Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Back home...

... they'll be watching and waiting...

(Now - no prizes, but extra points for anyone to get that odd lyric reference)...

We have a full house again, after a few days of just Mrs F and I with Daughter-of-Furtheron back from Spain and Son-of-Furtheron temporarily with us until he can move on to his new "apartment" in the Midlands it is a bit like the old days with a full house.  To be honest this'll be one of the very last times like this as when S-o-F moves out that'll pretty much be it, that will be him moving out really.  According to the Royal Mail which we used to check his address details it is an "apartment" not a flat he is moving to... honestly it becomes more like America everyday with the "season finale" replacing "last of the series" etc.  Soon we'll have "overtime" on the football - heaven forbid that becomes soccer!!!  Anyway I digress this wasn't intended to be a rant about the Americanisation of the English language.

S-o-F has been trying to sort his room out - he is a genetic hoarder a bit like me, he seems to just gather stuff about it, clothes, shoes, books, magazines, computers etc.  He has done a good job so far really.  Once he has decamped to the Black Country we're planning to revamp his room, now his is a man in his 20s the old cabin bed seems a bit out of place so we're planning on getting a sofa bed which will be better for when he and his girlfriend come to visit.  It'll be quiet  a good little project as well, we're going to replace the carpet which has seen much better days as well - I think we put that down soon after we moved in well over 20 years ago now.

I was talking to a friend last night who was made redundant from a job earlier this year - they'd been with the same company about 28 years, in a couple of different locations etc. but essentially the same thing in retail.  They started a new job yesterday, they are training into a totally new field in the care field.  They had a lot of the same reasons I've started to make the move I'm making with the counselling course.  They realised that they only were doing the job they were doing because they'd always done it and that it was the easy option but they've taken a brave and bold step into something new that they hope will give them greater inspiration.  Whatever that conversation both inspired me regarding my move but also raised the fear of  "What is I fail?".  Well as ever that is the old negative projection talking, I've not started yet and I'm concerned about not doing well where the centre I'll be attending have a 100% pass rate... for those that stick the course... don't start that again!!!... ;-)

Friday, 26 July 2013

A Chapter Closes

I've hired a small van for the weekend so rather than celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary with Mrs F I'm off to empty Son-of- Furtheron's flat in Wales. After 5 years of him living there this is the last time I'll go there. Apparently there is a carnival procession through the town on Saturday possibly in recognition of this momentous event ... Or maybe not ;-)

Daughter-of-Furtheron is home from a week long watersports trip to Spain. Frankly not the best experience. The coach broke down in France on the way there so a 12 hour wait in a layby didn't cheer her up them coming back they missed their ferry slot through another coach problem. She is hoping to go again (third time!) in 2 years time by persuading her teachers to let her go as an instructor. She no doubt will succeed!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Royal birth and how it complicates my devious master plan

So we have another heir to the throne, although I'll never see his coronation given I doubt he'll be south of 70 before he accedes to the throne, thus I'll have to be older than 120 probably to see this event.

Now - you know they changed the law so if the baby had been a she they would still have remained 3rd in line to the throne even if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had a subsequent male child?  Well they did; however this was not retrospectively applied.  This means Princess Anne, whilst being the Queen's second child, is actually lower in line to the throne than Andrew and Edward, her younger male siblings, and all of their offspring.  I think this is a travesty for woman's rights and should be corrected forthwith!!!   Actually the main reason I have this interest is that it would elevate Zara Philips (Princess Anne's daughter) from a lowly 15th in line to I think 9th.  

Why is that important?  Simple.  Zara is married to Gloucester rugby star and former England Captain Mike Tindall (the man with a nose that can smell around corners) and I can't help having silly desire to see him as HRH The Prince Consort to HRH Queen Zara.  Can you imagine Mike greeting various heads of states or going on tours to the Commonwealth?  Having to dress up in all the regalia etc?  Come on I bet it's just brought a smile to your face.

The new baby therefore adds complication to my master plan which is clearly to see all those preceding Zara in the line of accession meeting an untimely and sticky end so that my devilishly funny plan to see Mike alongside Zara in full regalia at the State Opening of Parliament can be fulfilled.   Brrrrhahahaaha  (That's meant to be a demonic maniacal laugh btw.).   So if I can get the female accession act amended to be retrospectively applied I reduce my task by 6 and spare both Andrew, Edward and their offspring meeting suspicious ends.

