Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pit Stop For Full Wets

This week is rain. 

Just hoping that, as forecast, it clears up for our trip to the TT on Monday!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Blue Skies, Red Bike, And The Road To Myself

Perfect bank holiday Monday (teething daughter and lack of sleep excepted) and I even got a chance for a quick blast of the bike.

Panoramic taken with my phone - its a straight road,  nothing else to be seen!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Borussia Dortmund Ole!

Two years ago Wembley hosted the European Champions League Final and I said at the time I wanted to head down, just to take in the atmosphere as much as anything, but events transpired against me and I didn't make it.  Man United ended up being completely outclassed by Barcelona and maybe it wouldn't have been that fun anyway?

But somehow Wembley ended up as the chosen stadium for the Final again this year, and I was determined not to miss out.  Especially as it was Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund, two teams from Germany at a time when the German Bundesliga is widely considered the best in Europe.  And with our move to NZ getting closer I knew there would never be another opportunity.

So my mate Lewis and I jumped on the train yesterday afternoon and boarded the Metropolitan line for Wembley Park.

After a walk around the stadium, a few enquiries with touts (cheapest tickets we saw were £500 for a pair, but also as much as £1000 for one), and the purchase of a scarf we started to think about finding a pub.

The whole area was full of Dortmund fans, they hugely outnumbered Bayern and there was a great atmosphere.  And being the underdog they were our chosen team for the evening.  Hence getting our faces painted and having a photo taking 'in the team dressing room'.


It was great to be there and be able to enjoy the day and not actually worry about the football.  I'm better at it now than I used to be, but certainly there is always a feeling at big games that you just want it over and done with and to know if you can celebrate or not.  The build up is a stressful time and the match itself can be such a fraught experience!  Not so for us yesterday though, those were the times we were there for!

We ended up in a Dortmund pub (we didn't even see a Bayern one) and it was phenomenal.  Their fans were great, the pub was bouncing, and when Dortmund scored the equaliser the place went mad.

Sadly it was not to be, and a goal at the death gave Bayern a 2-1 win.  This left many Borussia brothers heading home with their head in their hands.

If you're a football fan I cannot recommend attending a German match enough.  We were shown video from other Dortmund games by one of their fans and it was breathtaking.  Plus they still retain some standing areas.  And ticket prices are cheap.  And their fans are brilliant.  We didn't see any signs of fans clashing or generally being drunken idiots ... it was just a load of football fans enjoying the beautiful game, just as it should be.

All my other photos from the night are here

Friday, May 24, 2013

Cake Fish

So after being given the option Alfie decided yesterday was "chips and fish" day.  A bit out of the norm for us as Friday is typically fish night, but I was feeling uninspired and Tash has a mass award winning chippy next to work so it was too good an option for us to turn down.

So I read Alfie the dinner options available to him, and after thinking he could have "pie cake" he realised what he actually meant was "cake fish".  He's never had a fish cake before, but clearly cake is just all conquering!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Aprons Are Not Just For Baking

For a while I've desired a proper engineers workshop apron.  I have a tendency to wipe my hands down my trousers, and I often pop out to the barn without changing.   An apron would solve both issues.

Looking around the net I found some awesome leather and denim option, and as I always do I wondered how I could get ine myself without having to spend. three figures.

And so I ended up taking a bag of old jeans and some hot rod patches to our friend Helen to do her thing with the sewing machine.  I picked it up yesterday and am over the moon with it!!

Grubby thighs no more!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lee Valley Park Farm

Another trip out yesterday.  This time to Lee Valley Park Farm to see my Mum and Ray.

It was hear I learnt that even goats don't mess with Essie!

A lovely day out though, and seeing the cows being milked was a nice variation on the usual farm visit activities.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Butterfly World Project

I guess they call it a project to indicate its a work in progress.   A lovely place to meet old friends and catch up for a few hours like we did, but I'm not sure I'd want a whole day there as a family trip out.

