Not Yet Dead

Looking at the sad lack of posts on this here site, one could be forgiven for thinking that I have shuffled off this mortal coil.

But that’s not the case.

Things have been happening, I’ve just not bothered mentioning them here.

So what have I been up to?

Well, my garage had an attempted break-in – as I mentioned a couple of posts ago  and I have finally got round to ordering the new door, which should hopefully be fitted in a couple of weeks. I’m really hoping to be able to get my bike out before this mild weather disappears.  Talking of bikes, a couple of us are thinking of doing this years’ Ring Of Red … weather permitting, of course. Feel free to join us if you can. And if you want to.

The mutt continues to dominate the homestead, in as much as we dote on her like a new baby. She’s getting better all the time and is fairly obedient, but develops selective hearing sometimes when she sees another dog and wants to play. Anyone who remembers the video of Fenton will easily be able to visualise me chasing her across the fields, yelling at the top of my voice. Jesus Christ!

I went to the Hamfest up in Newark at the end of September. That was most enjoyable. And I showed great restraint in spending only a ton. Most of that went on a piece of kit called a Weak Signal Propagation Reporter, which transmits a very low power signal that can be picked up by other stations around the world and reported back, thereby giving an idea of how well your aerial is working.  It’s early days and I’ve only tested one of my antennas, but I must say that I’m quite chuffed with the results from my 20 metre antenna¦ which is just a piece of wire strung up in the loft. Especially considering the lack of sunspot activity at the moment.

And, despite it initially looking like it had all gone quite smoothly, since moving my site to a new host, I found that I’ve not been receiving email notifications for any comments that get left.  I cannot for the life of me figure out why, and neither can the Support Desk of my new provider. They have effectively admitted as much and have left it with me. I have spent hours Googling and trying different things, all to no avail. I’m sure that when I do figure it out, it’ll probably be a D’oh! moment, as it is bound to be something simple. Really simple. Bound to be.

And on top of that, the current Mrs Masher decided we should start watching Designated Survivor on Netflix  so there’s three hours gone each evening. Got to admit, it’s bloody good though.

So, there you go: all caught up.

Wasn’t worth the wait really, was it?

Sleeping dogs don’t lie

It’s three o’clock in the morning and I can’t sleep.

I’ll tell you for why.

Last night (Sat/Sun), for the first time, I didn’t put the dog in her cage when we went to bed. She always lays at the top of the stairs, of an evening, and manages to put on the sad doggy look when she is called down to go in her cage at bedtime. “Please let me lay here, I’ll be good”, she says with her eyes. And so, last night, I let her lay there.

Laying at the top of the stairs though, she can hear a lot more of the outside world, as we have the upstairs windows open at night. Several times, she woke me with her growling and low barking, as she could hear people outside – not uncommon on a Saturday night.

“Saber, shhh”

“Saber, be quiet!”

“Saber, knock it off!”

Was the general theme of the night.

And then, early Sunday morning, there was a knock on the door from a neighbour to tell me that my garage had been broken in to.

Bastards.

They never actually got in to the garage, as they were disturbed by a passing car and scarpered – another neighbour witnessed it – but they have damaged the door enough by kicking it in, that I will need to buy a new one.

I have made temporary repairs and have put up a new security light (so that they won’t have to work in the dark if they ever come back) but for the past two hours, I have been laying in bed, listening to every.

little.

sound.

Really, I’d be better off, just listening to the dog.

Paucity of posts

I know, I know…

I haven’t written anything here for ages. As a result, I’ve had complaints.

But, it happens: sometimes, my blogging mojo just ups and leaves me.

But it usually comes back.

Eventually.

So, what’s been happening in the Masher household during this lack of posts?

Bugger all, that’s what.

The mutt is still getting bigger and is starting to look like a proper pooch now. But, she’s going through her adolescent stage – yep, that’s a thing, apparently. She gets stroppy and disobedient and sulky, whenever it suits her. So, now I have three teenagers in the house. Arrgh!

