Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Whisky

I love whisky. After red wine I would say it is my favourite tipple. As far as favourite whiskys go I have always had a fondness for those produced on Islay, specifically Laphroaig.

As it is Christmas I like to make sure I am well stocked with this most excellent of drinks, and instead of my normal 10 year old Laphroaig Quater Cask I like to indulge myself.

This year have have bought a bottle of 16 year old Bowmore.

I am so happy with this choice. I opened the bottle when I got home just to have a smell and it was wonderful. You can smell fruit cake or raisins or something similar and just the smell makes you feel warm inside. Even Victoria, who does not like whisky, loved the smell. I know it is my Christmas whisky but I could not resist having just a small glass and the taste is just as good as the smell promised. It sends a warmth around your whole body and is exactly why I love Islay whiskys.

People are either whisky fans or not, and I consider someone who drinks whisky with a mixer to not be a whisky fan. :-) If you do like whisky and have not tried this particular bottle I can highly recommend it. It is packed full of flavour and due to it's fruit cake like credentials is perfect for Christmas!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Work Christmas Party

Last night was my work Christmas party. We started in the pub followed by a meal at the local Novatel and then finished the night at the Leadmill as is the tradition for this occasion.

I got very drunk. I appear to have consumed far too much beer and I now have a very poorly head.

Oh well, it was all good fun and I had a great time. There are photos here.

I would write more on this great evening but I really do feel too ill. The only thing keeping me going is the thought that David (pictured above) will also be feeling just as ill. :-)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Alice Has The Pox!

Alice has the chicken pox!

We have been wanting this to happen for a while now just to get it out of the way but it is still heart breaking to see her covered in red spots. She has them all over, including around the eyes and one on her bum. Just to make things really bad this morning we have found one on her sucking thumb. No comfort there!!!

It is good however that she has it now. I was 22 when I got chicken pox and it floored me for 3 weeks. Apparently it gets worse when you are older. At least Alice feels OK in herself, she just looks really ill. I know that she is OK as this morning as I was leaving for work she challenged me to a face pulling competition and then declared me the winner before I had even pulled a face. :-)

Let's hope she gets better soon.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Restaurant Review - Cafe Guru

Last Friday night Victoria and I (plus 12 others) went to Cafe Guru. This is an Indian restaurant in the centre of Sheffield and is a 'proper' restaurant instead of the usual curry house that we English love to frequent so often.

The interior is very modern, looking like many other contemporary restaurants. Wooden floors, white walls, lots of wood. All very nice and clean.

We arrived at 9pm and it was quite busy but it seemed to get quieter as the night went on with only 2 other people there when we eventually left. As this is the first time we have been here I don't know if it would fill up again later or not but I can't see it appealing to drunk students as much as a normal curry house would.

As there were 14 of us we had obviously pre-booked and were shown to our table immediately. The staff were all very attentive and polite and didn't seem to mind that most of the people on our table had been drinking for an hour or so before we arrived and were busy talking rather than telling the waitress what we would like to order. They were all smiles all night.

After the obligatory poppadoms Victoria and I had starters. We were actually the only ones in our group who had a starter for some reason. I don't know why as I think starters can be the best part of a meal.

Anyway, Victoria had Paneer Tikka Kebab which is 'cubes of authentic indian cheese coated with tikka masaala and char grilled' and I had Shami Kebabs which are 'minced lamb and lentil pate coated in egg and pan fried'. Both were excellent. The presentation was second to none and the food tasted amazing.

For main courses I had a Chicken Balti and Victoria had a Chicken Tikka Masaala, both with Pillau rice and Peshwari nan. We both agreed that it was the best curry we had ever had. The sauces were outstanding but the main thing that struck us both was the quality of the chicken in our dishes. There was none of the usual stringy bits of meat that you normally get, this chicken was the most tender I had ever tasted. It literally fell apart in my mouth. Amazing.

The bill for 14 people came to £238 including all the beers that the blokes were drinking. That is £17 a head!! Amazing value. I would have happily paid much more for such an excellent meal. Obviously we left a generous tip!

If you want a curry in a restaurant using the best ingredients cooked by people who obviously know what they are doing and have a passion for their job then this is the place for you. Brilliant service, amazing food and fantastic value. 10/10

As a little postscript, I feel that I must comment on Sheffield town centre on a Friday night. We got there at about 19:30 and there were already people sat on the floor drunkenly hugging bins, people throwing up, and it seems like every homeless person for miles around was begging for money. Every cash machine had a beggar sat next to it asking the people using it for cash. Intimidating and annoying. When we left the restaurant we were accosted by some loser asking for help. I didn't ask but I bet the help involved me giving him money. When we refused he started ranting something about 'people like us...'. What? People with a job?

Anyway, town was disgusting. I'm sure it was never that bad when I used to go out, at least not until later in the evening.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hidden Talents

On Saturday night I went to the Castle on Twentywell Road. Victoria sadly didn't come along as in her pregnant state she normally needs to go to bed at 9:30 ish so it was me, Rob, Lucy, others from school and a whole bunch of people I'd never met.

We went to the Castle to see a friend from school who was playing there. Ian plays guitar and sings. He plays his own songs as well as a few well chosen covers.

Now the Castle may be just a local pub in Bradway but the previous landlady, Danielle, had managed to build up a really good music scene which attracts local musicians from around Sheffield. This meant that there were others playing as well as Ian.

First on stage was a guy called Tom. I didn't know him until last Saturday but he's a really nice chap. He sang and played guitar and did about 5 or 6 songs, all written by himself, all good and all surrounded by witty banter with the appreciative crowd.

Next up was Ian. I've heard Ian play and sing before and he was always good but tonight he was extremely good. His guitar playing was excellent but the biggest improvement was his voice. He really is very good. He sang 10 or 12 songs over the evening, mostly his own but with covers of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's 'The Power Of Love' and Snow Patrol's 'Chasing Cars'. Brilliant!

He was joined (I would say on stage but it was really in the corner!) at certain points by Danielle on backing vocals and Tom on Bongo. It was actually pointed out that it was not a bongo but in my universe that's what it was :-). There was also a small 3 piece band there who joined in with some bass guitar at certain points played by a far too talented 15 year old.

After Ian the three piece band ( I wish I knew their name) played a few songs. Their singer/bass player/lead guitar player was ,as I said, about 15 and was VERY good.

Then more musical types got up and played. It was like an open mike night. I was a little drunk by this point so didn't get the name of the next guy to get up with a guitar and sing but he was really good. Very good voice and a great guitarist.

Finally a girl got up and played who I later found out was called Charlie Barker. She was very pregnant so must have had trouble reaching round her guitar but she was brilliant. When speaking to her afterwards I found out that she had an album out which I have just purchased from play. Check out her website to have a listen.

We were then kicked out as the pub was closed. It was decided that this was not good but fortunately the owner of another public house (which shall remain nameless in case he gets into trouble) was in the Castle and suggested we carry on at his place. So, we all got into taxis, people, guitars, bongo and all and changed the venue. Then it was more drinking, guitars, bongo's etc until stupid o'clock when I got a taxi home rather drunk.

What a great night. I felt very poorly the next day. There would have been photos but some buffoon (me) forgot to pick up his camera on the way out the door!

My entire point in writing this post is that it is amazing how many very talented people there are in the most unlikely of places. Not only the brilliant musicians but I also met Maya and her husband Matt on Saturday night. Maya makes brilliant silverwear and you can see her work here.

I'm already looking forward to the next musical night at the Crown.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nothing To See Here.....

Sorry for the lack of posts recently but not a lot has happened. It's kind of been a go to work, come home, play with Alice, go to bed and repeat few weeks.

We have prepared the new nursery for the new baby. I did the prep work (stripping wallpaper, sanding, filling and sanding again) and Victoria did the fun painting part. She did a great job though and the new room looks great. Our new baby will be very snug indeed.

Victoria is all prepared for Christmas. She has bought most of the pressies and done whatever other stuff women do when preparing for Christmas. All men do is look for the best offer on beer at your local supermarket!!! :-)

Alice and I also had a birthday. I turned 38 but I think I actually look a year younger! I got lots of DVD's, Whiskey etc and drank lots over the weekend. All good fun. Alice turned 3 and got LOTS of pressies and had cake and a party. Also lots of fun. You can see her birthday pics here.

