Saturday, 31 May 2014

Rock, Paper, Explosion

electrical transformer anson road portsmouthUp much earlier today, practically still had a 10 in it.
Jof has to visit Nanna again and is not looking forward to it because Nanna doesn't really want to do much except complain and Jof gets enough of that from me. But she dutifully went off and left us alone again.
In desperation I went to the park but there wasn't anyone I knew apart from that fat Azram the bully and we just studiously ignore each other now so I left to admire the new and interesting graffiti on the walls of Specks Lane, by the football stadium. One of the artists is called 'Monk' and he clearly appreciates ladies of a certain shape.
Past there is an area of derelict abandoned land which is now full of weeds taller than me so we investigated a bit. It has an electricity substation and some vandals had kindly removed the door padlock so I went in for a look. There's a massive transformer and some heavy-duty fuses and stuff, you can hear it humming with power but I didn't fiddle with it, no coruscating fatal sparks for me.
police officers detaining teenagers for breaking and entering fenced compoundWe walked to the main road and looked in many shops but didn't buy anything.
This meant I could renegotiate (favourite hobby #16) and secured a promise to go to the Pyramids. But the Pyramids declare themselves to be closed due to flooding, so that one was out. I settled for messing about on the nudist beach so we cycled down there.
The old cold war listening station is a derelict shell by Fort Cumberland. I have hopped through magic holes in the fence on numerous occasions, but all we do is investigate a bit, take a picture and leave quietly, not drawing attention to ourselves. Clearly some naughty teenagers had not been following the Mungleton Code of Not Being Caught and were surrounded by Police officers, for breaking windows and stuff.
We did find a couple of easy access points but decided not to go in this time, for obvious reasons. There was only one nudist.
metal detectorist on shingle beach eastney in front of derelict cold war listening stationIt was high tide so we couldn't get to the waterfall, but we did check out the vast gaps and wholesale destruction the angry sea hath wrought upon the concrete sea defences. We took it in turns to throw half-bricks onto the rocks below in a limited but successful attempt to turn the sea pink.
That's when we found the metal detectorist. This affable chappie had found 2 bent and twisted .303 copper bullets so far (there used to be an old firing range nearby) and I asked if I could have a go. I found a lead bullet, very squished, and a few bits of ironwork until his battery ran out. I want a metal detector of my own, and not the toy ones, one like his where you can set it to "All metals" or "Coins" etc.

Friday, 30 May 2014

There is no Time. Like the Present!

This was supposed to be a day off after a vaguely exciting week. I therefore only allowed myself to be roused at 11 am which is right and proper for an officer of my exalted rank. Well, you say a day off, but I'm not convinced.
Before I had even regained consciousness, the Butler sink had been planted up with Rosemary, Lavender, Sweet William and apple tree seedlings, and the whole yard (not the whole 9 yards) had been re-arranged to better show off our pub garden-style al fresco relax-o-thon area.
In meedle of no time we had left the house and collected the laundry and the tiles from the tile warehouse. £600 of porcelain bathroom décor is quite heavy, lucky we had the store manager to help me, because I don't have those steel toecapped work boots like Bud, although mine do light up when I run so I'm the winner.
He unloaded the tiles into the garage while I played guitar and unbidden, cleared out my toy chest to make a charity shop and loft pile. Then we pigged some pork pies (we'll leave porking the apple pies to the americans) and sped off to the tip.
I have been to the municipal recycling centre many times and I chose to wheel the old hoover to its final destination (it sucked anyway): he disposed of 3 dustbins which seems existentially odd but they were in the way so it's cleared out the garage (for tile storage) a treat.
But there was no more time. I was supposed to visit a new park in Southampton but schedules are variable at best and we made it to Grandad's place with 12 seconds to spare which is exactly correct.
Our plan was the 3.6 mile riverside walk they'd scouted out: so that is what we did. It is Grandad's 85th birthday today and what does one normally do on one's 85th? We suspect it's having 2 old ladies over for afternoon tea where they will gently and forgetfully argue over how many biscuits they've had. But the 3 M's are not like that.
So we walked down single-lanes of the rural idyll in which he lives and posed each other conundra from a plethora of subjects, as you do, and he liked why I'm in the top set at maths. We found a Shetland Pony, I think he was lonely for others of his height so we scritched his nose a bit. We walked past a forest where they do paintballing and I was just expounding on my marksman skills when Grandad said you're quite good at blowing your own trumpet aren't you, and I said well blow me, I'm good at everything, if I was born into a different family I would have been King, you know.
But it was very muddy and we did some off-piste work: some of it worked, some of it didn't. In the end we found lots of mushrooms and some donkeys that may bite, apparently, and we threw the mushrooms of at least 7 different species at each other, because THAT is what you do on your 85th.
Taking our leave (but leaving him a bottle of red) we went into darkest Southampton with trepidation and a desperate need to fart. We had located the promised park and I navigated us there with only a few major errors. Mansel Park looks empty on Google earth but they've installed an interestingly poor swingpark on Mansel Doorstep, with broken items and extra mattresses to give the trampoline more bounce.
Next door is a new exercise park with all the good contraptions in one place: we got some serious arm work done and enjoyed the humorous graffiti in which a few local lasses are marked out as being accommodating in many ways.
I have swimming lessons scheduled so we'd decided to leave when we spotted Millbrook Park #3. I didn't even know it was there, but OBoy, it's worth a revisit. Clearly at this time it had been mostly taken over by what passes for teenagers in this auspicious area but there was a zipline and a Diamond of ropes. At least 3 things I'd never seen before so we will return.
At swimming I was 6 minutes late due to traffic and park #3: I was the only blue hat so was instantly promoted to Dark Blue Hat. Apparently I've been swimming in the wrong lane for 2 months, and I thought I was the guy with the map. It did enable me to quietly lose some of that mud from the footpath, much used by horses.
Jof was pleased to see me because that is what she does for a living. I would suggest that time is what you make it, but there is never enough. So you have to Facebook-like the present, because you'll never get another one.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Exeat: Wookey Hole