However, it’s not so bad at the moment, as Mrs Masher and the kids have gone down to the south of France, so me and muttley have had a week to ourselves and, as a result, she has had some serious ‘instruction’.  I’m pleased to say, that she is picking it up quite quickly now.  Just as well, as she is about to spend the next week with my brother-in-law, as I am off now to join the rest of the family in French France.

I’ll bring you back a croissant.

Au revoir

Welsh For A Day

Yesterday, was my future brother-in-law’s Stag do.

Coming from the valleys – as he does – and being surrounded by us English taking the piss out of him all the time (yakki dar), we all decided to be Welsh… just for one day.

To make him feel at home.

And so we went to a local golf driving range – golf being one of his passions.

But we went wearing tee-shirts and pants (over our trousers) emblazoned with the Welsh flag, and with the words “Welsh For One Day” across the back.

And we carried sheep with us.

Inflatable ones.

Unsurprisingly, this drew interested stares from those around us, but after the fourth pint of wife beater, I wasn’t feeling self-conscious anymore.

And despite never having played golf, it turns out I was actually quite good. Actually, I was rubbish, but I did manage to hit it in the big holes several times. I’d have probably got an even higher score had I not been experimenting to see which bat worked best for me.

Back at HQ, silly games, beer, barbecues, beer, more silly games and more beer all ensued.

All washed down with beer.

As midnight got closer, I couldn’t handle any more alcohol, and switched to softer, warmer drinks as we continued to raucously play silly games and impossible quizzes. Because I’m a light-weight, nowadays, and I think ten hours of drinking is enough for any liver.

This morning, I have awoken to find that my head – and somewhat inexplicably, my legs – are really hurting.

If that’s what it’s like to be Welsh, then you can keep it.

Another Tom

This weekend – the one just gone – the current Mrs Masher and I went on a cruise.

Just a quick one.

Down the Thames.

And a very pleasant evening it was too.

Top notch grub, served and eaten to the sounds of a live jazz band, whilst taking in the sights of London as we gently motored down the river. It doesn’t come much better than that.

Except, it does, because we did it all in good company.

And beer.

Best night out I’ve had for ages.

And now for a quick mutt update:

As per the picture above, she’s getting bigger.

Film Review: The Terminator

Our Welsh correspondent, Bren, has laid down a gauntlet. Foolishly, I picked it up.

Bren has set himself – and by extension, me and Dave – the challenge of producing 10 film reviews during the month of June. Only ten? That won’t be too hard, I thought, as I accepted the challenge.  But, I’m not a film reviewer – because that requires proper writing and shit – so we’ll have to see how this goes.

We watched this film as a family last week. It was Harry’s idea: he’s picked up a few Arnie soundbites from the internet and was keen to watch some of his films… if only to hear the oft quoted phrases that he’s heard elsewhere, put into some sort of context. “Get to the chopper!”

Mrs M streamed the film onto her phone and then casted it to the TV – all very modern.  Personally, I was all for just buying the DVD from ebay – it would have probably been cheaper – I can’t believe that we paid 8 quid to watch a thirty year-old film on the telly!

Anyway, the film has aged well, with the ingenious storyline – full of plot holes as it is – holding up well against more modern time-travel offerings. It has to be said that special effects-wise, the film looked very dated. Not so much the blurring-the-lines-between-real-and-fantasy CGI that we get today, but rather ‘a-bit-like-Morph’ stop motion. And yet, back then, those sort of effects were ground-breaking and we lapped them up in a popcorn-eating frenzy.

Arnie plays the villain of the piece. Dark and menacing – you would not want to meet the T-900 Infiltrator down a dark alley. Or a brightly lit alley, for that matter. But, it’s hard to think of anyone else who could have slotted into that role – a role that he has become synonymous with.

Linda Hamilton plays the central role, around whom the film revolves, and she plays it well – dodgy eighties haircuts and all.

And there are – of course – plenty of action sequences to lap up.