We are now just waiting for Christmas (where I once again have a designated pregnant driver) and after that the birth of baby number 2. If it is a boy we have decided to call him Muad'Dib Picard Briddon. It is a good strong name. :-)

We are also looking forwards to the next British Grand Prix (yes I know it is 8 months away!) where this year we have the best seats in the house.

I guess it kind of sounds like I am wishing my life away but I'm really not. It's just that there is nothing going on at the moment.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Wisdom Of Alice Part 5

"I like to eat LOTS of bogies".

Sunday, October 21, 2007

At Least It Wasn't Alonso.....

OK, so I am upset that Lewis Hamilton is not F1 world champion in his first season. I truly believe he deserved to win in spite of some setup issues throughout the year caused by his inexperience and a few questionable judgement calls (pit NOW Lewis!!!). He is the most amazing rookie driver I have ever seen in my many many years of watching F1 and I can tell you all that he will win multiple championships in the years to come.

What has cheered me up though is that Fernando Alonso did not win the championship either. I started out being a big Alonso fan and at the beginning of the season I wanted him to win, but his childlike behaviour all year has turned me totally against him. Luckily all but the Spanish F1 fans feel the same so he will hopefully be driving a much worse car next year after alienating his entire team. Maybe he won't get a drive at all and will have to become a cheap male prostitute to pay his way, which I'm sure he would not mind what with him being a cock sucking wanker!!

The winner, Kimi Raikkonen does deserve to finally get a championship. Personally I think he is overrated and he does nothing to promote the sport as well as being possibly the most boring man on earth (if Alice can't sleep we play at tape of him talking and it sends her straight off), but he is consistant and has nearly won several times before. We can let him have him moment before Lewis kicks his ass next year. :-)

The person who was most upset by Hamilton not winning seemed to be Alice, who kept asking during the podium "Where is Lewis Hamilton" and seemed very upset when we told her he did not win. We have also taught her to boo when Alonso is on TV. :-)

Now, when is the next race? April?!?!? Bugger!!!

Restaurant Review - The Walnut Club

As it was our 5th wedding anniversary a few days ago Victoria and I decided that as usual we would go out for a meal to celebrate. We had always wanted to try The Walnut Club in Hathersage but as it was a bit far out we never bothered. As Victoria is pregnant though and therefore functioning in taxi mode this is currently not a problem. :-)

The restaurant looks very nice and there is a nice atmosphere. It's very chilled out. We were 30 minutes earlier than we had booked for but were shown straight to our table.

We were offered a selection of nice bread and left to choose what we wanted to eat.

The menu has quite a wide selection and it was not easy to choose. In the end Victoria had pressed terrine of organic milk fed rabbit and poached quail with caramelised pears wrapped in air dried ham and served with a sauternes & vanilla jelly for a starter and pan roasted fillet of wild seabass with ravioli of pumpkin and almonds, tossed in a port & beef stock glaze for a main course. She also had apple tarte tatin with calvados and vanilla scented organic cream for a dessert. I decided upon craister kipper and smoked haddock pastry with a leek vinaigrette and a soft poached organic duck egg for a starter and Roasted rib of Derbyshire farm assured beef with a turnip & potato gratin, buttered curly kale and claret enriched roasting gravy for a main.I skipped a dessert as I was stuffed! Everything was excellent. The taste, presentation and the amount of food was just perfect. I especially liked my starter which was really special.

The Walnut Club has live jazz most nights and I was worried that this would be too loud and spoil the evening, especially as we were sat rather near to the stage. I need not have worried though as the music was kept to a reasonable level. We had the pleasure of listening to The Dizzy Club last night and I am sure the other bands they employ are just as good.

The bill came to just over £95 which included the food, a bottle of red wine and the obligatory G & T before the meal which I though was very reasonable. All I needed to add was the tip which I did happily.

We really enjoyed The Walnut Club. The restaurant looked good, the atmosphere was good, the food was excellent, the staff were extremely attentive and polite and it has the bonus of excellent live Jazz. The only downside is that due to the music if you went with a larger group you would probably find it difficult to talk to anyone not sat next to you. This is a VERY small downside as personally I think the music adds much more than it takes away.

Both Victoria and I agree that it is well worth a trip out to Hathersage to try this very good restaurant.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wedding Anniversary - 5 Years

Today is our 5th wedding anniversary. 5 years since I married Victoria and Phil ran up a wine bill to rival the defense budget of a small European country!

Where the hell did the last 5 years go? I guess time flies by when you are happy and I am very happy.

I love you Victoria. :-)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

No Longer An IKEA Virgin

As you all know we have another little bundle of joy on the way with an arrival time of mid January. As we only live in a 3 bedroom semi this also means that for the second time I am being kicked out of my office and have to find another home for my beloved PC's.

The servers have found a convenient place to live under the stairs and I don't actually know why I didn't put them there sooner as it keeps them out of the way.

The PC Victoria and I actually use though will be living in the dining room and as we needed some furniture to put it on Victoria finally had an excuse to get me to go to IKEA.

I have tried to avoid visiting IKEA for years. I had an image of a busy, full of chavs, hot furniture shop and that I would hate it and want to kill myself. I also have been told that this view is actually correct! However, needs must and I can't expect Victoria to carry furniture in her baby carrying situation.

Phil had told me the day before that I will hate IKEA and that I should take an iPod with me. He said it was indeed hell on earth and that I should do what I can to get out of going. Sadly nothing I tried was going to work.

We decided to get their when the store opened so that hopefully it would not be too busy and my god if we were not right. We cruised straight up to a baby parking space right outside the door and just wandered in. The shop was like the car park, practically empty, so we just walked round with ease casually looking at the furniture. We chose what we wanted, collected it, paid for it, had breakfast for 95p and left. Nice and easy, not too many people there, sorted!!! Of course I had to sit in the back of the car, not the back seats but on one of the pull out seats in the boot!! It was actually quite comfy as the normal back seats were pushed forward so I had loads of legroom. There is a picture of my view here and you can see a picture of the built desk above. Sorry for the weird picture angle but behind me are all Alice's toys so I could not get a better one. :-)

My IKEA experience was not too bad but I can imagine that if we had arrived an hour later it would have been hell, so if you really must go to this place it looks like a Saturday morning is the time to do it.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Lewis Hamilton Fails To Finish In China

Lewis Hamilton could have been world champion this afternoon but he failed to finish. He stayed out on old tyres for too long and when he did come in to pit he slipped off the road and got stuck in the gravel. Not the best way to finish a race!!!

It was the choice of the team as well as Hamilton to stay out so they are all to blame and they all seemed gutted when he failed to finish the race.

It's not all over yet though. He is still 4 points ahead of Alonso (cough Tosser) and 7 points ahead of Raikkonen so all he has to do in the final race in Brazil in 2 weeks is to finish in the top 3. Not impossible by any means.

It does however mean that Victoria and I have another two stressful weeks wondering of Hamilton will win the championship or not.

Honestly, after the last 2 races I'm not sure our hearts can take it. :-)

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Japanese Grand Prix

This weekend it was the Japanese Grand Prix. This is normally held at the Suzuka circuit owned by Honda but Toyota were getting a little annoyed by this and so this year it was held at their Fuji Speedway circuit.

This circuit is well known for being more than a little wet and yesterday was no exception.

Qualifying was very foggy and the track was damp. Lewis Hamilton got pole by beating Fernando Alonso on his last qualifying lap. A prime example of good triumphing over evil if I ever saw one. :-)

Race day was VERY wet. There was a chance that the race would be abandoned!! In the end they decided to start it behind the safety car as a standing start would be too dangerous.

The cars were behind the safety car for about 19 laps and when it came off Hamilton drove a faultless race in the most horrendous conditions ever. There was one scary moment when Robert Kubica clipped Hamilton and sent him spinning off the track but he soon regained the lead.

Professional wanker Fernando Alonso however had obviously not sacrificed enough babies to his evil overlord this weekend as he managed to plant his car into the wall which ended his race. Victoria and I did so laugh!!!


After Alonso crashed they brought out the safety car again, during which Sebastian Vettel managed to drive his Torro Rosso into the back of Mark Webber's Red Bull. As these two teams are stablemates this was not a good thing for Vettel to do and he has been dropped 10 qualifying places for next weeks Chinese GP. It also caused Webber to say the word 'Fuck' on live TV which was nice.

