Monday, September 04, 2006

and the winner is...


I've just found out that I've won the photography competition at this year's Brecon Jazz Festival. I shall ready myself for the fame and riches that will surely follow this prestigious "Brecon and Radnor Express" award.

You can admire the winning entry here.

More news and self-congratulation to follow I'm sure.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I went back to work for 4 days, but didn't think much of it, so I went on holiday again. We usually head down to south Wales for Sian's birthday and this year we spent a very pleasant week at our favorite award-winning-loo-of-the-year campsite.

First on the schedule, however, was a trip to Devon to stay with Tracy's family, who have a POOL! My three favorite moments of that weekend were:

1 - Clambering on the rocks

2 - Fliss teaching us to stand on our faces (with hilarious consequences)

3 - The Big News
We took our leave and onwards to Brecon. A bit of walking, a bit of eating cake, the usual routine. Tim and Elspeth joined us for the second weekend, which was jolly nice, and we all went into Brecon on the Sunday to soak up some of the jazz festival atmosphere. Sadly, the atmosphere wasn't too great this year as the powers that be had removed most of the street events that made the festival so special. The Marsden Jazz Festival is a bit closer to home and is coming up soon, so I hope that will be better.

I've put a few photos from the week in the gallery, but I'll leave you with this lovely photo of Tim and his new ears.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Lake District 2006

I'm currently having a week a work resting between holidays. How nice.

Last week we were in the Lake District, which was considerably nicer.

For the first few nights we camped near Patterdale on the shore of Ullswater. It's a beautiful area and each day we were forced to make the tough choice between lounging by the Lake and walking in the fantastic hills nearby. Although I wasn't able to tempt Sian into doing Striding Edge we did have a great walk up to the Knot and back down through the valley to the south of Patterdale via a very nice lunch stop at this tarn.

We also saw some enormous dragon flies. This one nearly bit Sian's leg off:

The second half of the week we stayed at the
Garth Country House. We stayed there last year too and we were so impressed by the lovely house, friendly welcome, cooked breakfast and croquet lawn that we had to go again.

Back to work this week, but not for long.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Jet set

Well, those months went by quickly.

I had my two week trip to Abu Dhabi, came back for a couple of weeks, then went to Abu Dhabi again. It's an interesting place to work, but I can't really see the attraction of taking a holiday there. Fuelled by oil money, the country has surged from little more than a collection of huts to a large western city in just a few decades. If, by western, you mean skyscrapers, cheap drink and pervasive prostitution.

I was out there to work on an assessment for an offshore oil and gas platform in the middle of the Gulf, equidistant from the UAE, Qatar and Iran. It's about 180km offshore, which means a very noisy, cramped, but quite exciting trip in a helicopter to get there. I'm afraid I can't show you what it looks like as cameras aren't allowed anywhere near the platform for security reasons. You can understand them being cautious, especially as the platform I was visiting has been hit by missiles from Iran in the past.

Not much to report since I got back. Lots of sitting in the garden, house maintenance jobs and the normal trials of everyday life. I know I'd usually tell you all about that as well, but it's about time I got on with some work.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Summer Travels

Recently work had settled down into a fairly comfortable routine. I was doing local work and, truth be told, not really enough of it to trouble me particularly. The closest that I've come to pushing the envelope is sorting out the evening post.

Funny how things can change, isn't it?

In the last week I've been working on a last minute job assessing water treatment lagoons in Israel for one of my "besta collega's" in the Netherlands and on Friday I'm flying out to Dubai and the UAE to do a big oil and gas project.

Wish me luck folks!

Anniversary Treat

For our anniversary I booked us in for dinner and a room at the Weavers Shed. It's a converted cloth-finishing mill that now serves up locally grown food good enough to win it a bucket load of awards and top reviews in the national press.

Sometimes things can be a bit of a disappointment when they've been built up, but this was every bit as fantastic as we'd been led to believe. The service was friendly and helpful, the decor was cozy yet classy, and the food was a perfect balance between traditional and imaginative.

As an extra treat, we stayed the night in one of their lovely rooms. It felt incredibly extravagant to be paying for a room this close to home, but the four-poster bed and the sumptuous breakfast convinced me it was all worth-while.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hot Desking?

I thought you'd like to see today's hot desking arrangement.

I'd also like to say how much I like the fact the wireless broadband lets me listen to TMS in the garden.

Life is good folks, life is good.

Proper Graftin'

That's what we've been doing. We've cleared, dug, leveled, dug, mixed and dumped. All of which has resulted in something that is starting to look like Sian's vision of a garden. We've got trenches filled with reinforced concrete down each side of the soon-to-be path and a garden full of stone that now needs laying. Sadly, I can't do brick laying so I'm going to have to wait until someone comes to teach my how. Still it's getting there.

Interestingly, I believe "grafting" is applied to general hard work and laboring, but I discovered that it actually has more specific origin and, like much of Yorkshire speak, comes from the Danish:

Graft, n. C. (pr. graft). The depth of a spade in digging also applied to that which is dug up by a single turn of the spade. Dan. At grofte (to dig a trench).
Ex.A spade graff deep.

Who said the internet wasn't educational?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Dig it Man!

We're entering Phase Two of Project Garden Gnome.

Simon, the hero of the decking last year, is coming up again next weekend to help us create our dream garden. Well, not my dream garden because it still won't have a tree house and a dog, but I'm sure it will be nice. In order to get things ready we've been breaking and digging up the existing patio and associated sand, and piling up the bits in more convenient places. Such as the municipal tip.

