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What time is love? July 21, 2008

Posted by stagedive in Holiday, Idle Thoughts, Kids, Music, Reviews, Travel.
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It’s been almost a week since I last put pen to paper on here .. I was so inspired by a Monday back at work after a week out that even looking at blog searches from a year ago inspired me.

Whats happened?? 20th Nov last year 31,517 people looked at these pages in one day – thats about a 5000% increase on when I actually wrote anything on here that (I thought) had meaning. If only working life was like that, you take some time out and the worker pixies press buttons for you .. if only. It was a search on panda eyes or something. There was me thinking the only person that read this was gf linking through to Annie Rhiannon’s site cos she is too lazy to bookmark it.

Tips brain contents out onto page so can look back and remember some of this in a year from now ..

We went on a fantastic long holiday and I meant to write about it, Moscow, across Russia, Mongolia, drank Yak’s milk, Beijing, Shanghai, celebrated National Day, Hong Kong, then home .. I even took some notes at the time to get the blog motors rolling, it seems so long ago.

We had a romantic weekend in Bratislava too for gf’s birthday. Lovely place & the best hot chocolate in the whole world ever. I didn’t think it were possible to get that excited about hot chocolate, but it is! A trip across the border to Vienna for the day, without my passport – life on the edge, the closest I get to being a bond villain.

A lovely trip to Canadia to see the in-law’s. The Ontario winter was a sight. I got to drive the Bobcat – I was momentarily ‘Mr Plough’, but alas I wasn’t there long enough to develop my obvious natural ability for a change in career. Two days cross country skiiing by Lake Pigeon in a little log cabin too, it’s harder than it looks.

A rejuvenated TFC had a couple of gigs, one at the Islington Academy with shiny new line-up. I always promised myself I would never be in a band with keyboards, oh the shame I have brought upon this humble home, but that’s another promise broken ..

Went to Latitude with the kids last weekend. Got dirty and didn’t care .. Saw a whole bunch of bands that I hadn’t heard of, watched a whole load of kids walk round with T-Shirts of bands that I hadn’t heard of. It was a great weekend. My shoulders are a different shape from carrying youngest son on shoulders for the enitire (almost) Elbow set down the front. They even had showers this year that worked & toilets that were bearable. Highlights were largely in the Comedy & Literature tents with Russell Howard topping the stand up list & Colin Watson at the Book Club just being mesmiringly mental & taking lots of laughs. I also saw Attila for a bit of left wing nostalgia who was bang on form. Musically, Elbow, Death Cab for Cutie, Joanna Newsome & Okkerville River all ruled.

Booked a bunch of holidays this year … at last. There was a worrying few weeks where we had nothing booked and a bleak horizon of work and no play. The sun is shining again though & in this house the summer starts next week, officially.

We’re all going on .. August 31, 2007

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It has been a Summer of holidays this year. I have got to the ungrateful spoilt brat stage of actually looking forward to a weekend at home doing nothing – I don’t mean that in the literal sense as all have been a lot of fun, but when we booked 5 weekends away in a row, it didn’t seem as ambitious as it was/is in reality.

First up was a 10 day roadtrip to;
Amsterdam – Anne Frank, Canal Boat, Trams a go-go, Nasty Hotel
Antwerp – Lavish Hotel, Transvestite Town Square entertainment, pretty walks
Brussels – Manneken Pis, Atonium (which I have wanted to visit since I was a kid & didn’t dissapoint), Euro Parliment
Luxembourg – Not a lot to entertain the tourist, but gorgeous views and the way the City is cut into the hillside has to be seen.
Paris – a day of being a City guide and one day at Disney ..

Then we went to Berlin to sign house stuff. We rented some bikes for the weekendand my Sister and her Boyfriend played the perfect hosts and we toured around on our Fat Tyres. It’s a great way to see Berlin as it is a very dispersed City and also very flat. We also spent a day biking out to Hohenschönhausen Prison, the former Stasi run establishment, used for housing predimenetly Political prisonors/the innocent – now a memorial. A really moving tour, all be it in German only, by former inmates that takes you round the depths of the U-Boat basement cells and recalls tales that you wouldn’t believe unless you were there. Moving and memorable.

