with Lemon and from the small taste I had it too was great.

We had a last drink in the bar and paid the bill and decided another G & T on our floating eatery was needed as we were quite settled and were enjoying ourselves. The bill came to £104 including tip and I would really recommend this unusual location for a meal if you are ever in London. I was worried that it would cost a fortune being where it was but the bill was comparable with a good Sheffield restaurant.

We finally managed to get up and leave the bar after our last drink. Getting off the boat was different to getting on as the tide had gone out while we were there. The gang-plank was flat when we arrived but sloping up quite steeply when we left. :-) All adds to the fun if you ask me.

Next we decided a walk across the Hungerford bridge was needed. London was all lit up we wanted to see it from over the Thames. I took some pictures on the bridge but they don't really show the views at their best. You should get the idea though.

Once we reached the other side we walked a little way along Riverside Walk and pretended to be in Spooks. :-) Had to be done!!!

We wanted one final drink and decided to head back to the hotel, where a bottle of Magners and a pint of Stella cost £12!! There was a wedding going on that night and I think the guy behind the bar was a little pissed off with drunk people propping up his nice posh bar. He was very dismissive when I ordered the drinks but when I asked to put them on our room he instantly changed and was all 'Yes sir' and 'I'll bring the drinks to your table sir'. He even brought us a tray of olives and pretzels. All well and good but I would have preferred to have had my ass kissed from the moment we entered the bar. :-)

Anyway, that is the end of part one. After our drink we went to bed exhausted. Sorry this post is so long but we seemed to do so much, and this was only the first day!

I will post part 2 later today and there are photo's here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The idiot strikes again!!!

Now this is scary!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Evita - London Adelphi - 14th October 2006

The main reason for our visit to London last weekend was to see Evita at the Adelphi Theatre. We both love Evita and always said we would go and see it live if we ever had the opportunity. As it is now running again it was considered an excellent anniversary treat.

The Theatre was about 200 yards from our hotel so we didn't have far to walk. We didn't know what one was supposed to wear to the theatre these days and I didn't believe Victoria when she said that a mourning suit was required so we just wore black, hoping that any social errors on our part would be hidden by the lack of colour. We should not have been worried though as it seems that anything goes these days.

We bought a programme as we walked into the theatre for a reasonable £3.50, only to see a second programme available for £6. I should have known it was too cheap!! Still they are nice souveniers.

Inside the Adelphi looks like any self respecting theatre should look. Stalls plus two tiers and some boxes at each side. In fact we mentioned that it could have been the Muppet Show theatre and were wondering where Stattler and Waldorf were.

The show started at 14:30. We had decided on an afternoon show so that we could go for a meal in the evening. It began with a recorded message informing us all of the death of Eva Peron, followed by a film of her funeral projected on the stage curtain. After this the curtain was raised and the show began properly.

Wow, is all I can really say. It was amazing.

Evita was played by Elena Roger, who is actually Argentinian herself and was fantastic in the role. She has an amazing voice and really belted out the songs, each sung with a slight accent that kind of added to the authenticity. She is also tiny, looking about 5 foot. This is a good thing I imagine as she is literally flung from one side of the stage to the other while she is dancing.

Other parts were played by one of the giant heads from TFI Friday and someone who once played a bit part in Holby City.

OK, so we didn't know anyone but it didn't matter, they were all such talented actors/dancers/singers that we were completely engrossed from the start.

The singing was amazing, with most of the cast not even using microphones.

The music was also provided by a proper orchestra rather than a recording. I can remember ever hearing an orchestra live before and it sounded amazing.

Even the sets were excellent, with large parts of it moving around to create the different buildings for various scenes.

If you get the chance you should see this show. It is amazing. Victoria and I both loved it.

Wedding Anniversary Number 4!!

It only seems like a few weeks ago since I was posting about it being our third wedding anniversary and here we are again at number four.

Four years ago we got married at Hassop Hall. Time is still flying past but this is probably because I am amazingly happy with my life so it's all good!!!

Last weekend we went to London for our anniversary and saw Evita then went out for a posh meal on a boat. That was my gift to Victoria and there is a post and photo's coming in the next day or so telling you all about that.

Victoria gave me her gift this morning. Two tickets to see Jools Holland at the City Hall in December!!!! Fantastic!!!! We have always wanted to see him live. I wonder who I will take. ;-)

Anyway, I love you Victoria.

Happy anniversary.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Victoria's Cooking

My wife is a fantastic cook. She regularly amazes me with her culinary expertise and last Saturday night she excelled once again.

Rob and Lucy were coming round for a meal but due to circumstances beyond their control they were unable to attend. Victoria and I decided that this was no reason to cancel the evening and had a nice romantic meal for two instead.

For starters we had Parmesan Polenta with Gorgonzola. Polenta is (apparently) an Italian cornmeal dish that is a substitite for pasta or potatoes. You get it in granuels and whisk it up until it looks like mashed potato. You then add flavourings and whisk it some more. It is then placed in a tray and left to set to a slightly rubbery texture. When you want to eat it you heat it in the oven for 5 minutes and then melt the Gorgonzola on the top under the grill. It is really nice and cheesey, if not a little filling for a starter.

The main course was genius. We had Pork Belly in a chilli marinade painted with chocolate and chilli. The pork was marinated and then cooked in the oven. After this it was sliced and Victoria melted some chocolate, mixed in some diced chilli and painted the slices of pork with it. It then went into the oven for another 10 minutes. We had it with roast potatoes and a Thai salad. It was delicious. I don't think I have ever had any meat with so many different and yet complimentary flavours. This is the second time I have had a chocolate and chilli dish and they are turning out to be real winners. If you don't like the sound of it then give it a try anyway as I was not too keen to try it initially either. Trust me, it's a great combination!

