Tuesday, 29 September 2009

"Get those knees up - HIGHER!"

Boy, have I let myself in for it!

I went to the works physical education trainer today on the advice from the work occupational health nurse who is monitoring my weight, to help along the work I'm doing on the treadmill and my diet. I need to tone and lose weight on those bits that walking and dieting don't really reach and I was hoping he could gently point me in the right direction.

A lovely bloke and very helpful, he sat there, muscular, sweating from a recent work out and not even breathing heavily.

It started well when, after he asked me some questions about health, weight and diet etc., he asked me if I liked swimming. 'This will be easy,' I thought, a few lengths now and then in the baths - a doddle.

I started to worry slightly when he said he'd work out a programme for me. How do you work out a programme of torture - isn't that illegal?

Anyway, I have ended up with a programme of exercise in addition to the treadmill, which I have begun to enjoy, and now includes:

Press ups;
Shoulder presses;
Chest presses;
Lunges (what the hell are lunges?);
Box jumps (or steps if I "don't feel comfortable jumping.")

Just a few, not many, just five of each repeated three times. Fortunately he's given me a piece of paper which explains what the exercises are, illustrated with pictures of very fit, young, healthy looking people demonstrating their physical prowess.

Well, I'm a determined individual and like a challenge (mostly) so starting tomorrow, Wednesday, I'll give it a go. There's a disabled bay at work so I can always crawl to the door on Thursday morning. Perhaps I should hire a bath chair. Don't laugh!

How do you get a man to exercise? Tie the remote control to his shoelaces.
How do men exercise on the beach? By sucking in their stomach every time they see a bikini.

Chat soon


Monday, 28 September 2009

Has anyone seen a Zenzizenzizenzic?

I've just noticed my blog count for this month is fairly low. It's not that life hasn't been busy, it has, but there has to be something to write about. What I enjoy most of all is reading blogs of those I have on my favourites list, it's like keeping in touch with family who have moved away.

My youngest is getting on well at University of Liverpool and he's settled down remarkably well and quickly. Freshers' Week finished on Sunday evening and the stark reality of university arrived today with his first lecture on the classics. He's been on a tour of the city with people he's met at uni and he's joined the campus gym (!) which is a bit of a surprise, but I'm pleased and it'll keep him fit with interest outside of academia. He also found an archery society, because he is a keen archer although that has taken a back seat this last two years in preference to passing his 'A' levels.

The new pond arrived today, carried in by two local self employed guys and it now sits in the corner of the patio in pieces until a friends son, a self employed builder comes along to build the concrete base.

I had to water all the pots yesterday although the plants are looking tired now, the begonias are wilting and losing strength in the stems but the flowers are still full of colour. The geraniums have been gorgeous, they clearly like the drier weather and have been a riot of pink -yes, pink; they were supposed to be mixed but they look great so I'm not complaining. I'll miss the flowers next year because I'm planting shrubs to foil the squirrels and save my sanity. The weather forecast indicates a shift to colder northerly winds by the end of the week and ground frosts at night - great; a brilliant excuse for my superior other half to put the central heating on. Autumn arrives - I cut the grass on Sunday morning and it's now covered in leaves - again!

Work is busy right now, I'm on my own in an office which normally houses three of us and there's so much to do. One colleague is in belle France and the other has left to work in London. It has its advantages in that I can get my head down and crack on, but its rather more admin than I would like just at the minute, but it's gotta be done.

The new car is great, a Honda CR-V and it's the first diesel I've ever had. I've driven them before although I've never owned one, in fact I had a diesel at work a few years back - does anyone remember the Ford Orion? Like an Escort with a boot and talk about noisy, it chugged along giving four streets advance notice of its arrival, but get it into third gear and it used to fly. This one is quiet and very smooth.

I'm afraid I'm not good with numbers. I wouldn't say I'm number blind, but apart from simple straight forward maths, I'm a bit of a number dunce. Imagine my dismay when The Wonder of Whiffling gives us a daunting list of names of obscure numbers:

Zenzizenzizenzic: the eighth power of a number, originating in 1557.
Lemniscate: the little eight on its side we see on cameras for example as the 'infinity' symbol, from 1781.
Preantepenult: the fourth last (why not say 'fourth last?') from 1791.
Shake: a unit of time equal to 100-millionth of a second (originating from second world war secret operations where very little time was described as 'shake of a lamb's tail.')
Vigintillion: the number expressed as a one, followed by sixty three zeros.

Would someone PLEASE explain this rubbish to me?

