Thursday, 16 January 2020

Time Travel, at a speed of 1440 minutes per day!

Past Mike left Current Mike a pack of four mince pies in his car as a nice surprise for when he got in it!  I love me :D

Sunday, 7 April 2019

2019 and the Skatepark

It's 2019.

It's not just 2019, it's well into 2019.  It's been something like five months since I blogged.

About time I wrote a post then.

It's been busy here, mainly because we moved house back in November, and we haven't paused to catch our breath really since then.  We've moved into a little village in East Yorkshire, which is better for my son to get to school, and had also provided my wife a little more desperately needed room in order to support her burgeoning needle minder activities.

As for myself, I've been working and doing stuff round the house.  An interesting side effect of a larger house is that I now lose stuff because I forget how many rooms we've got - more than once I've stomped around looking for something before realising that we've now got a utility room to put stuff in.

Anyway, I'm blogging because I've got something nice and embarrassing to blog about.

This weekend we've been visiting family in Lancashire, which has been very nice, and this morning, my son decided that he wanted to go to a skatepark with his scooter. This is an entirely normal occurrence, recently he's been on the scooter a lot, to the point where we've bought him a new scooter as his old one was getting a little small, and I've even purchased a skateboard for myself to accompany him (although I've not dared to go outside with it yet, I am contenting myself with falling over in the hall whilst next to a wall).

The essential kit for a skater boi.

Anyhow, we went to the skatepark, and my son was scootering around, having fun, and I decided to warm up a little (it was chilly and I hadn't taken a jacket) by running around a bit, and seeing if I could climb up one of the ramps.  There was a few curved ramps, and one particularly high one.

Well, it took me a couple of goes, but eventually I managed to get up the highest ramp, with a good run and jump at the end.

And what do you do when you're at the top of a ramp?

Well, you come down it, of course.

Not having a scooter or a board with me, the natural thing (to me anyway) is to slide down it, as shown in the GIF below.

I've done this any number of times, but this time, it felt different.

It stung.

And that would because I've done it so many times in these jeans, this time the jeans gave way.

I retreated to the car to inspect the damage, and sure enough, there was a good three or so holes straight through the jeans, in the... "seat" area, shall we say.

Fortunately my wife is a keen cross stitcher and had brought her kit with her, so we sat in the car for half an hour while she tried to undo the worst of the damage.

Nevertheless, one of the worst holes reopened as the day went on, and I found myself in a market looking through fabric samples to see if I could patch it.  I purchased a couple of leather rectangles for future repair, but for the time being, I resolved to close the hole again with a spot of sewing.

To this end, I bought a reel of what I thought was black but turned out to be brown cotton from the market.  Of course I couldn't find where the reel started so I took to ripping the reel apart until I teased out a length of thread long enough to be of use.

The reel didn't do so well.

All repaired, I went about my day, sore but at least not exposing myself to strangers and relatives.

I did try later to prepare the leather rectangles for patchwork, and I had the bright idea of making holes in the rectangles first in order to ease the sowing.  Not having a leather punch, I naturally resorted to a drill.

Pro-tip: Drills don't work on leather.

What instead happens is the leather wraps itself around the drill bit, which heats up and adheres the leather to the drill in a gluelike fashion, meaning that you have to reverse the drill and pull the leather off while swearing.

I dread to think what will happen when I go to the park next time.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

The Cheese Grater Explained

It's Sunday morning, which means I have a slice of time free to write!  To create, to make something new, the activity of generating ephemeral ideas and translating them into the written word.

Or you could just stage photos of writing, to avoid actually having to do it.

Anyway, today I wish to embark upon an explanatory text, to educate one and all upon the humble cheese grater.

The cheese grater is something that we all own, and quietly sits in our homes, ready to be called upon when needed.  Yet is it truly understood?

Today I will share with you my expertise on my very own hexagonal cheese grater, and in particular the uses of the six different sides.

Here we go!

SIDE ONE: Big Holes.

This is the standard size to be used at all times.  It is used to make large gratings of cheese, ideal for putting on a sandwich, toastie, and pretty much anything else you want grated cheese for.

SIDE TWO: Small Holes!