wookey hole wells mendip limestone cavesSame again, really. A day with nothing planned was turned into another long-distance investigation of terra incognita, and hopefully, to get some goodies at the gift shop.
Wookey Hole is apparently somewhat similar to Cheddar Gorge, a subterranean cave system in limestone rocks, touristified and with many add-on activities.
We set off early again because it set us in good stead for Dover Castle: this time we arrived 20 minutes early even though we overshot the access road due to overgrown signage, honestly.
boy in purple lighting cave mendips limestone subterranean cavernsI read the maps the whole way but so many of the settlements aren't on the Britain Road Map because they comprise 12 goats and a broken wall, and last had an actual inhabitant in 1756. So I wasn't always in complete cartographic control.
100% humidity and 11 degrees cool suitable for maturing cheesesWe did pass Grandad's house, the shop where he bought me a bike and the Centre Parcs where the PuddleMummies drank gin. In Wookey Car park, an elderly man gesticulated at us in a local accent and we were second in the queue! We had bought our tickets in advance so you get a receipt, and 2 stickers so you can go back to the car for a picnic and still get back in, and 2 tickets for the cave tour. Remember this, it's very important.
river axe from mendip hills somersetSo we headed directly for the caves, because that was the point of the visit, really. Once sufficient people had built up, we got in and were played some laughable special effects while the guide pressed buttons that lit up various rock formations.
He explained about the myth of the Witch, the dog turned to stone (a Rockweiler) and the sterling efforts of the cave divers who mapped out the tunnels and the miners who blasted through the rocks to make our walking tour easier. There are many calcite strata, clefts, galleries, low ceilings, mineralised coloured areas, stalactites, stalagmites, columns, waterfalls and slippery steps.
wookey hole paper mill playzone for kids theatre and penny antique arcadeThey've made a real effort since the first tour in 1927 and you're not allowed to shoot down the stalactites with muskets any more, or use flash photography because it scares the bats, 2 of which flew past my head. One of our tour group (approx. 3 years old) kept going I wanna go back etc so we secreted ourselves at the other end of the group.
They mature cheddar cheese down in the cool humid tunnels and they are totally whiffy, I can tell you. The wine sits there looking quiet but you can see billowing mould formations on the barrel-like cheeses and I was not impressed.
Once we'd emerged into daylight, we checked out the dinosaur models (some make noises) and the cooling streams and babbling brooks and verdant verges and fairies and dragons, most peaceful and tranquil it is too, why not.
wookey hole attractions Inside the extensive old mill-house buildings we saw films of cave divers, museum collections of bones and fossils, and a playzone. This one is big in that it is in 2 rooms with an overhead tunnel joining them so the poor parents don't even know if they're going "Come on, Maurice" into the right section. Ball pits, rocking horses, slides, all the usual stuff.
In fact we heard many foreign accents, Indian, French, German and Brum.
crazy golf putting course and captain jack's restaurantEventually I was prised loose and I had fun in the hall of mirrors which says don't run: swiftly enough 2 kids ran splat into mirrors and went off howling but I coped. In the food place I was just about to get Suspiciously Re-Shaped Poultry Bites with chips and peas when I went for the pre-packed (and sealed) lunch-box, didn't like much of the contents, lucky Bud saved me a jumbo sausage.
wookey hole caves activities In the food area is lots of circus-related memorabilia and several life-sized pirate models. The chap models have swords, telescopes and treasure chests, the females have treasured chests of epic proportions. I fondled the pneumatic breasts of many of them.
Outside is the Pirate Crazy Golf: free with every ticket so we did that. On hole 3 my shot was so bad it careened off a rock, over all the obstacles and straight into the hole. It was the only hole in 1 of the day.
After that you are invited to pan for gold for £2: we shared the pan-duties and came away with a sizeable amount of Iron Pyrites which we exchanged (as is the custom) for a plastic medal saying I've been to Wookey Hole. Then we hit the shop.
witch of wookey holeYou have to buy choccies for Jof, and something for Dear Follower Fiona who bought me those Tunisian sweeties that give blessed silence to the parent for 13-15 minutes. But then we also got some mineral gemstones + fossils for the glass-topped table and some luminous spiders and a Wookey Hole Notebook and a ring that lights up under UV and a green cast-resin Witch head for Jof and a squashed 1 penny for my collection and a 2 1/2 litre jug of "Legbender Cider" which leaked a bit on the way home so had to be opened that night, ahem.
caves on subterranean cavern tour wookey hole wells mendips So I was just having a loosener in the playzone again when he went a-wander. Normally we try to find coins for my collection: in the antique slot-machine amusement penny arcade he found (a) 3 tickets for the cave tour that someone had dropped and (b) another playzone room with 6 foam-ball cannons that we hadn't seen before.
So naturally we took advantage of this manna from heaven and took the tour again, only 8 of us this time (late in the day) and he said don't say anything about free or sinfully gleaned tickets in case they ask questions so I carefully spent the whole tour with the guide asking questions and displaying cavernous hoho speleological knowledge that could only have come from a prior visit. Never mind.
Once I'd shot the cannons, banged the drum and had the Choc'n'Fudge ice cream with added Flake, we slipped into rush hour traffic once more and got thoroughly rained on. We've met rain but it was nice for the timing to be right for once. We got home nearly 12 hours after leaving Jof in bed, at least we said goodbye. We spent 7 hours in Wookey, not bad.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Chim Chiminy Chim Chiminy ...