For dessert we had a chocolate Pavlova with cream and rasberries. You can see a picture of it above.

This is a Nigella Lawson recipe and it is amazing. The sourness of the fruit balances the sweetness of the Pavlova and cream perfectly. It also looks really impressive, as you can see from the pictures.

All in all we had a really good night. We listened to some great music and drank a little too much wine. A most excellent evening indeed.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Baby Apples

Alice has an apple tree. It was kindly bought by Tracy as a gift for Alice's Christening.

It took me hours to plant it in the garden due to there being nothing but stones from about 2 inches down under the lawn, but after much wailing and gnashing of teeth I managed it.

This was about 18 months ago and we have never seen any fruit from the tree, though I seem to remember it having some flowers at some point. That was until now.

I was mowing the lawn last Saturday when I noticed about a dozen little apples. Not so many that you could make an apple pie with but enough for me to be pleased and to take some pictures. :-)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More Alice Growing Up and Victoria's Birthday

Alice spent her first night in a 'proper' bed last night. Yesterday afternoon Victoria converted her cot to a little bed. This is all very exciting!!

The bed is only about 6 inches from the ground and we padded any potential falls with a generous round of pillows and a rolled up duvet but this did not mean that Victoria and I were able to sleep at all last night. In fact we were both awake for the majority of the night listening to the baby monitor, waiting to hear a thud!!

We checked on her several times and most of the time she was fast asleep in her new bed. At about 4am though we found her about half way accros her room curled up against the wardrode. How she got there I don't know. Victoria scooped her up and put her back in bed, and that was where she stayed.

Well done Alice. :-)

Today is also Victoria's 34th birthday. I bought her lots of very generous presents as I am the best husband ever. Actually I am probably still trying to make up for buying her a bottle of Diamond White for her 21st!!

We are having Rob and Lucy round on Saturday to celebrate which will be great fun.

Happy birthday sweetie.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Reading 16th - 18th September

Victoria, Alice and I went to Reading last weekend. It was kind of a family trip and my mum and David, along with my Granny and Eric had already travelled down the day before.

We were there as we wanted a nice weekend away and we wanted to visit Richard, Eric's youngest son, and Jeremy, Eric's eldest son, along with Jeremy's wife Ellen and daughters, Emma and Lucy.

We were staying in a great hotel, the Madejski, which is actually attached to the Madejski stadium, home of Reading football club and the London Irish Rugby team. This is a really nice hotel. We had a club room, which meant we had access to the 'Club Lounge'. This is a nice quiet corner room that serves coffee and tea in the day and wine in the evening. Very posh it is.

We arrived on the Saturday at about 11am after being skillfully guided there by TomTom. Alice had a run around the hotel to make up for her being stuck in the car for two and a half hours and then we checked into the room.

Victoria and my mum took Alice swimming along with Jeremy, Ellen, Emma and Lucy, and afterwards David suggested going next door to watch the rugby. As we were so close to the ground (ie. attached to it) we thought it would be rude not to. I would not have bothered if it was a football match but rugby is a 'proper' game, not that rubbish played by wimps.

You can see in the picture on the left (stolen from Google Earth!!) where our seats were compared to our room. :-)

The match was great. London Irish vs Bristol. The first half was dominated by London and ended 11-3, but in the second half Bristol came back and beat London 23-11. Very exciting it was.

The atmosphere was nice as well. All the fans were mingled in together and alcohol (mainly Guiness) was being freely served. There was no trouble or drunk fans and everyone got on really well. I am guessing it is not the same for football. The banning of alcohol at football matches is very telling!!

After the match we chilled out for a bit and at 7pm our babysitter arrived. This was preceded by us putting Alice to bed at 06:30 and spending half an hour in the bathroom while she went to sleep. Luckily she was tired so was out like a light.

After a pint in the bar the taxi arrived and took us to Richard's house. It was dark so I can't remember where he lives, but I think it was Wargrave. Anyway, his neighbour is Paul Daniels so I am guessing the value of his house is a couple of hundred thousand less than it should be. ;-)

We then went to a pub called the St George and Dragon round the corner for a meal. It was all very nice and we had lots of wine.

After the meal it was back to the hotel. I suggested a quick drink in the bar as I fancied finishing the night off with a whiskey. I thought that £24 was a bit steep for 2 large Laphroaig's, a glass of red wine and half a lager though!! The whiskey came to £15.80!! I can buy a bottle for £22.

Still, hotel prices and all that. It was a nice way to end the night.

Next day I popped into Reading with my mum and Dave. I was surprised how nice Reading center is.

The Thames is running through the middle and is surrounded by House Of Fraser, Debenhams and the now obligatory Cafe Nero and Starbucks. It was really nice to sit there in the sun and drink a coffee.

After this it was off to Jeremey and Ellen's for lunch. A buffet had been prepared and it was all really delicious.

After lunch we sat in the garden and Alice played with Emma and Lucy. They all had a great time as you can see in the pictures I took. Alice was a bit tired at 5 ish so we took her back to the hotel.

The babysitter was booked again, this time for 8 and we all just sat in the hotel bar and had a drink. It was very pleasent. Once again I finished off the night with a large Laphroaig. Lovely.

Next day it was time to return to Sheffield, so after breakfast we packed up all our things and headed off back up north.

We had such a nice weekend and were really sorry when it was over, and thanks to Richard, Jeremy and Ellen for being such excellent hosts.

