Archive for June, 2016

Busy busy busy

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

up goes the marquee

Was awake at around 5.30 am today doing JoeFest stuff. Spreadsheet. Out to the farm after breakfast to deliver the beer and associated peripherals. Found a very wet field. I imagine it is something like Glastonbury before the hordes turned up.

Max Wren turned up with the scouts marquee at 10.30 but waited until midday for the chiller to be delivered, 2 hours late. Off home to have a quic lunch with Joe the birthday boy, Hannah and John. Then down to pick up some plastic pint glasses from Booker (1,000 at around 4 pence each) and some industrial strength and quantities of bin bags.

Picked John up from school 6th from taster – he is going off the idea of Physics – and then off to Morrisons for bbq gas and to order 700 bread rolls for picking up on Saturday am. In between all that ordered 400 pints of cider and lager (ie 800 in total) from Tesco and 10 lires of Pimms for delivery tomorrow morning between 10am and 11.

Back to the farm to help erect the marquee and then set the beer up. 3 9 gallon kegs from Pheasantry.

Finally to the Morning Star with Anne, Joe and Charlotte to finish off Joe’s 19th birthday.

Pics and vids later.

Hannah’s Graduation Day

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

very proud parents

What a stunner of a day. Hannah’s graduation day in Durham. We caught the 10.42 train to Plymouth and got off at Durham 11 minutes later. It was only a short walk down to the market square and Hannah arrived at around 11.15 ish. Quick  M&S sandwich to fortify ourselves and we were off to the Cathedral. Hansk picked up her gown, had pics taken, preordered champagne and joined the queue to get in at 1pm. Hannah went in separately.

It has to be said that Durham University knows how to organise a ceremony, The surroundings were hugely impressive and the tenor of the occasion was spot on. Academic staff were dressed in outfits that must have dated back to the renaissance. V colourful. I welled up with pride. It took me back to the day of Tom’s graduation where instead of just shaking hands with the Chancellor he turned him and pointed towards us in the audience for an unique photo opportunity.

No photography was allowed in Durham cathedral during the ceremony but we have ordered the DVD.

Afterwards we popped the champagne and bought Han a Durham scarf. A modern languages dept drinks reception was thrown at St Chads just down from the Cathedral and then down to the Whisky River bar (or simlar) down by the river. It was chucking it down all afternoon but that didn’t detract from our enjoyment of the day and I had brought umbrellas along as a precaution.

It was in the whisky bar that we realised that it might have been a good idea to have booked a taxi. There were none available. In the end we caught a bus to Oro at the Pumphouse where we had a great Italian meal with a couple of bots of sauvignon blanc and two very nice bottles of Barolo.

A mini bus took us back to the station dropping Hannah off at Grey College where she headed out for the night to Fabios with her pals. All in all a wonderful day out.

This morning Tom caught the 6.30 am train back to London (urgh) and we are chillin whilst Anne pops to the shops. Setting off back at 10.30. Me to Durham to pick up Hannah and her ger and Anne and the lads home.

vids in chronological order:

Great night out in Newcasssssle.

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Las Iguanas

We brought two cars. Anne set off early to pick up Hannah and some of her stuff from Durham. I hung back to give Joe a change to get himself sorted – he returned from Glasto at 4.30 am, tired and dirty.

Cooked the lad bacon sausage beans and fried bread and made John and myself pork rolls for lunch – the pork left over from Sunday was delish.

It’s a bit of a boring drive up to Nuke. We were keeping in touch with Hannah using Messenger and unfortunately Anne got lost and we were in Newcastle before she made it to Han’s.

Bit of a stroll into the shops from the Sandman Hotel and then out for dinner at Las Iguanas. Lovely family dinner together with Han’s pal Saskia.  Tom arrived from London at around 9.30 and we ended the evening at the Pitcher and Piano.

The big news of the evening was that England were knocked out of the Euro 2016 football by Iceland. I collapsed into laughter. Facebook went silent on the subject. The hugely funny thing is that England always travel very hopefully but never seem to cut it in international football.

Tuesday is Hannah graduation day. We are all excited and looking forward to a lovely family day out. More later.

Weber Rotisserie

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

roast pork

Latitude tix arrived

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

partay time

Latitude tix arrived yesterday yay.

Had great night in Betty the campervan if somewhat sleepless. The bed was very comfortable but the dawn chorus at 4am was very loud.

