Saturday, November 27, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Tash woke up in the night. Or it might have been the early morning. I wasn't really awake. But I remember her saying two words "It's snowed!".

So a few hours later we woke to a generous covering of the white stuff, and a forecast of cold weather for the next fortnight. It made my morning walk with the dogs fun, as Harry especially loves the snow, and with a nice still morning it was all quite pleasant.

Once home I attacked the paths with the broom, and cleared the garden. It's not that I don't like snow, just that I wish it would stay to the mountains for when I go boarding! And I don't need icy paths, thank you very much. Icy paths apart though, I have been feeling immensely festive recently and this did kinda add to my Christmas excitement.

All done before 10am too, which is when Dad arrived for us to head off to footy.

Which reminds me - I do the Goal Rush coupon with Ladbrokes each week. I usually stick a couple of quid on two lines, one of 5 games, one of 10. Basically both teams need to score in each game for me to win. Last week my 5 game line came good, and I netted £37. Result. Now hoping the 10 game line comes in, that would be £800!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The One That Got Away!

For a number of weeks Bill and I have been discussing our next fishing trip. With news that the Cod were arriving, we were super keen to get into the action! Bill had already been out recently, and with some success, so we knew there was some action to be had! Saturday was the date, and not even a dubious visibility forecast was going to put us off!

Bill was in Brightlingsea on Friday, but sadly couldn't get out on the boat as the fog set in for the day. Not a great start. I decided to head up Friday evening, and left home at 10pm. For anyone who's watched Ice Road Truckers, I know knows what it feels like to be in a 'white out'! I tried to stick to the main roads, but as I got close to Brighlingsea and was forced to use smaller B roads and there were many times I was forced to use the sat-nav on my phone to know which direction the road went! The fog was heavy!

Thankfully I arrived OK, and we managed to get our heads down about 1:30am. A few hours later we were up again, and the days adventure could begin! It was about 5 degrees, so all layered up and feeling like the Michelin man we ventured out in the tender towards 'Reel Grumpy' in the murky early morning.

And after a few pre-flight checks we were on our way, heading out towards a wind farm where Bill was hopeful our whole squid baits would tempt the Cod.

Initial signs were that we had made a good decision, as within minutes of casting out Bill was into the first fish of the day. A good sized Whiting, perfect for the dinner table!

Then came my tale of 'the one that got away'. If anyone saw Extreme Fishing with Robson Green last week, and his reaction to missing 13 runs on the bounce, that was something like what I felt like! In reality, it was much less frenetic, but the runs I missed/lost were far more dramatic! The fishing was actually quite slow, and we were losing confidence, but every once in a while I seemed to have a bite .... which made us doubt whether we should move spot or not. One take bent the rod tip right over, but when I struck there was nothing! When I did finally get into a fish, it decided to come as far as the side of the boat before casually dropping the hook! Bill made a valiant swipe with the net to try and get it, but it was just out of reach and she casually swum back to the deeps. And the real icing on the cake for me was a massive take, so violent it pulled the rod up and out of the boat! I lunged forward, grabbing it just before it disappeared off the edge of the boat and into the drink! Confident there would be something massive on the end of my line, I struck the rod and ... nothing. I still cannot believe the hook didn't set, its without doubt the most violent take I've had when sea fishing.

After these demoralising events, and with it now about 3pm, we decided to start heading towards land, but with the aim of finding an alternative spot to fish en route. We came across a little area that the fish finder was showing as holes of deeper and shallower water. So we decided to drop anchor and give it a go! This proved a very wise decision, and we had a really enjoyable few hours which saw a good number of Whiting make it into the boat, and Bill also bagged his first Pouting. This went back in as bait, but sadly we just weren't able to get into the Cod.

As darkness set in we made are way back to shore. This proved to be an adventure in itself, as the tide was at it lowest, and the channel amongst the other boats back to the mooring was very tight ... and of course by now darkness had descended.

But we got back fine, and were greeted back at Bill's parents' with a bowl of chicken stew. Just what was needed!!

With our bellies full we cleaned up the fish. Not bad for a days fun!

And with the time now approaching 8pm I hit the road and got home just before 10pm. A most enjoyable 24 hours. Next time, there's a Cod with my name on it!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Memories From Classic Le Mans

Just got sent this pic from our holiday in France. I forgot all about this, so thanks for sending it over Michi! It's no surprise Alfie loves trips to the supermarket! I think he slipped off the seat a few times, but he loved tearing up the isles!
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

The secret diary of Alfie Batsford - AGED ONE!

Tonights going to be a funny one. On the downside, I am sat here anticipating that Alfie will start to scream at any minute. A combination of teething and a cold has made my son a coughing, sneezing, drooling mess... and this continues during his sleep too! On the plus side, Tash is at Ammie's tonight and so I have free reign of the TV remote and am able to sit here and watch Top Gear (the Bugatti/Place race as luck would have it!) without being moaned at for 'always watching Top Gear'.

So with a backdrop of a roaring W16 engine and an (occasionally) roaring child it seems like a good time to update the blog.

Following my last blog update, i'm pleased to say the chicken run is now properly finished, and it works an absolute treat!

