Tuesday, January 31, 2006

There's always something...

Today should really have marked the return to normality having finished off the last of the somewhat extravagant birthday celebrations throughout January. The plan was for a few of us to celebrate Em's actual birthday with a "couple" of drinks (which we did) and a spectacular win on the Monday night Tap quiz (which we fell a little short of but had fun all the same) and from this morning, it would be back to the usual routine and a chance to shed a few of the pounds gained over recent weeks. In fact that's not strictly true as by some bizarre twist of fate I've actually lost 10lb since New Year, but there's still plenty of scope to shed a few more.

It has been suggested however, that my birthday celebrations aren't finished until the tattoo is done, but enough already. It's only a couple of weeks away but there's only so long you can drag these things out. That said, the earliest appointment available meant taking a Thursday off work and after three hours in the morning sitting there getting scarred for life, I might as well extend it into a long weekend.

Then guess what? CAMRA have decided that National Pubs Week 2006 is to run the following week and if Dave has made the effort to organise something, I ought to make the occasional appearance in the Tap. So that's February taken care of then.

So far, I might manage to escape March with celebrations limited to Mother's Day, but seeing how popular Mum is (quite rightly if I may say so myself) and with the number of "adopted children" she has acquired over recent years, who knows what's in store there.

April and May bring promise of almost every family birthday and the Cleethorpes Beer Festival on Saturday 29th April for which we already seem to be drumming up a crowd before it's really been advertised.

By then we'll almost be halfway through the year so it seems quite simple to me - I might just have to settle for being a fat bloke who likes a few beers...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Changing shapes...

I've been watching "Wogan: Now and Then" this evening and realised that I have something in common with some of the rich and famous. For those not familiar with the format, he has re-launched his chat show and has invited back some of his guests from his original show 20 years or so ago.

Other than the host himself, so far this evening we have seen Christopher Lee, Freddy Starr and David Icke, all of whom have dramatically changed outline over the last twenty years, as have I. I'm just proud that I've managed it on a significantly reduced budget to theirs.

Oh, and on the subject of things changing shape, here's the weekly carrot update...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

On this day...

Apparently today is Australia Day and also Republic Day in India, so what better way to celebrate than spaghetti bolognese with a mini garlic baguette for supper, washed down with a couple of glasses of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. No, I couldn't think of a connection either but it was very tasty. Anyway, greetings to any Australian or Indian readers who may be looking in because as incredible as it may seem, total visits to date stand at 152 and 9 respectively.

Judging from the journey home tonight I would have guessed at "forget how to dip your headlights and drive like a twat" day, but I'm feeling too full to rant now so I'll save that for another day...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A few ideas...

In the good old days, well more accurately while I was away enjoying my break from work, somebody in their infinite wisdom has decided it would be a good idea to carry out extensive road works on the M180 which means at typical "rush hour" times, Scunthorpe is pretty much closed to moving traffic and apparently this is set to continue for the next two months. Now there are those who would say that closing Scunthorpe could be seen as quite an attractive idea, but seeing I'm paid to travel there five days a week, I feel obliged to disagree.

As part of the roadworks, they closed the exit slip road onto the M181 which is my preferred route as it goes around Scunthorpe rather than through it. Although there is always a slight possibility that this closure could actually have been necessary, I thought it may have been a good idea to notify motorists of this closure a little further in advance than one mile; maybe before the previous junction to avoid a ten mile detour. Apparently the Highways Agency decided my idea was not such a good one.

This evening I thought that whilst still coming down from the Dublin experience and still in touch with my Gaelic side, it would be appropriate idea to salute Scotland's favourite son in some way or other and I ended up on this site in my quest to find out whether we had a family tartan. Apparently we have at least these four, although there are plenty more out there so I'm really none the wiser:

Perhaps it's best if I just stick to what I'm good at, so I raise a glass of the finest single malt I have to hand with the following toast:

Slainte maith, h-uile latha, na chi 'snach fhaic!
(Good health, every day, whether I see you or not)

Now there's a bloody good idea...