It’s been a while since I last saw The Terminator – the film that arguably catapulted Schwarzenegger into Hollywood A-list status – and I have seen it several times over the years, but I still thoroughly enjoyed watching it again. We all did.

Arguably the best of the franchise  – but I think it’s a close run between T1 and T2.

So, that’s my first film review of the month, just nine more to go.

In the words of The Terminator: “I’ll be back.”

 

McUseless

Here’s an updated picture of Saber. She’s growing quickly now and has settled in nicely.

Having had her second set of injections, she can now go out, so we have taken her on short walks… with mixed success. She loves the park, when we get there, but she is not so keen on the walk to reach it. I daresay that will soon change.

She has met lots of other people and a few other dogs now and she has not been fazed by any of it, I’m pleased to say.

Apart from doggy stuff, it’s been a busy Bank Holiday weekend, so far.

Lots of walking, courtesy of Geocaching – and Saber, of course.

A nice ride out to Jack’s Hill Café.

Shopping – both food and retail.

Running in a new burglar alarm cable because the old one got accidentally cut by the double glazing people.

And an aching back, thanks to some gardening that Mrs M made me do today. Well, I say ‘made’… but really, I just felt guilty after watching her hard at it with a shovel for two hours, so thought I’d better chip in.

So, when it came time for dinner, Mrs M was too tired to cook and we were all knackered anyway and couldn’t be bothered, so I drove up to our local McDonald’s for some veg-out-on-the-sofa-in-front-of-the-telly grub.

It took a bloody age to arrive. I watched as the girl went back several times to check whether it was ready.

Mrs M’s 5-piece Chicken Select meal came very quickly, as did Harry’s 3-piece meal. Amelia’s chicken nugget meal arrived almost immediately.

It was MY order that was causing them such a problem.  Had I ordered something out of the ordinary maybe?

No. I’d ordered a Big Mac Meal.

Their signature dish, so to speak.

The burger meal that the whole brand was built upon.

And it took them three attempts to get it right.

Think I’ll go to the kebab shop next time.

Dog tired

Well, we picked up the new little mutt on Friday night and I’m impressed with how quickly she has adapted to living with us.

The only problem we are having at the moment is night time. She wakes in the night and starts whimpering and that quickly escalates into fretting. And so we have had to take it in turns into going downstairs and giving her some attention until she falls back to sleep. It’ll take a few days I guess, for her to get used to being alone at night.

But, she had me up three times last night, so here I am at eight o’clock in the evening, struggling to keep my eyes open!

The vet has checked her over and given her a clean bill of health, so we are very happy with that, and Mrs M is weaning her off her current food onto that recommended by the vet and the little thing seems to be coping with it admirably.

So, now we just have to get her house trained – inevitably, there have been a few little accidents.

She has only been with us a couple of days, but she is already part of the family and the kids love her to bits.

I’m quite attached, myself.

“Hooray, hooray, the first of May…

… outdoor fucking begins today.” So sang Shag Larkin, a radio engineer that I had the good fortune to know, many years ago.

I’d oft wondered where the phrase came from, and so today, I have looked it up.

It seems it’s a traditional folk song.

Anyway.

And in other news…

Well, it seems there isn’t any. The pic above was taken from the BBC News website this morning.  Apart from some sport, nothing has happened in the world for three days, according to their top 10 news stories, which are all dated April 28th.

In other, other news:

 

Well, apart from me becoming officially old today – thank you Google and Classic FM for reminding me! – not much has happened around here either, that would be considered newsworthy.

 

 

 

The new dog that we haven’t yet got, is already costing a small fortune and Mrs M has visited the local pet shop to get advice, so many times, she is now on first name terms with the staff there. She’s spent an abundance on food and blankets and bowls and leads and chews and just about anything else that the good people of Pets At Home felt it was worth showing her.

I’ve just shelled out several hundred pounds for a new garden fence, as the old one had holes in it that a small pup could squeeze through… and we don’t want that.