There are pictures available here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Movie Review

I just finished watching my newly delivered DVD of 'V For Vendetta'.

What a great film this is. A mix of Beauty And The Beast and 1984.

Both Natalie Potrman and Hugo Weaving were brilliant, with Weaving giving a fantastic performance as he was behind a static mask for the whole film.

See this movie. It is brilliant. If you don't like it you are wrong!!!

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Sad Day For Formula One

Michael Schumacher has announced that he is retiring from Formula 1 at the end of the 2006 season.

Although many people don't like him, say he has no personality and seems to win all the time, he is possibly the greatest racing driver we will see in our lifetime.

Since he began in 1991 racing for Jordan he has won 7 championships (the previous record was 5) and it looks like he might win an 8th this year, won 90 races out of 242 and achieved 69 pole positions. He has broken every record in the book and has to be the best wet weather driver ever.

Some may argue that Senna was a better driver but we never saw them race each other while they were at their best so we will never know.

Schumacher was not only the best F1 driver for the past 15 years, he also changed the fortunes of Ferrari, who before Schumacher had not won a championship for 21 years!! He has a knack of pulling together the best team of the engineers and stratagists that get him into the position he wants to be in, thereby building a great team instead of just concentrating on his own performance. This is why he is one of the greatest drivers. As everyone who knows anything about F1 knows, it is a team sport.

I think that next year there will be a big gap in F1 and it will take a long time to fill it.

Ferrari have recruited Raikkonen to replace Schumacher but he has no chance of being a replacement. He's to dull!!!

I think our only hope is Alonso. He's young, fast and moving to McLaren next year.

Whatever happens, Schumacher will be missed. Let's hope he get's one last championship!!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Great Debate

Phil and I were discussing the old TV show Buck Rogers this morning and seem to have differing opinions on the appearence of Col. Wilma Deering.

I say she is a bit of a bloke and Phil thinks she is rather sexy.

To settle this debate I have created a poll.

Here it is :





Wilma Deering - Hot Or Not?

Is Wilma Deering from Buck Rogers Hot or Not?


Yes, she's very tasty.
No, she is a man beast.






The Greatest USB Device Ever!!!

Ever since Phil and I saw them on The Register a few months ago we have dreamed of the day we would take delivery of our very own USB Missile Launcher.

That day for me was last Friday.

The launcher is bigger than you might think, the pictures you see online not really showing it in it's full glory!!

After opening the box, inserting the batteries, plugging it into a spare USB port and installing the software we were ready to go.

The software gives you an onscreen control panel for aiming and firing the spring powered rockets. You get left, right, up, down and fire. Once you have aimed and you press the fire button you can hear the spring pulled back and a second later the rocket fires, projecting it about 10 feet. Not the greatest distance but plans are afoot for an 'upgrade' :-) Anyway, as long as it reaches Mr Callaghan's desk who cares?!?!

Buy one of these!!

They are great.

Of course your better half will not understand. As Victoria put it when I explained what it was : "so it is a posh way of flicking rubber bands at each other".

Women.......

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Growing Up

Last night was a big night for Alice. Last night was her first night in Pyjamas instead of a babygrow.

Victoria bought two pairs of PJ's for Alice this week instead of replacing her rapidly declining babygrows. To the right you will see a picture of Alice modeling pair number one.

She looks so cute. When she is asleep she's looking like a proper little girl. I can't believe how quickly she is growing up. It does not seem almost two years since she was born and here she is with an almost full set of teeth, talking almost in sentences and now wearing PJ's.

I know this little advance may seem inconsequential to some of you but Victoria and I, as I imagine do all parents, get really excited by the smallest thing.

Anyway, that's all for now.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Am I the World's Greatest Husband?

....I think the answer is a resounding yes!!

Yesterday was bank holiday Monday. Victoria and I had finally recovered from our extremely long Saturday night drinking session (Alice was at Victoria's mum's so don't worry!!) and we were wondering what to do.

We finally decided that it was time we bought some new sofa's and so off to DFS we went, guided of course by TimTim. ;-)

We needed new ones anyway but Alice had recently re-decorated our existing sofa's with a biro which forced us to take the plunge and head off to our nearest bank holiday double discount warehouse or whatever crap they call their continuous sales.

As Alice is not the cleanest of people I wanted a couple of cheap sofa's to see us through her messy phase with a view to buying more expensive ones in a couple of years. However, when you get there and see all the nice sofa's for exactly twice what you wanted to pay you sort of convince yourself that more money means longer lasting etc and so take the plunge anyway. We ended up buying a 2 seater and a 3 seater 'Dalton'. Not cheap but very nice indeed. We can't wait until the 9 weeks delivery time is up.

Beware of the tricky salesmen at DFS if you ever go. They tell you that all their products are treated and that they will not stain or mark for 5 years and then candidly add the cost of this treatment to the total cost you pay, an increase of £140!!! Being very quick off the mark and 'street-wise' I immediatly pulled him up about this. He appologised and came out with some crap about being busy and not making himself clear. Yeah, right. I did actually have the coating in the end (Alice again) but not before I had made sure he knew I had not been conned into it.

Anyway, new sofa's are the first reason I am a great husband.

Secondly, as it is our fourth wedding anniversary in October (four years already!!!!) I have purchased Evita tickets for the 14th October at the Adelphi theatre in London. We will be travelling by train, first class of course, watching the show in the afternoon (tickets in the stalls of course) and then going out for a slap up binge at a posh restaurant before falling into our beds at a posh hotel on the Strand. We have not yet chosen a restaurant so any suggestions would be good!!