Next up was Cambridge for a 40th Birthday Party on the River. For reasons of consuming alcohol, we stayed over and had a hotel looking on Parker’s Piece. Not having ever stayed in Cambridge before, it’s so picturesque and peaceful first thing in the morning when the greens are empty and the tourist haven’t yet woken up.

Last weekend was Warsaw. We flew with Central Wings .. never again. Our outbound flight was delayed by 7 hours, after already being delayed 5 hours advised by e-mail. We therefore sat in the departure lounge until 2am having expected to have landed in Poland at 10pm. The return journey was little better, an immediate delay of 5 hours .. both events the reasons were given as nothing more than ‘Operational’. The part imbetween was great though. My Sister once more played perfect host and we had an apartment all to ourselves. We stayed in and around the Old/New Town on Saturday, went Swimming and ate loads for ‘Brunch’ on Sunday, visited a memorial section of the old Ghetto wall & watched movies. Then Monday we visited a new (to me at least) Museum for the Warsaw Uprising. It was very atmospheric with excellent sound effects in each room, a sympathetic construction, and a number of genuine glimpses of the past.

It’s a lot to be grateful for, and we had a great time at each and every one, aside from some airline delays, but this weekend I have nothing planned, and it feels just great ..

Rebellion .. June 6, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Kids, Music, Reviews.
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index2003_r1_c4.jpgSo you think you are a punk? Well no, not really, but picture the scene ..

I am sitting at one PC watching the very entertaining American Hardcore*, grinning at the Jerry’s Kids live set and some in-depth interviews with Ian and Henry .. I even sang along with Minor Threat a little just to get into the mood ..

My youngest Son is listening to JAMES BLUNT on Bebo .. those three wise men can shove their semi’s somewhere unpleasant ..

I am sure their will be some role reversal come the teenage years, but frankly, I might need to beat this phase out of him ..

 * Great film for nostalgia, focuses a little too much on the West Coast for my liking, but a lot of grainy snippets of live footage that I could watch for weeks on end. Look forward to seeing the extras on the DVD.

Wheaten .. June 6, 2007

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A pleasant business trip to Northern Ireland last week, Hogwarts-esque plush hotel, on the coast, just up from the Border in the town of Newcastle. Sitting in the spa overlooking the sunny water, it was a world away from the smog and smoke .. I won the quiz too, impressing a few people with my knowledge of TV Theme tunes & I don’t even watch TV..

Newcastle also has a bakery that boasted the best Wheaten Breadin the whole of Ireland .. I’m not sure how they validate that, but it was pretty fine indulging nonetheless ..

It’s a rare occasion that work and leisure combine these days, I used to work located with my co-workers and miss the camaraderie of that. I think I need to change roles and become a Postman and call in to see people for a cup of tea and chat .. having said that, my Postman is not the happy ‘cup of tea’ type, he is a ‘geezer’ who calls me me ‘boss’ – he would probably be more happy with a Diamond White and an ounce of Charlie ..

Happy Birthday Mum. I cooked for her last night as she was otherwise engaged today. She loved it & we had a really nice evening, although she did take a fair while to blow out the candles & made a wish for ‘More Grandchildren’, to looks agast around the dinner table .. all parties have since recovered ..

Eldest Son is away on a school trip all week. I’m not soppy eyed, but I do really miss him. Reminds me of my school trips – setting off fire crackers in the sea wall at Dieppe and making hay on the back seat of the coach, metaphorically speaking of course .. I’m sure he is having a fine time – the joys of youth ..

This is the Modern World .. May 22, 2007

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Son #2 is only 8. He accompanied me into town last Friday night on a ‘dropping the masses off to get intoxicated’ jaunt. On the way through the Town Centre there were surly looking some bouncers outside a couple of the bars and he asked me, ‘why do they have guards outside a pub?’ .. i answered in the best way I saw how and he accepted that some people cause trouble for no reason and acknowledged that when people drink, they sometimes get violent ..

This led onto quite a reasoned debate and a more alarming perception of a nightclub .. ‘I don’t think I ever want to go to a nightclub, because of all the guns’, he said .. I explained the likelihood of anyone having a gun was remote, that’s the job of the bouncer, and that the well publicised local shootingdoesn’t mean that every club is littered with gun toting drug dealers .. we had a nice chat about it and whilst I wasn’t trying to promote club land, I don’t want him to latch on to one news item and become paranoid.