And Amelia has spent all of her pocket money on doggy treats and toys, and has chosen the name Saber (sic). Even though Mrs M and I think it sounds like a boy dog’s name – we’re getting a bitch – we seem to have gone with it and it’s now engraved on her collar.

As it’s my birthday, I believe Mrs M is taking me over to exotic Hemel Hempstead later today, for a film and dinner.

So much for outdoor sex then.

Hounded

They’ve been pestering me for ages, for years, but I have always stood firm and said “No”.

But the badgering never abated.

It continued on relentlessly, until, eventually, I capitulated.

The pressure on me was too much. Browbeaten to the point of surrender, I caved in and agreed that now was about the right time.

Now we are mature enough as a family, to cope with the rigours and responsibility that such ownership brings.

We’re getting a dog.

Being social

“Ha ha! Look Dad”, said Amelia, flashing her phone in front of my face for a second, before snatching it away again. “I’ve found my teacher on Instagram.”

I cast her one of my ‘not impressed’ looks, as I continued to wash the breakfast things. “You know all that social media crap doesn’t interest me one little bit, Amelia”, I said.

“Yeah, but it’s cool, because I can follow Miss Sullivan now and see what she gets up to.”

“Miss Sullivan? Isn’t she your science teacher?”, I asked, my interest piqued.

“Yes.”

“The young, blonde lady I met at Parent’s Evening last week?”

“Yes.”

“Well, show me, then.”

High expectations

This evening, Mrs Masher and I had to visit Amelia’s school, for an open evening to discuss Amelia’s ‘options’.

This is where she has to pick which subjects she wants to study during the remainder of her school years.

Obviously, it’s wise to pick not only subjects that one might be interested in, but ones that are going to help you on your chosen career path, once you leave school.

Problem is, Amelia – like so many kids of her age – has absolutely no idea of what she wants to do when it’s time for her to leave school and get a job.

I always knew what I wanted to do when I grew up, and I remember the ‘Careers Officer’ visiting our school and we all got to spend ten minutes with him on a one-to-one basis.

“Ahh, young Masher. Come in and sit down. Now tell me, what do you want to do when you leave school?”

“I want to be an astronaut, sir.”

“An astronaut eh? Erm, right, let’s see now… ahh, what about banking? I see you are quite good at maths.”

“No sir, I want to be an astronaut. I want to travel to the stars.”

“I think it rather unlikely, boy. No-one from this school has ever gone on to be an astronaut before. Or even an airplane pilot, for that matter. I urge you to consider banking. It’s a bloody good job. Lots of perks.”

“Astronaut”

“Right, I’ll put you down for banking then. NEXT!”

Obviously, I never went into banking. And, thanks to my flat feet, I never become an astronaut. But my love of electronics set me on a career path that would see me alright for the next forty years.

Unless Amelia can set herself a similar vision, she’s going to end up joining the Army or marrying in to money.

And neither of those worked for me.

From father to son

Today, I have taught Harry how to solder.

They are studying electronics at school and each pupil has been given a small circuit board and some components to solder on to it.

Unfortunately though, they have a limited number of soldering irons and by the time Harry’s turn came round, they had run out of time. Harry told his teacher that I do that sort of stuff and asked if he could take the board home to do it, and his teacher agreed.

And so, this afternoon, after school, he sat down at my bench and I showed him how to solder. Some people never get the hang of it and I have seen some atrocious soldering jobs over the years. But, I have to admit, Harry made a pretty good job, for his first attempt. Probably, I’d wager, better than my own first go at it when I was roughly his age.

My dad showed me how to solder. However, the kind of soldering dad did, was with big heavy wires onto big heavy switches and the like. As such, he had a big heavy iron. We could have used it as a cricket bat, I reckon.

But, working with electronics requires more intricate tools and a steady hand… and timing – leave that iron on too long and delicate components can get damaged.

Soldering is a skill and – after doing it for forty years – I like to think I’m quite good at it.

