Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Run To The Beat 2010

And onto Sunday, and the hell that was 17,000 competitors (plus crowd) all trying to get the O2 arena while Transport For London did their best to ensure that the last thing they provided was transport! A 5:30am start ensured we were there for the 9:30am start .... however with the Jubilee line casually rolling up a train every 15 minutes its no surprise not everyone arrived and the race was delayed.

The term "packed in like animals" now has new meaning, as once we arrived at Oxford Circus we were joined in our transport pen by "Horny Mike" .... dressed in full Rhino costume!

Anyway, heres Tash pre race looking quite fresh and enthusiastic.

The race went for 13 miles, and passed numerous stages with live bands playing. This was the one at the O2.

It was blowing a gale, and not a very nice day, so after wandering around the empty O2 and checking out a band I asked Alfie if he wanted to keep wandering. He wasn't impressed.

So Alfie and I decided to head for cover ... in the shape of the nearest pub! His food couldn't come quick enough, and he was eyes everywhere until it arrived!

We had a lovely lunch, and managed to get into place just in time to see Tash dash past on her way to the finish line. She completed the time in 2hr25, which was an amazing achievement. It was also the same time it took us to get out of North Greenwich after the race had finished!

We reached Kings Cross at about 6pm (4hrs to do North Greenwich to Kings Cross!) to catch up with our good pal Rach who was over from Oz.

A few weeks back, before we knew she was coming, I had asked her if she could track me down a Rex Hunt Fishing baseball cap. Bill has one, ive worn it the last two times when on the boat, and caught 'dinner fish' both times. I decided I needed a lucky cap of my own!! Apparently they no longer make them, but she managed to get them to find one for me and even have the great man sign it! Awesome, thanks Rach!!

I foolishly took no photos, but we had a lovely afternoon/evening together, and can't wait till she's next back over in the UK around Christmas time.

Now I need to go fishing to see if my cap is as lucky for me as Bill's one is!

National Finals 2010

And, so the weekend came ... and with it the arrival of Tasha's first half marathon experience! However, before then, on Saturday we decided to head up to Santa Pod for the National Finals. Maybe Tash wanted some funny gas fueled fun before the pounding pain of running 13 miles?

It was quite appropriate that we went, as 2009's National Finals was the last time we went to Santa Pod before Alfie arrived. He seemed to like it then, kicking Tash about like a lunatic, and he sure loved it this time round too! Check out that grin!

It was lovely so see a load of friends once more, and spend some time up and down the pit lane. Ammie has the digital SLR at the moment, so I was playing with the settings on my camcorder. I love this photo, it kinda looks like Alfie has just rolled past Tash up the fire up road as she watched the competitors come past.

I loved this Slingshot!

Can you go wrong with Coke Bottle curves??

One of the great things about the Pod is how close you can get to the teams. These guys were spannering double quick time to get a Top Fuel Funny car turned around for its next qualification run ... and I loved the little service cart they had made!

We sat in the grandstand for a while and watched some racing, and Alfie has a brilliant time!

I think they call this chassic twist!

But eventually we had to go home. Alfie was unimpressed.

Big thanks to Abi and Andrew for inviting us, and letting Alfie run riot within their caravan!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait.

And by "good things" I mean specifically a MoT for the Mighty Benz.

I knew the MoT was due (this was a few weeks back), and I knew that it needed CV boots up front. Turns out, that being 4WD, gave Mercedes a suitable excuse to add yet another extra percentage to their already usually strong pricing structure.

I kid you not. Front inner CV boots (yes, just the boots) for a 1990 300TE 4matic costs ..... £140+vat EACH! And so the Benz spent the past two week much like this.

Alfie was a dream (you can see him in the Buggy next to the Benz) and usually allowed me an hour a day to search for alternative solutions ... and often discover yet another tool that I needed and didn't yet own.

Still, I managed to get a set of CV boots stretched into place and I think they're gonna do me a turn. Thankfully, done just in time before the weather turns.

I feel like my life's been on hold while I've been sorting this out, and now I'm gonna play a bit of catchup. Tomorrow we should be off to the Pod, and then next week is gonna be crazy.

The sofa was vacated from the barn this week too (thanks Dawn and Dale) so if I can find time for a quick reorganise then I should be ready to start the next project ...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Last Taste Of Summer.

It seemed like Autumn was in full swing at the end of last week, and I found myself making time to cut down branches and make kindling for our winter warmth. We even had our first fire of the year on Thursday, and by Friday afternoon I had ordered our annual half truck load of wood. As you can see, the wood store is looking pretty empty!

I was therefore over the moon when Saturday morning awoke, and it seemed we had been saved the full force Autumn, if only for a short period. Having walked the dogs, we decided to make the most of the sunshine, and spend some time in the garden. There was much to do, and when it came to harvesting we collected the most wonderful selection of tomatoes, chillis, courgettes and sweetcorn. The "Mr Stripey" tomatoes are my favourite, as you might have guessed by the new background to the blog header ^ up there.