This is the side used when you have guests and you want your food to look slightly nicer than normal.  You get smaller gratings of cheese than if you used the big holes, so it takes longer and therefore is less pleasant.

SIDE THREE: The Slicer!

Allegedly used for slicing cheese, no one in history has ever used this side, because, to misquote James Acaster, when you want a slice of cheese your first thought is not the grater.

SIDE FOUR: The Slicer's Identical Twin!

As though having one side made up of slicers isn't enough, there's an identical twin on another side.  This makes me wonder if people are as gross as I suspect, and rather than washing up the grater after using the slicer (as if anyone ever does), they decide to leave it because there's a totally unused and clean side still to go.

SIDE FIVE: The Finger Killer

God only knows what this side is used for, with its mixture of holes and sticky up bits, but if you ever thought that grating cheese using the side with the big holes is dangerous to your fingers, you haven't tangled with this one, which is especially designed to trick your fingers into exposing themselves before ripping a chunk off.

If a grater was conscious and wanted to eat a human, one finger at a time, this would be its mouth.

SIDE SIX: Angry Nipples

To round off this exploration of the cheese grater, the last side seems to consist of approximately seventeen million furious barbed nipples that, when in the vicinity of cheese (or anything else for that matter), clutch onto the dairy product and tear it into a thousand pieces.

Thank you for your time.

(If you enjoyed this - or even if you didn't - why not see the photos from the earthquake I survived earlier this year?)

Sunday, 28 October 2018

My Day

I've been challenged to write one of these "My Day" posts, which have been doing the rounds.  Typically it's about a hipster-type who spends their day exercising, meditating, squeezing fresh orange juice from cows and doing something odd like having a curried Orangina to keep their energy levels up.

So, here we go.

3am: I wake up and think about the inevitable approach of death. Or biscuits. Biscuits are more likely, really. If I choose to glance at the bedroom door there is every chance that my son is stood there looking at me, and if I make any sign that I am awake he will jump on me. It's a great chance to practice my stealthiness.

3.10am: I fall asleep again.

5am: I wake up by being poked in the eye by a small child. I find this rapidly brings me to complete wakefulness far quicker than the stereotypical "waking up naturally", saving me precious time.

5.10am: I spend the next hour catching up with the world by going on fifteen different social media channels on my phone, one after another. On none of them do I have any notifications.

6.10am: I sit down at my computer for a session of creative writing.

6.25am: I realise that I've spent fifteen minutes looking at a blank Word document whilst playing Words With Friends on my phone. I mean to say that I've been sharpening my English language skills.

6.30am: I ruminate on what food to put in my packed lunch. I find packed lunches far healthier than whatever you can buy, and really gives you chance to include energy boosters like organic fruit, chia seeds, and quinoa.

6.35am: I've packed leftover pizza and a dodgy looking banana.

7.45am: Time to get those vocal chords into action! There's nothing like a good vocal warm up by screaming "GET DRESSED! SOCKS! SHOES!" over and over. I don't worry about the volume because I'm never heard over my sons tablet anyway.

8.30am: At work, full of energy and raring to go.

8.32am: My energy levels are dropping, so I get a vitality boosting bacon and egg sandwich.  I add tomato sauce to help towards my five a day.

10.00am: Someone fetches me a scone.  I always make sure to get a sweet scone (never savory) like dark chocolate and cherry. At this rate I've virtually had all the fruit and vegetables I need for the day.

12.00pm: Time for lunch, and to give my lunch an exciting twist, I grab some extra steps by walking to the chip shop.  Always make sure to add "chip spice" to your chips, the paprika comes with amazing health benefits, such as aiding sleep.

1.00pm: I'm really tired. Time to boost my energy levels with coffee.

1.10pm: More coffee.

1.20pm: More coffee?


5.30pm: Work is over and I spend the drive home unloading my mind whilst eating a Crunchie.

6.20pm: Dinner is served.  I always look for a healthy option such as grilled chicken and rice. Except for Tuesdays because that's when we have pizza.  Whilst eating dinner I watch some Downton Abbey to unwind.

6.25pm: Fall asleep in front of the TV.

7.30pm: Wake up. Rewind the DVD.

8.00pm: On an evening, when the brain is naturally less creative, I relax with a walk.

