Another year (almost) over

And it seems my posts become more sporadic as time goes on. But I’m fairly sure my readership is in the single figures, so I’m not letting too many people down, am I? (Cue flame war…) I’m toying with the idea of a New Year’s resolution to update the site more regularly, but that would just go the way of all resolutions, I suspect!

But then this year has been pretty fun (without any resolutions being made or adhered to) and when I think about it it doesn’t really matter if you start a year with the best of intentions, so long as you pursue it with a plan to enjoy yourself as much as possible. Sure, there are ups and downs in the process, but I think you’ll win overall.

Enough cod philosophy. Having been all over the place for the past year, I’m going to be having a quiet Christmas in and around the homestead. I had hoped to go abroad somewhere for it, but it was all just too complicated with dwindling holiday allowance from work, work commitments and so forth. And to be honest, I’m looking forward to having a bit of feet-up time. We’ll see how that works out.

Been quite a year, as I said, with a lot of firsts: started out with a trip to the Cayman Islands, where I took my first scuba dive, my first jetski ride and enjoyed my first ever visit to the Caribbean – now that was cool. Then I fulfilled a long-standing promise to myself and learned to snowboard, which was both fun and painful – but I’m going back, and planning to fall a little less and board a little better. Later in the year I had my first trip to Egypt, which was awesome – definitely going back there at some point. I also had my big road trip through France, bringing my new bike back from there. What a mission – but of such things are memories made… 🙂

And of course, I asked Fiona to marry me, and we’ll be tying the knot at the end of May. And this is what looks likely to be taking up much of the first half of 2008: sorting out the myriad infinitesimal details that go into making the day what it’s supposed to be. I think I’ll be mildly relieved when it’s all done and we can get back to a degree of normality!

Meanwhile, Synthetix has been going from strength to strength, and we’re entering 2008 in the unusual position of having projected cashflow keeping us afloat for the next year. Now that’s a turnaround, and I’m glad we all stuck at it to get to this point. And hopefully 2008 will bring bigger and better developments – onward and upward. Nice to have a bright outlook for the New Year!

Well, that’s enough from me. I’d like to wish any and all of you that keep up with happenins a very happy Christmas, whether you celebrate it or not (it’s the thought that counts, innit?). And have a happy, prosperous and fulfilling 2008.


Phew! Been a while.

Two whole months, in fact. I’ve been busy with working, socialising, travelling – oh, and wedding plans. It’s amazing how much is involved in organising a half-hour event and a few hours’ celebration! But there you go – can’t make an omelette, etc…

Anyway, to recap: my Ireland visit was a hoot. Celebrating my dad’s birthday involved getting up on the Saturday morning, trekking to City airport (an oasis of calm compared to the usual airport experience), flying to Dublin, hiring a car, fighting (serious) traffic to Mullingar, booking in at the hotel, having dinner, getting sloshed, retiring at 2:30 AM, rising at 7:30 AM, letting Fiona drive back to Dublin because my blood-alcohol level was still ridiculous, flying home, collapsing exhausted.

It’s the sort of itinerary I would have shrugged off ten years ago, but it wore me out! I don’t think the seventeen glasses of fine wine helped, either… But it was a good night, to be sure: meeting up with the family all in one place is a rare occasion these days, and I think the next one will be my wedding day. And that’s still being organised…

Next trip was my first to Egypt, and the overall impression was wonderful. The Egyptian people are almost universally friendly and welcoming, and very keen to make your stay as pleasant as possible. Of course, in my usual cram-as-much-as-possible-in approach to holidaymaking, I insisted on a fairly punishing itinerary, which kinda peaked with getting up at 4 AM to fly to Cairo for the Giza pyramids/Cairo museum day trip. We also did the Valley of the Kings and a day cruise to Dendara Temple – both with early starts, but the cruise was most tranquil! Lots of pics, as per usual, and I may even get around to posting some in the gallery. Watch that space…

Back in Blighty, a couple of weeks passed and then we were off for a nice weekend break in Hastings. We stayed at Swan House, which is a marvellously quirky old B&B in Hastings Old Town with enormous rooms and lots of mod cons – and a delicious breakfast menu. No burnt bacon or stale cornflakes here; the salmon & scrambled eggs I had were superb. Mingled that with trips around the area, including a tour of Battle Abbey – guided by hand-held tour guides that gave a blow-by-blow account of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Most edifying!