BBC Royal Family Tree showing accession and titles etc. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23272491

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Summer Storms

Like many people in the southern UK last night we had disturbed sleep due to the thunderstorms.  Can't say though I'm too unhappy to see the back of the heatwave, I know that only a few weeks ago I was sat at home with a fleece on bemoaning having to put the heating on in June!  However I'm not a hot weather person, it gives me headaches, makes me listless and can be a trigger for my horrible vertigo attacks.  The really horrendous one I had in the USA some years back was triggered in temps above 30°C.  Yesterday my son, his girlfriend and I escaped to a Chinese Restaurant for lunch - it's biggest saving grace was bottomless glasses of drink and air con!  Then we spent the height of the day in the cinema watching "The World's End" - funny film, if you like Shuan of the Dead you'll find it funny, not as good as that film or Hot Fuzz the other two in the "cornetto trilogy" and nowhere as good as Paul but a funny and cool couple of hours.

Of course the rain led to "severe flooding" at Gillingham meaning my train was delayed.  I didn't even see anything worthy of being called a puddle but there is always some good excuse for a 15 min delay when they can think it up!

Son-of-Furtheron returns to Wales for the last time today, he is heading back to pack up his flat and we are off down there at the weekend to complete his move out.  After 5 years it will seem odd him not being there, he has been there more than long enough to qualify to play rugby for Wales!  Later next month I'll be shifting all his stuff up to the Midlands for his next adventure.

Daughter-of-Furtheron, who is the only one in our family who loves the heat is missing it - she is in even hotter Spain at the moment on a school watersports trip.  She's having a great time we believe from the sparse contact, she wasn't best pleased the coach broke down and what should have been a largely overnight 18 hour trip became 36 hours on the way down.

In other news - my mother-in-law is back home, she is coping well although I was just having my tea on Friday night when her neighbour called saying she'd fallen in her garden, she couldn't get in to help her and she couldn't get back up.  I rushed there with visions of A&E etc. but luckily she'd tripped and was on her knees but couldn't straighten up - little damage done.

Oh in other news - some baby has arrived who I doubt I'll ever see on the throne and if you think about it he himself will probably not get to be king for the next 70 or so years probably, I mean there are two others in the queue ahead of him and they both look healthy enough and the current monarch doesn't show any signs of going anywhere does she?

Monday, 15 July 2013

Graduation and missing a crash...

Son-of-Furtheron is now Son-of-Furtheron MPhys (Hons) ! :-)

We had a trip to Wales to see my son, his girlfriend and their friends graduate.  S-o-F also won one of the top prizes the department give out for outstanding academic achievement or something - he has worked immensely hard to get what he has.

It was a gloriously sunny very hot day - most unlike Wales!  All his friends had a great time, his dept took great care of us laying on a nice reception with plenty of food. Also for the first time we got to meet his girlfriends family, we all lined up for a big photo, us on one side and her family on the other and my son suddenly said "Hang on what is going on with this photo?" realising the likeness to the regular "new family" photo taken at weddings... it was a lovely lovely day finished off with us all having a lovely celebratory meal back at our hotel before the new graduates went off to the pub for the last time with all their friends.

They have found a flat to rent in the Midlands that is really nice and now PhD research awaits both of them later in the year.

Today I had a completely separate and different life afirming moment.  I was very nearly in a very very serious car crash.  I'd just joined a dual carriageway I regularly use, accelerated up to speed and pulled into the outside lane to pass a lorry when I saw police lights flashing ahead in the nearside lane - this dual carriageway has no hard shoulder, the police car was pulled in on the curb about 100 yrds back from a broken down car.  Now I saw the lights and slowed, the lorry on the inside of me carrying loads of oxygen etc. gas cylinders did not.  The policeman was out of the car near the back as the lorry violently swerved too late to avoid - it hit the car about 1/3rd in the back totally wreking it, then now tipped up on two wheels went straight into the barrier and onto the central reservation (luckily very wide at this point) by now it was onto it's side with gas canisters flying all over the shop and came to a rest about 200 yrds further on.