The little circuit we built today was very basic, but I really enjoyed building it with him.

As homework goes, it was probably one of the better ones for me to help him with.

It’s a man thing

Miami Airport is a sprawling mass of buildings and tarmac and terminals and gates.

The quickest way to get from one side to the other, is to take the Skytrain – a kind of shuttle that whisks along the outside of the terminuseseses.

It’s only a couple of minutes journey, but as I sat there on the hard plastic seat, I couldn’t help but notice the cleavage on the blonde seated opposite me.

The top she was wearing was quite low cut, revealing a decent amount of décolletage, and the lacy, frilly bits around her bra were just about visible, forming a sexy frame along the bottom of the neckline.

Completely unaware, she leaned forward slightly, affording me a better view for a few seconds, until the swaying of the train caused her to lean back against her seat.

Then – much to my delight – the train swerved the other way, and once again she was thrown slightly forward, giving me a perfect view of her knockers.

For a moment, I was transfixed and couldn’t take my eyes off them… until I noticed her looking at me with a steely stare.

“What’s wrong with you?” she said, sitting back in her seat and straightening her top, “You only saw them this morning! Right, come on, this is our stop.”

I grabbed our suitcases and followed her out the door.

 

Driven to distraction

Last year, I bought a new car, because my old one was starting to show its age and – at 175,000 miles – was starting to cost me money on servicing and such.

My new car is nothing special, just a Ford Focus – with an automatic gearbox for driving on that goddamn M25 each day – but, as it’s only a year old, it’s still in good nick and everything is nice and tight and it’s comfortable and nice to drive.  I’m not really a car person. They don’t excite me. But I do like my own car to be of a reasonable spec and to be comfortable and safe.

The kids always prefer to go in Mrs Masher’s car though. Not just because she drive like a loon, but because she also has a new car and it has the internet in it. Well, not the actual Internet, of course – because that is in a small box that is kept under guard by the Elders of the Internet – but it does have a WiFi access point, and as such, the kids can sit on their tablets playing online games and Snapchatting and watching YouTube videos and other shit.

Now, back in my day (oh dear, here we go), we did other things to keep ourselves amused on a long car journey. Like looking out of the window and daydreaming. Or, we would play games involving having to hold your ears whenever you saw a red car and not being able let go of them until you saw a yellow car (a.k.a ‘cheese-on-wheels’).  Dad used to do the driving, but he never played that particular game with us.

And I used to do a lot of reading in the car. I can remember reading my first Spike Milligan book  – Rommel? Gunner who? – during a particularly long drive down to Devon (or Dorset – I can’t remember that bit). Squashed into the back, along with my two sisters and bags of clothes and toys and inflatable canoes and everything else that wouldn’t fit in the boot, I cried with laughter for pretty much the whole journey.

But now, the kids play computer games and talk to their friends and watch films as we drive, and they are just as happy as we were with our silly games, I suppose.

 

The technology may have improved, but the end result is much the same.

Shaking it all about

Long haul always does my head in.

We are home now, and I have just been up to Sainsbury’s to get some essentials.

It felt like it was mid-afternoon and I was surprised to see it was only half-past eleven and it’s strange to think that less than 24hrs ago we were on Ocean Drive.

I feel dog-tired, but I need to hang it out, to get back into this time zone and into my normal routine, as quick as possible.

We flew through the night – which doesn’t help… I hate night flights. I can never get any kip.

It wasn’t helped by the German girl seated in front of me, who was obviously a nervous flyer. Before we took off, she was up and down, changing seats and annoying the hostesses, before finally deciding to settle down into her original seat… in front of me.

And when we did finally take off, I could see she was gripping the seat arms for dear life.

And then we hit some turbulence. Some pretty bad turbulence.

And she started screaming.

Proper screaming.

Now, neither Mrs M or Amelia like it when the ride gets a bit bumpy, and I was seated between them both.

Mrs M had my left hand in a vice-like squeeze.