Have a great week

Chat soon


Sunday, 27 September 2009


Without doubt this is one of most extraordinary clip of photography I've seen in many a year, take two and a half minutes and enjoy!

By Tom

Timescapes Timelapse: Mountain Light from Tom @ Timescapes on Vimeo.

Chat Soon


Saturday, 26 September 2009

The best laid schemes of mice and men...

What a glorious day - the sun has shone throughout, what a shame we didn't have this at the height of summer - but not complaining.

I should have shifted some rockery stones we obtained from an acquaintance who no longer has a need for them but the new car arrived today slightly unexpectedly, I thought it would be early next week, so we have that proudly sat on the drive and it took me 10 minutes just to work out how to set the bluetooth up on the phone so I can drive and talk hands free. Many of the features are voice activated which was a shock, but for a change unlike other voice activating systems, this actually works without repeatedly asking you the same question over and over again until it gets it.

While attempting to read the handbook for some of the more obscure features the car has, I had Gillette Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports 1 this afternoon hosted by the exceptional Geoff Stelling. I had to endure the ignominy of commentators describing Hull City being thrashed 6 - 1 by an in-form Liverpool side at Anfield. Not that I'm a supporter you understand, but being the team closest to where I live, I have always followed them with interest and I hate to see them humiliated like they have been this season.

The manager Phil Brown is a nice guy and has achieved a miracle in taking Hull City through the Championship to the Premiership, but clearly, Phil is not the man to see the survival of the team in the top echelon of European soccer. He's obviously an exceptional Championship man, but the time has come to move on. City supporters should give thanks for what he's achieved and allow him to move on with dignity to another challenge more suited to his skills and abilities.

Who's available to take the mantle and challenge of keeping Hull City in the Premiership and making it a team that has consistency and can sustain a life in the Premiership? Who knows, but I hope they come soon before the situation becomes unrecoverable.

I've been looking at having another pond in the garden to be home to pond plants rather than fish. The current ponds are so successful at growing plants they are growing too fast and I have had to discard some that I haven't been able to give away, so I thought a nursery might be good and it would be a semi wildlife pond for the animals we have around.

That's now changed after a visit to an imports place in Hull when we were looking for chimineas this morning. Instead we've bought a small fountain arrangement which sits in a circular wall arrangement. Oh well the best laid plans... so I'm now having to arrange a flat concrete base to be laid to cope with it all. We still couldn't find a chiminea we like either.

Alcohol isn't something I've been able to have in quantity in the last few months because of the diet, except for the odd sherbet here and there. However, I'll remember the taste fondly with some memorable quotes from the famous and not so famous about the nations favourite past time - booze:

"It is bad when you refer to alcohol as: 'Pain go bye-bye juice.'" - Patton Oswalt.
"Booze is the answer. I don't remember the question." - Denis Leary.
"Beer. Helping ugly people have sex since 1863" - Slogan on a T shirt.
"May favourite drink is a cocktail of carrot juice and Whiskey. I am always drunk but can see for miles." - Roy Chubby Brown.
"My idea of fine wine was one that merely stained my teeth without stripping the enamel." - Clive James.
"Wine - very nice. I wonder how they got the cat to sit on the bottle." - Stephen Fry.
"The last mosquito to bite me had to book into the Betty Ford Clinic" - Patsy Stone - Absolutely Fabulous (BBC)
"I was in love with a beautiful blonde once. She drove me to drink. I never had the courtesy of thanking her." - WC Fields.

And the final word goes to Edmund Blackadder who, when rousing from a hangover said, "My head feels as though there's a Frenchman living in it."

Chat soon


Thursday, 24 September 2009

A whiffling blog

I hope everyone is well this mid fourth week in September. Three bits of good or interesting news today, my new car will arrive at the garage tomorrow from the car maker ready for preparation and seven days free insurance starts today so they can tax it. Hopefully we can collect it early next week. I'll post a piccy of it when we get it, albeit what a boring way to occupy a spot on a blog. This is only the second new car I've had in my life and the sad thing is that the second I drive it out of the garage, it loses 15% (VAT) without even getting into second gear.

The second bit of good news for me, but not necessarily for him is that my friend Middle Aged Gapper is back from his Kenyan holiday and he has started writing about it on his entertaining blog, www.middleagedgapper.blogspot.com

The third bit of interest is a new book that arrived today from Amazon, two days before it is supposed to be published, The Wonder of Whiffling by Adam Jacot de Boinod. This a book about extraordinary words in the English language, like 'whiffling' itself, which has a number of meanings, but the ones I like are trifling or to blow or scatter with a gust of air.