soot encrusted chimneyI was rudely awoken far too early by a jolly tradesman who brought lots of strange tooling and accoutrements.
I investigated but at least had the presence of mind to put on a dressing gown. The man said the reason for the smoky chim chiminy was because there's a little flap thing inside that was in the down position and he was surprised we hadn't died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
We said that wasn't going to happen, because every time we light the fire to warm the room up, we have to open all the windows to let the smoke out. Anyway he attached up to 10 rods to his brush and span them using a cordless power drill, which was quite fun to see.
But the sight of a grown man screwing his rod and shoving it in and out using a power tool was somehow disquieting without pants, so I went and got dressed, leaving him to clean out the pipes. He had a poncho-style sheet with a hole in, which he sellotaped round the fireplace.
black cab chimney sweeping portsmouth
We could hear lots of bits falling down and by the time he'd finished, there was a bin-bag full, but he didn't make a big song'n'dance about it. Anyway, time just flue by and he did the kitchen one as well as the lounge: the kitchen one is over the cooker and most days we get a little deposit of ash on the hob, although one deposit we had last year was a chicken bone that some luckless corvid had lost down the yawning chim chiminy-pot.
After he'd gone the day just got boring. I Minecrafted and stared gormlessly at the TV (must remember to switch it on next time) and I played a bit of football-tag in the park with some known associates but then Jof said we could open the post and it was a DVD of Schwarzenegger's Last Action Hero.
I collect Arnie movies but I'm not allowed to see them all, maybe next month for Predator and Total Recall and Running Man.
But Last Action Hero references so many films I simply haven't seen yet, most of the sly asides (eg Sly in the T2 promo display in the video shop) go over my head.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Exeat: Dover Castle

