Thursday, November 13, 2014

So long...

...and thanks for all the fish, was what my final email to colleagues last Friday started with. I was astounded, when I checked, that the book was published 30 years ago! Watch out for the Vogons coming, and Don't Panic! lol.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

New Adventures

After nearly 8 years working away from home in Shropshire and over 7 1/2 years at The Barn, it is time to move on. Tomorrow will be my last day working for Capgemini. So what next week? Well the car gets its MoT on Monday morning. I hope it doesn't need too much doing. I've had it for nearly 11 years now, and it only needs another 7,000 miles to reach 250,000. But I wont be doing that driving along A14/M6/M54 and back every week any more!

So time to explore new things. Keep track of my ideas and adventures here! And leave comments or email me if you like.

P.S. You may find some earlier-dated posts appearing as I try and catch up!

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Halloween Fun 2014

While Young Miss and friend...


...went trick or treating, I was left to handle the hordes who came knocking on the door. It has become a regular thing for me since Halloween 2008 (when I'm at home) and this year my role-playing was further embellished. Dressed all in black and with an academic gown as I cape, I open the door to greet them with "Good Efening. My name is Count Dracula. Velcome.You have come to join my party and brought me some treats? That sort of flumoxed them. "No? Vell Ve haff a special treat for our visitors... bat sandviches. Vould you like some?"

Of course they are only bacon sandwiches with tomato sauce in a homemade bread that had a lot of black food colouring added, but the take-up from the younger visitors was low. To keep me going I had a few glasses of a rather nice Aussie cleanskin red wine, so I was able to greet the adult chaperones with "And for the adults ve haff some bat's blood to drink if you like".  But I had no takers for that.... which left more for me the missus, who stayed lurking in the study.

Job done, once the girls returned and polished off the remaining sandviches, they dressed in their giraffe onesies and had fun with sparklers with young W.....

 in front of the chiminea....
 

 I left them to their all-night horror movie marathon.. enough was enough for me. So. How can I add to the entertainment next year? Any ideas?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

East Anglian Beer Festival 2012

It's that time of year again. I have to say I still much prefer the old setting of the Corn Exchange, but the Beer Festival is in the APEX again. I took the Friday afternoon off work and got there before 1pm... and I got to visit again on Saturday afternoon too! It was nice and quiet to start with and most of the beers were still on. (You can find the complete beer list here).
.
Stillage before it gets busy
By mid-afternoon the place had filled up...

The beer is in full flow now
















And it was the same on Saturday afternoon... but the beers were running out by 5pm when I set off for home... through the rain. I can't remember the stagger home not being in spring sunshine before!

So, anyway, here are my favourites from this year's festival...

Two old favourites were as good as ever:
Woodforde's Wherry (3.8%) - Always have some of this when I visit The Ferryboat Inn at North Felixstowe - a favourite coastal day out.
St Peters Grapefruit (4.7%) - An annual treat here since I first tried it.

But new or less familiar beers to me that I particularly liked were, from 8th to 1st in order:
Waveney Lightweight (3.9%) - Light and refreshing. And, as the programme notes said 'strawberry and cream nose'. Not totally new to me - I liked this in 2006 and 2008 too
Colchester Red Diesel (4.2%) - Ruby colour seems to be in fashion this year
Red Fox Wiley O' Fox (5.2%) - I wrote 'typically regional'. Very tasty and, as the programme says, Aromatic and amber, made from English Boadicea hops and East Anglian Pale Maris Otter malt
Mauldons Cuckoo (4.3%) - Rich malty flavour
Cliff Quay Anchor Bitter (4.0%) - Dark and very fruity
Brandon Paddys Pride (4.0%) - A dark ruby mild. Very smooth.
Old Cannon Brass Monkey (4.6%) - A blonde IPA. Very hoppy and bitter... becoming lip smacking as you get over the initial shock
And... my top beer of the year
Grain Brewery Redwood (4.8%) - Rich, red, balanced and totally delicious.

Mind you, with 93 beers to try, I managed to taste less than 1/4 of them over the 2 days, so I am bound to have missed a few gems. Must get there earlier next year!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Half Term Fun #4 - Dudmaston Hall

"Can we go to the Roly-Poly place?", said Young Miss as she compiled her list of where we should go. By that she meant Dudmaston Hall, just south of Bridgnorth on the A442. We first went there in 2008 and... well you'll see...

They had some giant games in the courtyard by the gatehouse. Young Miss and Brother W had a game of Connect 4. Can you see who is about to win?


First we had a walk in the gardens...


And then we did the "Long Pool" walk...


The Rhododendrons are out. Look at the size of this one!


Roly-poly? OK. Here we go...


And then, after the tour ofthe house, some Still Life artistry in the old kitchen...


Good work kids!

Half Term Fun #3 - Ice skating

Sunday morning we did the ice-skating at Telford Ice Rink.

It is quite a while since we last went (see here), and this time there was no big sister to help.

Young Miss remembered quite quickly...

Young W had to cling to the sides for a while....

But eventually he plucked up the courage, and was soon in the middle of the ice....

I did it too, but I haven't any pictures to show it. Important thing though was the competition - number of times falling on your butt (as Young Miss put it)... Scores on the doors: Young Miss 5, Young W 5, Dad 0 (but only just avoided it a few times!).

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Message for GCSE Miss

Seen in the Coalport Museum...



Just kidding. Get your GCSEs first. lol.

Half Term Fun #2 - The Tar Tunnel

While we were in Coalport we went to next on the list... The Tar Tunnel. As you can see from the map...