8.10pm: Funnily enough, whilst on my walk, I appear to find myself stood outside a pub. I do feel that it's so important to support local enterprises.
11.33pm: skweuimcal;c

11.55pm: KEBabs r 'mazing gaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

12:40pm: Howw do u work the lock in teh front dorr?????? Askin 4 frend. xc

I hope that the above is of use to you, I am available for the delivery of seminars and workshops at a very reasonable rate on the topic of how to change your life. Not necessarily for the better, that's why my rate is so reasonable :)

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Taking Photos

I love waking up early on Sunday mornings.  They're usually the quietest time of the week, when everyone else is asleep, and I can potter away doing chores (or, more likely, muck about on the computer).

This morning when I got up the sunrise was giving some interesting colours to the sky, and so I decided to pop out and take some photos by the river.

Obligatory "the camera is turned round the wrong way - oh well, I'll take a photo anyway" shot

Most of the photos are of the Humber Bridge, which I wrote about a couple of years back when it was Bridge Day (interestingly Bridge Day is coming up again soon - possible source of content for bloggers!), in short the bridge is the fifth longest single-span suspension bridge in the world, linking the north and south banks of the River Humber together.



Bridge from a different angle

Not a bridge

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Bake Off Returns

Bake Off is back.

The Great British Bake Off is an institution, must-watch television. It's the most bizarre thing, in a way - get a group of generally middle-class, affable individuals in a big tent, make them bake difficult things, and then let two judges, one an evil monster who could capture your soul with a thought, the other effectively being your grandmother, complete with unending friendliness but the ability to express infinite disappointment should you not live up to expectations.

Add to this a weekly elimination and it's completely and utterly addictive. Especially when accompanied by several cans of John Smith's laced with Jagermeister.

It's maybe because we all think we could do that. Regardless of whether you're skilled in the kitchen or not, you think that with the right recipe and ingredients you could make a reasonable fist of at least a Victoria sponge or some sausage rolls (man, I'd love a flaky sausage roll right now...).  When you're watching X Factor, or Britain's Got Talent, unless you are one of that those minority who actually have talent, or one of the slighter larger proportion of the population that thinks they do, you can't connect to it because you couldn't actually be up there singing/dancing/eating an elephant blindfolded.

The crisis caused by the move from BBC to Channel 4 seems to have settled down now. As much as I like Mel and Sue, and I've always liked them, for me Noel Fielding has been a pleasant surprise. When I first saw some of his work he was a bit too random and surreal for me, but in Bake Off he's odd yet friendly, a real delight.

So, here's to a couple of months that will be improved by Bake Off :)

Sunday, 29 July 2018

A Day Out

Something of a belated blog post this one, but it's time I talked about going for a walk.

So earlier this month, a group of us went to tackle the Yorkshire 3 peaks, these are 3 mountains in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Now, it should be noted that in the UK we've been experiencing particularly hot weather this last month, and the challenge is to tackle all 3 peaks, taking in 24 miles of walking, in 12 hours.

My intention was to take about 3 and a half litres of water with me, which should have been enough for the full trek. Fortunately, however, we had a relief van that met us after each peak, because even after completing just one peak I was down to my last litre of water due to the heat.

So in summary - I didn't manage all three.

I did do the first 2 peaks - Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside - but coming down Whernside was so tough, with a steep path covered in effectively slippery dust, that by the bottom I couldn't face taking on the third. Of the 20 or so of us that did it, there was 4 of us that didn't do the third, so at least I wasn't on my own.  Nevertheless, I'm happy that I managed the first two, and will go back to do the third sometime perhaps later this year.

Bags packed
Setting off at 4am to avoid the sun
Up a hill somewhere

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Practice Walk

Next week a group of us are tackling the Yorkshire 3 Peaks.  This challenge involves about 24 miles of walking - and three mountains.  Where I live we have next to nothing in the way of mountains, but I wanted to least have a go at the distance to see if it was achievable, so ahead of then I took Friday off to have a practice walk.

All prepared with genuine sunglasses and some kind of sports top, I think it possibly has isotonic qualities.  Most sporty things are advertised as having ISO something or other.