Anyway, after 2 very tense hours Hamilton won the race. He is now 12 points ahead of Alonso and unless something really bad happens he will be world champion in his rookie year, something that has never happened before.

If he does not win it now I will be in such a bad mood!! :-)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I Want One Of These!!!

I've been looking for a new stereo for my car for a while and I think I have finally found it! The Parrot RK-8200 is the head unit for me!


It has a tuner but no CD. This is probably because physical media is SO yeaterday! It does however have an ipod connector, phone connector, SD Card slot, USB socket, bluetooth so it can act as a handsfree car kit as well as 2GB RAM to store music or contacts for you phone, all of which can be called using voice commands. Add to this the £150 price tag and we have a winner.

You can even hide your music player away inside the unit!!! Great!

It's out before the end of the year and you can get more info here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Formula 1

Formula 1, the one true sport and the only mainstream sport that the British consistently excel at (yes I include football rugby and cricket when I say that. Have you watched our national teams recently?) has been going through some rough times over the past few months.

On the one hand you have the best championship for years. Lewis Hamilton is an amazing driver and is hopefully going to become the first driver ever to win the drivers championship in his rookie season. He is consistently faster than his teammate Fernando Alonso as well as being faster than Ferrari's dynamic duo. OK, so he has made some mistakes but these are mainly in the car setup and it is his first year. His driving is always second to none.

On the other hand you have Ferrari accusing Mclaren of spying on them and using their technology in the Mclaren cars. This culminated in the FIA kicking Mclaren out of the constructors championship and fining them $100 million last week. The drivers championship is not effected by this.

Essentially it seems that a Ferrari engineer was sending a Mclaren engineer SMS messages about Ferrari setups and he gave the Mclaren engineer a 750 page document regarding the Ferrari car. It was later discovered that the Mclaren engineer was passing this information to Pedro De La Rosa (Mclaren test driver) who was emailing them to Fernando Alonso (Mclaren driver and professional wanker).

Mclaren's defense was that nobody else in the team knew about this information and none of it was ever used in the cars. I believe them. Ron Dennis (Mclaren boss) has built the team and his reputation on being honest and trustworthy. I refuse to believe he would cheat like this.

After the Hungarian GP (the one where Alonso blocked Hamilton from doing his final qualifying lap. See Here) Alonso and Dennis had an argument where Alonso threatened to send the emails regarding Ferrari data to the FIA unless Ron Dennis gave him more support than Hamilton. Did I mention that Alonso is a twat? Until this moment Ron Dennis did not know about the emails or any information coming from Ferrari to Mclaren and as soon as he heard about them he rang the FIA and told them. This is not the actions of a guilty man but rather a man who wants to clear his name and the name of his team.

So now Ferrari have their way and Mclaren have been kicked out of the constructors championship which means they win. Can anyone say 'hollow victory'? The drivers championship is still being decided and hopefully Hamilton will beat that tosser Alonso. With any luck Alonso will not be at Mclaren next year. What he has done can't make him very comfortable where he is. Personally I hope he leaves F1 and can only get a job racing Nascar, the crappiest of all the motor sports.

Anyway, all this scandal has really upset me. This is my favourite sport and one that I am passionate about. I hate all this political crap that has been floating about and all it has really done is make the sport look bad during it's best, most exciting season for 10 years.

So, what have I done to cheer up myself and Victoria, also an avid F1 fan? We are going to the 2008 British GP at Silverstone!! We were not going to go originally as we would have a 6 month old baby but we thought our mum's could have a child each. :-)

When we went to the 2007 GP we had general admission tickets. This means you stand on the banks wherever you want. We had a great view but had to get there early and not move from our spot.

This time we have got the best tickets in the house. Pit Straight B. Platinum tickets. We are right on the start/finish line. I am rather excited which is unfortunate as there are 10 months to go!!!

Thanks to Phil as well for finding me a reasonably priced hotel!!

Anyway, hopefully all the scandal will now be over and we can get back to just enjoying the racing.

Anyone willing to bet a tenner that Alonso will not be racing for Mclaren next year? :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

So Cute!

Alice is back at pre-school this week and I normally don't get to see her in her school uniform.

Today however I was working from home and took the opportunity to take this photo of her just before she left.

She looks so cute. If I was not such a 'bloke' I would have tears in my eyes.

{sniffle}

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Springsteen Concert Sells Out In 8 Minutes!!

People laugh at my love of Bruce Springsteen's music. At work I get almost continuous ribbing from my work collegues, all of them prefering the latest in a long line of identical sounding 'beep beep' music or the latest guitar band, none of whom will probably be around in a few years.

Anyway, just to prove to them how I am in no way alone, this week Bruce's Belfast gig sold out in 8 minutes! Check out the story here. I'd like to see Jamie T or Hard-Fi sell out an arena that fast!!

There is a new Springsteen album out on the 1st October, his 15th studio album. He is reuniting with the E-Street band for this one so it will be fantastic. Click here to pre-order. :-)

You KNOW This Is Going To Be A Classic!!!!

First Blood was a genuinly great film but the two sequels were a bit silly. They were however saved due to the large number of exploading helicopters.

Rambo 4 (John Rambo it's called) is being made at the moment and from the trailer below looks to be rather violent and gory. Personally I can't wait. :-)

The only bad thing is that the cast does not include Richard Crenna as Colonel Trautman, but that is probably because he is dead!

http://view.break.com/362761 - Watch more free videos

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Plastic Fantastic?

Victoria and I watched the first episode of the new Nigella Lawson TV show last night, Nigella Express.

We have both been fans of hers for years and believe her recipes to be of the highest standard. I've also always thought she was kinda sexy. :-)

In her latest show though there is something wrong with her face. I can't say what exactly but I have a feeling she has had some 'work' done and it really does not look too good.

She also seems to be acting like someone pretending to be Nigella Lawson. Acting happy rather than actually being happy and gesticulating more than is required.

Anyone else agree with this or is it just me and Victoria?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Baby News - 20 Weeks Scan!

Today Victoria and I went for the new baby's 20 week scan. Everything was great and here you can see the scan picture. For those not used to looking at such images I have added notes to the Flickr version so that you know where the head is etc. :-)

The lady doing the scan talked us through what she was looking at while examining the image on the screen. Things like "I'm looking at the spine now to make sure it is all covered in skin", and "I'm looking at the internal organs to make sure they are actually internal and not growing on the outside of the body". Nice!!! Still, everything was fine and the new baby is doing well. Two Arms, two legs and a head. It's all good. We could have found out the sex today but decided that, as with Alice, we would leave it as a surprise. No matter how much you want a boy or a girl, when the baby is born it really does not matter and it's nice not to know until the birth.

It was great to see the baby again and it's amazing how much they grow in 2 months. The next time we see it will be when it is born. We both can't wait. :-)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Movie Review - Black Sheep

You may remember back in February I drew you attention to a trailer for a little film from New Zealand called Black Sheep. Well I actually got to see this classic movie the other day and let me say I was in no way disappointed.

In case you don't remember, this is a film about a sheep farmer who has been doing genetic experiments on sheep to breed the perfect specimen.

Taking the 28 Days Later route to disaster, some eco-hippies break into the lab to free the sheep and cause one mutated specimen to escape and infect all the other sheep in the area. They all start attacking humans to satisfy their new found love of blood and any humans that get bitten start turning into sheep.

This film is fantastic. It is done in the same vein as 'Bad Taste' and 'Brain Dead' but with more of a budget. The special effects are done by Weta who did Lord Of The Rings and so while not up to that standard are actually not as bad as they could have been.

Obviously this is not going to win an Oscar, but take it for what it is, a comic horror film with a very stupid premise, and you will love it. It's funny as well as gory and the action is well paced.

I watched this with Victoria and even she liked it. We were both laughing all the way through.

If you want 90 minutes of no brain required entertainment, watch this film!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Chilli Plant Update

I've not mentioned the chilli plant for a while so I thought I would make the effort. It's doing great!!

The plant is looking really healthy and happy and the chilli's are big and juicy! We even ate one in some chilli a few weeks ago and it was delicious.

As you can see from the picture, the chilli's have now turned bright red. We have also got another new chilli growing which is pictured here.