This is the second reason I am the world's greatest husband.

Thirdly, I have acquired two tickets to see the greatest rock and roll hero ever to grace this planet, Bruce Springsteen, at the Sheffield Arena. Front standing seats of course. The third reason I am such a great husband is because I am giving the second ticket to Victoria. She will get to see the worlds greatest live performer!!!

Sorry girls, I'm taken!!!!!

I am sure you will all agree, I am truely the worlds greatest husband. :-)

Monday, August 28, 2006

New Gadgets - T-Mobile Vario and TomTom One SatNav

I love gadgets. Especially when they are new and they belong to me. :-)

I have not bought any new ones for a while but this week I have had a bumper crop as two have made their way into my posession.

Firstly I signed up for a new mobile phone. I have been with Orange for years but these days they just can't seem to compete on tarrifs with companies like T-Mobile. They also annoyed me by offering to upgrade my phone for £99 or I could cancel my contract and have the same phone with the same tarrif for free.

I wanted another Smartphone as my SPV C550 has been excellent over the past 12 months. I especially love the Windows integration and how easy it is to sync it with Outlook both at work and at home. It is even convenient to charge as you can use a mini usb cable plugged into a PC.

Phil had recently acquired a T-Mobile Vario. This is a proper PDA smartphone. It has all the advantages of my old iPaq but it is smaller and also a phone. It has wireless, a reasonable speed processor and it runs the latest version of Windows Mobile. Phil also got a contract giving him unlimited data and £60 worth of calls/texts per month. It sounded good to me so I took the plunge.

I've had the phone for a week now and I am really pleased with it. I took it out of the box, put the battery in and switched it on. Within about 10 minutes I had synced it with Outlook, configured messenger and retrieved mails from my Exchange server at home. I can actually use Messenger and browse the web without worrying about data charges thanks to the great tarrif and typing emails or text messages is really easy thanks to the pull out keyboard. In fact when you pull the keyboard out the screen changed from portrait view to landscape, which makes web browsing even easier.

I have been on a client visit this week darn sarf to Londinium and this really gave the phone a test. I was sending/receiving email, making calls, using messenger etc all at the same time. It was brilliant. I can't recommend this phone enough.

As I said above, I was on a client visit this week down in London. When Phil bought his Vario he got a CoPilot SatNav system with it and as he was not using it this weekend he lent it to me.

I installed the software on my phone, put the bluetooth GPS receiver on the dashboard and off I went. It was great!! It took all the pain out of finding your hotel, finding the clients offices etc. I needed my own SatNav!!!

I was thinking of having the same one as Phil but then I thought that Victoria would never use it if I did as, firstly, it was on my phone which I always have with me, and secondly, there were some issues with the software not always finding the SD-Card or the GPS receiver. If this happened to Victoria she would class it as 'Rubbish' and never use it again.

After a little research I decided to buy the TomTom One. It gets rave reciews and now I have it I can see why.

I would never normally do this but I actually bought my TomTom from PC World. They have a special offer on at the moment which means it is cheaper than anywhere else. It also meant that I could have it now. :-)

The TomTom One is supposed to be really easy to use and I have to say they have done a great job on the interface. I took it out of the box, turned it on , entered my home address and within about a minute I was telling it where I wanted to go. The screen is excellent, the volume of the spoken instructions is perfect and Victoria can use it without having to channel her inner geek.

I went for a quick spin round the block to test it out, deliberatly making mistakes, and the route was recalculated perfectly in just a few seconds.

This is another gadget I can highly recommend. It is cheap (for a SatNav system), easy to use and it performs really well.

If you need SatNav, get a TomTom One.

It also has the advantage of having a male voice called 'Tim' which means that Victoria will now be calling Tim 'TimTim' from now on. :-)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Restaurant Review - Moran's

Last Friday (18th August) Victoria and I went to Moran's on Abbeydale Road. What's this I hear you say? Christian frequenting a restaurant that is not The Supper Club? Well, sort of. Moran's was The Supper Club which is now owned by someone else, Bryan Moran, who used to be at Aitch's in Bakewell. I've never been to Aitch's but apparently it was very good.

As The Supper Club was my favourite restaurant I was initially rather upset when I heard it had changed hands and was apprehensive before we went. I need not have worried.

As we went in we were greeted by friendly staff and asked if we would like a drink at the bar before we went to our table. We decided this was a good idea and we ordered two Gin and Tonics.

We sat at the bar perusing the menu and we had real difficulty in deciding what to order as it all looked so good. In the end I started with the Scallops with a sweet chilli sauce and rocket, followed by the steak. Victoria started with the Tempora Squid and Monkfish and followed with the Guinea Fowl.

My Scallops was delicious, as was Victoria's Tempora. The dish comprised of 3 scallops and 3 roe arranged in a circle along the outside of the plate with the rocket in the middle, all sat on the sweet chilli sauce. Delicious. The Tempora was a little pile of battered fish bits with a sauce to dip them in. Also delicious.

The main courses were also excellent. I like my steak cooked 'Blue', which for the uninitiated out there means a good vet could probably still save the cow. It was fantastic. The meat was so tender that it just fell apart and it was cooked to perfection, ie, not very much. It was accompanied by a selection of roast carrots, beetroot, onions etc. Victoria's Guinea Fowl was also excellent. It had the texture of chicken but with 5 times the flavour. It was wonderful.

We also had some chips. They came with the steak but Victoria had them as a side order. They were amazing. The best chips we have ever tasted. If you ever go the Moran's you must try them!!