Meanwhile, wedding plans move apace, with the venue booked (The High Rocks, Tunbridge Wells), the band booked (The Roadhouse Five, the registrar alerted, the honeymoon trip to Cape Verde booked… and there’s still loads to do! Got to organise suits, rings, flowers, invites, etc. But at least photography is sorted – I’ve got my dad (a veteran wedding photographer) and mates Ian, Howard and Matt adding their respective personal touches to the reportage of the event. Should be interesting sorting through the thousands of pics afterwards!

Next in the diary is my birthday bash, on the 10th November in the Bedford & Strand in WC2, at 7:30pm. If you can make it, be good to see you!

Better go do some work now, before they start yelling at me…


What a happenin` month!

It’s been busy, for sure…

First thing, I think, is my big news. In an impulsive, spur-of-the-moment, je-ne-sais-quoi kind of a move, I asked Fiona to marry me – and she said YES! Quite why she did that, I can’t fathom, but it takes all sorts, as they say. And the more romantically-inclined will be slightly disappointed that the question was popped in the departure lounge of Bergerac airport – and it took about ten minutes to convince her I was serious! Honestly…

No plans as yet; we’re thinking about some kind of a small ceremony middle-ish of 2008, but nothing’s set in stone. Don’t worry; you’ll be kept informed!

This weekend we’ll be taking a flying visit to Ireland for my dad’s birthday bash – an overnight visit only, as we’ve run out of holiday between us. Oh, we jet-setters, we love the aerial life! Anyway, the family are aware of the plans, and all sound very stoked at the news. Which is nice…

Last weekend was spent (as you may have gathered) with great mates Howard, Jo & Amber in Bergerac, where we enjoyed radiant sunshine for the most part – up to 34 Celsius at one point. So as you can imagine, pool frolics and antics ensued; what a life, eh? Up to the point where I nearly broke my nose on the edge of the pool, but that’s another story. Involving me in a silly diving manoeuvre, of course. I think the less said about that the better – I’ll wear my scars with great shame! 🙂

The weekend before, while Fi and her pal Julie searched vainly for dry weather in Barcelona, Pete & I clambered up Scafell Pike in the Lake District in very wet & windy conditions – so wet, in fact, that I couldn’t take out my camera at the peak to photograph the grey, wet landscape (what we could see of it, anyway!). So the promised pictures were taken at the hostel, which is a very fine place indeed and very recommended (as hostels go). A three-course dinner for £9.95 – beat that! Contrast that with the pub down the road that fancied itself as a gastropub: I dined on roast duck while Pete had fillet of shark – and all we wanted was bangers & mash or fish & chips!

The bike saga continues; I sent the form – with a sizeable cheque – to the DVLA to register it in the UK and get a new V5 and tax disc, only for it to be returned a couple of days later. Apparently I need to get certification of UK roadworthiness from another government department, which will cost me another £70 – and will require new UK-spec headlights and a MPH conversion to the speedometer and odometer. Jeez… A pair of used headlights and an electronic wizard gizmo for the speedo later, and I’m almost in shape to start the process again. And you never know – I might be on the road before the end of September! Taking into account that I also need to insure the bike for each application, which only lasts two weeks before they cancel it again due to lack of registration number, and you can see how this might be a rather frustrating process. Not to mention expensive… So I’ll be on the road in time for winter – joy!

But it’s all good; got a few busy weekends ahead, what with the aforementioned Ireland visit, then John & Gwyneth’s 10th wedding anniversary the following weekend, and Stuey’s flatwarming bash the weekend after. After which I think I may take a weekend off.

July update

As it seems that I’m only getting to update monthly (at best!), the title seemed appropriate… Been a bit happening around these parts, as well as a lot of filthy weather. Summer? I want my money back! Cue lots of funny e-mails about missing sunshine and global “warming”…

Latest news is that I’ve taken possession of a new two-wheeled wonder – and what a wonder it is: a beautiful blue Suzuki SV650, barely two years old and with less than 3000km on the clock. Until I grabbed it and rode it back to Dartford from Bergerac, that is! So now it’s got a few extra km on it, and it’s ensconced in my garage while I take care of the tedious registration particulars.

I don’t know if any of my readership have ever imported a vehicle into the UK, but the paperwork is frightening. At least I don’t have to pay any VAT on it, ‘cos that’d be more paperwork. And more money. Don’t get me started!