[momentary interuption] its now 7pm, and i've just spent the past half hour with Alfie. He is still awake. This does not bode well for tonight.[/momentary interuption]

Now with fully fitted roof, operating door, and luxury bark flooring, its the place to be seen for the chook about town!

To remind you, this is the before ...

And this is the after! ...
Tash had last Friday off work to celebrate Alfie's birthday. We took a short trip down to St Albans, enjoyed a Wagamama's, ... and then broke the bank and bought him ....... a bouncy ball. Seriously, just a bouncy ball. But there IS a dinosaur in it. And its the toy he wanted most from the toy store. Once we arrived home, and Alfie was put to bed .... Tash and I cooked. By that I mean that I made jelly, and Tash cooked. She did brilliantly, and cooked up a fantastic feast including chickpeas and spinach, sauce for the meatballs, and 'Alfie friendly' cupcakes.

On Saturday we celebrated Alfie's birthday, and had an amazing day down at Fred & Lyd's ... now known as The Holmer Green Toddlers Leisure Centre. Lyd and Ammie has also cooked their hearts out, and we had a spread of food fit for Christmas day as much as a kiddies first birthday. All our friends and their little ones arrived, and we had a lovely time watching them have a lovely time. I'm really disappointed with my photos, but here's a shot which perfectly captures what the day was about ... mayhem around the dinner table! Massive thanks to everyone who made Alfie's day so special!

This week has seen us make a trip to London, to visit Jeff Ortega at Evil From The Needle in Camden. I got 30 minutes with Jeff to finish my pin-up girl (the startline lights needed colour), and then Tash sat under the needle for a few hours.

Whilst she was being inked, Alfie and I met up with Sal for lunch (another Wagamama's trip!) and then Alfie and I explored the canals a little. You can see how excited he was, and we found some really cool stuff.
The only other thing to note recently was that I did some welding on Hens car yesterday. With light disappearing quickly I took to welding most of it without a mask and simply closing my eyes. Today my eyelids feel like they were attacked by blowtorch wielding harvest mice during the night! I admit it, I even moisturised my eyelids this morning!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The First 11 Days of November ...

I haven't managed to update this for a few weeks, largely because I feel like I simply haven't stopped.

But before I get into my catchup I must say one thing...


Which of course means its Alfie's first birthday tomorrow! It should be fun, and I can't wait to tell the stories ....

However that's still to come, and I need to update with whats gone. I've spent loads of time outside, and the land at the top of the garden has been levelled, with all the surplus soil coming down into the raised beds. I even cleared out the compost heap - this is what I had to move!!

Thanks to Dad, who then spent a day with me and most importantly helped me move the bricks to where the compost bin was. We collected all the bricks together on the pallet, including the ones that were previously in front of the bus. Over 350 complete bricks! Makes me think it's close to time to start on the wall!! With the bricks now out of the way, it means work can continue clearing the shrubbery at the top end.

We paid a visit to Bill recently too, and whilst Bill and I fettled with his Midget and rearranged his workshop Alfie got familiar with his 13mm spanners and Phillips screwdrivers!

Last Tuesday Tash had a day off work, and we had scheduled in visit to my friend Bryn. He shoots and writes for the likes of Retro Cars and VolksWorld magazine, so it pretty handy with a camera. He took something like 500 photos, and we had a lovely day catching up and messing about on the land where he lives. We are so pleased we did a 'photoshoot' with Alfie at this age, and everything about the day was so natural and 'us'. Cheers Bryn, you're a legend!

Work at the top end has since halted, and my focus has been drawn to sorting out the shelter for the chicken run. Forecasts weren't great, and the 2 boards I had thrown over the run as temporary cover were coming to the end of their life. So the past 2 days has seen a new shelter be built.

All through this Aflie has been a dream ... so while Alfie did this ....

I got started. This is the 'before' shot.

Which soon got taken down, and the chicken were released into the garden!

First post notched and concreted in.

Alfie slept for about 2 hours, and in that time I got the barn tidied, the old chicken run taken down, all posts notched, and 3 posts concreted in. And then I ran out of postcrete. With the garden looking like this Alfie and I hurriedly ran out to grab more postcrete, and some sand and bark to go down in the run.

After lunch I eeked out every minute possible from my tolerant son and managed to get the last post in.

He then started to get restless. I managed to get the roof frame built, and the roof panel in place. It may only have 6 screws in it, but it withstood the gales and downpour that came last night! Today I managed to get the scaffold plank back in place, the new 'handrail' and chicken wire in place, and then get the sand and bark down in the run. It looks fairly finished, but there's a few jobs I still want to do. I must get a photo next time the sun shines, I really am very pleased with it .... and I think the chooks are too!

In other news ... some evenings in the barn, a few phone calls, and some research on the internet has seen me with a working welder ... and at a cost of just £10 to fix. I'm very happy .... just preying for some sunshine to get cracking on the bus now!

With Winter coming, i've already started to cast one eye towards next year .... and begin planning a trip to Misano in September. There's a chap names Rossi (who's a bit quick) who'll race an Italian machine (Ducati) in MotoGP next year. Italy will go wild. Traffic will stop. Not a single cappucino will be sold. One of those stories you can't speak about, cos you have to be there to understand. Its 1000 miles each way. We're going. And we're driving. And I can't wait!