Now that the first chilli's seem pretty mature we are thinking of eating them soon. They just look too tasty to leave any longer. :-)

I'll keep you informed!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Fernando Alonso Is A Twat

I've always been a fan of Fernando Alonso. For the last few years he has been an excellent sportsman and a fabulous driver for Renault, deservedly winning the world championship twice.

This year he is driving for Mclaren along side Lewis Hamilton. It's obvious that they don't get on very well and Alonso is always saying that the team give Hamilton more support. Whatever, a bit of bickering won't hurt as long as it does not spill out onto the track.

However, this weekend is the Hungarian Grand Prix. Victoria and I have just finished watching the qualifying and what Alonso did prevents me from ever supporting him again, no matter how good he is.

In F1 qualifying the final laps, no, the final lap a driver does is usually the best. The car has been running for a while, the driver is in 'quick' mode. The last lap is when the best times are set.

Normally before the last lap the drivers dive into the pits for a new set of tyres. They then do a slower lap of the circuit and the lap time starts when the car crosses the start/finish line.

This afternoon in the pits, Alonso got his new tyres and Hamilton was queued behind him to get his tyres. They had to be quick as the qualifying session was about to end and if they did not start their quick lap before it did the lap would not count. Hamilton was fastest at this point and Alonso was second. Alonso got his tyres and the engineers gave him the go signal and.....he just sat there. For 9 seconds he sat there holding up Hamilton so that he would not get round the circuit in time to have his final lap. The team were shouting at him to go but he still waited.

Hamilton did not get his final lap because of this and Alonso has pole position. This is not the sort of thing we see in Formula 1. It's not football for god's sake.

Alonso is a cheating twat who should be kicked in the balls for being such a wanker. If he can't win by playing fair he should leave the team.

Luckily Ron Dennis, Mclaren boss, was very angry. I am hoping that he gives Alonso the ball kick he deserves.

Alonso, you are a tosser. I will never again cheer for you when you are successful and I hope many other people feel the same. I hope that after your contract with Mclaren ends they don't renew it and that no other team will have you. You were such a prick today that I hope that you have to move to America and drive Nascar just to keep racing.

UPDATE: Alonso has been demoted to 6th and the Mclaren team will score zero points for todays race. Zero points is VERY bad for Mclaren at this point in the season but at least the stewards at Hungary realised that Alonso needed punishing.

Friday, August 03, 2007

One Final Geek Post

I have now finished building my new file server and have created my new array. 4x500GB drives configured as RAID5 which gives me 1.5TB of storage! Lovely! Just look at the screenshot here. Look at all those lovely big numbers and look where it says TB instead of GB.

I am a happy geek tonight.

Obviously building the machine and installing an OS is only half the job. I still have to move all my Films/TV Shows/Music/Applications etc to the drive, install and configure Exchange 2007 which Tim says is great fun (?) and convert my firewall which is running on a physical machine at the moment into a virtual machine. All good fun which I will not bore you all with. :-)

Just know that I am a happy geek this evening!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Geek's Hell

I've found out this week that, in spite of my happy geek filled ramblings below that it is not always good to be a geek.

I like to think of myself as being pretty much on the bleeding edge of technology, especially where PC's are concerned. I therefore no longer own a floppy disc drive. None of my PC's have one and they have not had one for at least 2 years. What's the point? In a world where my usb key holds the equivalent of nearly 3000 of the things I can do without them.

This evening I was finishing building my server with the nice big disc array that will fix all my storage needs. The drives were plugged into the RAID controller and I had mirrored the system drives to provide some fault tolerance. Next, install Windows Server.

Unfortunately Windows does not have a driver for my RAID controller and it would like me to provide it with one, other wise it will not see the array and not have anywhere to install the operating system.

I have the driver. I have it on CD, usb key and on another hard drive. Can you guess where Windows wants it to be? Can you guess where the only place that Windows will install the driver from is no matter what you try to do?

A floppy disc. A Frickin floppy disc. To make matters worse, I booted from the install disc with a usb key plugged into the server (containing the drivers) and although windows could not load the drivers from the usb drive it did in fact recognise it and offer to install itself on that!!

I have to say my language was not for Alice's ears!!! I now have to go and scrounge a floppy drive and some discs from our IT dept tomorrow.

It's not easy being on the bleeding edge! :-)

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Geek's Paradise

When Victoria and I moved into our current house there was just her and myself. Our house has three bedrooms so we used the main bedroom for ourselves, I had the second bedroom for an office/server room and the third smallest room was for guests.

Then Alice came along and I was kicked out of the second bedroom and pushed into the smallest room. It was a bit of a squeeze but I managed to fit 2 desks, 4 PC's and 5 monitors in there along with all my network switches/routers etc.

As you all know, Victoria is now pregnant again so guess who is getting kicked out of his nice little room? You guessed it. Me!

So now the problem is what to do with all my servers. I was originally going to shift them into the new shed but as I have not yet bought it and I would have to get power installed to it I am ruling this option out. No, the only place for the servers is under the stairs in the gas/electric meter cupboard.

I'm not meaning the PC Victoria and I use daily goes under the stairs you understand, that is going into the dining room. Just the servers/routers/switches etc will be there.

So, I am upgrading one of my servers to host the other and my firewall as virtual machines, building a large RAID5 disc array from 4x500GB drives giving me 1.5TB of usable redundant storage space. This will go under the stairs with the switch. I will get Kevin the electrician to put CAT5 cable all over the house as he can do it and make it invisible and Bob's your uncle.

I'm looking forward to building my new server. It will be a 3.2 Pentium4, 4GB RAM, 250GB system drive (mirrored), 1.5TB usable drive space (RAID5) running Windows 2003 R2 64bit and Exchange Server 2007. Lovely.

Sometimes it's good to be a geek. :-)

Oh yes, if you either understood any of the technical specs above or were remotely interested in this post, you too are a geek!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Potty Training

This week is potty training week for Alice. After 2.5 years of not worrying about the toilet we decided it was time for a dose of the real world.

The original plan was to use training nappies. These are pull-ups like a normal pair of pants but when Alice goes to the toilet she can feel that they are wet instead of feeling dry like in a normal nappy. She should then feel discomfort without any mess and soon be begging to use the potty. Great plan if it had worked. Every time Alice soiled these training nappies she would happily get a new one, walk up to me or Victoria and say "I've got a wet nappy" while handing us it's replacement.

Plan B: Put Alice in normal cotton pants and when she wees drag her to the potty. We know she hates it when she has little accidents so this was surely going to work.

We have just completed day 2. We went through 11 pairs of pants yesterday and 12 today. I am guessing we have a 40% success rate.

If all is well Alice will pull a face and make a moaning sound while running up to the potty. We then have to quickly pull her pants down and sit her down before she wets her feet.

If things go slightly less well Alice will start urinating and we will have to grab her and drop her on the potty to prevent as much spillage as possible.

If all goes horribly wrong she just lets rip wherever she is standing, normally as far away from the potty as she can be. You can see an example of the latter case in the picture above. Let me tell you the puddle is not water!! :-)

To be fair Alice is getting better. The whole process should take a week and this is only day 2. It is just such an exhausting thing to do as you have to be constantly watching her. Look away for one moment and you will be mopping the floor again. Also remember that I am at work most of the time so it is my poor pregnant wife that is suffering.

All this effort will obviously be worth it, and it has to be done at some point. We can't have her in a happy at 16!! Just remember, if you come round to our house excuse the smell of dettol!

Oh yes, I've not even mentioned her number 2's. Maybe I'll save that for another day. :-)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Victoria's Facebook Friends

We have all been using Facebook for a couple of months now. Some people think it is a bit crap (me) and some people think it is the best thing ever (everyone else). Soon everyone will get bored with it and see that I am correct. :-)

Victoria finally took the plunge this week and signed up to Facebook. Her cousins are members and she wants to keep up with what they are doing. She also knows most of my friends and has added some of them. Phil and Ryan actually beat her to the punch and added her before she could add them.

Last night Victoria was saying thay she now had several friends on facebook and that she was pleased Ryan added her as a friend.

"Why specifically Ryan" I asked.

"He's my cool friend" she replied.

"What do you mean, what about me?" I said.

"Oh you have never been cool, and most of your friends are a bit geeky" she said. "That is why I'm pleased to have Ryan as a friend as he is cool".