I can't believe the policeman wasn't killed, somehow he'd lept to safety.  The gas didn't ignite and the driver of the lorry climbed out.  It was some seconds before I stopped shaking and got out of the car and spoke to the policeman who was himself very shaken.  2 hours later they turned us all round to drive back off the road as the fire brigade and others worked to make the lorry and it's cargo safe and another hour to drive back to home the slow way which would normally still only take 15 mins or so, the traffic was gridlock for miles around.  However... I'm still here to tell the tale and give my statement to the police - I was very lucky literally a second of two earlier at that point and that lorry would have taken me into the reservation with it.   Holy Cow is all I think to say... just glad everyone was pretty much ok, the lorry driver was taken off to hospital but nothing serious mostly shock I believe and neck pain which given how he must have been thrown about in the cab is amazing it wasn't any worse.

Monday, 8 July 2013

What is going on with British sport?

For most of my life it has been that British teams and individuals come a valiant second or third, we occasionally win like the 1966 football world cup or the 2003 drop goal spectacular in the Rugby Union World Cup, but generally runners up or knocked out in the semis is what we expect.  We show great sportsmanship and do it all normally on a fraction of the budget/facilities of those that win, TV documentaries showing the "nearly" world champion grafting away in some windy dilapidated shed where we all say that it is a miracle they did so well as they contrast other countries with their modern state of the art facilities and armies of support staff raising their athletes to the peak of performance, whilst our guy has to hold down a job as a bus driver to supplement his income.

However last year we did pretty well at the Olympics, above our expectations, a Brit won the Tour de France for the first time ever (and as I write this the tour is led by another Brit - you never know back to back victories?), and so we had a good year, a one off.  Errr...  but this is now 2013 and... the Lions win in Australia - convincingly in the final analysis of the last test, Andy Murray wins Wimbledon, first Brit since 1936 and clearly the first since the open, professional era.  Again reasonably convincingly, in straight sets against the world number 1.

So I ask again - what is going on?  We'll win the Ashes as well at this rate. Suddenly it doesn't seem outrageous to expect the Brit(s) to win.  Last weekend I went with my daughter to look around Loughborough University, she is considering it as one of her potential choices starting in 2014.  We went on a tour of their "world class sporting facilities" - they weren't joking, no draughty shed with a flickering light for the gymnasts to freeze themselves in but a purpose build truly impressive facility - and the athletics indoor facility was beyond words - I never expected to see a shotput pitch (correct term?) upstairs!!

Seeing how the Olympics did unite a nation and also I think success like the Lions and Andy Murray this weekend will generally raise the mood of the nation which is no bad thing and if someone did the research I'd expect you'd be able to say actually the investment from government is paid back in many different ways.  Actually I'm now proud to be a Brit due to us winning not just being the gallant losers!

Are you a donor?

A friend of mine has a daughter who has for many years had a chronic kidney condition.  This has led to a difficult life and one that presented her with a considerably shortened life expectancy.  This weekend however a miracle happened, she was alerted that a kidney might be available for a transplant.  I followed the story via good old social media the way you do these days, through the run to the hospital, confirmation the kidney was available, the agonising wait to see if it was a match, the joy that it was, the op late last night and the good news this morning that all is looking good so far in her early recovery.  There is a super picture of the recipient with the biggest smile you can imagine.

Of course there is a tragedy behind this good news story - an otherwise healthy person who sadly died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage.  However the fact that person was on the organ donor register has meant this life giving opportunity to my friends daughter.

Are you on the register?

Wales is moving to make it that you have to "opt out" soon, there will be "presumed consent".  Think about it, I realise people have different views but think about if you needed a heart, kidney, liver,  etc. You could only receive that if someone like you makes the decision to go on the register.  We all hope that nothing will happen to us, but I've attended too many funerals of people younger than myself this year already, sadly the unthinkable does happen.  My family know that I'm on the register and know that if they find themselves being asked there should be no hesitation I am a very willing donor.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Drinking Dreams

I've had two recent drinking dreams.

They disturb me.  I know many alcoholics in recovery have these happen.  The latest two have had similarities and are different from older ones.

First one I was somewhere and I knew I was drinking - I was discussing in my head the issue of having started again, I was drinking lager and considering this "ok" but was concerned I'd progress to other drinks.

The second one I was in an odd bar/pub.  It was a huge oval bar with people sat it - not unlike some bars I used to visit in the USA.  I was pushing myself back from the bar to distance myself.  Not sure I was drinking in the second one but was concerned about it - I was in the place to drink there seemed no other reason to be there.

