30 December 2007

Christmas re-cap...

Okay, so maybe Christmas is just a little predictable in our house but that’s just the way we like it. I’ve just had a look back at my Blog entries for Christmas 2005 and 2006... they could both have been referring to this year.

Christmas day started with the usual hot bread rolls for breakfast, washed down with Buck’s Fizz - a great way to start Christmas morning! In the background we had the Jive Bunny Christmas CD playing - yes, we DO own that CD and yes we DO play it! After breakfast, we sat around the Christmas tree and opened our presents.

Our Christmas tree... after Santa had been!

Lunch was the traditional Turkey with all the trimmings, but without the festive Brussels sprouts. Quite why anyone would want to risk spoiling a perfectly good meal with those I do not know! In keeping with tradition, whilst lunch was prepared, I had a whisky (or two) and Lynda opened the Sherry. A rather nice bottle of wine helped the Turkey dinner go down a short while later. Not bad going for one morning… Buck’s Fizz, whisky, Sherry and then wine.

Now, after the Turkey we hit a little problem. We still had Christmas pudding to face! I’m sorry to say that we didn’t get to eat it until the following day, as we were both too full of Turkey! It’s the first time ever that I’ve not been able to eat my Christmas pudding after my lunch - guess I must be starting to show my age! The afternoon was then spent in front of the TV trying not to fall asleep.

Boxing Day was a similar day to the day before. We had an extra hour or two in bed, got up and had breakfast, I went for a short walk to fetch the papers and then we sat in front of the TV and did nothing but eat and drink. Yep, we sure are predictable at Christmas.

This year's Christmas cake - made by Lynda using enough Brandy to put you over the drink/drive limit!

Thursday came around just a little too quickly for my liking and it was back to work. I spent most of the time carrying out an end of year stock take, eating chocolates that had been given to us by a supplier and wishing I was at home. I wouldn’t say we were quiet at work, more like dead!

This morning Lynda and I took a trip into Derby for a look around the sales. I’ve still not quite worked out where my sudden liking for shopping has come from but once again, I rather enjoyed it. I came back with a shirt, a scarf and a new leather jacket. Next weekend I may well go in search of cheap CD’s. If the right deal comes along then I’m also on the lookout for a laptop computer to use on a wi-fi connection around the house. That will have to be the right deal on the right laptop though!

So, that’s it for another year. All that is left now is New Year's Eve and all the food and drink that goes with it. We’ll be staying at home as usual and will no doubt be treated to a free fireworks display as the rest of the world goes firework mad at mid-night.

24 December 2007


That’s it, if I’ve forgotten something or someone it’s too late now! The car is locked away, the doors are bolted and the curtains drawn. If it isn’t done now then it isn’t going to happen! From here on in all the stress of Christmas is forgotten and I now start to enjoy it.


23 December 2007

I think I'm just about ready...

Right, there’s little more than a 24hrs until “the big day” and I’m just about ready! A little earlier, I won the battle of the wrapping - it was a close call but I eventually got the better of the paper and sellotape. One or two of the scars I’m left with may be with me for some time though! Leaving me in charge of scissors, sticky tape and paper is never a good idea.

I had planned on going out birding this morning but it never happened. For one, the weather has turned somewhat yucky - we’ve had rain, mist and fog for the past day or two - and on top of that I couldn’t be bothered to drag myself out of bed in time this morning. The thought of walking around some disused gravel pit in the fog just didn’t appeal somehow.

In the end, staying at home proved to be not so bad. A single Greenfinch visited the bird feeders in the garden this morning - the first one for many months - the Coal Tit that has been coming for food occasionally over the past few weeks put in an appearance again and then a pair of Blue Tits covered just about every inch of the garden in search of spiders and insects.

Okay, so these aren’t the sort of birds that would normally get much more than a second glance when out birding but today they were garden highlights. For me even the most common of birds can be special, given the right circumstances.

It also looks like we may get to have a "Christmas" Robin in the garden for the first time in a number of years too. Although common enough in the area the Robin is a bird that has never really taken to our little urban garden for some reason but, for the past six months or so, we have had one or two coming to the feeders. Hopefully, come Christmas day we will have a visit from the one bird associated with Christmas almost as much as the Turkey is!

17 December 2007

Don’t worry, I didn’t slit my wrists during last Monday's shopping trip into Derby! In fact, the whole experience was rather enjoyable. No, you didn’t read that wrong, I did enjoy the Westfield Centre in the run up to Christmas! I was in Derby for just before 9:00AM, the shops were more or less deserted and there were no queues worth mentioning. Only problem is I didn’t take full advantage of the situation… I need to go back and face the hoards once more before the big day!

So, onto the rest of the week. Every day was very cold, but dry, with temperatures below freezing each night. This enabled me to use the mountain bike to get into work again and, more importantly, to get back at night without having to be stuck in traffic jams - the traffic in an evening was horrendous as people battled to get into town for the late-night shopping. The cold front looks to be here for the rest of the week at least, so I will be using the bike up until Christmas I think.

Last Friday saw the long awaited release of the new Bluehorses album, Thirteen Fires; it has been almost three years in the making! *(Check out the comments, at the end of the end of this post, for the official word on the release of Thirteen Fires!) Friday was also the first gig on a three day Christmas mini-tour for the band. The Flowerpot in Derby was the venue and as usual, it was a great night.