Charming, and I thought I was cool on a par with Johnny Depp!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

British Grand Prix - 6th, 7th and 8th July 2007

I've already written about the Friday practice below so I will now tell you about Qualifying on Saturday and the Race on Sunday.


As we only decided to attend the Friday practice last week we did not have a hotel room booked so we drove to Silverstone and back in a day. This meant an early start for us on Saturday morning and we left the house at about 7am. It's normally only a 1.5 hour journey to Silverstone but 10 miles from the track we hit traffic and were queueing for 2.5 hours before we parked. We were at this point annoyed and frustrated but once we got to the track that all vanished.

We had missed the morning practice session due to the traffic but we got there to watch the Porsche Supercup qualifying followed by the Blue Eagles helicopter display team. The helicopters were a bit rubbish to be honest. It was impressive to see a helicopter do a loop and a barrel roll but to be honest that was about all they did. The Porsche qualifying was much better.

At 1pm the F1 qualifying started. Three sessions of 15 minutes where all the drivers get the opportunity to do their fastest laps, with the slowest drivers being eliminated until there are just 10 left for the final session. The last session is the one that counts and all the drivers really push the cars. It looked like Raikkonen was going to get pole position and Hamilton (our hero) was only going to be 4th, when 30 seconds from the end of the session he did the fastest lap. It was very exciting and I think all 95,000 people there cheered at once. There were air horns and cheers following Hamilton round the track after the lap and he seemed very happy with his performance.

After qualifying we left the track to find our hotel which was in Bicester, about 15 miles away.

As we had experienced traffic jam hell getting to the circuit on Saturday morning we decided that an early start was required for the Sunday. For this reason we set the alarm for an unhealthy 05:30!! It's a good job I didn't have much to drink on the Saturday evening or it could have been ugly!

We arrived at Silverstone at about 06:30, went round the roundabout and were directed away from the circuit to a field about 2 miles away!!!! We didn't realise they would be filling the far distant car parks first and now had a 2 mile walk to the track!!! Not a good start!!!

Once we reached Silverstone we grabbed a bite to eat and found a place to watch the race. We were at the end of Club corner and raised up enough to see over the fence so I could get nice photographs without the fences getting in the way. It is here that we sat from 07:30 until the race started at 1pm. We had to do this as if we moved our place would have been instantly filled by someone else. It's a good job we were early!

You may think that it would have been boring to sit there for so long but no. There was plenty to watch. First we had the GP2 race. These are the class below Formula 1 and although they are very fast they smell like fireworks. The racing was good though and one of the drivers was Bruno Senna, nephew of the late great Ayrton Senna.

Next came the Porsche GT Supercup. Again, very exciting racing which was won by a Brit. All good stuff.

We then had a display by the Red Arrows. I have not seen the Red Arrows since I was a small boy and Victoria and I were really impressed by them. It was very exciting and much better than the Blue Eagles.

At 11:30 we had the drivers parade lap. All the drivers stand on the back of a lorry and get driven round the track. It's about the only time you get to actually see more than their helmets and gloved hands.

The time waiting for the F1 race also flew by because of the great atmosphere. There were people from different countries, supporting different drives and teams and all getting on really well, taking the piss out of each other in a good natured way and just generally enjoying the experience.

Finally, 1pm arrived and the start of the race. After the warm up lap......Massa stalled on the grid so we had another warm up lap, but after that the race was off.

Unless you have even actually heard an F1 car for real you can't possible understand how loud they are, and when you hear 22 of them all going past you at full speed on the first lap you will be in much pain unless you have earplugs in. It's an amazing experience. You first hear a distant whine which gets louder and louder as the cars get closer. When they pass you the ground shakes and even though you are wearing earplugs you can feel you clothes and your body vibrate because of the noise. Even with earplugs the cars are loud. Probably as loud as you would imagine they are if you had only seen them on TV. They are of course much louder than you think.

Hamilton lead the race until his first pit stop, after which Raikkonen got past him and went on to win the race. Personally I think they used the wrong types for Hamilton's car. It would have been nice if Hamilton had won but it didn't really spoil the day. The experience of being at Grand Prix can't be spoiled just because your favourite driver does not win.

We left after the Grand Prix. The journey home took approx 3 hours which was not too bad really.

Victoria and I really enjoyed the whole weekend. If Victoria was not pregnant we would have already booked our seats for next year. We can't leave a six month old child with our parents though so we will be going the year after. We think we will go for the grandstand seats next time. You don't get to see as much racing but you do get the start, finish, pit stops and the podium.

Going to a Grand Prix is an amazing experience. Even if you do not particularly like motor sport (and don't mind spending at least £99 on a ticket!!) I would recommend you go at least once in your life. I guess it's like going to a world cup final except F1 is more fun!! :-)

I took 587 photographs over the weekend. The cars go past so quickly that I was firing off 3 or 4 every time one went by just to make sure I got a good one. I have since whittled them down to 167 which is more reasonable! I they are all on Flickr and you can see them here.

I also uploaded four short videos to YouTube which you can watch here, here, here and here.

Oh yes, I forgot to say, I'm so lucky to have a wife that loves Formula 1 as much as I do. :-)

Friday, July 06, 2007

British Grand Prix - Friday Practice

As most of you will already know as I have been going on about it for months, this weekend Victoria and I are at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. Well, Friday practice is over and Lewis Hamilton is the fastest. Let's hope he keeps up the good work over the weekend!

Victoria and I arrived at Silverstone at about 10:30. There was a little traffic but nothing too bad. We made our way to the nearest stand (Abbey) and watched the incredible F1 cars fly past up. Victoria was so excited at this point she was nearly in tears. :-) I'm so pleased she is enjoying the weekend.

We then decided to walk round the circuit. As we had roaming grandstand tickets for the Friday it meant we could try out all seating options and decide where was best. We only had the 'General' tickets so today would be the only time we could enter most places so we used the opportunity to see where we would like to be in the future if we decided to spend more than £99 on a ticket.

The first place we tried was Stowe corner and it was crap! The tickets were twice the price of ours and you were 3 times as far from the cars as we were and they were blocked by fencing. Becket's was no better, being miles from the track but at least covered. They only seats we liked were the pit lane grandstand which cost £250 per ticket. Maybe next year. ;-)

So, after walking around the entire track we decided to watch the qualifying and the race from Abbey corner, which is where we started. :-)

We had a fantastic first day and I have LOADS of pics but I have no time to sort, tidy and upload them so I have just done one, the picture of Lewis Hamilton above. There will be MANY more if you are interested.

I''ll try to post again tomorrow (we have wireless in our hotel room) and I will obviously do a proper post after the weekend when all the pics are uploaded.

If you watch the race look out for us on Abbey!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Fantastic News!!! Victoria Is Pregnant!!!

Yes, it's true, Victoria and I are going to have a second child. After several miscarriages and trying for the past year it's finally happening. As you can imagine we are VERY happy!!!

We went for a reassurance scan about a month ago as we wanted to make sure everything was OK and we saw the heartbeat, but we wanted to be 100% sure things were right before we told anyone.

This afternoon we went for the 12 week dating scan and everything was looking good. The baby was measured and we were given a due date of the 18th January. You can see the scan here on the right. The previous scan can be seen here.

We are so happy about this as you can imagine. Obviously it is vitally important that we have a boy this time or I will be outnumbered 3 to 1. As for names for a boy I was thinking Picard, or Muad'Dib or Optimus Prime. Tell me what you think. :-)

More news and pics as and when.....

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

More Chilli News

These bad boys are growing fast as you can see from the picture on the right. This is the same chilli that was pictured in my previous post.

There are more pics here and here.

Victoria and I are wanting to try these chilli's but we are not sure when to harvest. We have heard that they can grow to be about 6-8 inches long and that they eventually turn red. Does anyone know if this is true? Is there anyone out there with chilli growing experience?

Get in touch if you have any info that would help us.

Stay tuned for more exciting chilli based news!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Wisdom Of Alice part 4

Victoria: "Alice, would you like some Cherios for breakfast?"

Alice: "Miaow"

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Philli The Chilli

Several months ago Phil gave everyone at work a chilli plant as he had loads. They were all little seedings at the time but after a few months they have (mostly) grown into nice little bushes.