I started off around 6.30am in Beverley, with the intention of making it to Driffield for around lunch, and then depending on how I got on hopefully walking back in the afternoon.

Accompanying for the walk was a backpack filled with water, power bank for my phone, snacks, sun cream, blister plasters and other ephemera.  I always struggle when packing a bag, I have to try to not spend too much time on it because the longer I have to pack the bag the more things I'll take "just in case".

In preparation for the day I loaded up my phone with podcasts, mostly episodes of the hilarious "My Dad Wrote A Porno" which if you haven't heard is an absolute must.

About 2 seconds after I took this photo I held my hand out towards the cows and they collectively lost their minds.

The morning walk went very well, with only a few aches from my feet the last mile or so into Driffield.  After getting a bite to eat I was contemplating getting the train back to Beverley, and decided that I would check the train station on the way back.

First, though, I got a hat.

Not a stylish one

Hats don't suit me, I would love to be the sort of man who looks good wearing a hat, but inevitably they end up lop-sided, too big, the wrong colour, or just weird. But with the day being clear and sunny, and high temperatures expected in the afternoon, I got one anyway.

As a result, I missed the train back to Beverley by about 30 seconds, and wasn't going to be seeing another one for an hour. So, I decided to head back on foot, with the possible option of getting a train part of the way back from the village of Hutton Cranswick.

While most of the walk was along the main road, between Hutton Cranswick and Driffield I was taking a diversion down country lanes and through the picturesque hamlet of Skerne, and typically it was around Skerne that I started having some foot trouble.  I took a couple of breaks, changing my socks, but they still didn't feel right.

Now, at this point (or ideally back in Driffield) if I had put blister plasters on, all would probably have been well.

I didn't.

So it was when I was a couple of miles away from Hutton Cranswick, and its train station, that my foot exploded.

Of course it didn't explode, it was merely a blister popping, but that's what I convinced myself it felt like.  I began toying with the idea of ordering a taxi, but getting a taxi for the remainder of the walk seemed excessive.  I continued to hobble on towards the train station (not at any point stopping to put blister plasters on, somehow in my mind I was of the thought that it would be worse to get my feet out of my boots, remove socks, install the plasters, and then dress again, as opposed to pushing on for the rest of the walk).

Part of the way along, and making slow progress, I checked the train times and found, about a mile and a half out, that there was a train in half an hour, and another in an hour, and then no more trains for at least another hour after that. There was no way I could make the first one, and I would have to speed up to make the second.

In short - I did make the second by with 4 minutes to spare.

Once back to Beverley I got to my car and drove home.  My son decided to take on the role of doctor and assess my feet.

Here they are being x-rayed, with the aid of an iPad with no x-ray capability.

It's now 2 days after the walk, and although I'm still limping a little, I'm walking a lot better than I have been since Friday.  Fingers crossed my blisters should all be healed by next Saturday and adding all of the walking up I did on the Friday it was comparable to the distance I'll be tackling next week (just without the ascents and descents!) so I'm hoping that I'll be able to get on reasonably well. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Love Island

So, I was challenged to watch an episode of "Love Island", a show on itv2, and blog about it, and never one to turn down a challenge (not quite true, I turn down stuff all that time), I went for it. Now, I know virtually nothing about Love Island, except that it involves a group of males and females who are presumably on an island, and looking for love. I have to say right now that I apologise intensely to anyone reading this that is a fan of Love Island for anything derogatory in the post.

Here we go.

So, apparently there's a villa? And a bunch of boys and girls, referred to as "the islanders".  From the single episode I saw I have limited information on what goes on, but I'm led to believe that they get to go on dates, couple up, and share beds.

The show reminds me a bit of Big Brother, although I've not watched that for years either, but the secluded location with limited people, dormitories, interview room, brings back the memories of Big Brother.

Anyway, on with a summary of the events from tonights show.

The show started by telling us that these two had a lot of fun last night.

That fun was discussed in great detail by the girls, who talked about the bed and the furnishings, and what exactly the pair got up to in the bed, whilst the boys had a slightly briefer conversation which consisted of:

"No shag."

And with the question answered, they went about their day.

Anyway, a lot of this post is about Adam. Adam is the alpha male of the group, and he's been spending time with a girl called Rosie, who is very nice but according to Adam likes shoes and bags instead of holidays. This rang alarm bells with Adam.