It’s not an expensive endeavour, really. £38 for a new registration, plus whatever tax I decide to put on it – but the shocker came when I rang Suzuki GB for a Certificate of Conformity for the bike. They sent me a form to fill out the particulars and send back – with a cheque for £75! Administration fee, they say, but I get the feeling they’re unhappy about me importing the bike all by myself. Bandits…

The journey from Bergerac to Calais was an interesting one. The SV is not the most comfortable machine for long distances, as I found – so I was quite relieved to be stopping frequently for fuel top-ups. But the stops took their toll on the journey time, so I found myself upping the pace as I forged northward – which is why I managed to miss my first turnoff as I pelted past it at 160kph in the fast lane. Bugger… So I resigned myself to having to face the Peripherique around Paris (which Howard terms the ‘Horrifique‘, for reasons that became clear), which is why I then missed a turnoff for Rouen which would have saved me the aggro!

Anyone who’s done the Peripherique will know what I’m talking about when I say: never again. I was thinking M25 style circular motorway; what I actually got was a twisting warren of interconnected autoroutes jammed to the gills with impatient traffic and psychotic French bikers, on what then turned out to be quite a warm afternoon. Lovely. So I wasn’t a happy bunny by the time I broke out of it onto the northbound autoroute headed for Lille and Calais.

Then Calais. And the roadworks that force motorists into a demented loop to get to the Eurotunnel terminal. Which I had to do *twice*, as I missed the turnoff first time round (kind of a day for missing turns, really). I took that as evidence of my weariness at this point, as it was comprehensively signposted! Late for my booked crossing, I managed to get the next one and got back to Dartford about 9pm. A trip and a half, for sure – and not one I’d do on the SV again. Maybe a VFR800, or a Pan European, or a Gold Wing – but not the SV. To say that I ached is a massive understatement!

More on the SV as I get on with the business of owning it day-to-day, but suffice it to say that it’s a gorgeous bike, and plenty quick enough for suburban hell-raising… 😀

Anyway, back to the real world. I mentioned a planned climb of Scafell Pike in my last post – that didn’t work out, as I was a little under the weather. Pete went anyway, with girlfriend Delorise, and enjoyed himself immensely. I’ll do it again, don’t worry. And I might even get a picture or three…

Not a lot else to say, apart from a big birthday shout to Howard in Bergerac for this Friday. And cheers for the excellent hospitality when I was picking the bike up – always a pleasure. See ya again soon, mate!

Better get on with the ‘important’ stuff – catch you later!

Terribly busy lately

…not that you’d know it from the lack of posting activity here! I’ve been busy with work, of course, and busy with things about the house, et cetera, et ceteraaaa. But trying to claw it all back from the murky depths of my memory is another matter!

Let’s see: for starters, I’ve just got back from one of those refreshingly therapeutic weekends with our pals in France, which consisted of a lot of doing nothing – just what the doctor ordered. Particularly in the wake of all the DIY fun that’s been going on at Atkins Towers… Got a new back door, dontchaknow, replacing the aging and corroding stable door – yes, it is *that* exciting! 😀

One of my missions in France was to re-examine Howard’s trusty steed and confirm my interest in purchasing it. Which wasn’t really in any doubt, but we do need to dot the ‘T’s and cross the ‘I’s (or something like that) – in any case, I’m definitely taking the SV650 off his hands and adding it to my burgeoning stable. The stable will, of course, dwindle upon the sale of my RF900, which has to go to make way for the new arrival. It’s not at all jealous, don’t worry!

But what fun digging it out of the garage after its winter lay-up and getting the bugger started! I ended up having to wheel it about half a mile up the road to roll it down a hill and bump-start it before I got any joy from it. But start it did; first on two cylinders, then on three, then finally roaring into life on four after about 10 minutes of coaxing it on half throttle at the side of the road. Of such things are the joys of biking made!

So I am slightly sad to see the old beast go, not least because she is the quickest thing on two wheels I’ve ever had the immense pleasure of owning. But I’m still not at the level of success where I can have myself a showroom full of bikes and my own circuit to noodle around on them. Soon, but not yet. 😉

Driving the new bike back from Bergerac is going to be fun; I’ve got myself a Eurotunnel ticket for 8pm that day, and I’ve got to allow myself between 8 and 9 hours to get there. Now, I’ve done some fun distance trips before, but never to that extent. I’ve heard the usual tales of people making it to the South East of France from Calais in 12 hours, but I don’t think I’d be game for that any more! Then of course, there’s the rigmarole of HMRC and DVLA forms to fill and submit, and I’ll be UK legal. All good…

I even managed to coax Fiona onto the passenger seat of the SV while I was ‘test’ riding it on the weekend. She’s acquired a nice jacket, helmet and gloves, and feels slightly safer on two wheels than before. Which isn’t to say that she feels safe – oh no. Just safER… Let’s see what the fine weather to come has in store for us.