Ian's plant was left in the office and really took off. It was the fastest growing plant of all and was at least twice the size of everyone elses for quite a while. It has however now slowed down and even though it flowered they seem to have fallen off without giving any chilli goodness.

Phil has many plants at home which he says are doing well but he also has one at work. I think he wanted to see if it grew as quickly as Ian's plant. Unfortunatly it has grown into the elephant man of chilli plants and it has had an aphid problem as well. This twisted mutant plant could only give twisted mustant chilli's that I would never eat. As Phil had sprayed the plant with aphid killing chemicals it can't exactly be considered organic either.

McStreet has always said his plant is doing very well and a month or so ago said it had sprouted chilli's. This is several weeks before any of the other plants had even flowered. We asked for proof and all he could provide were some blurry photo's that could have been anything. Honestly, I've seen clearer pictures of the Loch Ness Monster!!! Next he will be trying to sell us London Bridge!!

Dave also had a chilli plant which seemed to be doing well the last time Victoria and I visited but Luke knocked it over and I'm not sure if it ever recovered!!

So, now we come to mine and Victoria's plant. Victoria christened it Philli as it was given to us by Phil. Philli has been growing steadily all along. It has nice deep green leaves and not a sign of any insects making a home on him. It also flowered last week and this weekend we noticed that the first chilli's were appearing. As you can see from the picture above the first one is a fine example!!! It's only tiny at the moment but it is growing fast so I am sure we will have a nice harvest soon. Exciting this chilli plant growing isn't it!! You can see more pics here and here.

And Mark, if your plant really has grown chilli's please supply a better picture. The blurred Yeti style pics just won't do!! :-)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Muse - Wembley Stadium - 16th June 2007

Finally it was time to go to Wembley to see Muse. I love this band. They are so loud! :-)


Jane was already 'darn sarf visiting her mum so Phil and I met at Sheffield station at 11 ish to get the 11:27 train to St Pancras, first class of course. Once we were in London we got the tube to Embankment and went to the Ha Ha Bar for some lunch. We met Jane there and then headed off to Wembley.

The new stadium is amazing. You can see it from miles away thanks to the massive Wembley Arch and it is impressive as you walk towards it. Once you are in it is just as remarkable. The seating seems to just keep going up and up until it reaches the arch which, erm, arches majestically across the skyline. This is one impressive building!

Inside the stadium is equally impressive. The corridors beneath the stands are all very air conditioned, there is a toilet roughly every 3 feet and there are many many food stands offering lots of different food. There is a burger joint, fish and chips, calvery, sandwiches etc. There are also lots of bars. The food is VERY expensive. A burger cost £5. That is something sililar to a Macdonald’s quarter pounder. Fish and chips was £8 and I had a hot pork sandwich which was £7.50. Jane had a £4.50 baggette and Phil had sausage and mash for a stunning £8.30. As I said the food is expensive but we all agreed that it was also very good quality. The burgers looked a bit dodgy but what we ate was excellent. Beer is not priced too badly at about £3.50 per pint and the bar is very nice.

So, apart from being impressed with the stadium how was the gig? Most excellent is the short answer but I've never been happy with short answers. :-)

We missed the first band as we were quaffing pints but when we first arrived at Wembley Dirty Pretty Things were just coming on stage. To be fair the sound for them was terrible but we were not very impressed in spite of that. Of course I could not bring myself to like any band that has even the smallest connection to the soon to be dead from a drug overdose tallentless tosser Pete Doherty so they were never going to be good for me.

Next was The Streets. They were really good. Mike Skinner was obviously delighted to be playing Wembley and was not shy about telling everyone. He even said he had been watching Queen videos on Youtube and got everyone doing the Radio Ga Ga clap. Lots of fun.

At 20:45 Muse finally arrived. The arrived onstage from the middle of the pitch surrounded by a fountain of paper. Very dramatic it was. Once they reached the stage they started playing and that was it for 2 hours 15 minutes. Very loud extremely good rock music accompanied by a fantastic light show and acrobats on giant balloons! They were amazing. Everyone said they were good live but I never thought they could be THAT good. They played all the songs I wanted them to play, including Stockholm Syndrome, my personal favourite Muse song ever, and apart from me nipping to the loo and missing the piano intro to Newborn (DOH) everything was great!

So, a great day was had by all, apart from the journey to Jane's mum's in Woking. The only problem with the new Wembley Stadium is transport. Getting there was fine but after the gig 90,000 people were all tryng to get to one tube station and catch one train. It took us about an hour to get to Euston, after which we got another tube to Waterloo so we could get the train to Woking. The train was the 01:05 and was the last train of the day. We managed to get a seat but it was packed with stereotypes of drunk southern wankers. When I say stereotypes I mean I was surprised they were not eating jellied eels and singing Chas and Dave songs around the ol' joanna. Even Phil and Jane were shocked at their wankeyness. We finally got to our destination at 02:30. We were very tired.

So, apart from the journey at the end of the day we all had a great time. If you get the chance, see Muse live. They are brilliant! Pics are here.

Oh yes, thanks to Jane's mum for putting me up for the night. :-)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Prison Break

Now that all the TV shows Victoria and I watch (Lost, 24 etc) have finished and there is nothing until October at the earliest to watch we have had to find something new to occupy our evenings as the £37 per month I pay to Sky just gives us 500 channels of shit.

After many recommendations we decided that Prison Break would be the programme to fill the void.

Neither of us had watched any episodes of Prison Break but we knew the general premise. Guy gets put on death row for a crime he didn't commit and his brother decides to break him out of prison from the inside. He tattoo's the plans of the prison on his body and gets arrested and sent to the same prison as his bro. We then get 22 episodes of various bits of planning/setbacks etc.

We finished the first series the other night and I must say we very much enjoyed it. It manages a level of realism that makes 24 look like real life, hell, it makes Buffy the Vampire Slayer look real, but it does not matter. This is a great show. It has the right amount of tension and cliffhangers and the escape plan is good enough to keep you guessing, even though most of it is bollocks. :-) Oh yes, this must be the only high security prison where nobody swears!

I would recommend this show to anyone. Just don't question the plot too much.

Now on to series 2. :-)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Lewis Hamilton.....

is my new god.......

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Wisdom Of Alice part 3

Alice, pointing at my stomach: 'Big tummy'.

She's cute but you could go off her!!!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Another Reason To Keep The TV Licence!

I have sometimes been heard to complain about paying my TV Licence. Why should we pay for the BBC and have to pay Sky for all the other TV channels.

I have recently been changing this opinion for several good reasons. Firstly, the BBC website is second to none, providing the best news coverage ever as well as excellent sports, very handy when you are stuck at work and want to know the latest snooker or cricket scores.

Another reason is Radio 4. This radio station is incredible. The Today Programme is superb and PM, the evening drive home show (Eddie Mair is god) is amazing, with only the Archers spoiling the station. I also have to mention The Jonathon Ross show on a Saturday on Radio 2. Brilliant!

There was another, even greater reason to be happy while paying your TV licence that was broadcast last night and the previous Saturday, and that reason was the latest double episode of Doctor Who! This was without doubt the best episode of the new Doctor Who and one of the best dramas I've seen for ages. I won't go into detail about the plot but it had you on the edge of your seat all the way through, it had some great monsters (living scarecrows!!) and it will have childred scared to death whenever they look in a mirror for the rest of their lives!!

Pure genius!

I currently pay Sky £37 per month for most of their channels and lets face it, there is very little to watch. We download more TV than we watch on Sky. When you watch something as high quality as Doctor Who for £10 per month for all the BBC channels you realise that with the BBC you are getting a Rolex watch compared to the free with petrol digital watch that is Sky.

By the way, I would ditch Sky for Freeview if I could but Sky is the only digital service I can get in my area.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

(No) Cricket At Headingley - 27th May 2007

So this weekend was the much anticipated trip to Leeds to watch England vs The West Indies in the cricket.

Unfortunatly the weather was against us. It rained all day so although we did see the ground we did not see any cricket. At least we get our money back for the ticket.

Not wanting the day to be a complete loss we instead went on to enjoy a day of drinking.

