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Thursday, 28 March 2013

And . . . relax . . .

So here we are on the Thursday before Good Friday, and the Scobi household are busy preparing for a week away in Kent, in the 'van.

As part of Maggot 1's birthday presents, we now have Spotify Unlimited, so can access via Smartphones, Tablets and other devices, 8 million tracks, give or take.  Every device in the house now has a Spotify client, including the Samsung Smart TV, and those capable also have offline content, since the one limitation on Spotify is that we can only have one live streaming connection at a time.  If I am logged in, and someone else then tries to login, they simply boot me off.  This will take a bit of time to bed in and get used to our ways, but is surely the future.  Once we have bought the light bulbs (long, expensive story, probably told you already) then hopefully, in no other appliances fail*, then we will be adding a Sonos to our technology stack, and then LO will really start to be happy with the back room.

I would like to wish you a very happy Easter, however you plan to celebrate it, and ask you to think of us at probably minus something in the 'van, as happy as Larry, as warm as toast, and as chilled as a file Pinot Noir.

Be good, be happy, be gone from here.

* In the last year, that is a dryer, a hoover, a kettle, an iron, a dishwasher, twice**, a tow bar***, a number plate*** and a new wheel lock for the 'van.
** Never buy cheap.  Expensive lesson to learn, but we 'as been an done our learning.
*** Not exactly a failure, rather a change of car

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


With fishing well and truly cancelled, it was just a regular Tuesday at the mill.  However I am involved with something not entirely normal in that we have been set a large cost challenge from our customer.  The work for this involves analysing the supporting data, someone else's supporting data I might add, for a large deal that was done at the start of last year.  This large deal was to provide additional infrastructure to enable fast-track testing for a project with an immovable end date.  This meant that, at the time, the customer was happy to pay whatever it cost for us to make this happen, because the alternative was regulatory hell.

Now, a year later, in the cold light of day, all that JFDI extravagance is looking a bit expensive, and consequently our customer is investigating ways to reduce the costs without, please note dear reader, any great impact to service and capability.  This latter point may not, as yet, be fully understood by our customer, but by the time we have done the analysis and preparation to present our ideas back to them, they will.  Furthermore, it is entirely possible that alongside the "we can trim a bit here" conversations, there will also be "and over here you could do things better" and "if you spend a little here, you will get a lot".  i.e. For every down-sell, there is an up-sell.

Time will tell how successful we are.

Monday, 25 March 2013

What a weekend

It was a very good, if busy, weekend.  Maggot 1's birthday party went well, if it was rather "high energy".  It started with LaserQuest at an tatty industrial estate just opposite Starfleet Portsmouth actually, in an area that one of Maggot 1's friends described delightfully as "a bit gangster".

This involved running round a dark "play zone" (you know, slides and climbs and rope walks all framed by oodles of padding) trying to shoot people with laser guns.  As you can imagine, the primeval aspect of living and dying plus the general hysteria of a darkened room, flashing lights and very loud music made them very excitable.  And when I say very, I say that only because the English language has not yet found a work that means more than very, other than very very, or very very very.

 Then it was back to ours for Skyfall and food, consisting of every food group; fat, sugar and crap.  Having wound them up giving them guns to shoot people, this was an unruly affair, with one of the friends in particular being very disruptive.  It got to 9.30pm and they were just starting to apply SAS hand-to-hand combat techniques to each other when we finally called time, split them in to two groups and took them home.

Having spent all evening without a beer* I had imagined returning home and cracking open a tinnie, but to be honest even I had had enough by then, so instead it was get the kids to bed and retire ourselves to watch about  2 minutes of Jonathan Ross before we fell asleep.

The following day we went up to Newbury to visit Brad and Angelina.  We had a great day there, culminating, after a very cold and very short walk, with "high tea", a delectable mix of crumpets, scones and Victoria sponge, with lashings of tea.  Lovely.

Brad and I also had plenty of time to discuss our fishing trip tomorrow, culminating in the (very sensible) decision to postpone for another 3 weeks when the weather will, surely, be slightly warmer and more amenable to sitting on the side of a lake catching lots of fish**.

Now it is Monday, and I am back to a 4 day week, rather than a 1 day week followed by a 2 day week.  Friday morning we are off in the 'van to Kent, goodness knows where but Tom Tom does, for a week of fun in the sun** and general 'vannin' escapades.