Amelia was clutching my right arm as hard as she could, doing her best to not burst into tears.

And this German bird was screaming her head off in front of me.

“This is going to be a shit flight”, I thought.

I wasn’t far wrong.

But I’ve just had a proper cup of tea – made with a proper teabag and proper milk – the first for over a week, so things are already starting to look up.

Coming home

This post comes to you courtesy of the 30 mins free WiFi at Miami airport…  so I’d better type quickly!

Well,  we are now at the airport after spending several hours on a couple of open-topped bus tours around the city.

I always enjoy guided tours,  and this one was no exception.

After,  as it is the current Mrs Masher’s birthday today,  we had a slap-up lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe,  where we ordered more food than we could comfortably eat.

As per usual.

On the subject of food,  we have eaten  soooo much on this holiday. I still have a six pack,  but it has become a six pack of sausage rolls!

When we get home,  I shall be looking in earnest at gymnasium membership.

And when I have finished looking,  I shall sit down with a cup of tea and a biscuit  and decide whether ‘sausage rolls’  is such a bad look.

Hotter than a monkey’s bum, Your Majesty

Today’s post comes to you from the Bahamas.

About an hour ago,  the ship docked in the port of Nassau.  Bloody amazing to watch it being parked, as it had to be reversed in. I struggle reversing my car into a space sometimes,  but this ‘kin huge vessel just effortlessly backed in to the dock and pushed itself up against the jetty… without the slightest of bumps…  all lined up perfectly.

Anyway,  I ain’t getting off.  It is ridiculously hot out there.  Mrs M has disembarked along with Amelia,  to go shopping  (what else?).  I don’t mind it being warm,  but there’s  no way I’d cope with that heat…  especially whilst being dragged around the shops.  Nope,  me and Harry are quite happy to stay on the boat,  away from the sun.

  • Anyway,  better go as Harry wants a go on the Formula 1 simulator.

Ouch.

Today we are having a day at sea.  I’m quite pleased really,  as it will give us a chance to relax –  the last few days have felt a bit hectic.

Much to Mrs Masher’s annoyance,  the weather is rather overcast, so she can’t do any sunbathing.

Unlike me,  she doesn’t do much reading and can’t be bothered to to sit down with her puzzle books.

That leaves  shopping.

Whilst the kids were off doing whatever it is that kids do,  Mrs M and I found ourselves in the jewellery section.  It’s  Mrs M’s birthday this weekend and I thought she might like a new watch.

She did and after a little bit of looking,  she found one  she liked, and so I bought it.

And then I saw one that I liked,  which was twice the price of the one I had just bought for her.  And I bought that one too.

Staying on the boat is much more expensive than  going ashore,  it seems.

Just checking my offshore accounts

We have just left the Cayman Islands.

Man,  is it hot here!  As I write this,  I am in the cabin,  with the balcony door closed and the air conditioning turned down a notch.  I need some respite.

We have been on an off road tour of part of the island of Grand Cayman.

Mrs Masher elected herself to drive –  I didn’t get a say.

As we bounced along the rough tracks,  in the middle of our convoy,  I could hear a knocking noise coming from the rear off side.  Looking in the side mirror,  I learned that “objects may appear closer than they are”.  But also,  the rear wheel looked a bit wobbly.

Despite expressing my concern on this,  Mrs M continued to hit every pothole she could…  at speed.

Eventually I persuaded her to pull over so I could check it out.  The jeeps behind,  passed us and the convoy disappeared into the distance.

Of the five nuts holding the wheel on,  one was missing and three had loosened so much that they were barely on.  I did them up as tight as I could using just my fingers,  as there were no tools in the vehicle at all. But when we tried to continue our journey,  they immediately loosened again.

Eventually the tour guide came back looking for us.  He looked horrified when I showed him and gave us his jeep instead.  Which drove much better.

Anyway,  then we went to the beach,  had a barbecue and relaxed before coming back to the boat.

Mrs Masher is up on deck,  grabbing the last of the day’s sun.