I'm three quarters of the way through Dan Brown's book The Lost Symbol and is a very good read, and although I haven't finished it yet, the best one of his to date I think. I'll make the judgement when I'm finished.

We have new neighbours across the road, they moved in on Monday, but apart from a lady cleaning the insides of the windows and two cars on the drive, no sign of life to describe yet. Joan, the previous occupier, God rest her soul, was a smoker and at her great age, she smoked where she wanted to and that included inside the house. The nets are yellow but neat and clean if you know what I mean - she was a meticulous lady was Joan, a retired and widowed nurse born in Ireland but brought up in her formative years in Scotland from where she never lost her gentle but purposeful Scottish brogue.

Thanks to The Wonder of Whiffling, here is a selection of palindromes, words that read backwards the same as forwards.

no, it is opposition
Niagara, o roar again!
rats live on no evil star
nurse, I spy gypsies, run!
murder for a jar of red rum
harass sensuousness, Sarah
a man, a plan, a canal, Panama
sums are not set as a test on Erasmus
sir, I demand - I am a maid named Iris
a new order began, a more Roman age bred Rowena

Chat soon


Sunday, 20 September 2009


A great turn around in the weather today, had the shorts on (guaranteed to make the sun go in - but it didn't) and enjoyed the warmth even though there is a nip in the air out of the sun. I even sat out for an hour reading after cutting the grass, not that it's grown much because of the lack of rain recently. I even planted out some winter flowering pansies in a basket which hangs near our front door ready for a bit of winter cheer for the bleaker months.

The picture above shows the amount of berries on just one small part of my Yew Tree, the most I have ever seen at this time of the year.

I got to thinking this might be an Indian Summer and wondered where the phrase came from. Well it seems you can only have an Indian Summer in October or November and before the first snow falls, so I suppose what we're experiencing is simply a late summer! The etymology of the word has its origins from America and mostly relates in one way or another to native American Indians as their traditional time to harvest their crops, or raids by Indian war parties on European colonies in the late summer, both unattractive explanations even if true.

In England, before the phrase
Indian Summer became popular, it was apparently known as St Martin's Summer, 11th November - the end of summer. In Bulgaria, it is Gypsy Summer - an unexpected warm spell in late Autumn. In Germany and Austria it is called "Altweibersommer" (Old Ladies Summer) because the many white spider silks seen at this time of the year have been associated with the norns* of Norse folklore or medieval witches. I like that one and if you venture out just now first thing in the morning, you get covered in spider's webs.

Thanks to Wikipedia for some of these fascinating facts.

We haven't had a list for a while and I thought I'd give you some of my favourite Ann Robinson put downs from the BBC series, The Weakest Link:

"Who is about as useless as a rubber beak on a woodpecker?"

"If ignorance is bliss, who's in heaven?"

"Who is denser than Sherwood Forest?"
"Whose intellect is on a diet?"

"If brains were taxed, who'd get a refund?"

"Who would come third in a duel?"
"Who thinks Plato is a friend of Mickey Mouse?"

"Who'd win the Sweet FA Cup?"
"Who's more twit than wit?"

"Who thinks propaganda is 'having a good look?'" (think about that one.)

Time to vote off the
weakest link.

Chat soon


*Female beings who rule the fates of the various races of Norse mythology

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Life of a student...

Wow what a week - busy, busy, busy. I had an extra night at a new psychic circle which is interesting, concentrating on meditation techniques; a staff night out on Friday in Hull and we have been preparing all week to take the youngest to the University of Liverpool, from whence we have just returned after depositing him in halls. 240 miles driven, tea out tonight at a restaurant which was appalling (we have vowed never to go there again - the chef can't cook steaks although my salmon was superb) and visited the outlaws. I need a breather which I am taking whilst writing this.

My lad is only staying in halls for one year and I felt as if we were taking half the content of the house! The room is okay and he shares a bathroom with one other lad who is from Liverpool, in fact only lives two miles away from halls, so here's hoping that the become good friends, seems like a really nice kid. Mind you, there were some bloody sights - perhaps I am getting old, some of the girls were dressed like - well I'm a delicate soul - so I can't say; but hellfire!

One of my work colleagues who I was out with on Friday night mentioned that he had done his degree at Liverpool and said that it was a terrific friendly city and loads to do as a student, so I am sure he will be fine. We have already come home to find there are things he has forgotten to take, but it's too late now.