...if you click on the picture to blow it up, it is just a short walk along the canal. There is a sweetshop and cafe there too...

... and from the bridge you have a view of the Hay Inclined Plane, used to lift barges from the canal to Blists Hill.

You have to wear hard hats in the tunnel...

It's alright for these two, but they thought it very funny when I banged mine against the rather low ceiling.

You can walk about 100m into the tunnel, before it becomes impassible without getting tar all over your shoes...

Apparently it extends another 900m into the hillside beyond this point maybe linking up with a mine shaft in Blists Hill or even further into Madeley. I don't fancy going along there to try and find out!

Half Term Fun in Shropshire #1

GCSE Miss is in the middle of her exams, so to leave her in peace to revise, I've brought Young Miss and Young W to The Barn for a few days. We set off after Swimming lessons ...yes we still go at 8 a.m. on a Saturday - I now have a Marlin and a FAST swimmer, and were there by lunchtime.

Young Miss had her list of place she wanted to go. But, by the time we had done our food shopping and had our lunch, we couldn't get to the ice-rink in time for a complete session, so we decided to start in Coalport.


The Coalport China Museum is well worth a visit. We got a family passport ticket so we could visit all the museums, and did the "Hunt Snowey the Bear" quiz.

You have to look for the labels for the clues and answer the questions to reveal where to find him. For example, there is a question about the contents of this cabinet....

We were pleased they still had the display with the King Charles silver tankard


and the picture of The Barn...

They have a new audio-visual display in the Bottle Kiln...

which is really effective, and has complete surround sound.

Ooo look. We've found Snowey...

but you don't want me to spoil things by showing you where he is, do you?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Anglesey Abbey Dahlia Festival

Anglesey Abbey is a favourite place for us to visit, especially for the snowdrops and Winter Walk, but now is also a great time of year to go to see the dahlias at their best. We went last Sunday and found they had a Dahlia Festival on. That was lucky! There was a small display at the visitor centre...

...but the real spectacle is the magnificent crescent shaped dahlia garden.

The plants are arranged chromatically from dark reds and violets at one end through to pale yellow and white at the other. This one was Young Miss' favourite...

And this one, to me, is a classic...


There were also displays of dahlia arrangements throughout the house...

which we visited after lunch in the rebuilt visitor centre.

Magnificent! You can see more of my pictures here on Flickr.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cello Boy

Look at what Young W's got! Yes, he has joined Young Miss at the Bury County Music School and started cello lessons last night. Cygnets for him next week!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Long Time no Blogging

It has been a while. Little W is not so little any more so we will have to call him Young W. And as for Little Miss, she's growing so fast she will be as tall as the Missus soon - Young Miss she is now. Teenage Miss is starting her GCSE courses and as for the Missus - she passed her NQT assessment and is now into her second year of teaching. It's a new academic year and among them they are now at 4 different schools. Maybe I should go back to school so we can can have a full set.

And it's not as if we haven't been doing anything new. So... Time to start blogging again... Watch out for some catch up posts over the next few weeks as I get back into the swing of it. Oh, and I've just found a few drafts that never got completed... time to finish them off.

Monday, April 27, 2009

East Anglian Beer Festival 2009 - The Beers

After my Friday visit I returned on Saturday lunchtime. By now the beers were strting to run out - I just missed the last glass of an old favourite, St Peter's Grapefruit, for example. But here is my verdict from those I did get to taste...

My first beer set the standard for others to follow - Bartrams' Barwells the Butchers (3.8% ABV). Very tasty. Others I enjoyed were:
  • Beeston Brewery's Afternoon Delight (3.7%)
  • Buffy's Brewery's Polly's Folly (4.3%)
  • Cliff Quay Brewery's Tolly Roger (4.2%)
  • Crouch Vale's Brewers Gold (4.0%)
  • Iceni Brewery's Fine Soft Day (4.0%)
  • King's Head Brewery's Landlady (4.0%)
  • Mighty Oak's Oscar Wilde Mild (3.7%)
  • Mill Green Brewery's Good Ship Arabella (5.4%)
  • Tipple Brewery's Lady Evelyn (4.1%)

  • With Polly's Folly coming a close second, my favourite, though, was Wolf Brewery's Cavell Ale (3.7%). A light beer packed with flavour. Yum!

    East Anglian Beer Festival 2009

    As planned, on Friday lunchtime I headed off to the East Anglian Beer Festival in the Corn Exchange. I was there by 12:30 and things were still remarkably quiet...

    But it son filled up and by mid-afternoon was getting quite lively. It is a lovely setting with the sunshine streaming through the skylights.

    By 4:30 I had sampled a fair few beers. If I tell you the average price was £1.30 per 1/2 pint you can maybe work it out from the number of beer cards...

    And then it was time for the walk home through the Abbey Gardens and across the river then along the path round St James' Middle School. The Cherry blossom is at its peak here...

    Then it was across the A14 via the footbridge, along Shakers Lane and up the hill to collect the little ones from After-School club on the way. A great 1/2 day's holiday!

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    Green Beer?

    The East Anglian Beer Festival will be on in the Corn Exchange in Bury St Edmunds from Wednesday to Saturday next week(22-25th April). I'll be having a 1/2 day holiday on the Friday to go to the lunchtime session and again the Saturday lunchtime (Missus permitting).

    Meanwhile here's something new to whet the appetite, which I first came across in Sainsbury's last week, although it came out last year...

    From my favourite brewer, Adnams, a Carbon-Neutral beer!