I don’t know how she does it.

 

Sailing

Well,  we’ve had a bit of a walk around Miami.

Seems nice enough.

And we are now on a boat.

The MSC Divina,  if you must know.  I believe it featured on telly on Friday on Channel Five,  with Jayne McDonald; that bird who used to sing on boats for a living.

Anyway,  it’s an impressive tub –  I’ve hardly seen any of it yet. Our cabin is a decent size (would be more decent if we didn’t have to share it with two kids!).

As I write this,  it’s 5am local time – body clock hasn’t adjusted yet – and we are at sea.

It’s very relaxing just sitting here on the balcony,  in almost total darkness, listening to the sound of the water as the ship cuts through the waves.

Today we are spending the day at sea,  so Mrs M has it planned to get herself sunburnt.  She never actually plans for that,  but it’s what always happens.  I shall probably be relaxing  with a book., although the kids seem keen to get me in the gym.

Not sure what they are telling me there.

I can’t see any Dolphins

Our flight was long and uneventful.

The queue at Passport Control was also long and uneventful.  It took an age.

Our pre-booked taxi was way too small,  despite them being told that it was for a fully-loaded family of four,  and I struggled to get the suitcases in the back.  Our driver,  Alex,  didn’t even get out to help.  No tip for him, then. In the end, one of the cases had to go on Mrs Masher’s lap,  which was far from ideal.

Our apartment is huge and is on the 28th floor. The picture above – of Downtown Miami –  was taken from the balcony. Yes,  a balcony on the 28th floor! It’s quite vertiginous and Mrs M is somewhat wary of going out there. 

We slept well,  but the five-hour time difference meant we were all awake at about 3am local time.

Roll on breakfast.

Leaving on a jet plane

Well,  here we are at Heathrow airport.  And it it manically busy.  I know it’s the busiest airport in the world,  but even so.

I’m currently sitting in the departure lounge,  availing myself of Heathrow’s free WiFi.  Our flight has been delayed,  but fortunately only by half an hour.

And we have just learned that our plane has been changed…  to a smaller one.  That’s it in the picture above.  They have also changed our seating arrangements,  so that we are not able to sit together.  Due to the smaller plane,  I suppose.

We should be boarding shortly,  so I shall try and post again tomorrow.

Outta here

This post comes to you courtesy of the Wi-Fi at a Premier Inn down near Heathrow.

Because we are going on holiday.

And that wasn’t the royal ‘we’… no, the whole family are going.

Of course, when I say ‘the whole family’, I don’t mean my entire family, because that would be just mad.

Look, me and the current Mrs Masher and the two kids are going on holiday, OK?

Right, I’m glad that’s sorted.

Of course, this may well make it difficult for me to post on a daily basis during Blogathon month. Didn’t plan that very well, did I? So, if I do miss the odd post or two this month, please forgive me.

Also, I’m not taking any laptops or the like with me, so I’ll be using just my mobile phone or maybe one of the kids’ tablets… if I can wrest it from their grasp for five minutes.  As such, any posts I do make, might be a bit short.

But, I have pre-written a couple of posts that I could just drop in, if time is getting the better of me, so don’t be surprised if, after reading several posts featuring me as a sun-bronzed Adonis playing volleyball on the beach, you suddenly find me talking bollocks about the M25 again.

Sorry, I have a code

Harry came home from school last week and told me how he had been playing with the BBC micro:bit.

Those of you of a certain age and – it has to be said – of the male persuasion, will possibly remember that back in the eighties, the Beeb introduced the BBC Micro computer to schools. It’s fair to say that the BBC Micro introduced computing to  a whole new generation and probably kick-started an interest in computers and coding in this country.

And now the BBC – along with sponsorship from several other companies – has brought out the micro:bit.  This credit card-sized device has a limited capability, but its main goal is to encourage youngsters to get coding. And to help with this, Microsoft have developed a simple coding interpreter that allows the user to drag and drop colour-coded blocks of code, that click together on the screen and can then be converted to hex code before being uploaded to the micro:bit board.

