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Friday, 28 February 2014

And . . . relax

Something out of the ordinary has dropped in to my lap this week.  I have been offered training, which of course I eagerly accepted.  This is training in Cloud, to be precise the new Cloud acquisition of Starfleet.  Cloud is definitely an area in which I would like to build some capability, to ensure that I am keeping ahead of the off-shoring  monster, so this is welcome, especially at a time when I really am looking for the next turn in my career.

Oh, did I mention it is in Amsterdam.  Two nights, two days of training, maybe see a little bit of 'Dam while I am there, a bit of a change of routine, and doing some of that learning thing.  I really cannot wait.

This weekend I will be dusting off my tailoring skills to make a new  cover for the window seat cushion in our front room.  It is a slightly awkward shape, the name of which escapes me just now, so instead, here is a picture:

This bit of work will therefore be a big test of my accuracy skills.  I have made two previous covers for the same cushion, so it is all in the realms of the possible, but nevertheless I have been giving it a lot of pre-thought whilst doing other things.  The new material is absolutely amazing, just what we were looking for, and it is also pretty expensive stuff, so I will definitely be measuring thrice and cutting once.

This is the second to final piece in the puzzle that is our new front room.  We just need to work out what lighting we want, and then the sitting end is complete.  That will leave the other end needing a new blind for the french doors, and some form of multi-top games table, something that is probably a year or two off at the moment, so we will be dusting off the old football table from the shed to give us something for now.

I just wanted to say good luck to Brad.  He starts his new job on Monday, having escaped his own personal version of Starfleet for a smaller, but more dynamic, organisation.  All the best fella and hope the first day goes well.

Have a good weekend, and speak next week.

Trapezoid, that is the name of the shape.  Flippin' hard to sew for sure, whatever its name.

Friday, 21 February 2014

And . . . relax

We had a good, if short, break.  The shortness was due to a slight cock-up on the catering front, or to be precise, the theatre ticket purchase front.

We had planned our time off around a theatre visit on Wednesday afternoon.  When we checked the tickets once we were setup, we noticed they were for Friday.  Doh! 

As a consequence, we rearranged our trip, cut it short, and I am now taking my half day this afternoon.

We are off the see War Horse, something that Bad Man recommended to me some four years ago, but then he always was ahead of the curve.  Or maybe I am just behind it.  The only slight concern is how Maggot 2 will take it.  Rather surprisingly, with all the PS4 and YouTube distractions, both the Maggots love the theatre, however this show is fairly sad, and things do tend to play on Maggot 2's mind.  Time will tell.  We are giving them both their clothing allowance to go shopping after, so maybe a bit of retail therapy will heal all the wounds, and save us from nightmares tonight.

Tomorrow we are mostly out and about, with the Maggots at a sleepover at the in-laws and us at an adults weekend at David and Samantha's, with Brad and Angelina also attending, which will be nice, and a bunch of other hangers-on and ne'er-do-wells also.

Have a great weekend, speak next week.

Monday, 17 February 2014

We're 'vannin', so it's a rainin'

This evening we are off to Sandy Balls for three nights in the 'van.

Sometimes a picture really does paint a thousand words.

So, business as usual for the winter 'vannin' experience.

In fairness, tomorrow is going to be better weather, and the day after, better again, just in time for the rain to return as we are packing up Thursday morning.

Friday, 14 February 2014

And . . . relax

Today is the last day of the first half of Spring term.  This term is named, I am convinced, more out of hope than reality, since there is nothing particularly Spring-like about the weather.  True, it is not cold particularly, though we have had a few rounds of hailstones falling on our skylight, but boy is it wet.

This is therefore the perfect time to go away in the caravan.  We are leaving Monday evening and returning Thursday lunchtime, using up the last two and a half days of holiday I have remaining until April.  We are going to Sandy Balls, which has hard standing pitches and a little centre, so perfect for Winter 'vannin'.  We are also off to see War Horse on Wednesday, something I am very much looking forward to personally, even if I am just a little bit worried about how it will be received by the two youngest members or our party.  Time will tell.

This weekend, it is us lads alone together, since LO is off to Bristol for two nights to see her good friend, who lives down in Cornwall.  The weather may well yet play a part in their arrangements, but fingers are crossed and general safety measures are being taken.

In fact, for half of Saturday, even Maggot 1 will be off, swimming and pizza eating with a school friend to celebrate their birthday.  This will leave me and Maggot 2 to do the clubs early, and then to do whatever takes our fancy.  I want a bit of a tidy up on the garden, including, I am ashamed to say, our Christmas tree, which I dumped there at the start of the year, and then promptly forgot it.  There are also a few leaves and wotnot that can also go in the organic waste bin.  Maggot 2 loves to be outside, so he will relish it, I hope.  We may also get a bit of Fifa 14 in on the PS4.

The other big task this weekend is for me to do the final steps in the re-decoration of the front room, in anticipation of the new sofa arriving early March.  Indeed, I cannot believe that even a visit from the Queen would have caused more cleaning, painting and polishing.