What a busy month I’ve got this month – it’s all happening! I find myself on a climbing wall this weekend (cue aches and pains galore); next weekend my Dad’s over from Ireland seeking entertainment in London’s bright lights; the following weekend I’m off on another of those daft climbing episodes with Pete, and the weekend after that I’m getting my new bike. The climbing episode will be taking in the third of the ‘Three Peaks’, Scafell Pike – which is also the lowest of the three. Thankfully. Fingers crossed for some decent weather!

I feel a big shout out is in order for my mucker Ben in Australia, who’s finally set a date to make an honest woman of his lovely lady Brooke – and we’re invited. So next Spring, Oz here we come. Can’t waaaaaaait! Big congrats, you two!!!

But for now, I have to return to the humdrum of computer programming – it does pay the rent, after all…

5, 567 coconuts!

I’ve been party to some random events and occurences in my time, but Monday 23rd April was right up there. Fi & I went to Spamalot, the stage version of Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail, and on our way stopped in Trafalgar Square to take part in the record-beating Coconut Orchestra effort there.

The cast of Spamalot were on the stage, conducting the attempt, and Python stars Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones even stopped by. Oh, and London Mayor Ken Livingstone, not that anyone cares so much – apparently he organised the event as part of a resurgence of interest in St George’s day (not to mention an effort to restore his flagging popularity!).

We were all given a pair of coconut halves on registration, and the conductor from the theatre production stood up and conducted us through a rendition of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – with coconut claps subsituted for the whistling in the chorus. Quite something to hear thousands of coconut halves clapping in unison!

The purpose of the event was to break a record set in March last year in New York, of 1,786 coconut players. In the event, we managed 5,567 pairs of coconuts – to quote another Python production, “Now, stop that, it’s silly!”. But terrific fun… 🙂

And then on to Spamalot, the show – and I haven’t laughed so much in ages. Heavily based on the original film, with lots of digs at theatre and showbiz stereotypes in the process, it was very enjoyable indeed. It runs to the 2nd of September this year, I think – so if you can get a ticket, go!

In travel news, we went to Ireland for Easter and sis-in-law Ursula’s 40th birthday (though she doesn’t look a day of it), and did the usual thing of zooming around from pillar to post visiting people and places (though not necessarily in that order). Dublin, Mullingar, Ballina, Mullingar, Dublin and home – I needed a rest just to recover from that! No great travel plans for the immediate future, but thankfully everyone’s coming over here for a change: Benjy lands this Sunday, with a threat to pour huge quantities of wine down my throat, and Paul arrives a couple of weeks later. I can’t get the idea of barbecues out of my mind, somehow…

More news will be posted when (if) it happens and I’m in typing mood and not too busy…..

I came, I saw, I boarded the Pyrenees

Sorry it’s been so long, but you have to understand that the commitments of my indolent lifestyle are very great: loafing, eating a bit, loafing some more, maybe shifting to change channels… OK, my life isn’t like that at all. But unfortunately, dear reader, I’m quite a busy bunny these days and something’s got to give – in this case, my random online musings. But I’m here now, so on with it!

When last we eased ourselves back in the comfy chairs in the virtual drawing room and tilted a glass, I was speaking of a trip to Andorra, was I not? Well, that’s been and gone, and here I am to recount my adventure. And what an adventure it was…

My first impression of the holiday was ‘what a palaver!’ – getting to Gatwick for stupid o’clock in the morning, then having to endure the ridiculous queue for security whilst clutching polythene bags filled with toiletries (and having to take our shoes off to be scanned), then flying to Toulouse and transferring to the resort – it all gets to you, eventually. I’m feeling ever greater sympathy with my pal Howard, who never flies anywhere unless he absolutely has to; it’s too much aggravation…

But once there, it was all good fun – out onto the slopes the first morning with my Argentinian snowboarding instructor Pablo (an absolute diamond!), and I learned all the fun & games of bindings, edges, heels, toes…. and falling over. Lots of the latter. But I picked up the basics pretty readily (amazingly!), and spent the first day hurling myself down a red run(!) with abandon. One spectacular early afternoon wipeout put paid to my efforts for the day; I couldn’t take any more pain!

The second day found me more hesitant and stiff, much to Pablo’s consternation, but he got me back in the flow of things soon enough – particularly once he’d sorted my bindings and got my weight off my heels. Playing on the slopes in the afternoon with Fi & Simon, Fi commented that on occasion she had problems keeping up with me – I think that was more down to being out of control than anything else, but it was fun. One fall too many on my wrists prompted me to give up for the day and go buy some wrist guards. Belated? You betcha. But anyway.