king henry 2nds great tower food halls dover castleHalf term is always a traumatic event for children and adults alike for it exposes the differences between them. We want to watch the Lego movie and go to the beach and get all the attention while they want to drink beer and do shopping and not have to think about kids.
So a clear compromise was to drive 50 million miles to investigate a new and unexplored edifice.
Dover Castle is on the English Heritage list so we get in free, a reasonable payback for the 50 quid a year we pay them. He woke me up and everything was ready for me. I was just going up to do my teeth when Jof awoke to say goodbye and we left the house at 0730.
inner bailey and arthur's hall Using only 1 British road map and my limited IQ, I determined that the direct route from us to Dover was totally pants. Not only do you have to negotiate the 37 roundabouts of the Chichester relief road, but once you're past Brighton the best route comprises rural single-track roads strong on swans and tractors but weak on actually getting there. I chose a motorway-only route which is a bit 3-sides-of-a-square but far more efficient.
stone passages and stairs in great tower dover castleIt is only fair that on the way to see Britain's biggest castle, we should experience Britain's biggest car park. The M25 (London orbital ring road) is challenging at the best of times even though it has 4 lanes. The sky opted to give us rain ALL day, varying from that meagre drizzle that encourages you to take your hat off then wets the insides of your ears, to big blattery rain that makes the automatic windscreen wipers go nuts.
Once we'd parked on the M25 for the prescribed time, we stopped off at Clacket Lane services (could they not have thought of a better name?) and I bought a Lego Star Wars book with added MiniFigure that I instantly lost down the side of the car seat.
In Kent we saw the hillocks reminiscent of gravitationally unsullied mammaries and chaps with dark skin and Manchester United shirts walking up the central reservation of the motorway because they'd arrived in the country without passports or tickets.
dover castle bailey and great tower60 miles later, we arrived in a sodden Dover in the kind of driving rain that only a coastal settlement knows. We were only 20 minutes late (they open at 10).
Goodness me. Once we'd been awarded the official bracelets, we explored. Dover Castle has been a thing since the Bronze age. Originally a hill-top fort, the Romans came along 2000 years ago and added a lighthouse, which is still there. The Saxons came along after the Romans had got bored and gone home, and they added a decent sized church , which is still there. Henry the 2nd thought he liked the look of the place so added a rodding great tower at the cost of 6,000 pounds of silver, a mere 6 years GDP, also still there.
medieval siege tunnels under dover castleAnd gradually each Despot, King, Emperor, Dictator, Modern Major-General and Defence Committee added to, and strengthened the complex so that none of the old was lost, but new was added over it, with technology aforethought and the kind of vertiginous walls that only a million man-hours can achieve. The castle is now vast. Every tumulus, mound, suspicious grassy knoll, vast earthwork, granite fortification and medieval tower has a name, a turret of some sort, and a network of older tunnels beneath.
Then Napoleon tickled our military leaders and they dug tunnels beneath. Then Hitler showed up and we dug tunnels above. Then the Cold war started so we dug tunnels below the tunnels, qualified as nuclear bunkers.
The warren stretches for 3.8 miles beneath the chalk outcrop and I bet they've lost track of some of it.
First we did the Lighthouse. It dripped on me. The Saxon church was closed. The Main tower was enormous and I stirred the cauldron and fondled the Royal Mint and looked down the well and sat on the throne and went on the roof and chortled at the little people below.
dover castle outer walls looking towards commercial port of doverThe medieval tunnels were dank and slippery and dark and just the sort of thing I love. Eventually we emerged as if by accident and found the Wartime hospital.
We queued up and fought our little nipple and nose-pinching fights to the amusement of nearby children: the Guide laughed at us and said he used to do that but his kid is now a 21 year-old rugby player: I have much to look forward to. I slipped over twice on the muddy slopes, how am I supposed to know? Yesterday (Bank Holiday Monday) the queues were an hour and a half to get in the tunnels, now I know why we were allowed a day off yesterday. The man said we couldn't take pictures in the tunnels due to copyright so we only got 1, then you get to climb 50 feet back to the surface up yet another spiral staircase.
The Secret Wartime Tunnels are deeper and we watched films about the evacuation of Dunkirk and saw many German planes bombing our brave ships etc. Then our guide got lost so we investigated some side passages and took lots of pictures (Forbidden)(Verboten)(Interdit).
tunnels dug into chalk cliffs under dover castleFrom then I just had to buy something because we'd only spent 50p on the squashed penny with Dover Castle Logo so found the gift shop and I got a medallion and a large wooden sword. Problem is, all us Puddler kids have had a huge collection of plastic swords, battleaxes, bows, pikes, daggers and rifles since we can remember. But however many are quietly disposed of by sneaky parents (because when they get drunk, we run riot and try to chop each other in the neck), we always restock when they're not looking.
This wooden sword is better, distinctly so. I could chop anyone with it. So of course we went up on the highest battlements and I brandished the Sword Of Diamond Power at the world in general and challenged them all to a duel and whaddya know, nobody killed me.
tyme again wooden toy sword from gift shop at dover castle saxon church and pharos roman lighthouseDover Castle is the kind of place that says come and have a go if you think you're hard enough, and nobody is, because every time you arduously climb one mound, there's a series of 12th century towers, another curtain wall with casemates, and another after that, etc, etc. In fact the only chap to seriously challenge it (Hitler) deliberately ordered his bombers to avoid it because he wanted it for himself when the inevitable invasion succeeded. I suppose you could trebuchet 17 plague-ridden bovine corpses in, or attack with a Harrier Jet.
So what do you think you are doing, Mister Hitler.....
On the way back we stopped off again for leg-stretching, **thinks** if I had become lost at the service station, what would security have radioed out? "Male aged 8, muddy trousers, HMS Daring polo shirt, French Nuclear Submarine hat, indifferent teeth...."
So we had several hours in the car for our legs to seize up, and 5 hours climbing up and down the castle. No wonder my legs don't know whether they're coming or going. When we got back, Jof wanted to know how my day went so I got her on the sofa and told her joyously all about the Lego Star Wars book. I got leg-aching syndrome and crashed out 10-ish.