Liz - getting ready to try and kick my head in!

The set list was made up of 17 tracks, seven from the new album and the rest old favourites from the past few years. Highlights for me included Witch In Wedlock, Dance With Me, Ray Of Light, Calling My Loves and the mighty Skyclad. The biggest hit of the night almost came during Waes Hael, a new track from the new album. Liz kicked out in time to the music and her New Rock boot missed my face by a matter of inches! Being so close to the stage at The Flowerpot does, at times, have its disadvantages!

Lyndon Price.

Due to the recent departure of the bass player the band had a bit of a change around for these gigs - Jay, the lead guitarist, changed to bass player whilst Lyndon Price from Redrock Studios (birthplace of the new CD) stepped into Jay's boots and picked up the lead guitar role. The result being a four-piece band that totally gelled with each other. Lyndon had just two weeks to learn the set but you’d have thought he’d been with Bluehorses for years!

Lyndon, Nic and Jay.

On Saturday evening, Lynda and I were at Pride Park Stadium, home to Derby County Football Club. Luckily, with the results that Derby have had so far this season, we were not there for a game but for Lynda’s work Christmas party. The plan had been for me to be driving us there and back so that Lynda could enjoy a drink or two, in the end I finished up drinking and Lynda took the driving role. This was nothing to do with me… Lynda hadn’t been feeling too well during the day so alcohol was the last thing she could face!

The food was great, for such a big party night, and the service was okay too. Maybe if one or two of the staff were transferred from waiting on tables to playing on the pitch then The Rams may start and get one or two wins under their belts! Then again…

Liz, at The Robin.

During the week, I had been alternately talking myself into, and then out of, going to the Bluehorses gig at The Robin, Bilston, last night. In the end it was the band themselves that convinced me that I should indeed be there. As Jay said after Friday's gig… “It would be rude not to”! So, off I set last night at 6:30PM on the hour-long drive to The Robin. It was already -2° c when I set off from Derby and felt much colder as I arrived at the gig. A large tray of chips and mushy peas, from the chippie just across the road from the venue, warmed me up a little but not half as much as the heating in The Robin, the place was like an oven! No need for coats in there last night!

Liz, Nic and Lyndon.

The set list was the same as Friday night, and it was well received by the crowd once again. There was no close shave for me from Liz and her boots this time - the stage is higher at The Robin and the sound monitors add extra “crowd protection” here!

One little extra bonus for me at this gig was the attendance of Matt and Rachel from The Reasoning, another band I love to listen to. I was fortunate enough to get to spend a good while chatting with them before Bluehorses came on stage and to receive a “live” CD of an earlier Bluehorses gig that Matt had for me. It’s evenings like last night that make the music scene so enjoyable. Come January, it will be The Reasoning that I will be off to see play live - and I can’t wait!



09 December 2007

Just a bit of an update on what’s been going on…

Work has gone crazy over the past couple of weeks - people seem to have taken a liking to crashing cars so I’ve been ordering accident repair parts like they are going out of fashion! All good for business but not so good for the stress levels, especially when part of my order finishes up at the opposite end of the country to me! Quite how two bumpers and two backing beams can just disappear I do not know - it’s not as if they are small items like, say, computer discs carrying thousands of names and addresses! ;-)

Last Saturday was the presentation night for Melton and Leicester autograss club. Lynda and I went along with Gary and Suzanne. Gary picked up the trophy for winning the season-long Class 6 Championship, we all had a few drinks and generally had a good time. Sunday morning saw one or two slightly sore heads but overall we escaped without too much pain! The cooked breakfast that Gary did for us all certainly helped get me up and running again!

Another week has gone by without me stepping foot inside the gym, mainly due to my feet still not being up to it. The blisters I got on the BHF walk have taken a lot longer to heal than I expected and the thought of the gym just hasn’t been too appealing so far. Last night, much to Lynda’s disgust, I lost one of my little toe nails - another victim of the walk! I found it quite funny; Lynda found it turned her stomach!

As a result of not going to the gym, and also some pretty careless eating on my behalf, I’ve seen my weight creep up by almost half a stone. As of tomorrow, I am back to watching what I eat. By the time Christmas arrives, I will be back in shape again - just in time to put all the weight back on!

Yesterday was the last Derby RSPB coach trip of the year. I had been in two minds about going all week but Lynda talked me into it. By the time we had been at Titchwell for a couple of hours I think she may have wished we had stayed at home. The rain poured down for most of the day, the wind was blowing at what felt like gale force and there was very little in the way of bird life to be seen.

The view from a rain lashed bird hide!

And if you opened the window... there was very little to see!

The highlights of the day (apart from getting home) included a single Red-breasted Merganser and two Eider duck on the very rough sea, three Little Egret, six Avocet, a handful of Turnstone, a large flock of Golden Plover and a couple of Marsh Harrier. The bird of the day for me was a Merlin that flew over the salt marsh during a brief lull in the rain.

Tomorrow I’ll be starting my Christmas shopping. I hate shopping at the very best of times but Christmas shopping is just plain terrifying. I am expecting this year to be even worse now that the new Westfield shopping centre is open and attracting yet more people into Derby. Your prayers for my swift and safe return would be much appreciated.