So two within a week - something is going on in my head.  I'm still trying to figure out my new way of working, now faced with only being in the office 2 days a week I'm stressed about getting done what I need to get done in that time, but the rest of life stuff seems to be growing to engulf the rest of the time!

Who knows?  Often best to just sit with these things until a reason slowly emerges from the thoughts.

Monday, 1 July 2013

British Grand Prix

Regular long term readers of this blog may recall that my marvellous spouse and offspring bought me a weekend pass to the British Grand Prix back in October as my 50th birthday present.  Now people who read this blog will know I like motor racing, F1 in particular, back in the 80s when there were GPs at Brands Hatch, our local track, we'd regularly get up at 5am to be camped on South Bank by 7am and then sit in the car park as the sun set waiting for the nonsense of the 50 undisciplined lines of cars forcing themselves through one gate to exit.  I went to practice at Silverstone in 92 (I think) when Damon Hill forced an ugly handling Brabham onto the back of the grid.  The last GP I went to was the legendary European GP at Donnington in 1993 where it rained and rained and I witnessed Ayrton Senna's incredible drive to victory, that day he was unbelievable able to drive around as though there wasn't the 2 inches of water that there really was.  So 20 years since a physical GP visit.  I was really excited by it.

My son and I set off Friday, we arrived at the circuit as the "pretty pointless" first free practice came to an inconclusive end, it was raining and had been heavily therefore only a few cars ran some laps at the end and all mostly just to check all systems were working ok.  One negative point sadly is that the back of the circuit, Hanger Straight in particular was a mud bath - Silverstone, fix that, more of the thick gravel as at Vale please.  We wandered about getting bearings on the circuit - last time I went there was to watch F3000 and Peugeot 905's in the 90s and it has changed a lot since then.

Saturday we watched mostly at Copse and Beckett's.  We were right there when the first tyre blow in practice on Sergio Perez's car - we watched the Pirelli and FIA officials looking at the Copse curbs for about 20 mins after that...  more anon...  We then watched Sam Bird drive to the first British victory in the GP2 feature race, great race!  Then Jack Harvey capped a 100% first race day for GB by winning a badly interrupted GP3 race - best thing was to see the two drivers involved in a very frightening crash walk to the ambulance unaided - seeing cars, upside down on top of each others is not nice!  With Hamilton on pole for the GP it was a Brit clean sweep for that day!

Sunday - up at 5am in the hotel at Aylesbury, easy drive in as the other days had been.  We claimed a spot on the bank at Vale near Stowe corner so could see the end of Hanger Straight the corner, Vale complex and entry to the pits.  There was a lot of action in the morning with three races, GP3, GP2 sprint race and Porsche supercup.  Another Brit winner in Jon Lancaster gave a clean sweep in that category for the home drivers.

The Red Arrows entertained as only they can at lunch and then... the race...

If you know anything about F1 one of the most exciting and controversial in many years.  Lewis Hamilton shot off into the lead and looked set, as long as his tyres lasted for a home win but then suddenly there were gasps as we saw on the big screen his tyre like Perez's on Friday had exploded.  He limped to the pits for a replacement but was at the back of the grid.  But more people had tyre issues, Verne won the save of the season as we heard his explode on the straight and held our breath as he managed some how to keep it out the wall or the gravel.  A safety car to clean up helped Lewis now fighting up the lower order.  Then Vettel who'd inherited the lead came around right in front of us and ... that didn't sound right, no indeed his gearbox had failed, another safety car to salvage his car as he'd not dived into the pits just as it happened and was parked on the start straight.  Again they all bunch up, now Lewis was near getting some points.

The last few laps after that safety car were amazing, Hamilton, Alonso and Webber carved through cars in front who's tyres were worn out.  Hamilton didn't win but 4th from dead last in a dry race has to be one of the best come backs ever!

We watched the podium and wondered back to the car, I'd expected to wait an hour or two for the crush to clear but the traffic was moving freely so we drove straight out and the one way system on the A43 whilst distinctly odd (driving the wrong way on a dual carriageway!) worked really well even after a stop for a meal we were home well before we used to get out of the Brands Hatch car parks!

I had a fantastic time!!!  :-)