We had an electric kettle so boiled up a brew in no time in the morning and I connected the gas for the first time and cooked a fry up.

Now Betty has been unloaded and we are just relaxing around the house. Pork has been covered in the smoked sea salt and garlic rub in prep for the spit roast bbq later this pm. The last time we use the spit was with the same rub and a shoulder of lamb with terrific results.

In the big bad world outside the fall out from the referendum vote continues. The PM David Cameron has resigned. Whilst he has presided over the recovery of the economy through very difficult times he will go down in history as a failure. His weak leadership will have been responsible for chaos in the country.

Ireland v France today. Cmon Ireland.

Swung by Waitrose and bought exactly what was on the shopping list. Bananas, milk, strawberries, custard and tinfoil. Anne hadn’t expected the custard but it was definitely on the list. I added it to the bottom:)


Our political parties seem to be in total disarray btw. 7 have resigned from the shadow cabinet. The PM has resigned. i wonder if I can switch off completely for the next six months and tune in for the Christmas break.

in other news The Pylons have made it to 6 Music’s Highlights of Glastonbury 2016 –

specific link to their song here

Pylons at Glasto

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

& Wales v N Ireland

Our first night in Betty tonight. Betty, if you don’t already know is our 1971 VW T2 bay window campervan. Got the fridge plugged in, toilet loaded with fluids, water tank filled for the sink (10l plastic container). Not connected the gas yet. Will have to do that sooner rather than later.

The camp is set up, although I forgot to bring the stakes for the flagpole. Fortunately we have come home to watch the first half of Wales v N Ireland and the Pylons Glastonbury gig which is only on tinterweb which is non existent in the campsite.

Winding the clock back to this morning it’s the first time I’ve woken with a hangover in a long time. Went out last night with Ajax, Stobie and Jezzer. They were celebrating the “leave” vote. I on the other hand was drowning my sorrows. They had been at it since 3pm and Jezzer and Ian didn’t last the night. Axax however has hollow legs and we moseyed on to the Taphouse and Kitchen where we bumped into Nige Delahey.

A dry martini and a couple of bottles of champagne later and I woke up with a hangover. Jenny Robinson turned up. Fantastic to see her. She is back from China for good. Terrible pollution out there apparently. Created havoc with her chest.

Just finished watching the Pylons gig. Watch some of the Wales match then back to the campsite. 1 0 Wales – own goal.

Lincoln Lanes campsite should be renamed Lincoln Lakes. We returned from our Pylons watching sojourn at home in Lincoln in torrential rain. The campsite is under water. Either wellies or flip flops are required, or as I’m my case boat shoes.

We have had our dinner. Lukewarm sausages and burgers saved for us from the bbq together with a few salady bits. Now we are chilling in the van listening to ma fave toons and reading WV Camper and Commercial magazine

Referendum disaster

Friday, June 24th, 2016

It’s “leave”

Somewhat exhausted this morning. Late to bed with the referendum on telly and was woken up in the middle of the night by something outside. We found a metal ring in the drive this morning. No idea where it came from. Might take a look at the cctv later.

Somewhat disastrous referendum result this morning with the leave campaign winning by over a million votes. Kids are quite stressed about it too. I don’t really want to talk about it any more. I think we are doing the wrong thing and it will have long term consequences.

Good afternoon at the ITSPA council meeting yesterday followed by a couple of sherberts. Tube was rammed. In fact I couldn’t get near the tube so I caught an Uber (on x2.2 surge = £16 for two tube stops). Good job there were plenty of cars available.

Stopped by waitrose at Kings X to buy a couple of bottles of beer and a sandwich for the train. I realise they do food on the train but experience suggests it is better t osort yourself out. Waitrose shelves were totally devoid of anything that could remotely be described as a sandwich so I settled for  bag of crisps.

Turns out I was given the run of the on board menu when I got on the train so had a chicken and bacon wrap, cheese sandwiches and the sausage roll again. And the bloke doled out liberal helpings of g&t to a win there really. Feels as if the on board fare is improving.

Bought John a suit this afternoon. He has his Y11 prom on wednesday night. Also Hannah’s graduation on Tuesday. We had lunch in the Sign Of The Fish near the bus station in Lincoln. It’s good but have to say not as good as The Burton Road Chippy. Fish was a little crumbly.

Off out tonight. Meeting Shannon to discuss Joefest Caribbean menu and then the lads are “celebrating” the Leave vote in the Strugs. I will be drowning my sorrows.