Third day, final day of lessons, and it went pretty well – until Pablo drew to my attention that I’d shredded my boarding pants. So a slightly early end to the lesson, and off I went shopping again. Out on the slopes in the afternoon, I managed to compound my misery by falling onto my back from a position facing up the slope, and banging my head – a few times, and the last time I’d had enough and went to buy a helmet. Yeah, I know – could’ve done that the first day. If I’d only known!

On the Thursday, it was out on the slopes again, and I had fun trying to keep up with Fi & Simon, the veteran skiers. By this time, all sorts of aches and pains were manifesting themselves, but I went for it and enjoyed a few good runs. And lots of falls, but c’est la vie. Mid-afternoon, we stopped for a coffee at a place halfway down the slope, only to be caught in complete white-out fog. Now that was an interesting experience, navigating down the slope in two- or three-metre visibility while avoiding being wiped out by ski classes snaking down the slope. By the time we got to the bottom, my legs were burning. Off to one of the many local cafés for a vin chaud, and we were sorted.

Friday was my big injury day: my hyper-extended thumb. Going down a run, I fell and landed on my left hand and bent my thumb way back towards my forearm. Now that hurt, I can tell you. Off to buy a support bandage, then out in the afternoon for what turned out to be my final run. Too nervous, favouring my increasingly painful hand, I called it a day. And Saturday, it all looked too icy; my legs were shot and I just wanted to chill out. So I wandered around the shops, bought a couple of items of clothing, resisted the urge to buy a board, bindings, boots and bag, and enjoyed the social life of Andorra.

Overall, a good time – I’m definitely hooked on snowboarding, and I’ll be going back next year for sure. Meanwhile, the doctor tells me that injuries of this nature can take a couple of months to heal up, so I’m still wearing the support bandage. But he tells me that if it had been broken it would have been several months! So we’re thankful for small mercies.

Pics are up in the gallery, but I’ve not had time to give them all clever captions. In time, hopefully I’ll get them all updated. Howard managed to capture some of my graceless boarding in a lesson on video; I’ll look into getting that online for you to have a chuckle at – particularly the bit at the start where I go a-o-t…

I’d love to stay and chat, but duty calls. I’ll post some more as soon as I can. Take it easy!

The tan is fading…

…so I’ve gotta go and get another one – pronto! It seems like years since our Cayman Islands holiday (even though it’s been barely three weeks), and I’m back in the old mode of work/eat/sleep and not a huge amount of party time. Something must and shall be done about this! Cayman was absolutely awesome, though – more of that shortly. Meanwhile…

Next on the list of foolhardy adventures is to go and learn to snowboard in the duty-free snowdrifts of Andorra. Or, as I remarked to someone last week, I’m going to Andorra to spend a week falling off a snowboard! I’ll never learn, will I??! The words “pig”, “ice” and “on” spring to mind, in no particular order…

Back to Grand Cayman, for a brief recap: the weather was gorgeous, running at around 30° Celsius (or 86° Fahrenheit, in old money), with light-to-medium breezes keeping us deceptively cool, white sands, blue sea, the lot – Fi was in her element… By contrast, the last day was overcast with showers, and the temperature plummeted to a bone-chilling 25° C – we could cope with that! 🙂

Much time was spent snorkeling around the artificial reef that existed just off the beach at our hotel, communing with sea-life and grazing knees on the rocks – and we even took a “Snorkel Safari”, which entailed renting a Waverunner (big 3-seat jetski), blasting along the shore to a bigger, natural reef and admiring the critters around there. Waterproof cameras notwithstanding, I don’t have a whole lot of pics from those activities, so don’t hold your breath.

Of course, the bit I was really looking forward to was the scuba diving, and that was a lot of fun. I managed to descend too quickly on the open water part of the dive and give myself shocking earache, but you’ll have that. More annoying were the flooded ear canals that plagued me for a couple of days afterwards, with each ear taking it in turns to exhibit almost comic deafness. But I wasn’t put off, despite trying to handle a waterproof camera along with all the other paraphernalia that come with a scuba dive, which made my efforts somewhat akin to mowing the lawn while performing complex scientific calculations – next time, no camera; I’ll leave that to the pros. I came away with a funky card that declares my completion of a resort course dive, which counts towards any certification that I might decide to take in the next year. We’ll see; having dived in what is generally regarded as being among the best diving water in the world, I’d have to go back there to finish it off, I think.