For drinks I had a bottle of house red. At £13.95 it was expensive for what it was but reasonable for restaurant prices and it went down very well. I also finished up with a laphroaig just to put a cap on the night. :-)

We really enjoyed our meal. The food was incredible and the staff were extremely friendly and attentive. It all makes us want to go back again.

The bill came to just over £90 so we gave £100 to include a tip. It was well worth every penny.

I may have loved The Supper Club but Moran's has managed to improve on it. I can't recommend it highly enough. My brother and sister-in-law went the night after us and both had a similar experience so we know it was not a fluke. Just go and you will see what I mean.

The Supper Club is dead. Long Live Moran's!!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Restaurant Review - Rowleys in Baslow

We went for lunch at Rowleys in Baslow on Thursday. Victoria and I plus various family members.

Rowleys used to be a pub but is now fitted out like a modern restaurant. It's all very nice and clean looking and provides a pleasent atmosphere to eat in.

The lunch menu is filled with various English and Italian-ish dishes and there is quite a large choice. Many of the items on the menu are available in large or small portions so you can have them as a starter or a main course.

For starter I had a Chicken Caesar Salad and for a main course I had the pie of the day, which happened to be Steak. Both were excellent. The salad had fresh anchovies in it which was nice.

Victoria had the Harrington Stilton & Pea Risotto, which we realised was actually Cheesy Peas!! Excellent. It too was delicious.

My mum had the Basil Linguine, toasted pine nuts, wilted rocket which I would order if I went again as it was absolutly fantastic.

All in all an excellent meal. The prices are not too bad but I would love to see what the Fish and Chips looks like for £12. The fish had better be the last of something to warrant the price.

If you fancy going out into Derbyshire for lunch, give Rowleys a try. You won't be disappointed.

The menu is here.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Butterfly House - 16th August 2006

Yet another day trip, this time to the Tropical Butterfly House at Anston.

Victoria, Alice and I were accompanied by Victoria's mum, Sheila, and Alice's cousin, Joseph.

The Butterfly House is somewhat mis-named. Although there is a tropical butterfly house this is only a small part of what is on display.

The first thing you see is a big aviary filed with parrots. Next to this is a cage with a couple of very cute and very tiny monkeys. Following on from this you see a pen with a selection of ducks and rabbits. All this is before you have actually paid to get in.

Once you have paid you can go into the main part of the farm. You can stroke the goats, cows, rabbits etc and you can feed the tiny monkey things fruit using tweezers. You then move on to the pregnant goats, cows and pigs, all of which are very tame and come up to you to say hello and be stroked.

There is also a bird of prey centre with about 6 different birds in it, and in the afternoon you can watch the handlers flying the birds. You can also hold the birds yourself a bit later if you wish.

Then you move on to the tropical butterfly house itself. This is a big greenhouse really. When you walk in though it is so hot and humid that anyone who wears glasses will find them instantly steamed up!! Luckily my camera was OK.

Once you are able to see again you will see butterfly's flapping around all over the place, iguanas climbing around the ceiling, little birds running around by your feet, and parrots sitting on a cage waiting for you to feel them. It is a really great place to be, if not a little hot!!

Moving on there are crocodiles, snakes, cockroaches, tarantulas and beetles. My favourite though was a branch that runs all the way over the path that was full of leaf cutter ants. There was dustbin lid full of leaves on the other side of a fence and what I suppose is the nest on the other side of the path, linked by a tree branch with the ants carrying leaves across. You could pick them up if you really wanted.

Once again Alice really enjoyed herself and didn't want to leave. We actually all had a really nice day and this is another attraction I can't recommend highly enough.

Pictures are here.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mablethorpe - 15th August 2006

So Victoria and I had decided to take Alice to the coast for the day. We looked at a map and essentially drew a line from Sheffield directly east until we hit the coast. We discovered that the nearest coastal town to Sheffield was Mablethorpe, so this was where we decided to go.

I wanted to walk along the beach and Victoria wanted to eat seaside chips and we were sure that Mablethorpe would fullfill these desires, no matter how bad it was.

We set off at about 9am and arrived at out destination at about 11:30. Things did not look good as we drove through the town centre. The whole place was full of amusement arcades, rock shops and invalid vehicle shops. Not a good sign. The townsfolk also looked like they were straight from chav hell.

We were not to be discouraged however as we did have somewhere to go that could not possibly be too bad, the local seal sanctuary.

The seal sanctuary was about 1.5 miles away from central Mablethorpe. We parked and were informed that the £2 parking fee was to be refunded if we were going into the sanctuary and that we could park there all day. Excellent.

The seal sanctuary was great. It had not only seals but lots of different types of birds, goats, horses and wild cats etc. Alice was in her element and was happily pointing out what type of animal we were looking at, although she does insist that anything in the water is a fish or a duck.

After the sanctuary we decided to go on a chip hunt. We set off walking down the road to Mablethorpe centre. After while we found a path that allowed us to walk with a sea view which was nice and this eventually took us to the 'happening' part of Mablethorpe.

Oh My God!!!!

I have always imagined that all British seaside resorts are tacky but this took the biscuit. I have never seen so many chav's in one place, nor have I ever seen so many cheap gold chains or ugly kids called Keeley or Cameron.

The whole place stank of chips and there was a fairground that over looked the beach. The beach in front of this hell-hole was packed with equally chavy people. Help, we thought.

We required seaside chips and so we purchased some from 'Mr Chips' chippy. They were to say the least, a disappointment.

After this lovely lunch we decided to walk back to the car on the beach. Just to the left of chav hell there was a sea break reaching out to sea so we walked over it and on to.........a mostly empty beach.