* I know, Saturday night, no beer, what is the world coming to
** optimism being preferable to realism at times like this

Friday, 22 March 2013

And . . . relax

Another week nearly over, this one very successful. 

The weekend is about Maggots.  Saturday is Maggot 1's tenth birthday party (where did the time go?), and Sunday we are visiting Brad and Angelina for the day, where Brad and I will talk fishing (maggots, get it?).

The weather was looking pretty good for the last week or so.  No rain, not warm, but not really cold.  However, in the last few days, snow has been on the horizon, and the "feels like" temperature is at minus three.  Hopefully as we get to within 2-3 days it will firm up and we can then assess whether we go or not.  To be honest, this is the last chance saloon, so if there is no precipitation (either above or below zero degrees) I am gonna vote we go.

I am very much looking to Friday evening, a bit of football, a couple of beers, and no work for a couple of days.

I hope you are too.

Monday, 18 March 2013

And . . . relaxed

So relaxed, I forgot to blog.

It was a pretty easy weekend.  We lost at rugby, which was disappointing to say the least, but at least Pompey got a point, to keep them second to bottom.  OK, maybe that is not such good news really.

We played Monopoly too, with a slight twist on the game by playing as four individuals, but in two teams, so we played as four but pooled our money and property.  Maggot 2 and I did, in our opinion win, and using a balanced scorecard approach, however the other team, can't remember their name, won due to the agreed winning method being free cash only at the prescribed and pre-agreed point in time..  Not property.  So, that's the way it goes.  As losses go, it felt pretty good.

The rest of the weekend was normal, and we had the outlaws over for lunch, which was nice.  Toad-in-the-hole in various levels of meat content (but all home-made) and the associated roast dinner veg, plus chocolate roulade for pudding.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


Snow; what's the point in it?  It is cold, then it is wet, it messes up my garden, buggers up the roads, delays commuters and stops normal stuff from working properly.

In the round, it has about as much use as wasps.  Maggot 2 commented, in our last sunny-but-very-cold day that the advantage of such days was "there are no wasps".  A boy of insight to be sure, and very much a chip off the old block.

Well, Brad and I had to cancel fishing.  Feels-like-minus-ten is colder than this little bunny likes to endure, even when reaching for the frozen peas, and with the snow doing its disrupting the traffic act, a management decision was made to cancel, and go for our backup day in a couple of weeks.  We book both off just in case, since cancelling holiday last minute is, as has been said before, easier than trying to book it.

So, we are now tracking the long-term forecasts for Tuesday 26th March, hoping that a 45% chance of precipitation with a 55% confidence factor means two halves of nothing useful.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Illness and coping strategies

Maggot 2, known for his frequent three-day viral attacks, had one late last week.  This meant that we needed to revert to an emergency footing, made so much easier because my parents are home from Spain*.  Luckily, the hallucinations happened on Friday and by Sunday, when we were due to visit my sister and her family, we were all well enough** to be together as we drove up to Bromley.

We had a good time up at their new house of a few months.  This was previously owned by "amateur property developers" who, it has to be said, must still have been at the planning stage when they sold, since it just about had a kitchen*** but otherwise was a fairly tatty house, with dodgy carpets and some questionable paintwork.  At least my sister can look to do her own bit of "amateur property development" with some simple flooring and paint activities to bring the house in to this century.

We left their house just after five and were home by about seven, which was just what we needed to ensure we had time to do all our preparations for the week ahead.

Once the chores were out the way, it was fire, onesies and the Strictly Come Ice Dancing final, a perfect show for when you want to read the Sunday papers.

I am meant to be fishing tomorrow, but have written to Brad to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we should let sense prevail over our "we'll be OK" general approach to life, and I am awaiting his response with cold trepidation.

* albeit only until today, when they plan to fly from Heathrow to Brazil for a cruise up the Amazon or something.
** LO and Maggot 1 were not 100%, LO being on anti-biotics and Maggot 2 "just not feeling quite right".
*** I say just about since it was a case of throwing up a few cupboards, rather than actually planning it, so that my sister still needs to store most of her food in boxes on the floor.

Friday, 8 March 2013

And . . . relax

Another very successful week nearly over, and an interesting weekend to follow.

We are meant to be going to my sister's new house on Sunday, and Sod's Law means that Maggot 2 has a bout of his usual non-specific viral type illness, so things are in the balance as to which of the Scobi clan will actually be visiting.  Here's hoping it is the full monty.