Alfie has been on top form recently (apart from the minor issue of a cold and chest infection) and has taken a keen interest in learning how to disassemble Mercedes driveshafts. He's also had a lot of input into the tidying and reorganisation of the barn, which is now becoming a really fantastic usable space. After a hard days work, we always wind down with an hours play with his toys in his room. His two favourite activities are trying to shake the radiator off the wall, and climbing all over his motorbike. As you can see from the photo, I popped him in the seat so he could pretend to be Rossi for a few minutes. He looked such a natural sat on his little bike ... and then just like the G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time) this year he had a bit of a moment and ended up in the gravel trap.

Right, now Lemon Drizzle cake calls!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Home Is Where You Park It.

I have long loved the idea of travelling in a vehicle, seeing the sights of the world, and the general feeling of complete freedom that must come with not being tied down. Part of it is Uncles fault, bottles of Magno and talk of land in Spain.

Tash and I had wanted to do some travelling of our own when Alfie arrived, but sadly it became very clear the bus would not be ready to make the 1200 mile journey down to Gibraltar by the time he arrived. Work on it continues, and we hope to be able to make fantastic use of it next summer to show Alfie some sights, but anyway ......

It is with thoughts like this in my mind that something on Retro Rides totally blew me away! I spotted this thread in the Readers Rides section, the word "housetruck" in the title immediately grabbing my attention. I don't want to spoil anything because I really hope you will read this thread ... this guys work, his attitude, and what he is doing, is just totally awesome! It really is a housetruck, not a campervan. In fairness it actually puts many peoples homes to shame, and is bigger than most flats!

As a teaser, this is the 1985 Hino he started with ... now go make a cup of coffee, click the link, and enjoy the next 30 minutes of reading ....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Back In Black

Whilst the Benz has been testing my patience recently (in fairness, its the cost of Mercedes parts as opposed to the car itself) today I had a real positive car moment.

With the additional free time I'm now managing to find, I am slowly managing to get a lot of boxes ticked that I have been aiming at for some time. Today Alfie and I managed to make the trip down to Romford to see how my bug was doing, and sort out the final details with the bodyshop.

Those of you who watch F1 might remember Jake Humphrey entering a race driving an Elise last year? Well his car was prepared and provided by Essex Motorsort (previously Sinclairs of London), and its those guys who did the metal work and paint .... some four years ago! I gotta say, I was totally blown away by how the paint looked, and how well the car had been looked after. Not a scratch or ding in sight, and the black is an awesome mirror finish. Now just to sort out where its going to go to ....

And on that note, Tash and I have started planning our new garage/barn extension which will home all our toys. There's a guy on Retro Rides who does these things for a living and is helping me plan it out, and having drawn him a very rough diagram on Google Maps it appears my garage may actually be larger than the neighbours house! Awesome!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Well that explains a lot ...

Alfie has recently managed to get hold of certain objects both Tash and I swore were out of reach.  And this afternoon he got busted.  It would appear the little monster has given up on the idea of walking to get to his toys, and instead would prefer to climb to reach those things he's not supposed to have!  That explains how he came to be chewing on blutac yesterday!

Like chickens in a bottlebank

Without us intending or realising, Saturday morning became somewhat hectic!

During the week our washer/dryer decided to throw in the towel with a definite life ending thud. That electrickery burning smell gave me an idea their might be no way back for the trusty Servis appliance. So we had visited Comet, I fooled around with Alfie, and Tash bought a new washing machine. Delivery date – Saturday.

The week before I had had a chat with the guy next door who let me know our adjoining fence was going to be replaced. It was far from upright and so I was pleased at the news! With me working on getting the garden looking nice, this was a definite bonus and one that wont cost me a dime! Work to be done on – Saturday.

Now you may be wondering what the problem is with having a fence replaced and a washing machine delivered on the same day, but by 8:30am it was very clear to us how much of an issue it might all become!

The ‘fence man’ arrived at 8:30am, and caught my eye in next doors garden. I went out to see him, and it became clear that he was going to take down the existing fence as far as the chicken run … leaving them homeless. He also pointed out he wasn’t going to finish it till the next day … meaning we needed to sort out overnight accommodation for the three birds.

We decided to box them in outside the back door, much to Harry’s enormous excitement. Tash did a tremendous job at grabbing birds, and I attempted to multi-task and open gates whilst somehow keeping the hens in their new enclosure until they were all safely there together. We got there though, and once the hen house was next to the log shed it looked like it would do for a night.

Then we realised the problems we now faced. When the washing machine arrived it could no longer come in through the back door as planned, and added to that we now couldn’t throw the dogs into the garden to keep them out of the way! And at that point the phone rang, it was Mr Comet to let us know he’d be 20 minutes. And so we legged it into the lounge to try and clear space to squeeze a washing machine through the length of the house and into position. Knowing what could potentially be coming, the delivery men promptly arrived and I disappeared out through the front door to walk the dogs and get them out of the way. Thankfully by the time I returned the washing machine was nearly in place, and a small level of normality returned.