Featured image is the new railway bridge on Lincoln High Street. Looks as if it is ready to open. Could have done with it today as you will note from the flashing red lights and the barrier down.

Chucking it down nicely now btw

Day trip to London

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

in my new Oakleys

It’s a blurry eyed Thursday morning. I am awake early and have come downstairs to do some writing and to make the tea. The news from Glasto is that the main public areas are all slurry but the central artist’s campsite is fine and Joe is encamped next to a mobile mast so has connectivity.  He was online at 00.42 – probs quite early as festivals go. I imagine 🙂

It’s a dull morning out but not cold. In fact in London, whither I am bound today, it is looking like 23 degrees with thunderstorms this afternoon.

Today is the big referendum day. Boy am I glad. The campaign has been irritating to say the least. I’ve tried to switch off whenever possible but it has been difficult to avoid. At least there will be no campaigning today and by tomorrow morning we will know the result.

There is going to be a lot of brown stuff flying around tomorrow. This is much bigger than any general election.

My new glasses btw, Oakleys and similar frames to the pair I lost in Cumbria, have fantastic lenses in them. Much better than the previous set. I’d expect so at the price.

Booked a table at Las Iguanas at the quayside in Newcasssle. 7.30 pm Monday. Initially for five of us but Hannah’s pal Saskia is now coming so will have to ring up and amend. Tom’s train doesn’t get in from London until 11ish so he will miss that bit of the festivities.

More anon. I’m off to make the tea…

Now on the train south from Newark. It’s a Lincoln to London ticket but didn’t have a very good connection – Lincoln to Newark Castle and walk the mile or so to Northgate. Anne took me straight to Newark Northgate in the first place. Now here’s the thing. A first class ticket on this train, because I left it late, was something line £96. The ticket actually cost me £36 because I booked it from Lincoln. The connections are so bad that nobody uses up the cheap advanced tickets. Yay.

I’ll tell you another trick. I looked at putting Joe on the insurance for one of the cars. They wouldn’t let him on the Citroen C4 because he is too young but were happy with having him on the Micra. The cost until the end of October is an additional £295.

Ok so now I also add Hannah as an option. Although she is away for most of August I figured it might not be much more expensive and worth doing. The quote actually dropped to £145!!! Obviously the calming influence of a slightly older sister:)

Someone behind me knocking back the free white wine on the train btw – obvs on a bit of a day out. Sounds like a maturish bloke.

Here’s another story for you. The food choice on this train includes cheese and chutney sandwiches and a sausage roll with some sort of designer brown sauce. I wasn’t allowed both so settled for the sausage roll which was excellent fair play. When the girl came around with the trolley I accepted a bit of cake and a banana. After she had gone a chap in the next set of seats brought me round his cheese sandwiches saying he had already eaten. Result again!

As we get further south it is looking a little misty out there. They’re expecting temperatures of 23 degrees and thunderstorms in London so I’ve brought my waterproof jacket. Some of the fields are also beginning to turn yellow. It won’t be long before the harvest is upon us. We have already passed the longest day so the Summer days are starting to ebb away.

Just heard the guard talking to the steward, saying that the driver is going too fast. He is in a hurry to get home and the train is shaking too much. I was just thinking that funnily enough. Typing was getting harder. The guard said he was going to have a word…

Hannah gets a 2 1

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

& The Pylons head for Glasto

Sitting here listening to some saxophone practice. The steady timekeeping tap of the right foot. The conservatory doors are open into the garden. It is a beautiful day out there. The birds are happy.

We are waiting for Joe to be picked up to head down to Glastonbury. He is all packed up. Rehearsals finished last night and the band was exhausted but happy enough with progress I think. They are onstage at 5.45 on Saturday.

There have been warnings from the festival organisers not to arrive too early due to the wet state of some of the site. It was ever thus for Glasto. There is a backup plan. The Cooksons live nearby and they are already stopping with them on Friday, the day before they play.

It’s a big adventure and we are all excited.

There is also other top news – Hannah got a 2.1 degree at Durham. I’m hugely proud of her and am glowing as I write this.

The drive was finally finished today with a delivery of gravel for the old gravelly bit. We can now drive the cars back in and are somewhat poorer as a result. Looks good though and has been worth it.

Anne and Julie went to the Lincolnshire Show and John has popped round to Matt Ward’s for a celebratory end of exams BBQ.