The final step is to varnish the floor.  To be precise, to re-varnish the floor.  Over the previous weeks I have sanded it (so that the new varnish has a key), hoovered, cleaned with white spirit (to get the worst of the gunk off the floor) and cleaned round the edge which had lots of tiny little paint splatters.  The work tonight therefore is a final hoover and white spirit clean, then varnish once the maggots are in bed, so it can dry overnight.

Varnishing the floor is a tedious task, but now is the ideal time to do it, so I am doing to get it done and then hopefully won't even think about it again for several years.  Someone did ask me why I did not just use Danish oil, then it would be just a matter of layering on more oil every so often.  That would have been a very good idea in hindsight, however when I originally did it, I wanted a gloss finish, and I wanted the boards, which were very light once the grime had been sanded back, to have a bit more colour, so the first round of varnish was oil-based, known for its "yellowing" effect over time, and indeed they did bring a lovely deep and darker hue to them.

The other change we have made is to revert to gloss for the woodwork.  We currently have the whole house done in a silk finish, which is much easier to put on, but does not have the longevity or toughness of gloss.  We are therefore reverting to the classic look, and I have to say we love it.  The woodwork looks finished, and our internal doors look the best they have in living memory.  The only negative, albeit a small and bearable one, is that now we have the front room done in gloss, LO wants it everywhere, and now.  To be exact, we will re-decorate the new extension in the spring/summer when furniture can be on the lawn for a day, and that will be a matter of a quick run over with white matt on the ceiling, the chosen off-white silk on the walls, and gloss on all the woodwork, of which there are two four-panel doors, two window sills and perhaps one hundred feet of skirting.  Yowzer.

I hope you have a great weekend, and speak next week.

Thursday, 13 February 2014


Some of you may know that one of my hobbies is remixing.  I search for likely tracks on a remix website, and go for any that take my fancy.

Over the last few months, I have remixed an old Tears for Fears track, a relatively (to me anyway) obscure Moby track, and the most bizarre of the lot, the Deutsches Symphonie Orcheter Berlin rendition of Antonín Dvořák - Symphony No. 9 [3rd Movement].

Now I know that a journey of a thousand mixes must start with the first rejection, and that Edison had 20,000 steps to success with the light bulb, but dammit man, it would be nice to do something people actually like.  As an example, the Dvorak has had 315 plays and ONE LIKE.  The Tears for Fears has had 135 plays and 2 votes, and they are only from people who have obviously decided I won't win, so are voting for me so I vote for them, since votes get you to the top of the queue, and that gets you in the eyes, and ears, of the judges.

A lesser chap might start to consider taking this in as constructive criticism, and maybe I could have a go at blaming my equipment (old desktop with average sound card etc etc etc), however in truth, I do enjoy it, and by entering the competitions it does give me access to vocal tracks that I can use, and abuse, in my remixes, so I suspect I shall continue ploughing my lonely farrow in the hope that, when I am dead, I am proclaimed as the next George Martin or something.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

And . . . relax

Another perfect week slowly draws to a close, and a chap can take a moment to reflect on the triumphs of the week.  And they have been many.  Honestly.

I am starting to get a shape on what I am doing next with my career.  This sounds mysterious, and I would rather not write about in case I jinx it.

This weekend we don't have any clubs, since Maggot 2 is doing a poem at an inter-school poetry competition.  His poem is entitled "If I were a teabag", a question we have all asked at one point or other in our lives.  We then plan to try the fairly newly opened Wagamama's restaurant in town, a small challenge as to whether their menu and Maggot 2's very narrow tastes have any overlap.

I am in to the undercoating on the front room.  I am hoping that today, a local charity called Stone Pillow will turn up,  a charity who provide for free furniture to people who cannot afford to buy.  We just want to get rid of them, so I am really hoping they are good enough for them to take away.  They have the fire labels, essential before any charity will take furniture, and I have plumped the pillows and removed several jelly babies from under the seats, so here's hoping.

Once the furniture is gone, I can crack on in earnest finishing the under-coating and glossing, and then a couple of coats of varnish on the floor, re-waxing the fireplace support, painting the old mirror with copper paint (more on this if it is successful) and we are then ready to take charge of the new sofa.

We have also visited a local upholstery company, a husband and wife team, in their sixties if they are a day, in a small unit in farm buildings, next door to the oak furniture place where we got our table, sideboard and TV corner unit as it happens.  They were a lovely couple who will, we hope, make us a bespoke footstool - old-fashioned, but very fashionable, button top, casters, in a fairly bright dark pink, to complement the colours in the rug we also bought last night.  It is fair to say that it is all go in Scobi Towers.

Just realised that it is actually only Thursday today.  I am breaking the usual routine of being in the office Tuesday to Thursday, and as I am at home my brain has obviously made the mistake of thinking, perhaps hoping, it is Friday.  Oh well, better early than never, or whatever the saying is*.

* Whatever it is, it is not that. Ed.