The day started at 8am at Sheffield train station. We got the 08:39 train to Leeds which was stupidly busy. There were 2 carriages and it was standing room only for the whole journey. It must have stopped at 8 stations on the way to Leeds to take on more people and it was very overcrowded when we finally reached our destination. Surely this is not legal! If they shipped cattle like this animal rights nuts would be digging up peoples granny's and if there was an accident then we would all surely die! I think the overcrowding is what caused Ian And Conrad to start drinking at 08:55!

Anyway, we reached Leeds at 10ish and after we met Dave we got a taxi to the Headingly Taps, a convenient pub near the cricket ground. It was packed at about 10:30 and everyone was in a good mood considering the rain so the atmosphere was good.

After a quick pint here we went to the cricket ground for more beer and to wait for the rain to stop. It never did. We were teased with the possibility of cricket at about 13:30 but then it started raining again. We had to entertain ourselves by playing Phil Buckaroo with his hood and plastic glasses.

At about 14:30 we left the ground for another near by pub, The Arc, and had more beer. After a couple of hours it became obvious that there was to be no cricket so we headed (via Subway) to Leeds centre. While half the group went to The Reliance the real men went to the North Bar for some stupidly strong beer served in a stupid glass. One of those was enough for me so we then headed for The Elbow Room, guided by Ian's knowledge of Leeds pubs. This was a cool pub with lots of pool tables.

We were joined by the rest of the group after about 30 minutes but Chris and Liv decided they were 'Tired' and were going home. Satomi decided to join them and Mark said he was ill so also left. The remaining 14 enjoyed an afternoon playing 'Killer Pool' which was fun. Ryan won the first round and I won the second. Ian said he was about to win round 3 but then we ran out of time. Yeah, right. :-)

We got the 20:20 train back to Sheffield. It was nice and empty thank god and we got 2 adjacent tables where we played poker and Tony made crank calls to the Carlsburg helpline.

Back in Sheffield and the evening continued with a drink in The Showroom. After this we headed up West Street and ended the day with a Popeyes Kebab (it's been a while. I've missed you).

All in all a good day apart from there being no cricket.

Anyone want to pre-book for next year? :-)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Wisdom Of Alice part 2

Alice: "My Bottom!!"

Me: "What's wrong with your bottom?"

Alice: "I can't find it!"

Friday, May 25, 2007

Amazingly It Both Sucks And Blows!

As you know, we had a new bathroom fitted over Easter. It's great. We are really happy with it.

In our old bathroom we used to get little spots of black mould above the shower, so we thought we would have an extractor fan fitted there to fix this issue. The fitters put in a very nice droplight/extractor fan.

When they first showed it to me working I heard a little rattle coming from it, the same rattle that you hear from a PC fan when it is about to fail.

"That fan is about to fail." I said.

"Nah, they all sound like that at first. It will settle down" came the reply.

So, a week later, when the fan had failed, I called the fitter and asked him to come and fix it. I won't go into the fact that he promised to do it on Tuesday but never turned up or phoned so Victoria stayed in all day for nothing and Alice missed her swimming. In the end I had to work from home yesterday (Thursday) and my god he actually turned up.

He fixed the fan which took about 2 hours as he had to go and buy the part after poking around for 30 minutes and left in the knowledge of a job well done.

I was having a shower this morning and was admiring the new, quiet extractor fan when I noticed that it was not in fact sucking at all, but blowing the steam back down into the bath!

How useless are these people?

I will be phoneing 'Andy' this morning to ask him to return, again!!

Victoria and I are getting a bit sick of these bathroom fitters. When the bathroom was first being fitted the workmen were clean, friendly and worked hard. We then had a gap to get the tiling done and when they returned to fit the shower/radiator etc they were surley, stroppy and acting like we had offered them a shit sandwich instead of the cake Victoria had been feeding them. They then said they were not taking the rubbish away and they then charged me an additional £120 for some undisclosed reason. After this we have the fan issues and the fact that 'Andy' just didn't turn up or phone on Tuesday and we have a bad experience.

I can't work out what is wrong with these people. They have the skills and do great work but as soon as you give them a cheque (even if it is not for the full amount)they can't be arsed.

My family, who have had more work done on their houses than me, all say that all workmen are the same and you have to put up with it as there are not enough plumbers etc about. Bollocks I say. In every other business you have to be friendly and polite to get by, why not bathroom fitters, builders etc?

Anyway, that is my rant over.

I should have called this post 'Plumber Review' and had one word in it : SHIT!

I'll let you know what 'Andy' says when I call him this morning.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Every Office Has One!

Yesterday one of our servers stopped processing tasks, mails, everything. I spent at least an hour trying to fix the issue before getting totally stuck and confused. I can normally fix most things so this was very annoying


There is a guy in the office who looks after the network and does such things as patch servers. I'm not going to say who it is as you may know him. When I reached my confused 'but this should work' stage I asked this person "Have you made any changes to this server recently?". "No" came the reply.

After another hour of frustration I asked him again. "Are you sure you have not made any changes to this server recently?". "Definitely not" came the reply.

All in all I asked him 4 times and every time the reply was no.

This morning I was trying again to sort the problem when I looked at the patch log. Amazingly there was a patch installed over the weekend which had the name of the person who is the subject of this post all over it. This patch was not supposed to be installed on this server as it will break it.

"Oh yes, I remember. I did patch it" came the reply when I mentioned the patch log.

It's just one school-boy error after another. :-)

Some of you know the person I am refering to but I will not mention his name. Let me say though that everyone in my department all fight to have the day off after this person has applied fixes, upgrades or patches. :-)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Wisdom Of Alice

Futurama is Red.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Nintendo Wii - Levelling The Playing Field

I've been playing video games for many years. I remember my brother and I playing Pong on our black and white TV when we were kids.

We've played Space Invaders, Phoenix, Asteroids, Star Wars, as well as home computer classics such as Elite, Way Of The Exploding Fist, Paradroid, Alien 8, Manic Miner, Knightlore....all the classics.

This video game enjoyment has continued into adulthood with Playstations, Xbox's and the ultimate format for games, the PC.

We now, after 30 years, come to the Nintendo Wii.

I like to think I am pretty good at playing games. Not the best as I also have a life but still pretty good. I did not expect to be beaten by, let's say, Victoria for example.

Unfortunately, my years of games playing have come to nothing as Victoria is constantly beating me at Wii Sports Bowling. She has even bragged about it on her new website.

This is not fair! I am supposed to beat her with my finely tuned reflexes and excellent hand/eye co-ordination.

I love my Wii but I think I will have to stick to playing Tennis! I can still win at that....for now.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Subtle Changes

I made a few subtle changes to the website this morning.

Firstly I added some new blogs to the list. Dave "Thinks he looks like Magnum PI" Callaghan has just started a blog so I added a link to it. I'm sure it will be full of info on his son, Luke, and on Dave's geeky interests.

I also added links to Tony's blog and Chris Riley's blog as I read them often and have decided I can no longer be bothered to type the url's into my browser. Even bookmarks are too much work for me. ;-)

I have also seperated blogs from other links in the menu and it is in the links section you will find access to my Flickr page. There are also several sites I visit on a regular basis. I'm sure I will add more later. Of particular interest to anyone who keeps track of when those elusive US TV shows are airing will be My Episodes. Add the programmes you watch to your personalised list and it let's you know when to download them, er, I mean when they are on.

There is also a link to Briddon Bun's which has lots of pictures of Victoria's cakes. Will get round to doing her a proper website one of these days!!!

Finally I have added an admin section as I am too lazy to type the blogger login address into my browser whenever I wish to add a post.

OK, that's enough of that. I'm off to play Wii Sports!


**********UPDATE**********

Victoria has decided that her website should become a food blog. As she loves cooking and all things foodie she thought she would log her activities in a blog. I have therefore moved her link to the blogs section.

I would suggest you check it out here. I happen to know that upcoming highlights will be a report from the BBC Good Food show and probably a recipie for the god damn tastey cookies she just made. :-)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Anyone For Tennis?

This week I bought a Nintendo Wii. For those few who don't know, this is the latest video games console from Nintendo and features a unique control system where you wave the remote in the same way as you would wave the sword/racket/gun you are using in the game, so when playing tennis in the included Wii Sports game you hold the controller and pretend to hit the ball as if you were actually playing tennis. It's great!!!

Even Victoria wanted us to get one and she's a girl!!