I’ve been working but it has been pleasant doing so in the conservatory. Anne is now out at her book club. Thassit for today.

Thanks to Alex Dalton for the featured image that I nicked from his timeline without permission but I’m sure it will be ok.

Goodbye Dublin

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

we must leave you

Gotta say Dublin was great. Even in the airport as I leave and where I’m tapping in these words the experience has been good. The wifi was easy to get on – none of this registration and login rubbish. Ping time is 4ms. Only 2 megs down but that is fine. 65 megs up btw!!!

Dropped Hannah off at Terminal 1 and breezed into T2. The queue for check in was massive but you know what? It wasn’t my check in area. It was for folk traveling to the good old US of A. By the looks of it. At my check in there was no queue. Yay.

It feels a bit odd leaving what is unquestionably the world class city that is Dublin to go to, of all places, Doncaster. Only the airport but still Doncaster:). Looking forward to going home now. It’s the last day of John’s GCSE exams and we are off out to Tito’s for a celebratory meal.

Stunning evening last night. Started off after the conference in a private bar at the Vintage Cocktail Club. The door was very anonymous. You had to know it was there. V cool. Had numerous cocktails before heading over the road to some crappy tourist joint to watch the Wales v Russia game. Didn’t stay long. The Guinness was the worst I’ve had and I wasn’t made to feel welcome by the waitress who wanted me to order food. Wales were winning 2 – 0 at half time so Hannah and I set off to find 777, a supercool Mexican restaurant.

We sat at the bar drinking Margaritas and eating tortilla chips and salsa. I had chilli ribs for a main. Tom Bird joined us for a beer and we then found another pub with a singer and reasonable Guinness and where we were joined by Mark Fordyce. Home midnight ish and up before 6.30. Hotel stung me for 90 Euros to change the room to a twin from a double but hey… I won’t be booking through again.

20 thousand feet up

the noise of the aircraft is the same as silence. It pervades and masks.

there is plenty of room up here. not only are there no other aircraft around but I have a pod of four seats to myself. exit row.

enjoy the sunshine because it is cloudy down there. the car will whisk me home

I am excited to be going home. John’s last day of exams. no more GCSEs. he has worked hard. I am impressed and proud of the effort he has put in. now his rewards begin

it’s also Joe’s last day before he goes to Glastonbury. This is exciting in the extreme. The big stage. He has been rehearsing with the Pylons at Bridge Farm for the last few days. “The Bridge Farm sessions” 🙂

Looks as if the clouds are edging closer. A gradual descent. Down into Doncaster – a novel of high adventure set in a post industrial setting. Where Jason meets Chelsea.


Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

very comfortable

UK and Ireland Peering Forum beetroot juice

Monday, June 20th, 2016

nice turnout but no takers

UK&Ireland Peering Forum in Dublin this morning. Follows on from a terrific, if wet, day out with Hannah yesterday. The Trinity City Hotel is very central and we could walk everywhere.

We started with a stroll around Trinity College which was close to the hotel. There was a huge queue to get into the library and to see the Book of Kells so we didn’t. There is an option to queue jump by booking online. Unfortunately there was no open internet access and wasn’t sufficiently bothered about it to go elsewhere and find it.

Worth observing that the place was heaving with tourists. You wonder how students get any work done.

Following Trinity College we wandered around and found ourselves at Dublin Castle. At midday bought tickets for the one o’clock guided tour so we had a little time to kill. Chester Beatty library nearby was closed until 1pm. No good. The Terrace Cafe did the job especially as it had wifi which allowed us to catch up and to contact Mara from LinkedIn who we were meeting later that afternoon.

harpsThe tour was interesting both for the historical stuff but we also learnt that the Irish national emblem, the harp did not have an easy initial “life”. When they decided to adopt the harp as a national emblem they found that it had already been claimed as a trademark by the Guinness company. They got around the problem by turning the harp around and making one effectively a mirror image of the other.

Late lunch in Falafel and Kebab.

Met Mara and Barry O’Donovan in a pub called Slattery’s which was near The Old Spot, our final destination for the day and also near Lansdowne road, fwiw. The rest of the party, Andy, Will, Mark, Rich et al finally found us having gone to the wrong Slattery’s. The Old Spot was good – Oysters, chilli prawns and ribeye.