It is a shame .. Children were still Children when I was his age, these days the masses of information and media mean that kids see and hear so much more at a young age. I think I would be the same. I don’t see him sitting down to watch the news, it’s more a sub-conscious absorption from Internet, TV & Playground – the Playground is especially rife with stories and opinions these days, and now all a kid has to do to find out more is type the new word into Google. What 8 year old kid isn’t inquisitive?

I don’t believe in too much censorship, but you don’t want you kids to miss out on the tooth fairy phase in order to come to terms with Heroin Addiction and the poor working condition in the Town’s Red Light District..

Thankfully both my Children will talk openly about things and haven’t gathered any obvious hang-ups, we all adapt, and if the media is out there, it’s a case of standing on guard to spot the news heading their way and helping out with some rational context. The joys of modern parenthood.

Sunscreen .. May 21, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Kids.
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PandaI offer some worthwhile advice this time. If you are going to purchase (moderately) fashionable over-sized sunglasses that could have handed down from a Terminator/Roy Orbison hybrid, do not .. repeat .. do not  .. wear them in the extreme sunshine for any length of time .. especially not all day Sunday in the middle of an open field ..

‘Panda Boy Lobster Face’ is what my Son called me, amongst fits of giggles .. It’s a good job I don’t have to face the wrath of the playground today. We ate out last night and T booked two tables, one for me,one for her and the kids .. the waiter was trying to look at me as though there was nothing wrong .. it could be some hideous incurable skin complaint after all .. I think I provided sufficient entertainment for all ..

On a slightly heavier note, I headed to London today. It was all going so well, although I was obviously preparing myself for the adult equivalent of playground piss taking .. no one in my office would have let me out of the room alive, in a respectful manner .. of course .. then the train stops .. I wait, we wait .. and wait .. about an hour later we discover someone is having a worse day .. they had jumped in front of the train in front of us! What a way to start the week. It’s hard to be mad at someone for making the train too late, for you to attend a meeting that in a couple of months time you will have forgotten about – to them, the situation was somewhat more dire.

I had wasted enough time to make it worthless heading into the City, so I turned round and came back home. I had wasted my train fare & was moderatly annoyed for about 30 mins and then joined the meeting by phone. My day returned to schedule with some ease. The person whose life ended at Marks Tey this morning has family members in shock, lives turned upside down, probably, it won’t be quite so smooth running for them .. thoughts to them ..

Solarcaine for the Soul ..

Isopropyl .. April 26, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Kids, Music, My Girlfriend.
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Say hello, wave goodbye ..

150px-isopropanol-3d-vdw.pngIt is the end of an era .. in days of old, when ships set sail to restore England’s pride, I bought a smoky brown glass jar of Isopropyl Alcohol from Boots Chemist for £3.69 (I know cos the label is still on it) on recommendation of the geeky looking guy in the hi-fi shop .. I was a mere teenager and audio cassettes were the de rigour .. I used to record loads of trite off the radio and had just started getting into four track home recording on my Tascam Porta 1 .. ahh those were the days ..

To clean the cassette heads you used to have to get a cotton bud, dip it in the alcohol and rub all the dirt and grime away before you made your masterpiece .. the smell is instant and recognisable, like a mix of pencil smells & clinical institutions ..

Anyway .. I’ve kept that self same bottle of Alcohol on the shelf for all those years, it saw me through leaving home, came with me to college, my first real home, having kids (I think that’s when it went to the high shelf) through to today .. but needs must .. I was clearing space out for girls stuff ‘well where am I going to put my stuff?’, said T, with what I have to admit was a reasonable degree of concern and empathy* .. the junk had to go .. I had ditched the audio cassettes some 3 or 4 years ago, but the Isopropyl stood for so much more ..

It is now no longer. Where the bottle once stood, now stands girls stuff .. disposable stuff that will probably be out of favour in a few months and replaced by the seasons’ hot trends .. tee hee .. so long big brown bottle, you have been good to me ..

* It’s because she is worth it ..

Birthday Breakfast .. April 26, 2007

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It was my Birthday last week .. in terms of milestones, for the first time my kids made me breakfast in bed ..

Apron strings are tough ones to snap, but it was an emotional moment to get poached eggs on toast cooked for me in a team-like production line (I do hope they washed their hands!). I’m guessing it will be a few years yet until they open the row of dusty cookbooks and/or stay out all night and come home at breakfast time, but they re growing up faster than I can shake a punk rock CD at them ..