Here's photos from our day with Catherine, John, Chloe and Harry.

Friday, May 17, 2013

My Wife : The Best Mum

The obvious blog update would be about how Tash was in the Daily Mail yesterday and how she now has Lorraine and This Morning chasing for her TV debut ... but no, I'm gonna say something about how my wife is just the best Mum in the world!

Not just with what she's done for Esme, but also for Alfie and already for Olive.  From solving Alfie's eczema (before the specilists), to researching vaccinations (our kids have not been vaccinated), to finding him the most wonderful pre-school - she goes to such lengths for our tribe, and every day I think how lucky my kids are to have her for a Mum.  I'm sure Alfie would agree, especially when he gets to take that letter into school which says 'we don't agree with homework'.  And already for Olive she has every eventuality covered for her birth, not just so it goes smoothly or healthily but so that it's the most wonderful experience for Olive that it can be.

To some she might seem as 'alternative', but we just think she's wonderful!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

17 Sleeps To Go

Jeez, I cannot believe how excited I am to go to the TT this year.

The Isle of Man for bikes and Bonneville for cars are the two places that hold something so special for me.  Proper hallowed ground, the stuff of legends, proper man and machine without the corporate bullshit.

Everytime I see The Worlds Fastest Indian my stomach does butterflies when he reaches Bonneville.  I know one day I too will go, and Im sure I'll have a bit of a moment to myself.

I feared the TT would never happen though.  But it will this year, we're going for the day on Monday the 3rd June.

Yesterday the offical programme arrived.  As I read through the spectators guide I could hear the Manx Radio commentators - who i have listened to avidly for so many years - naming the corners as I read my way around the course.  It properly gave me butteflies, brought a lump to my throat even.  God knows what I'm gonna be like on that Monday!

I just pray for a dry day!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Premier League Status: Confirmed

Wigan won the F.A Cup on Sunday.  Last night they got beat 4-1 by Arsenal, which in turn meant they get relegated.  We've had good form for the past few months, and never looked like a team that should go down - and of course Sunderland were below us also.  But you just never know until you're mathematically safe.  I'm sure the neutrals are a bit disappointed, they would have wanted it to come to the last day of the season to throw up a Wigan v Villa showdown ... but I'm bloody glad it hasn't!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Stotfold Steam Fair 2013

And so onto Sunday.  Stotfold Steam Fair.  One of those days where you arrange to meet loads of people, end up getting pulled all over the place, and finish up feeling like you didn't really get to speak properly with anyone.

That is except for Larry & Kelly.  The rain fell about 3pm, the families (including mine) departed for home, and so we took cover in the beer tent.

We've been going to the steam fair for a number of years now, and every year Dave and I head to the coconut shy ... and every year I come home with a coconut.  A record I'm pleased to say I kept up again in 2013.

My pictures from the day are here.  Dan's face is not only indicative of his thoughts on riding a plane that didn't go up, but also my range of photos! 

Holte-enders In The Sky

Playing a touch of catch-up here.  Largely cos my eyes seem determined to close at about 8pm and I've been in bed before 10pm in recent days - hence no blogging.

I've been a Aston Villa fan since I was 8, and a Holte End season ticket holder since I was 15.  You remember that "you'll never win anything with kids" comment by Alan Hansen after Villa beat Man United 3-1 ... well that was my first game in 'my' seat.  But now, close on 18 years later, it is my seat no more.

Our emigration to NZ means getting to Villa Park every other weekend might be a bit of a trek.

Massive thanks to my Dad who I've enjoyed some fantastic and memorable times with.  Trips to old Wembley, new Wembley and even Madrid.  Happy days.  But all good things must come to an end.

We lost 2-1 to Chelsea but recent good results have put us in a better position than what might have occurred.  Wigan play Arsenal tomorrow night.  If they draw or lose then Villa will be looking forward to Premiership football again in 2014.  If Wigan win then it'll come down to that last game of the season on Sunday against Wigan themselves!