I was excited that Harry had shown an interest in this and promptly ordered one from ebay so he could play with it at home.

And I’m pleased to say, that he is showing a genuine interest in it.

So far.

I help him when he asks, but I prefer to leave him to try and fathom it out for himself.

Not least because I struggle slightly to get my head round how the interpreter works.

I’ve never been a strong programmer (far from it – although I was pretty good with BASIC, back in the day), but I was/am used to lines of code… the old fashioned method.

Dragging colour-coded lumps of code together is a bit alien to me.

I was a bit embarrassed (although also pleased) when I incorrectly showed Harry how to nest loops… and he corrected me.

After only half an hour of playing with it.

I’m sure I would have figured it out.

Eventually.

So, this colour coding lark definitely works for the youngsters.

Maybe I can apply it to other aspects of life that he seems to struggle to remember; like flushing the toilet and cleaning his teeth.

Dry January

December was quite a hectic month, what with Christmas and New Year’s Eve an’ all.

I had three Xmas parties in all, plus a birthday bash, Christmas Day itself and the traditional New Years’ Eve riot at my dad’s house.

I probably hadn’t, but, I felt like I’d had more food and drink in one month, than I’d had all year.

So, whilst I’m not one for New Year resolutions, I decided that a Dry January was in order… coupled with a mild diet, as my trousers definitely feel that little bit tighter this year.

So, on January 1, I resolved to drink no alcohol for the rest of the month and also to cut down – even if just a little – on the amount of food that I tend to shovel down my gullet.

And I was doing really well.

For six days.

Having completely forgotten that we were away this weekend.

This past two days caused me to fall off the wagon quite spectacularly.  We have spent the weekend visiting friends in deepest, darkest Gloucestershire, and I (we) have eaten and drank with as much gusto and excess as I (we) did in December.

Purely to be sociable, of course.

At the moment though, I feel like a great big Christmas pudding.

And that doesn’t mean I fancy eating one, it means I feel like I AM one!

We have a holiday coming up later this year, and If I’m going to be able to squeeze into my regular pair of budgie smugglers, then I need to seriously cut back on the food and drink.

A Dry February it is, then.

Bah!

Well, we are well into the Christmas season now.

Rather like King Canute’s failed attempts to hold back the waves, I have been trying to resist the oncoming tsunami that is Christmas. But it hasn’t worked, and now all I can do is come to terms with it… rather like a convicted man finds peace, shortly before he faces the hangman’s noose.

Commercial indications aside – hell, Sainsbury’s had mince pies for sale back in October! – the first sign for me, that showed Crimble was imminent, was when we received our first family Christmas card from cousin John. “Hope you are having a wonderful Christmas”, he’d written in it.

“No, John”, I screamed back at the card, “we are not having a wonderful Christmas, because it’s still only NOVEMBER!”

But now, a few weeks on, and with the 25th of the month marching inexorably nearer, we are starting to ‘get in to it’.

All (most) of the presents have been bought (I’m still working on what to get Mrs Masher. Christmas is a traditional time of year, and traditionally I leave it till Christmas Eve to get her something. And then I panic and spend way too much).

The man from Iceland (not the country) knocked on the door yesterday morning, and unloaded enough food into our hallway to feed a small third-world country for a month.

And yesterday – after much badgering – I reluctantly went up into the loft and brought down the tree, and all the lights and tinsel and shit. It’s downstairs now, sitting in the corner of the living room, looking all gaudy and blinking annoyingly and making it difficult to see the telly.

We had our first Christmas do last weekend; Mrs M has had her works’ do this past week and I have two works’ functions to get through, this week.

I went to Sainsbury’s yesterday and got in the beers, wines and spirits. There’s now enough beer, cider, whisky, vodka, rum, and Tia Maria in the house, to sozzle half of the sailors on the Ark Royal.

Christmas eh? Well, we only do it for the kids.