The chavs seem to like being crammed into chav hell in front of a smelly funfair in an area stinking of chips. The seem blind to the beach only a few feet away.

The beach we were walking on was lovely. It was clean, you could smell the sea, there was the odd person flying a kite but that was about it. It is strange to think that feet away was chav hell but we were in heaven!!

Alice loved the beach. She was having a great time splashing though the water and making footprints. We all had a really nice walk.

I can't believe that Alice walked all the way back to the car. 1.5 miles!!! She is only little and although she has long legs for ther age they are still only small. What a little trooper!!!

After we got back to the car we left for home having had a really nice day.

In summary, Mablethorpe is a horrible shithole and is everything bad you have ever read about British coastal resorts, but the beach is absolutly gorgeous as long as you are not directly in front of the main resort. I'm not saying I recommend it as a holiday destination but if you want to visit the coast for the day I would recommend it. Just avoid the town centre!!!

Pictures are available here.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Graves Park Rare Breeds Centre

Today, for our latest day-trip, Victoria and I took Alice along to Graves Park Rare Breeds Centre.
We also took Alice's Granny, my mum. :-)

The farm we visited has lots of different poultry, goats, deer, rabbits, guinea pigs, proper pigs, donkeys, pony's, cows etc. They are all apparently 'rare breeds'. With many of these animals it is not hard to work out why they are rare breeds. It is because they look stupid.

Take for example the rabbit in the picture above. I refuse to believe that this very cute yet pathetic excuse for a creature could ever survive for one minute in the wild and it is probably so inbred that it has forgotten how to reproduce!

Still, we all had a really nice time and I am sure the people there do good work. Alice was once again overjoyed to see lots of cuddly animals but she seemed not to like goats, even though they were very friendly.

Pictures are available here.

Another fine day out that is to be recommended, especially if you have children with you.

Our next day trip is tomorrow. We are going to the seaside. We looked at a map and saw that if we head straight East, the shortest route to the coast we hit.......Mablethorpe. So that is where we are headed. Such a glamourous life we lead. :-)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Chester Zoo - 9th August 2006


As I am having 2 weeks off work Victoria and I are filling my time with lots of lovely day trips with Alice. The first of these was last wednesday and was a visit to Chester Zoo.

Victoria and I had already been to Chester Zoo about 5 years ago but we thought that a second trip was needed as half of it was closed due to foot and mouth. We also have Alice who we thought was now at an age where she could appreciate such things.

We set off at about 08:30 and arrived at the Zoo at about 10:45. There was a queue to get in but it only took about 10 minutes of waiting to get to the front. Once inside we released Alice. Out of the buggy she came and on went the reins. We were convinced she would be tired after about 20 minutes of walking but she lasted for most of the day. It was actually her that was dragging us around a lot of the time!!

I don't think I have ever seen Alice so excited. The first time she saw an elephant she was screaming with delight and jumping up and down. She really enjoyed it. Of course all birds were 'Ducks' and anything else in the water (such as Sealions) were 'Fish' to her.

For lunch we had a 'mystery meat' hotdog and chips which seemed to fit the day and I think that we managed to see pretty much everything.

The only slight downer on the day was seeing animals like tigers and elephants in captivity. The sealions, penguins and most of the other animals did not seem to care where they were but the elephants and tigers really did seem out of place. I feel they should really be running around Kenya rather than a pen or killing their own food instead of having it given to them. Still, many of the breeds they have at Chester are endangered or extinct in the wild and the animals are part of a breeding plan to re-introduce them, so it's not too bad really.

Anyway, we were all really tired at the end of this excellent day. Alice slept most of the way home and we all slept soundly that night.

I can't recommend a trip to Chester Zoo highly enough. The animals seem well cared for and there are plenty of keepers giving talks on the animals all through the day.

I know that zoo's are not particularly politically correct but I think that a lot of the work they do is very good and worthwhile, and that many of the animals would not be here today without them.

I took LOADS of pictures. Thanks goes to Chris who kindly loaned me his Nikon 80-200mm zoom lens. This fantastic lens was used to take 99% of the pictures and allowed me to get really close the animals. It is also rather heavy but that is a small price to pay for using such a fine piece of photographic equipment.

One added advantage was that Victoria thought I looked like paperazzi carrying my camera and she said I was embarrasing. Excellent!!!

Anyway, pics here, Chester Zoo here. Well worth a visit.

Next stop, Graves Park Rare Breeds Centre. :-)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Well Done Jenson!!!

Jenson Button finally got his first F1 win when he stormed to victory in Hungary.

The whole race was fantastic and Victoria and I were on the edge of our seats while watching it, especially for the last 10 laps.

Let's hope there are many more. :-)

The whole story is here.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I'm Never Drinking Again....Again!

Last Saturday, the 29th July, Rob and Lucy (Alice's Godparents) invited Alice, Victoria and I to a BBQ at their house. There would be old friends there and Rob and Lucy are always such good company we jumped at the chance.

We arrived at about 15:10 and Rob immediately provided me with a nice cold beer. Alice wandered around and drew pictures while we chatted and had a generally very pleasant time. The company was good, the beer was good and the food was good.

At about 19:00 Alice was getting a little tired and so Victoria decided to take her home. Being such a good wife she had no objection to me staying on and having a few more beers. After all, there were quite few people from school there and it is always good to catch up.

While we were at Rob and Lucy's house everything was fine. More beer was drunk along with a little white wine, a little red wine and a little more beer. Things were going well. I was tipsy but nothing too bad. Then we ran out of beer and Rob suggested we go to the pub. Everyone agreed.