To be fair to the fence man, he got enough done to have the fence panelled up to the end of the chicken run by 3pm so we could put the hens back into their usual home before night. If he didn’t have a fag every 10 minutes he could probably have done the lot, but I wasn’t paying him so what did I care. And then the real fun began. Harry was sat by the back door, and I doubt it will shock you when I say he had been sat there literally all day. However, at this point, I think he saw what was going to happen. And for about the next 5 minutes I laughed SO HARD! I imagine the noise can only be compared to what might have happen if you trapped 50 chickens in a bottle bank and posted a fox in. Tash chased chickens, chickens got scared, chickens ran/flapped/jumped towards the house and hit the back door, Harry chased chickens up the pane of glass with teeth bared, chickens got scared, chickens ran the other way and ploughed through our collection of empty bottles (about six months worth), chickens got scared, Tash chased chickens …. and so the cycle continued.

Eventually the hens were caught, their house moved back next to the newly erected fence, and you would never know what had gone on over the previous 7 hours.

However my day was not yet done. Potentially seeking revenge for my earlier hysterics, Tash then let it be known she was far from impressed at our vast collection of bottles (now thrown into a very ad-hoc, ‘modern art’ style glazed decking area) and so it was my duty to fill FOUR bin bags full and cart them off to the recycle point. Ho-hum.

Monday, September 06, 2010

When updating the blog the other day I realised that at that point I had just starting baking bread. A course at cinnamon square in rickmansworth in April ensured I became a 'masterbaker' and my loaves just get better every week. Here's tonights efforts - with some added smoked rapeseed oil!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Garden latest.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Keith Batsford" <>
Date: 5 Sep 2010 11:56
To: <>

My first mobile blog. And a picture of how the garden is currently looking, now plus chickens!

We appear to have lost 12 months!?

Those of you who read Tash's blogs will no doubt have noticed that Maybe Diaries gets updated very regularly, yet nothing has been heard of from FTC for quite a while.

Well, seeing as im the stay at home Dad im going to try and take over responsibility for this blog and keep it updated with everything that happens here at FTC!

So, as i try to get used to this blogging malarkey, heres a quick re-cap for the past months that we've missed.

October 2009. We spent pretty much all month like this. I don't remember anything else but trips to Lister Hospital, and listening to lots of Seasick Steve.

November 2009. Alfie finally made his appearance!

December 2009. We spent Alfie's first Christmas in Gibraltar.

January 2010. The first few weeks were spent in Gib, before Tash returned to work. We enjoyed some sunshine while the news channels all told us how England was at a standstill due to huge amounts of snowfall.

February 2010. I turned 30! Villa played at Wembley for the Carling Cup Final on my birthday ... the result ensuring my 30th was a very forgettable one! The snow had finally thawed, yet with the weather still cold Alfie and I enjoyed a good few mornings tucked up in bed!

March 2010. Having time at home i decided it would be a year to finally sort the garden, and actually grow some stuff. I got to work, and started with a massive clearup, planted loads of seeds, and started to build some raised beds!

April 2010. Show season began and we all went to Wheels Day. I also had another trip to Wembley to watch Villa get beat, and continued with sorting the garden. And after about 5 years since it was started, i finally got my Pin-Up Girl Tattoo coloured in!

May 2010. May was lovely. I remember many sunny days. I don't remember much of what i got up to though. I know work continued in the garden, i built up a centre 'island' raised bed, and the first plants got planted out. By now Bill had bought a boat, and in May it was moved to his Dads boatyards in Brightlingsea. We went to spend a weekend sanding down, and generally admiring what a cool place the boatyard is!

June 2010. Having asked many months in advance, on the eve of the weekend my friend Barney managed to get together 2 tickets for the MotoGP including full paddock passes! Alfie loved it! And Bill decided to abandon rebuilding his boat 'Grumpy', and bought a fully seaworthy fishing vessel ... named "Four Boys". He certainly didn't buy it based on the name! Of course, that meant we went fishing!!

July 2010. We took our first proper family holiday with our friends James and Michelle, and we made the trip across the channel to France to enjoy Le Mans Classic. It was fantastic, and Alfie had an amazing time!

August 2010. August was crazy. The build up to the Gathering was mental, and i think we were all pleased to get the show over and done. It went fantastically well though, and i'm very excited about 2011! With the show over and done with I was determined to get some time working on the bus, and so on the bank holiday weekend Tash went away with Alfie so Bill and I could have some 'metal time'! As you can see from the picture, we chopped lots more metal out, but at least you can see how it will go back together.

And that brings us about up to date. I know there's loads i've probably missed out, but i'll try and keep it regularly updated from now on!