In no particular order .. March 12, 2007

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It’s not that I haven’t had the urge to write, nor that I haven’t set time aside, but something always seemed to get in the way that was way more important. In the past week or two I have mostly been doing some or more of the following;

  • I have eaten out on three occasions, starting with a birthday bash in the ‘Japenese Fusion’ (whatever that means) of Aqua 8> This turned out to be a really nice looking building with decor reminiscent of a Tony Soprano owned establishment. The atmosphere was upbeat and the food was good. It was pretty pricey for what was offered, but it has all the hallmarks of something better than a provincial town. What followed was lots of booze and dancing around with Tulips – people have video phone these days too and dancing with Tulips when you are pissed, never quite looks as stylish as you think it did at the time..
  • Another someones birthday took me to Mizu .. which is owned by the same people as Aqua Eight, only its a cheap and quick noodle bar version. Seemingly, their excellent food has been dressed down and moved to the up-market younger brother .. it might be me but the food seemed a bit bland to what it was and the plates have all gotten smaller .. why do they do that?! The birthday girl had a Salsa evening and I strutted all the moves I know* & left quickly afterwards ..
  •  I took my 93 year old Aunt out for Sunday lunch with my Mum and Brother. We went to the Cornwallis resturant in the Countryside. I was amazed how completely together she is, witty and mentally sharp. She is still sarcastic and in on the jokes, not only the general ones, but also the subtle piss taking – I hope I am still like that at her age. I also got upset thinking how much she reminds me of my Dad. I only tend to think of my Dadin a happy light (he died 12 years ago), but seeing the way she glanced at me in exactly the same way as my Dad used to was a bit full on in terms of  emotion. Inevitable as she is the only surviving relative on that side of my family, but when she felt ill towards the end of the afternoon and struggled for breath, it was a step closer to panic that I reached. She recovered when she got home and was really appreciative of the day and gave me a big hug – she is great..
  • I cared for 2 sick children. Both my kids got fever and felt sorry for themselves for a couple of days. They both puked up – my eldest looked a bit green and went to puke in the toliet and didnt move quickly enough .. I caught the puke in my hand, in a double cupped motion .. it was warm and stunk like a badgers armpit .. after the clean up, digging chunks from between the floor boards, I had to shower twice to get rid of the smell .. Mmmm ..
  • I taught my Canadian Girlfriend what Ska is, its origins and dance moves (ahem) .. We went to the Skatones night at the Great White Horse in Ipswich. Preceded by lots of beer in a pub crawl formation and danced in some refined style all evening. I loved it ..
  • I also taught/was amazed that my Canadian Girlfriend didn’t know what the NME is .. really? .. yes .. In the cultural waters of Montreal and Toronto, it seems that Indie Pop is not what it may seem. I can appreciate a world where music isn’t as important to some people that others, but to not even comprehend what the NME is/was, or what the foundations of a muso nerd in the UK even look like, was quite odd to digest .. very refreshing .. she’s great too ..

… oh .. and, I have been to Albania for a Long Weekend of dust and Communism lost .. I’ll follow that one later ..

* none of which are strictly Salsa moves but done very quickly and with some extreme style..

Soup Sir .. February 20, 2007

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I have joined the smug self righteous middle classes that buy large quantities of organic vegetables and yet still search out cheap air flights for city breaks at an alarming rate. My carbon footprint might not be entirely positive, but I am working on it. I had my first vegetable ‘Box’ delivered stock full of things that I might raise an eyebrow to in the supermarket* .. and boy was ita fun experience ..

The pinnacle was reached tonight when I persuaded my 8 Year Old Son, who considers anything that does not contain E numbers and Glucose to be the work of a lower life form, to eat a rather large helping of Vegetable soup, containing Cabbage, Broccoli, Parsnip, Aubergine, Basil, Onion, Tomato and Chilli !! Woh .. count them .. there’s no five a day living in this household, we can eat cakes and choc ices for a week now ..

There was even a neighbourhood call out that brought in 3 visitors to try out ‘Vegetables in a soup that actually taste really nice!’ .. Plus we only have to wait till Thursday before the next delivery .. it’s like Santa digging in the dirt ..

* aka satan’s lair for anyone that reads the Ecologist ..