The Castle is a nice pub. A sort of suburban local that is always welcoming.

Tonight they had a Karaoke night.

Rob refers to the Karaoke nights in the Castle as 'Dirty Karaoke' as it is an evening of tarty women trying to sing Whitney Houston or Celine Dion. His description was a good one. It was dirty indeed.

I have to explain that by the time we got to the pub it was about 21:30 (I think) and Rob and I had been drinking since 15:00. We were several sheets to the wind.

Anyway, We stayed in the pub until about midnight (I think) and drank much more beer. This means I had been drinking for 9 hours. I was bladdered.

I'm sure there are some people reading this and thinking "I do that every week! You are a pathetic drinker who should be barred from all the pubs in this fair land". I would reply with 'I bet you are not 36 years old with a child who does not drink as much these days and therefore has lost much of his tolerance to alcohol, and when he does drink it's mostly wine rather than beer'.

I have to say that I had a really great time, and all respect goes to everyone else there that went down to town after the pub when I went home. Rob did however tell me on Monday that he has no recollection of going to town though. :-)

The next day was.....Hell on earth. I don't drink much these days and I have not been pissed on beer for quite a while. My head hurt, I felt sick (and apparently was after I eventually got home) I was dizzy, my whole body was numb. I could not even watch all of the German Grand Prix without lapsing in and out of consciousness.

I am writing this on Tuesday. I still feel a little bit poorly. I have only just looked at the pictures I took on the night and even the ones of Alice when I was sober are not good. The ones in the pub are terrible and I applogise to the subjects for my bad photography.

Anyway, the result of this excellent yet costly night are that I am NEVER drinking again. I know I've said it before but this time I mean it. Beer is not good for me.

Hold on, what's this email? Laithwaites are having a sale.............

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mums Annual Party - 23rd July

My mum generally has a party each year. This year it was last Sunday (23rd) and what a great afternoon it was.

Lots of family that we only see a couple of times a year were there and they all commented on how much Alice had grown and, of course, how lovely she was.

Much booze was consumed but Victoria was driving and I was on a go slow after the previous days visit by The Family Callaghan, so it didn't get too ugly.

Mum made lots of really nice food as normal.

Victoria and I spent most of the afternoon accompanying Alice as she wandered around the garden investigating it's various nooks and crannies. All she likes to do at the moment is investigate and obviously she can't do this by herself.

I took many photographs. Mostly of Alice. I seem to have a strong urge to catalogue her life in minute detail via my camera. I suppose most parents feel the same.

Anyway, a good day was had by all. Pictures are available here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Visitors

Dave (Harry Potter) Callaghan, Julie (his missis) and Luke (Skywalker) came for a visit last Saturday.

We had arranged a little gathering for lunch, a little wine, and for Alice and Luke to have a play together. We had not seen Julie or Luke since Luke's christening so Victoria and I were looking forward to it.

I see Dave all to often at work where he sits opposite me and asks me where stuff is in various databases, so only Victoria was looking forward to seeing him. ;-)

Apparently Luke has a bit of a biting problem at the moment. As in he does it alot and it hurts. There were concerns that Luke might bite Alice but he was as good as gold. The last time Luke and Alice met they were both unable to walk (Alice could stand though) but now they are both charging around all over the place. It was really nice to see them interact. Usually whenever Alice is with other children I am at work so it's something I don't see too often.

Dave was initially concerned that his son may be a little gay as he had a great love of Alice's pink pushchair, but he was no longer worried when Alice and Luke kept kissing each other. I personally wanted to know what Luke's intentions were towards my daughter and what his prospects were but he was not too forthcoming.

We had a nice lunch of pasta with pesto for a main course and a chocolate pavlova for dessert. The pavlova was a Nigella Lawson recipie so was obviously very healthy!!

A nice day was had by all. There are pictures here.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Movie Review - Superman Returns

I've always liked the Superman movies. Well, the first two anyway, and Christopher Reeve was to me always the only person who could ever play the part of Superman. Because of this I was a little wary of watching the new Superman movie.

I need not have worried.

Superman Returns is not a start again and ignore the old films kind of movie. It is a sequel to Superman 2 and takes place about 5 years after the events in that film. Superman has gone to see the remains of Krypton and finding nothing there returns to earth. Once back he finds a post 911 earth and a Lois Lane with a son and a boyfriend. It's not long of course before he is wearing spandex and flying around saving people.


I really enjoyed this film. They use the music from the Christopher Reeve films so as soon as the credits stared rolling I was smiling. I was worried that Brandon Routh would not be as good as Christopher Reeve but I need not have worried. It is as if he is channeling his ghost he is so similar when playing the role.

Kevin Spacey was also excellent as Lex Luthor, mixing humour with insanity in the same way as Gene Hackman did in the first two films.

The plot is of course standard Superman stuff but it does not really matter.

Ok, to sum up :

The Good:
Brandon Routh
The Music
Kevin Spacey
A shot in the eye ;-)
Re-creating the cover from Action Comics no.1

The Bad:
Er, the 'S' symbol on his suit is a bit small.

Make sure you see this film. It's brilliant.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Strange Noises In The Night

At 4am this morning I was woken up by strange noises in the house. It sounded like a whooshing noise and like a tap being run really fast.

What could it be I wondered?

A burst pipe?

A flash flood?

Dirty burglars wanting to make a clean getaway?

Being a brave chap I decided to get up and investigate.

The noise was actually Victoria running a bath.

"What are you doing?" I enquired.

"The children all need a bath" she replied, reaching for the bubblebath.