Monday, January 23, 2006

There goes another one...

I'm not about to start complaining about my first day back because without matching a single number on the last Euromillions lottery draw, I guess the return to work was inevitable. Still, I suppose there's always this Friday and the jackpot should be around £100,000 now. No, my main reason for posting tonight is that I see the Bravenet hit counter has just passed the 6000 mark and I never like to let these occasions pass without comment.

I'm aware of a few new readers who've told me they've been looking in recently, so thanks for stopping by and in return I'll save any embarassment by not naming you!

Equal thanks go to the regular readers and commenters; I am grateful for (and still somewhat bemused by) your continued interest.

So here's hoping I can keep your attention for a few more posts yet and this time I thought I'd mark the occasion of 6k hits with 6 notable 'K's...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Clutching at straws...

It always amazes me how much more you can get done when you stay away from the pop for the weekend. However, still not much to blog about as unfortunately, all of my achievements today have been of the last minute domestic variety before the return to work tomorrow.

Made a delicious toad-in-the-hole with onion gravy for lunch; a first for me although I'm sure it's an old favourite for millions of students across the country.

Built a wardrobe (not exactly the most impressive achievement of my DIY history) and finally sorted out a load more clothes.

After only eight days, I finally got a taste of the birthday cake so I can personally confirm that the cake was as impressively tasty as it was decorated.

Finally, taking inspiration from Declan's comment yesterday, I waited until after dark and challenged the age-old myth as to whether carrots help you to see in the dark. Well, I'll let the results speak for themselves:

Or perhaps it's about time I got the microwave checked over...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Almost back to normal...

It's back to work on Monday and I can say in total confidence that I haven't missed the place one little bit. So with two days ahead of me of moping around and feeling sorry for myself, I thought I'd update you on the carrot plantation.

I worked out yesterday that at this rate, if I only eat two carrots every three months or so, I could become completely self sufficient...

Friday, January 20, 2006


I guess it's time to update the "30 things" list again as I'm delighted to add Ireland the list of countries I've visited.

We arrived in Dublin on Tuesday afternoon following a journey which, other than a 50 minute delay on the first leg of the jouney by train, went exactly as scheduled. I'm still not entirely sure how Ryanair managed to fly us there for the incredible fare of 1p each, but as long as they keep offering those sort of deals, I am quite happy to keep returning to Dublin.

The Parliament Hotel was ideally situated for our needs and although it didn't offer the most extravagant accomodation I've stayed in, it was very comfortable and extremely reasonably priced. Having dropped off our bags in the room, we set out on a quest for our first pint of Guinness in Ireland, which unsurprisingly, didn't take long. The result? We couldn't tell any difference from the Guinness back in the Tap! Hmmm...

Undeterred we moved on to The Temple Bar where the Guinness did taste noticeably better. Phew, there is some truth in the myth after all, although it's not as incredibly different as some would have you believe. We decided that maybe it's more to do with drinking Guinness in Dublin itself and soaking up the atmosphere aswell as the beer. However, this place also boasts a selection of 180 varieties of whisk(e)y so it would have been rude not to sample a few! All of this accompanied by live traditional live music which afforded the opportunity for many a sing-along. The Temple Bar will definitely go down as one of my favourite pubs of all time and I have every intention of returning.

I'll not give a blow by blow account of the entire trip, but following a Full Irish Breakfast, we managed to cram in plenty of "must see" attractions on Wednesday:
~ Oscar Wilde's house (albeit only from the outside)
~ The Book of Kells on display at Trinity College
~ The Molly Malone Statue
~ Grafton Street Shopping Centre
~ Christchurch Cathedral
~ The Guinness Storehouse
~ The Old Jamesons Distillery

We rounded off the day with a lovely meal at Gallaghers Boxty House where the Atlantic Seafood Chowder starter afforded the opportunity to eat some cockles and mussels (amongst others) which was another Dublin "must" crossed off the list. A quick drink in the Dawson Lounge (Dublin's smallest pub) and then back to the Temple Bar to finish.