The garden is now looking much bigger, but it also looks like a bomb's landed in it. I'm hoping Simon will weave his magic to make it look nice again.

I've had quite a nice hobby week to. I had a race yesterday and you can read about that in the running blog. I've also taken some photos that I've been pleased with. I've put them in my gallery and, much to my delight, lots of people seem to like them. Particularly one of a snail. Perhaps I should abandon my pretensions of gritty, arty black and white and just take pictures of bugs and slimy things.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Peaks Weekend

I'd spent weeks planning all the fine detail of this trip. Not the trip itself you understand, that's what wives are for. I had, however, made a significant investment of time thinking about jokes to tell about it. Most of these centred on the hilarious word play of referring to the pregnant Hilary as Big Hils and comparisons to the local orography. Hilary, most inconveniently, hardly looks pregnant at all. How rude.

Still, despite this terrible disappointment I made the best of it and had a nice weekend anyway. We had a lovely walk in Dove Dale on the Saturday and went to Monsal Viaduct on Sunday. Sunday also saw us take in the delights of Bakewell and its famous tarts.

Here's a picture of us enjoying Dove Dale. Later on the sun came out. No, really, it did.

Walking in Dove Dale

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Trial Ends

We made it! Four days of child-minding responsibility and this is how the stats look:

  • Children at Start: 4

  • Children at End: 4

  • Tantrums: 6

  • Tantrums by Children: 4

  • Bumped heads: 1

  • Bekky Cuddles for Chris: 2

  • Bekky Cuddles for Sian: 786

Not a bad result, I think you'll agree. It seems like this child-raising is easier than it looks. Well, as long as you can give them to someone else after a few days and then spend the next week sleeping.

Good luck to Hilary and Henry and Trish and Cory. You're going to need it folks.

In other news, I've decided to put my running and training diary in another blog so I don't bore you with it here. It's mainly for my benefit, but if anyone is interested, it's here.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Big Brother's Child-Minding Challenge

It’s 8am in the Big Brother house. The children are just waking and have started playing with noisy toys. Chris, who is hung-over and feeling slightly queasy, is starting to worry about breakfast time.

Today’s challenge is going to be getting through the day without losing a child. Let’s see how they get on…

Friday, March 31, 2006

boys watch the birds while the birds watch the boys who watch the birds go tweet

An interesting ornithological morning today. I've not been at home during the day for a while and I've only been seeing a couple of sparrows and a robin in the garden. It was quite a surprise to find that the later breakfast shift includes blue tits, a coal tit, blackbirds, starlings and what I think are a couple of greenfinches. I felt quite relaxed watching them twitter around the garden.

I suspect that I should make the most of it as next week I am helping to look after my brother's four (yes, FOUR) children, while he and Sandra go for their honeymoon. I predict that peace and quiet might be at a premium.

Wish me luck!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Getting Active

I've been getting active recently! I've not had as much time for fencing as I'd like over the last year or so, so I thought I'd better get myself fit some other way. As some of you know, I did a 10k road race in Huddersfield with Tracy a few weeks ago, and I've signed myself up for a couple more races over the next month and a bit. I'll be trying to race these ones so I've been running quite a bit to increase my mileage and stamina. Thanks to the wonders of google, I can even share my routes with you. How exciting is that? Not very? Well, marvel at the geekery, even if you're not that bothered about running routes. This was tonight's effort, which I ran in about 46 minutes. That's a bit on the slow side, but it's a hillly route so that's ok.

I also went for a walk on Kinder Scout yesterday. The less said about that the better really as I forgot my compass and got lost in fog on the top of the moor. I made it down in one piece though, so that's nice.

Kinder Scout

It looks quite nice in that one, doesn't it? Not so nice at the top about 2 hours later, as these loopy fell runners discovered.

Loopy Fell Runners

Yeah, yeah, no posts for ages. Sorry and all that.

Monday, December 12, 2005

"I am not a number!" "You are number 303225."

More from work email land. Today an email from my Dutch finance department was forwarded to me. It contained the alarming news that they had

“spotted some missing hours for resource 303225.”

Smithers! Release the hounds!

That reminds me. I bought Kate Bush’s “The Hounds of Love” a few weeks ago. What a splendid album it is.

Um… that’s all for now.

Resource 303225

Friday, December 09, 2005

Peace and Goodwill

I thought you might all like an insight into life at my company, so I am going to share with you two emails that arrived almost simultaneously in my inbox this morning.

Email 1:

To: Everyone

From: A Senior Engineer

Subject: Thankyou

Morning Campers,
Sorry for a global spam and I apologise to those who this does not concern, but I would just like to thank the cretin who reversed into my car yesterday evening leaving me to spend 30min in the freezing cold trying to repair the bumper and wing so I could drive home. I appreciate the car is old but it was roadworthy and it gets me from A to B, so the fact that the spineless individual couldn't own up to it and that it one of my (our) colleagues worries me somewhat that we employ them. I only hope that you have all the bad luck possible for 2006 as punishment - maybe the same will happen to you and it'll
cost you an awful lot more.

Merry Xmas - " insert appropriate expletive"

Email 2:

To: Everyone

From: A Director

Subject: Fiat Panda

Would the owner of the Fiat Panda, Registration No: xxxxxx, please contact me.