Wanting a Nintendo Wii and actually finding one are two different things. Unlike the stupidly expensive Playstation 3, the Wii is clever, reasonably priced and it appeals to men women and children alike. This means that they are akin to rocking horse shit, ie, you can't find one. This is why it has taken me about 5 months to take the plunge. The only reason I found one at all is due to looking at the right website at the right time.

Now I have a Wii I am extremely impressed with it. Wii Sports lets you play tennis, baseball, boxing, golf and bowling and makes great use of the new control system. I also got the latest Zelda game which is also great.

The Wii connects wirelessly to the internet and you have a web browser built in. You can also download games from previous Nintendo and Sega consoles to play. It even tells you the weather and the local news!

Anyway, I love my Nintendo Wii and it is made even better because Victoria likes it as well and actually wants to use it. It may not be as powerful as the Xbox 360 or the PS3 but it is much more innovative in it's own way, and it appeals to a much bigger audience.

Anyway, just to finish this post, Victoria and I were bowling on the Wii yesterday and we were being watched by Alice. After a few minutes she decided she wanted to join in and so picked up a football and threw it at the TV!! She was delighted and squealed "I did it, I did it". She's so funny!!

Nintendo Wii scores 10/10!! Buy one if you can find one!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Movie Review - Spiderman 3

I watched Spiderman 3 last night. I'd been looking forward to this as I liked the first two films, even though the second one went a bit flat in the middle. This time however the bad guy was Venom, my favourite of all the Spiderman baddies.

Having watched the film I now have a feeling of real disappointment. It was easily the worst of the three movies.

After an initial fight scene lasting a good 5 minutes it's another hour before we get another. The second one, with The Sandman, lasts another 5 minutes and that's it for another hour. In between all we get is Peter Parker with a supposed attitude as the black goop that got stuck to his suit makes him more aggressive and self-assured. It's crap! We have Peter walking down the street like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. He even does a little dance in a club. He then snaps at his landlord and that's it. Rubbish. This could have been done much more convincingly.

Anyway, it's not until the last 15 minutes of the film that Venom appears. He does not look particularly good, like a black Spiderman with a head resembling a South Park Canadian but with more teeth, and he's not malevolent enough. We also get lots of 'cute' scenes cut in during the fight which takes away from the little bit of action we do get to see.

All in all a rubbish third movie, with only the usual Bruce Campbell cameo saving this film from a zero score.

The Good:
Special Effects (when we see them!)
The god amoung men Bruce Campbell as the MaĆ®tre d’
Stan Lee Cameo

The Bad:
The story
Venom
All the characters spending half the time crying
Not enough action scenes

1/10

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Jane's 30th Birthday - 27th April 2007

Last Saturday was Jane's 30th birthday and she had decided to have a party. As Victoria and I don't get to go to many parties these days due to a certain little girl who shall remain nameless we were both rather looking forward to it.

As is the tradition for a party at Phil and Jane's fancy dress was the order of the day and a punk theme had been chosen by the birthday girl.

Victoria and I have a tradition of not bothering to dress up at these occasions as we don't really like fancy dress, but in this case we decided to actually make an effort!! Victoria created some t-shirts for us and back combed her hair along with some very nice black lipstick and nail varnish, while I spiked my hair and wore a t-shirt in the style of punk. OK, when I say spiked my hair I mean I tried. It has so many curles in it that it was a bit hard to get spikey but it's the thought that counts.

Victoria also made a cake for Jane which was also punk themed. You can see it above.

The party was great. There were lots of people there including some we had not seen for ages (Nick and Rachel especially) and Victoria and I managed to get extremely drunk. I think we actually managed to do it without insulting or upsetting anyone which was a bonus!

Happy birthday Jane and thanks for the great party. Victoria and I both felt VERY ill the next day which goes to show what a good time we had.

Pictures are here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Quote Of The Week

"Everytime I read "Pride and Prejudice" I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone."

Mark Twain talking about Jane Austen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Finally, a finished bathroom


Our bathroom was finally finished on Monday (16th April). The plumbers had finished on Good Friday but the tiler could not come for a week so he didn't start until last Saturday. Luckily he was very quick and was done on Sunday.

After the tiler we gave the plumbers a call and they returned on Monday to fit the shower, towel rail and to reverse the door (we were sick of people seeing nothing but the toilet when the door was open).

We are really pleased with the new bathroom. It's all nice and white and shiney and we have nice things in it like drop lights with built in extractor fans and a ladder type towel rail. All we need to do now is small things like putting up the cabinet and the shelves over the bath.

It was a lot of hastle not having a bathroom for a week but in the end it was all worth it.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

My Easter Week Off.

As I mentioned previously, I have had the week off. It's been a great week even though we have only had a half functional bathroom due to the tiler not being available until today.

We started off the week by going round to my mum's on Easter Sunday for lunch. Much wine was consumed and as the weather was so nice we spent most of the afternoon in the garden. Alice loved this and spent the whole afternoon exploring. Pictures are here.

In the evening we watched the Malaysian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton seems to be rather bloody good!!

On Tuesday Victoria, my mum and I took Alice to the Beamish museum. Here they have recreated an entire 19th century town, mining village, farm and manor house. The place is massive and you travel around on trams and old vintage busses. All the people who work there are wearing period clothing and are well versed on the subjects they are portraying. If you want to know something about what you are looking at you just ask. It's great. In the village you can buy things from the shops. The old sweet shop is fantastic. They even make traditional sweets on the premises.

It costs £16 for an adult to get it but that is pretty much all you pay for. Victoria even made up a picnic for lunch which was nice. Well worth a visit. Pictures from Beamish are here.

On Wednesday we did nothing apart from go to Coles to buy some towels for the new bathroom. £133 for two sets!! I thought I got away with it pretty lightly.

Thursday we went to Filey as Alice really likes the seaside. She wanted to build a sandcastle and we wanted to sit on the beach and eat chips like we did as kids. Before we went to Filey we visited a nearby RSPB reserve where we saw seabirds nesting on the cliffs. We even saw some Puffins!!!

We then went to Flamborough lighthouse which was....a lighthouse, and then we finally went to Filey. What a shit hole!! Full of chavs and very tacky. We finally found a chip shop and a little patch of beach that was not full of chavvy children called Trinity and we managed to give Alice a crash course in sandcastle construction.

We were a little bored there though so we decided to go to Bridlington instead. Surprisingly it was much nicer than Filey. They have their chav areas full of fairground rides and arcades but they are all at one end of the town, leaving the rest of the seafront for humans. Pictures from our Filey/Bridlington trip are here.

Friday was obviously a day of celebration in aid of my new lens. :-)

I've had great week off and I could do with another one next week. Oh well, mortguage to pay, Alice needs some shoes etc.....

Friday, April 13, 2007

I Have Found The Grail!!!

About 14 months ago I bought myself a Nikon D50 digital SLR. It came with a very servicable 18-55mm zoom lens. However, it only zooms to 55mm which is OK for general photography but no good when you want to get closer. I thought about buying a second lens to cover the 55-200mm range but that would mean I had to carry 2 lenses with me.

I then read about the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR DX Zoom from Nikon. This would solve all my problems!! Wide angle to zoom in one smallish lens. It also had VR (Vibration Reduction) allowing you to virtually eliminate camera shake, even at low shutter speeds and long zooms. All this for a mear £500!

Unfortunatly everyone else thought the same. I have tried for 12 months to get hold of this lens but it would have been easier to get Tony Blair to admit he's a twat.

I have signed up to 5 or 6 websites who have promised to email me when the lens is in stock but they never have any. I have phoned every camera shop in the Sheffield area to ask if they could get me one and each one has laughed at me like I was asking for the moon on a stick.

I was beginning to give up when I did a froogle search and found this website that claimed to have one in stock. I grabbed for the credit card, filled in the registration form and was about to click the 'Buy' button when I decided to ring them first to check that they did actually have one. The answer was yes!!!!!

I still didn't believe it. Even when the money was taken from my card and the order on the site said it had been posted I thought that it would be the wrong lens. Not until this morning did I believe my quest was over when I opened the freshly delivered parcel and gazed upon this optical beauty. It was indeed the correct lens!!! I have found my grail.

Pitty I didn't get it last week though as I have taken about 300 photos this week while I have been off. Oh well. It's here now and that is all that matters. :-)

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