Overall, an outstanding trip that was over all too soon, but was all the more enjoyable as I was in great company - thanks again Em!

I thoroughly recommend that everyone should visit Dublin; there's plenty of links here to get you started so go and discover the place for yourself...

Monday, January 16, 2006

The final results are in...

I'm sorry to keep banging on about the birthday, but I had a quick tally up this morning of how generous everyone has been. Aside from aforementioned party-related activities, I also received this little lot:

In addition, I got £130 in cash and vouchers, £50 of which I've promised to add to the tattoo fund. Not to mention of course the endless stream of drinks, several of which I'm sure are still waiting to be claimed from behind the bar.

Oh, and a total of 47 cards plus a greeting which appeared in the local paper along with a photo that prohibits me from adding it to the blog.

I'd like to think that the subject is going to end here, but we're flying out to Dublin tomorrow, a trip over which I have to admit I'm really excited, if for no other reason than to see whether it lives up to the hype. I can't honestly say that expecting any disappointment whatsoever.

In the meantime, in the words of the legendary rockers Status Quo, the party ain't over yet...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Well worth the wait...

I have been heard to comment several times that last Christmas was probably the best I've ever had and I think it's fair to say that my recent birthday and the associated celebrations have to be the best too.

It turns out that Mum has been working hard for well over a year tracking down all manner of people who I've not seen for years to celebrate with me last night. Old workmates, school mates, many of whom I've known since my age was still in single figures all turned up and showered me (not literally) with drinks and presents.

Dave provided an excellent buffet as always, John Boy did us proud with a superbly appropriate birthday cake:

Entertainment was excellent courtesy of The Elderly Brothers who provided much opportunity for sing-along and dancing with a guest spot featuring some well chosen songs by Roger Beard.

I was really humbled by the whole occasion and that so many people had gone to so much effort, so if any of you are reading this then please accept my heartfelt thanks. Of course, if you didn't make it, you missed one of our best nights out in a long time.

All I have left now to round off the partying is a three-day trip to Dublin. I'm sure that's destined to be another suitably sober occasion...

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Tick, Tick, Tick...

It's a bit of a limbo day today. Regular readers will know that my Saturdays often consist of a Hobgoblin consumption marathon but seeing as it's the "surprise" party tonight, I don't really want to start too early and end up forgetting half of the occasion.

So, I have a lift arranged for 6:00pm tonight which, to be fair, still allows five hours of partying, but also means that I have an entire day with not a lot to do. The chores are all done around the house, I've cooked and eaten one of my favourite dinners and short of tearing myself away from the "8 Simple Rules" marathon on ABC1 this afternoon, there doesn't seem much else on the agenda today.

One little task that I ought to get out of the way is an update for you as I'm sure you're all intrigued as to how the carrot plantation is coming along. So I'll not keep you in suspense any longer...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

On being forty...

We had a really enjoyable night last night out for a few celebration drinks and I'm pleased to say that the milk thistle worked it's magic leaving me with a clear head this morning.

Next event is the "surprise" party on Saturday night, which although is clearly not actually a surprise, there's a lot of familiar faces from the past planned to make an appearance so I'm really looking forward to that.

Today then I opted for a sensible day away from any alcohol whatsoever and without moving much further than in front of the TV. In order to to compensate for the alcohol de-tox, I've also managed to eat up a load of the junk left over from Christmas which has been great.

So perhaps life really did start yesterday, but on that sort of lifestyle, I'm not sure how long it would last...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

So Life Begins Here Then...

So here we are and as of 3:45 this morning it will be my 40th birthday which means that in only a few hours time, Mum will almost certainly be joyfully(?) re-telling the story of my breech birth to the Tap regulars and confirming what an awkward sod I've been ever since.

If it's true what they say and life begins here, then what's the deal with everything that's gone on so far? Was that a trial run? A warm up? A rehearsal? Just for a laugh perhaps? Would I do anything different if I had the chance to start over? Probably not.