Of course, not being able to sit still, we had to hire a jeep and go and look at the other side of the island – which didn’t take long, as it’s not a big island. It was a good plan, as we saw lots of bits that we wouldn’t otherwise have seen in our short stay. Surprisingly for such a small island, it does have its contrasts, and it was good to see. Another strange feature was that they all drive on the left, courtesy of the sway the British government holds over the place – they even use UK road signs! Georgetown was full of cruise ship passengers; on any given day there would be between two and five liners standing at anchor in the bay. Oh – and pirates; they definitely take the whole “Pirates of the Caribbean” thing very seriously. In a light-hearted Caribbean way, of course.

The food was awesome; top of the list was the Calypso Grill, which required a taxi trip up to the northern part of the island, and it was well worth it to sit on a deck right on the water and eat locally-caught fish and drink fine wine. And there’s no shortage of fine dining on Grand Cayman; I suspect the financial bods have quite a say in that. Cayman’s version of the ‘burbs is a series of canals linked to the bay at the north of the island; every house along there backs onto a canal, with the residents’ yacht moored at the end of the garden. Budget living it ain’t!

Anyway, gotta leave it there. I’ll be writing more about Cayman at some point, and the photos will be online RSN. Tune in next time for news of broken limbs and frostbite!

Well into the New Year now

…so the usual seasonal wishes seem somehow inappropriate. There again, propriety has never been my strong suit – so here it is: HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I hope everyone had an excellent time; even if you stayed indoors on New Year’s Eve with no company but a bottle and a bag of chips – so long as you enjoyed yourself! 🙂

Let’s face it: the usual celebrations leave me a tad cold, in more ways than one. So each year comes the quest to do something a little new and different – and this year was a doozy: a cottage in Normandy, with Fiona, bro Paul, mates Stu, John & Gwyn and godson Jake. Let the good times roll!

The expedition involved the seven of us in two cars (Stu’s Lancer and Fi’s Seicento), one journey by Le Shuttle from Folkestone and 200 miles the far side to a remote location between Vimoutiers and Gacé. Lovely place, with four bedrooms, bathroom upstairs (with HUGE tub!), shower downstairs, fully-equipped kitchen, dining room, living room with wood-burning stove, TV, DVD player, etc., etc. Of course, a hypermarket stop was involved, and we were laden with enough booze to sink a battleship (and yet we still ran out!) and provisions for the next few days’ culinary endeavours. We left a few days later very chilled – and very much in need of detox and healthy eating! John doesn’t spare the saturates when he’s cooking (that’s why it tastes so good!)… 🙂

So back home and back to the humdrum of the daily grind. But we made some good memories in France, and we’re threatening to do it (or something similar) again next New Year. I’ll keep you posted! In the meantime, we’re getting ourselves ready for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Cayman Islands, courtesy of LBC Radio – yes, Fiona won us a holiday, and not just any holiday either. We’ll be scuba diving, snorkelling, exploring, eating, drinking and soaking up the rays for a week, and yes, I know – you all hate me right now. Well, you know, Fiona won it, she asked me to come with her, I couldn’t say no, could I?! (not like I would, anyway!) For my part, I managed to win us a weekend break in the luxury resort paradise of…. Hastings. Random or what? Oh well, we can’t all be 5-star holiday winners! 😀

Rewinding slightly, Christmas was spent with the ex-Camden mob (none of them lives there anymore!), and it was a very fine event indeed. Lots of booze (yeah, I know – I’m checking in to detox any day now), a beautifully-cooked goose and lots of wonderfully silly party games. Then I had to get up on Boxing Day and head back from Surbiton to Dartford, as I had a dinner to cook and a brother to fetch from Stansted. Rest? Hah! Not in holiday season…

And of course, I managed to catch up with my man Benjy just before Christmas, and haven’t seen him since! He goes back to Oz on Thursday; hopefully we can catch up before that. In any case, he’s looking well, in good form and sickeningly tanned – oh, hang on, that’ll be me in a couple of weeks! 😀

New year’s resolutions abound and are discarded at a frightening rate – witness the log jam that is the local gym, and see how it all dissipates by early February. A cynic I am not, but I was once one of those seasonal gym joiners! And thanks to the taskmaster that is my girlfriend, I’m sticking at it. And getting fit… and healthy… and trim… Anyone for a pint? 😉

Enough for now – I really should be doing more constructive things, what with it being the New Year and all…