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Interview

Two things yesterday.  1, Tash had our emigration interview (via phone) with our case officer.  We have now got through every stage of the application and just need to sit around for 2-3 weeks to learn if they want us.  And 2, spring arrived in the shape of asparagus from Abel & Cole.  So we made a bit of a big deal out of them.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

The Worlds Fastest Asleep Indian

Turns out Alfie likes to drop off to the noise of highly tuned engines ripping across the salt.

Quite exciting as one day we'll manage to make the pilgrimage out there ... and it occurred to me we'd be following the exact route old Burt Munro took back in the sixties.

My Elsolitario tee arrived too - came in the coolest bag with a card and sticker!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Just Another Manic Monday

A day off for some, but with Tash and our friend Helen off being photographed it was business as usual for me this Monday.

Claudia (Helen's girl, same age as Alfie,  just as three) was over to play and oh how they did!

Playdough, horses, pizza, fishing, lions and getting stuck on a house ... their day had it all!  Including Gangnam Style unless that picture deceives me!

When Can They Come Pillion?

Last week saw tickets to MotoGP Friday practice (for us all) and a day trip to the Isle of Man TT (just for Tash and I, how excited am I!!!) booked. 

We know the kids are gonna love GP bikes and this is why.  These were taken during yesterdays Jerez MotoGP.


Just Don't Burn Your Tail!

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Celebrate With Cake

After a somewhat testing day with two under the weather kids the sun really did shine as the day neared its end.

I got a lovely emotional phone call from Tash who received an email from our case officer.  In short the message thanked her for her hard work in supplying extra evidence and having reviewed our application again they have reinstated our missing 5 points.  All that means we have the 140 we need for our Visa!  Tash now has a phone interview to go through with our Case Officer and then they make their decision.  Nothing is definite yet but I certainly feel like we've cleared the largest hurdle.

I had a little blast on the bike in the evening and was overjoyed to see my oil pressure warning light and water temp gauge working perfectly.  Just need to replace the sender in the low fuel warning light and my dash will be back to working as it should.

And so with such good news we had cake.  Following my random desire for cupcakes last weekend I now fancied a Victoria Sponge.  It's the first one I've ever made, and it is mighty tasty!

Friday, May 03, 2013

These Aren't The Droids You're Looking For

I think I posted about the lego Star Wars set Tash got me about 2 Christmases ago.  It's Jabba's Lair, a three piece with the lair itself, Solo frozen in carbonite on one side and the entrance to the other.

Tash had managed to get me two pieces of the set some years ago and after Lego came back with a force to FTC I decided I needed to find the missing piece, the entrance.

So I hit ebay, fell off my seat when I realised how much the lair now sells for, and bought Jabba's Entrance quick smart.

I just want an X-Wing now.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Force India At The Airstrip

 Its funny the way things happen life.  I found out about F1 testing at Duxford the other day, the next date which I thought was Friday.  Turns out it was today, which also happened to be the day Tash had a hospital appointment at Addenbrokes and so meant she could drop us off whilst she saw the midwife.

Alfie and Esme really do seem to love motor sport and planes and with a sunny afternoon on the forecast it seemed like it could be the perfect place to kill a few hours.

I can remember F1 from as far back as 1988, and back then Ayrton Senna was king.  Widely regarded as the greatest of all time.  Kinda odd that the first time I get to see a F1 car move in anger happens to be on the anniversary of his death.  Nineteen years ago, where did that time go!  But nice to know its therefore been that long since a death in F1.

Force India were the team testing today and we happened to arrive when they were on a break. 

So we grabbed a little snack and sat on the grass to watch the stream of aeroplanes that were taking off and landing.

With not too many people about it, and the sun beating on our faces, I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon!

Judging by Alfie running round going "mmmmmm, boom" I think he was pretty impressed.  I'm sure he's gonna be cheering on the orange car now too!