So my one day off tomorrow is packed with not doing a great deal I hope apart from pottering. The day is forecast to be bright and sunny and even warm, so I'll take a few leaves out of the fish ponds, perhaps cut the grass if the rain tonight isn't too heavy and start reading a new book I've bought, Dan Brown's new offering The Lost Symbol about the Freemasons in Washington, USA and secret treasure. I thought Angel's and Demon's which I have finished recently was not brilliant with peaks and troughs in an improbable story albeit cleverly sculptured.

I'm just about to sit and eat some home made apple crumble that my lad has made - but I'll only be having a teeny bit - think of the diet :(

Have a great weekend

Chat soon


Monday, 14 September 2009

Autumn approaches - noisily

It's that time of the month when the old weigh scales start to groan at the very thought of my appearance. The last set of speaking weigh scales sneered at me when I got on, "One at a time please!" You just don't need it that sort of sarcasm from a machine.

I lost another 10 pounds in the last four weeks (4.6 Kg) making the grand total so far a loss of 6.2 stones (39.5 Kg) since that first fateful and emotional day of self discovery on the 23 February 2009. Next month, I'll reveal what I started out as weighing back then, something I have refused to divulge so far, but in a fit of rare temper the other day (not really temper but more controlled annoyance) blurted it out to a critic; needless to say I was disappointed to have said it, but it shut them up! What I wont be saying is what the goal is because in truth, I don't really know although I have a rough idea and I don't want to set myself up to fail.

Turned out nice today and although the breeze is taking the temperature down, it's nice and sunny again. I have noticed how many leaves are falling and the trees now have a tinge of yellow and orange on the higher branches signalling a definite march into Autumn. In just under a month, there will be Hull Fair, the biggest travelling fair in Europe (and if you haven't been perhaps you might like to have a trip here - it's fun) but that's when locals here usually recognise when Autumn comes to life with radiant colours of the many trees in the many parks and lovely East Yorkshire countryside. I suppose its been so cold and miserable in general, it feels like Autumn arrived some time ago. It'll soon be Christmas!

At last we've had the student finance letter for my youngest son through for his first year at University and although his loan is a paltry sum, (we'll have to stump up some significant funds) at least we have a reply, according to the BBC news site, thousands haven't yet received any notice and trying to get through to the finance people is impossible with a poor website, no response to e-mails and phone lines permanently engaged apparently.

A maiden at Uni, Miss Breeze,

Was weighed down with BAs and LitDs,

Collapsed from the strain,

Said her Doctor, "It's plain -

You're killing yourself by degrees."

Boom boom!

Chat soon


Sunday, 13 September 2009


The weekend is well underway and what a fabulous day for weather on Saturday, good stuff, got a lot done outside and feel much better for the sun shining and the warmth. Not so warm today, the cloud has returned with a cooling breeze.

I got a call from my brother in law last night to go out and take some night shots (photographs!) again and this time, he wanted to take pictures of the fireworks display marking the Freedom Celebrations in Hull this year that have been coupled with the round the world clipper race.
We decided to go around the River Humber to the south bank (Goxhill) so we could get an uninterrupted view of Hull which was gridlocked with hundreds of thousands of people.

The river was calm although the breeze was up and when we arrived, there was only five people there. By the time of the fireworks starting at 10.15 pm there were many dozens in this very isolated spot. For those of you who don't know, Hull is on the north bank of the Humber and we went to the south bank and the river at this point is about two miles wide, give or take a few bob.

What a spectacle we were treated to - it was brilliant. To all the detractors who belong to the 'Whingeing, Whining, Miserable, Complaining and Bigoted club', who write negative comments on news stories published on the Hull Daily Mail website - I say to them - 'Get a life!'

£28,000 for fireworks to entert
ain hundred thousand people at the events and hundreds of thousands more like me who watched from afar, it was worth ever penny, in fact per head only a few pence for 15 minutes of glorious technicolour pyrotechnics. With all the other events, like free music in Queens Gardens including one of my favourite bands, Florence and the Machine, Hull has done its citizens proud in remembering the exceptional work done by William Wilberforce.
On a technical note, the camera used was a Canon 40D camera with a Tamron 70-300 lens on various time exposures on a 'bulb' setting and all mounted on a tripod.

Chat soon


Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Change for change sake?

Call me stupid and sentimental (no don't) but what a blow announced on BBC Radio 2 that Uncle Terry Wogan is retiring from the morning spot. I actually heard him say it live as I drove into work. I can imagine future generations saying, 'What were you doing the day Wogan announced he was leaving the breakfast show daddy?' Well perhaps not, but he will be sorely missed. As for Chris Evans taking over? I have nothing against him, he has a very entertaining early evening spot, but he'll always be the man who took over from Wogan - I feel a little sorry for him.