We are also out Saturday evening, with my parents baby-sitting and even acting as the taxi, which is wonderful.  Welcome back Scobi seniors.

Next week I am going fishing, taking a day off on Tuesday.  Now, I know that fishing in any location and in any weather is not everyone's idea of fun.  I can accept that.  However, if you happen to be someone who does like fishing, then going next Tuesday, on a day which is starting to look like it will be dry but very very cold, may still not be something that would particularly appeal.  I can accept that also.  Nevertheless, go I am, with Brad, and very much am I looking forward to a day with nothing but me, a rod, and the good company of Brad.  Quite what we will get to talk about for the many hours cannot possibly be determined, even by Brian Cox, however it will undoubtedly be a day full of chat and general camaraderie and fun.  I have even been doing a bit of research, asking Uncle Google and Aunty YouTube some very probing questions, only to get ten million answers in under a second.  I now know the main principles of winter fishing, and will just see whether or not I can actually put any of it to good use that enables me to actually catch something.  You see, cold weather does not do much for the fish, them going off their food a bit, and the lack of sun and week growth means the water is very clear, and both these facts means you need a particular approach, which involves ground-baiting with smelly and tasty stuff that has no food value, lest the little darlings eat all the groundbait and then go off their food, and using bait that is visible (sweetcorn for example) but ground-bait that is not (spooks the fish).  I can tell I have gone on too long, since eyelids are drooping.  Sadly for you, I shall be telling you all about it next week.

Have a good weekend, speak next week.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Monday Monday here again

Well, wasn't that an entirely agreeable weekend.  Maggot 2 went on his enrichment day, and despite initially the "old lady talking to us like babies" it soon picked up and she started to "talk to us normally", and there was also a kind old man who they seemed to take a liking to, or rather, to which they took a liking, probably.

The other three members of the Scobi clan were not so lucky.  We decided on a few hours and light lunch in Haywards Heath, but sadly that turned out to be a perfect example of high street decay and decline.  It was almost like being up north*.  So, we had to hastily reconvene the locations committee, and decided to take a run down to Brighton, where we had an American Diner experience (very satisfactory, especially Maggot 1's milk shake . . .) and a quick bit of shopping, before heading back to pick up Maggot 2 at "2.30pm sharp".  Sadly, on the A23, the sign said left, the Sat Nav said straight on**, and we chose to follow the Sat Nav, which would have been OK except for the traffic works that had closed the exit Satty really wanted to use.  The clock was ticking*** and we made it 1 minute late, only to find the children's return being 2 minutes late.  Disaster averted and the world slid back in to its correct orbit.

In the evening we went to David and Samantha's for a lovely evening, returning home and midnight with Maggots, in a taxi.  Thanks to David for picking us up in his car, so we did not have a Sunday car pick up to do, since we were then out to lunch with the outlaws in Chichester for a pretty decent pizza.

* Now, before I get letters, I know this is mere geographical stereotyping for cheap laughs.  I remember a long weekend we took in Leeds some years ago, with LO expecting flat caps, fat lasses and ferrets on leads, only to find a vibrant city with great shops and a well groomed local population.
** Surely one of modern life's big dilemmas - follow the sign or the Sat Nav?
*** It was just like an episode of Countdown

Friday, 1 March 2013

And . . . relax

Another week over, this one being fairly instantly forgettable.

We have had some good news for Maggot 1, who has managed to get in to his/our first choice school.  It may well be one that some of his good friends will not be going to, so there is an element of parental fretting as to whether we are doing the right thing, since his circle of friends is lovely.  However, we prefer this school to the other choices we have, and even he, the sensible little Maggot that he is, has declared his preference for this school, so hopefully all will be well.  It is a mixed school, so if for no other reason, the totty argument should win out.

This weekend we have a busy Saturday, with Maggot 2 on an "enrichment day" up country, on a 4 hour science workshop.  Having decided that he no longer wants to do football club on Tuesday, because "I don't want to be a professional footballer, I want to be a scientist", hopefully he will really enjoy the session.  As is the process with anything to do with Maggot 2, there has been plenty of "I don't want to go" conversations, however we are picking up and taking his best friend, so hopefully all will be well.  The rest of us then get to have a few hours shopping and the taking of a little light lunch.

In the afternoon and evening, we are at A&E for an evening of fun, food and drink, not necessarily in that order.  Sunday then sees us having lunch out with the outlaws.

Having just written that, I realise what a decadent life we lead.

Hoping your weekend is as decadent, and speak next week.