Adam the alpha male. You can tell, he's pointing.

Most of this post is about Adam, but just to give a flavour of the other stuff talked about, this is Charlie. 
Charlie and unknown girl had a conversation which including the following snippet:
"Do you tint your eyebrows?" the girl asked.
"No they're just blonde."
"Just tint them" she urged. This confused Charlie.
"What does that mean?"
"Just tint them" she clarified in a non-clarifying way.

Afterwards the girl commented to another girl that "I really like Charlie but he should really tint his eyebrows."

Anyway, back to Adam.  Apparently Adam was on the lookout for getting to know other people beyond Rosie, who seemed to be more into him than he was into her.

Enter straight brows.

Straight brows and Adam had a very nice chat where he talked about how Rosie was materialistic and went on to ask straight brows why they hadn't been on a date.

After the chat straight brows (aka Megan) told Rosie that Adam had been complaining about her. For a 'player', as Adam seems to be, he seems to be blissfully unaware that sometimes girls talk to each other.
"He's got some big balls going on" commented one of the girls on hearing the news. No idea if that's an expression or an observation. Another girl reassured Rosie by saying "It's ok babe, it's made his cake ain't he, he ain't eating it." which I assume is some sort of reference to the Great British Bake Off, because otherwise, unless you're a professional baker who sells cakes, that's exactly what you do with cake.

Rosie tells another girl about Adam

Fuelled by drink, Rosie went to confront Adam, telling the girls "I'm doing this for not me, but for every girl that's been played by a play boy"

Rosie confronts the alpha male.

To be honest I can't really remember much about the confrontation, but it went much as you'd expect - Rosie told Adam off, and then Rosie and the girls went off in victory while Adam, confused that his secretive talk about straight brows had somehow gotten out, had a drink with the other boys.

"I don't even know how I got myself in this situation" says Adam, after slagging off Rosie to various people

But, I should note, this wasn't enough to stop Adam and Rosie sleeping in the same bed that evening.

For the next evening, however, a re-coupling was announced - which sounds like something you'd do to your car, but is where the couples change - and the girls would get to choose who they would couple up with. This was an excellent to see as it made all of the guys extremely nervous and awkward.

Despite the events of the night before, Rosie was still wondering if she should give Adam a second chance. Her girlfriends reassured her "he mugged you off, but you mugged him off harder" - not sure if 'mugged off' is a euphemism for something, I'm not familiar with it if it is.
Rosie decided to wind up Adam by chatting to Charlie, who commented that he liked the bit of theatre the night before, he was going to get the popcorn out. Not sure what theatre you get popcorn at, but it sounds like a good one.

Rosie and Charlie talking popcorn
Meanwhile, Megan the brows was trying to decide who to re-couple with, either Alex the doctor - who no one fancies - or "Eyal", a curly haired rapscallion that everyone is convinced will certainly aim to get with Megan but isn't expected to be a good long-term choice. I didn't immediately imagine that people would go onto Love Island looking for a marriage-partner but perhaps I'm wrong.

No idea why none of the girls like Dr Alex and his amazing shirt.

On the evening of the grand re-coupling, Adam got nervous about Rosie talking to Charlie, going as far as to wear a bandana.

There ain't no alpha male like an alpha male with a bandana.

Meanwhile, after Dr Alex had spent 2 days trailing after Megan the eyebrow girl, generally being really nice, attentive, thoughtful, AND HE'S A DOCTOR, Eyal the curly sat down next to her for 2 minutes, and kissed her in front of Dr Alex.

"This villa can throw anything at you" says Eyal. Like watching your crush be kissed by a curly haired man, I guess.

Dr Alex wasn't best pleased about this.

Sadly, the show ended at this point so I have no idea which of the boys the girls choose, but I'm sure all will be revealed in tomorrow's show.

I have to say, it's certainly not something that I would normally choose to watch, but it was reasonably enjoyable (certainly compared to Made in Chelsea, which is possibly the most bizarrely addictive bad TV I've ever seen), and at least now I've got a vague idea of the people that keep trending on Twitter around 9pm-10pm in the UK.
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