She was convinced that our bedroom was full of dirty children who all needed a good soak in the tub. It took me a while to convince her that she was in fact sleepwalking but I eventually did and I escorted her back to bed.

This morning she had no recollection of this happening.

I have not known Victoria sleepwalk before but it was all very amusing. :-)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Comedy Central Orders 13 New Episodes Of Futurama

I knew it was coming but here is the confirmation.

I love Futurama and can't wait for new episodes!!!

Friday, June 16, 2006

My God I Hate Football

As you all know, I don't like football. This is a bad time to not like football as the world cup is currently on.

Last night England were playing Trinidad and Tobago. I was not bothered about seeing it but when I got home Victoria had it on the TV and was happily cheering on Trinidad. Not very patriotic I suppose but better than cheering the bunch of loosers that were playing for England!!

I don't know much about football apart from what I know from playing Fifa 2005 on my XBOX (strangly enough I love football video games!!). What I do know however is that England were shit last night. For the first half it looked like the plucky underdogs were going to either win or at least force a draw.

I found myself wondering what the difference in the wage bill was between the two teams. I bet that the English players get at least 10 times the pay that the Trinidad team gets (only my guess you understand) and are they worth it? I am sure you will all agree that they are not.

I really would like England to win the world cup just so that football fans will stop going on about 1966. It was 40 years ago for gods sake!!!!

On the other hand I would hate for these lackluster overpaid tossers to be considered English hero's, and so in a way would have liked them to have been beaten last night.

We will probably watch other games in the next few weeks but I won't be upset if (when?) England get knocked out of the competition.

At least when it is over we will stop being bombarded with the latest updates on Wayne "part monkey, part spud" Rooney.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Alice Accident Update


Alice had her comedy sized bandage removed on Friday. The doctor said it was fine and should not need any further treatment.

I did try to get a picture of her hand but she was not very co-operative. As you can see from the picture on the right though, she is fine.

Thanks to those who sent the get well cards and the book. It was appreciated and Alice enjoyed chewing them all. :-)

There are quite a few new Alice pictures in the photo gallery. I took some on Saturday in the garden when the weather was really nice. We sat on the lawn and Alice tried to kick a football to me. That was almost as funny as me trying to kick a football to her!!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Movie Review - Mission Impossible 3

So far the Mission Impossible films have been a mixed bag. The first movie was great. It had an overly complex plot, lots of characters, cool gadgets and most importantly teamwork. They successfully took the formula of the original TV series and translated it into a 2 hour movie.

Excellent. 10/10

The second Mission Impossible movie was a turd. It was directed by John Woo. His only decent movie was Face Off and that was pushing it. MI2 was nothing but a 2 hour pop-video. In slow motion. With white doves and sideways jumping with 2 pistols.

Crap. 0/10

We now come to Mission Impossible 3 and the reason for this post. I had high hopes for this movie. It was directed by J.J Abrams who was responsible for two of my favourite TV programs, Lost and (more relevantly) Alias. I had also heard some good reports from people at work and I was suckered in by the trailers and the promo films.

I was misled.

The first scene in MI3 is great. We have Tom Cruise and some woman he cares for facing each other, tied to seperate chairs while the major baddie threatens to kill the girl if Tom does not give him the 'Rabbits Foot'.

We then flashback to a few days before (I think) and see all that leads up to this moment. We get to see Ethan Hunt with his girlfriend and having a private life. They have a party to celebrate them getting engaged. It's all bollocks until he gets called away on a mission.

I won't go into more detail as it may spoil the film for you if you have not seen it, but, while the missions are initially team based the whole film then turns into 'The Tom Cruise Show'. This goes against what the TV series was all about.

The problems with this film are:

1) An excellent bad guy who is only in it for about 2 scenes and is too easily despatched at the end.

2) Tom Cruise and his shit-eating grin.

3) Who gives a crap about his private life.

4) The entire story.

5) The Mills And Boon ending. - Honestly, whoever decided to leave in the last shot should be!!

This film should have been about teamwork, and they left out the most important part of any Mission Impossible story, the part where the bad guy (and the audience) suddenly realise what is going on and why the M.I.F team have been doing what they have been doing.

I did not like this film. I think that Tom Cruise is probably to blame. The media seems to have been over-saturated with him for the past 12 months and this could have coloured my judgement of MI3. I'm sick of seeing him jumping onto Oprah's sofa singing about how he is in love with Katie Holmes (is their relationship a bit wrong or is that just me?), or sueing South Park for showing an episode that took the piss out of him and Scientology. I mean my god, have you ever found out what Scientologists believe? Click here for more info.

Anyway, MI3 is crap. Tom Cruise is a tosser. Scientologists are insane.

Score for MI3:

-100/10 - Worse than part 2 because it lied when it was being promoted and got my hopes up.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Baby Review : Isabella Grace


This weekend we went down to Norbury to meet Victoria's cousin Liz's new baby. Liz and Ed had a baby girl on the 1st May and called her Isabella Grace.

Isabella is a cute little thing. I would say she scores 9.5 on the Alice scale of cuteness, with only Alice scoring a perfect 10 of course. :-)

I had forgotten how little newborn babies were. Now that Alice is running around making as much noise as she can it's hard to believe she was ever the same size as Isabella.

She was also very well behaved, sleeping most of the time and occasionally waking up for a stretch or a quick feed. When I held her she was a bit wriggly but I put that down to me being out of practice holding such little babies.

We were all having a nice time until Alice decided to burn her hand (see below) which cut the day short. It was still nice to meet the new addition to the family and I can see Isabella and Alice getting up to all sorts of mischief in the future.

Congratulations Liz and Ed. :-)

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