I was talking to the Chief Executive Officer designate of the East Riding County FA today and we were talking about change, as inevitably there will be change when he takes over and stamps his style on the organisation. Change is difficult to manage at the best of times and few people like it do they? We get set in our ways and reluctant to go down new paths, to go out of our comfort zone, to be challenged and found wanting.

So like getting used to the new voice on the radio in the morning, we all get used to change eventually. We're pretty good as human beings at adapting, in truth, and making it work - admitted some turn their energies easier to new ways and some will witter and suffer more stress but if you don't bring people 'on board,' to use the modern management speak cliche, what do organisations expect?

Communicate change, tell people what's going on and why in plenty of time. Get people involved in making decisions about their change, make them feel part of it all, part of the solution to making change work well and then celebrate and reward successful change. I should write a book!

"Will there be anything else sir?" said the room service waiter as he finished laying a candlelit dinner for two in the best suite in the hotel.
"No thank you, that will be all."
The waiter noticed a beautiful satin negligee on the bed. "Will there be anything for your wife sir?"
The man pondered. "Yes, good idea, bring me a selection of postcards."


Chat soon


Sunday, 6 September 2009


What started off as thinking we would have a quiet weekend did not quite turn out as expected. Saturday was the first day for many days that the rains stayed away and the grass got a good cut and a brief tidy round outside. This was coupled with an unexpected shopping trip, ordering some new car insurance and an unexpected evening sorting our finances out on the Internet, as well as a cleaning day inside.

Today (Sunday) started with a new internal double glazed double door being fitted to replace an old sliding door arranged at short notice and a new doorstep built outside the back door also at short notice which meant being up at 7.30 am. To cap it all, my wife heard that an elderly friend of hers has died - she was very ill but her passing was unexpected. I've still got to do some shopping at the local Staples store for my lad for equipment for University and roast pork is in the oven as I type this blog (drool,) and in between catering for the builders with cups of tea, I managed to 'clean up' my PC by deleting redundant and temporary files.

So, the most exciting picture of the weekend is of our new back door step! Enjoy. The notice by the way reads "Do not stand on the step until Monday (except the dog!)" I just hope the dog can read and realise she can stand on it.

That about sums up our exciting lives - busy but domestic and routine(ish), which perhaps is how it should be. I even missed most of the England Vs Slovakia friendly to keep our respective bank managers happy.
Tonight might be more relaxing after the treadmill watching some of the Beatles shows recorded on Sky+ yesterday.

Hope you have a great week ahead.

Chat soon


Friday, 4 September 2009

When it's raining...

Hi bloggers. Sorry I haven't posted all week, not been too busy, but nothing exciting or dramatic to report. Work keeps me busy and life at home has fallen into a routine, but I'm not complaining. My fellow blogger Middle Aged Gapper is setting off today to East Africa on a two week holiday doing lots of exciting things and I wish him well and look forward to his well crafted and entertaining blogs on his exploits when he returns.

I hope at any rate MAG has better holiday weather in East Africa than we are having here. Rain, wind, more rain and just to finish it off, more wind. Frankly, it's bloody miserable. Last night around 4 pm I was told it was 14 degrees Celsius outside when the seasonal average should be higher.

I decided I need stronger glasses, not that my eyesight is too bad - I'm long sighted which means I can see to the moon as clear as a bell but can't see a page of text in front of me. The only problem was that with lenses, frame and lens protection, I ended up with a bill of £500+ and that is not what you would call a designer pair. They are frame-less, similar to what I have now but a little lighter. Just to raise the temperature in the house, I also signed up for a teeth whitening session from the dentists which is another £250+. Well, you only live once.

I hope you are looking forward to the weekend, I am - for a rest and although it's been a short working week, it has still seemed a long week. I normally sleep fairly well, certainly better since losing weight, but last night I had a rare nightmare which revolved around going round an old Gothic house and being grabbed by moving walls which came alive and grappled by unseen hands. Not nice.

Here's a list for all you TOGs out there about telltale signs of feeling old, something close to my heart after a session on the treadmill.
  • Your ears are hairier than your head (a man thing I think);
  • Everything hurts and if it doesn't hurt, it doesn't work;
  • You're still chasing women but can't remember why;
  • Your knees buckle but your belt won't;
  • You can live without sex, but not spectacles;
  • You start doing jigsaw puzzles again;
  • You get into a heated argument about pension plans;
  • You have a party and the neighbours don't even realise it;
  • The glint in your eye is the sun hitting your bifocals;
  • A fortune teller offers to read your face.
Edited by Geoff Tibballs

Have a great weekend,

Chat soon