The Peering Forum has filled up nicely since I started writing. They have an interesting selection of juices at the refreshment stand. Carrot, kale, apple, beetroot and so on. Nobody seemed to be taking them and there was one fluorescent green looking bottle that had been sampled and left. I don’t think that network engineers are into healthy options:)

Ready to rocket?

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

condom in your pocket

Image courtesy of Barry O’Donovan taken in a pub toilet somewhere in Dublin. He thought it would make the good basis of a blog post. Not sure I can think of anything to write that would be appropriate, especially considering it is a Sunday and I am in Dublin.

Barry needs to be careful whipping out his camera in mens toilets. People might get the wrong idea. Don’t worry though. I’m sure Barry is ok. Probably…

Perhaps readers can think of something amusing to say about this photo?

I will mention that we have a neighbour who is a condom salesman. Sells to the NHS etc. I was once round his house returning a wheelbarrow (fwiw) and found him rummaging around in his cellar which was accessible from the driveway down the side. I went in and found an Aladdin’s cave of condom samples. Every shape and colour you could imagine. Walked away with a carrier bag full. Fwiw.

Sunday morning in Dublin

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

easing into the day

Had a great night out last night with Barry O’Donovan, Andy Davidson and Hannah. Barry took us around a few choice establishments: Mulligans, Sweetmans (where we had food), The Dawson Lounge (“is this the smallest pub in the world” I doubt it), Riley’s where there was a guitarist and The Gingerbread Man which is the place you can find the Taoiseach at around 10pm of a weekday night.

Today we are meeting Marijana from LinkedIn who lives in Dublin. Going to do some sightseeing with her and then meet the Peering Forum folk for dinner this evening. I think it might rain but shorts and t shirt will be fine.

V comfortable bedroom. Booked a twin so that Hannah could come along without it costing any extra. The hotel, Trinity City, is in the same building as the main fire station in central Dublin. All good stuff in case of an emergency:) I’m quite looking forward to an easy going breakfast.

Lovely photo of Anne and Shannon at the Pylons gig at the West end Tap last night. Looks like we missed a great night but can’t do it all I guess. Also took loads of pics out abd about last night, Will have to see if any are suitable for publication 🙂


Inside Mulligans

O’Connel St from Sweetmans upstairs

The Dail

The Dail again

Dawson’s Lounge

More Dawson’s Lounge


Gingerbread Man

The drive progresses & Dublin bound

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

more bricks delivered

Been packing to go to Dublin. Not much packing involved. A few t shirts and the shorts I am wearing. I’ve taken an executive decision that it is the height of summer and that’s all I’m going to need. Of course I have a jumper and a waterproof as well.

This is partly influenced by the fact that I am flying Stobart Air (by Aer Lingus) whose hand carry allowance is 7kg. Who needs more? There is risk here. No socks or long trousers but hey…

So this morning is a case of milling around the house waiting for the taxi to pick me up at 12.30. Can one person mill around? I have a taxi because the return cost of a taxi to Doncaster Robin hood Airport was roughly the same as parking plus the petrol for me driving both ways. Seemed a no brainer to me. Far more relaxing anyway.

Hannah is meeting me in Dublin. I changed my room to a twin so that she could come along. At least I called the hotel to do so. Initially I rang the website I had used to book the room. Never ‘eard of them. They wanted £30 to make the change – outrageous. I Won’t be using them again. Instead I called the hotel and was put through to an agent “somewhere”. They informed the hotel of my request – gawd knows if they will have it sorted. Will have to see when I get there. (sorted now fair play – we have a double and a single).

Han seems to have had a good short break in the Isle of Man. The Creek for lunch on day one and the Boatyard on day two. Can’t be bad. Rang dad and he is now settled in for a day of rugby – Wales v All Blacks, Engand v Wallabies and SA v Ireland (I think). Wales losing. New Zealand bench is too strong.

Refilled the bird feeder this morning. Good to know the small birds are getting their seed. It’s squirrel proof, hopefully. They are a real nuisance.

Arrived at Robin Hood Airport at 13.30. Checkin didn’t open until 14.00 and even then not. The password had changed on the checkin system and the girl had to go away and find the new one. Then She couldn’t log me in and then allocated me a seat other than the one I’d paid for/had preassigned. Then took 40 mins to get through security and I had to ditch the little bit of toothpaste I had left – wasn’t worth paying £1 for a clear plastic bag!

Bumped in to Andy Davidson in the security line.