Like anyone else, I've had my fair share of diversity; young and less so, long haired and less so, skinny and less so, happy and less so, single and less so. I guess these are the experiences that contribute to us being the individuals that we are.

Well, if life begins here then I'm going to start with an official launch, except that rather than crack a bottle of bubbly open over my head, I'll settle for emptying a pint glass or two and enjoying a few days off work...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Rattle, rattle, rattle...

I think I may have stumbled across another potential new years resolution this morning. As part of my attempts to get healthier last year, I ordered a whole heap of vitamin pills and herbal supplements over the internet which I've been taking most mornings:

Ginko Biloba - to improve short term memory (when I remembered to take it)
Garlic - to help maintain a healthy heart
Cod Liver Oil - for joints, heart and brain
MilkThistle - for liver detoxification
Multi Vitamins - for anything left over

It occured to me this morning that I have suffered more colds (breaking into man-flu in the more serious cases) in the last twelve months than I can ever remember before, despite taking all of these wonderful things to ward off all ails. So I've decided once these have gone that I will revert to just one simple multi-vitamin every morning and save a load of messing about.

The one exception has to be the milk thistle which I have taken for quite sometime now and raved about previously here. It definitely works from my experience and I obviously have no intentions of warding off any ales...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Don't say I didn't warn you...

Nothing out of the ordinary has been going on over the last couple of days, so as promised, I thought you might like to see how the carrots are doing at one week old:

Alan Titchmarsh, eat your heart out.

Oh, and I finally got my name on the waiting list at the tattoo studio...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

If only they'd asked me...

This advert seems to be on TV every five minutes right now and every time I see it, the same thought always crosses my mind.

I asked Magnet to design me a new kitchen and they asked me for one object to sum up what usually goes on in there. So I gave them this...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Back down to earth...

With a bang I hasten to add.

Like millions of other people, today marked my return to work and despite the repetitive hammering on the snooze button, it was inevitable that eventually I would have to crawl out of my pit and make an effort. So I arrived this morning, brand new year, brand new attitude (?) and one minute late - great start. In the name of balance, I was 35 minutes late leaving tonight and I think that's more typical of how the year will continue (if only I can keep it down to 35 minutes).

On the subject of good intentions, I got the running machine set up this evening and gave it a trial run. Well, brisk walk to be more exact. Well, to be honest, by the time I'd cleared the dust from it, that was best part of a workout in itself.

The diet's off to a good start aswell. I've decided that with all of the festivities planned throughout January, surely I can't be expected to turn 40, help two other friends celebrate advancing years (I never said how many Em!) and survive three days in Dublin whilst all the time watching what I'm eating? So February 1st is the new start date. Unless I can find an excuse to put it off even further. For starters, the 1st of February is a Wednesday which is a lousy day to start anything. The first month in 2006 that starts on a Monday morning is May, but that is the month when the rest of the family have their birthdays. I've managed to find a plethora of excuses for delay in years gone by so why should this year be any different?

You know what they say, procrastinatation is the mother of... oh, never mind, I'll look it up tomorrow...

Sunday, January 01, 2006

This year's blogging project...

Talking to Little Sis yesterday exchanging the New Year best wishes stuff, I happened to mention this blog, or more to the point, the fact that she never reads it and her defense was that I never read hers. A little unfair I think considering that I helped to get started on this one, I set up another one for her here (not strictly for blogging to be fair), but apparently she now also has a shared blog here that passed me by.

In it's very early stages it's fair to say, but it did inspire me whilst preparing dinner and instead of throwing out my carrot tops, I decided to leave them in a saucer full of water on the kitchen window sill (just like we used to do at primary school). Regular readers will be all too aware of my sporadic bloggers block and here we have the perfect solution; whenever I'm short on ideas, I'll just post an update on the carrot tops.

So here's the first one to kick things off:

If this goes to plan, I've another project planned for later in the year involving a plank of wood and some paint I have in the garage...