Monday, 26 May 2014

What the Butler saw

bathstore fratton shower unit display Yesterday we were supposed to buy a bathroom, but went on a bike ride instead, because we'd seen the weather forecast.
Thus today, I cleaned out the car for pocket money and we drove to the bathroom shop in the rain. We ended up buying practically everything we'd already decided on, but felt Jof had to make some sort of contribution so took her along to validate our choices.
Once we'd done the easy bit, we left Bud to pay and we walked about 40 yards to the tile shop. It didn't take me too long to decide what tiles to get and hey presto, we'd spent £2,000 in about 12 minutes.
topps tiles fratton way portsmouthRight by our house is the little row of very nice houses that were too much money for us when we were buying. 2 of them have just been sold and one had a hand-written sign outside saying house contents sale. If only to have a nose around the house (let's have a look at what you could have won), we nipped along and sized up what remained unsold. I think we should have gone earlier. I wandered off to check out the upstairs rooms, which were not on the for sale list.
The lady of the house recognised Jof and said she knows ErinsDad which is nice. We bought a set of 4 wineglasses called "Duckstein - Rotblondes Oberbrau" (auf Buchenholz gereift) which will do well for PuddleParties and Jof wanted the dining table but Bud said no, we already have 2.
This is when he saw the massive Butler sink at the bottom of the garden, being used as a plant pot. £5 later, he wheeled it around to our yard on an old sack trolley and we now have a much more interesting place to grow our rosemary and apple tree seedlings.
Later I watched Toy Story of Horror and then we started the next giant Lego project. The rollercoaster just wasn't going to happen because Lego doesn't do curves and slopes easily, so I have modified the plans into a railway bridge with tunnel under the Eagle's Nest with FuhrerBunker and everything. It was going to be the Florida Keys bridge from "True Lies" (because I have a Harrier jump-jet) but sometimes you just have to have a mountain.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

11.7 Miles of Pain

fareham to gosport rapid bus transit system course of old railwayJof keeps saying she's jealous of the trips us chaps do, like St Paul's Cathedral, day trip to the Isle of Wight, day trip to France, all these little things. So we said go on, then, come on one of our excursions.
Following precisely the same plan as we used a few weeks ago (apart from waiting for Jof to fill bags of snacks, do her hair, etc) we cycled to the train station and just missed our train. This is not a problem, even on a Sunday in our engineering works-challenged nation, we only had 20 minutes to wait.
I wandered off and used the platform lifts (hobby #17) and Jof joined me and suddenly our bikes were all on the train with the guard saying if they don't turn up in 12 seconds I'm dinging the bell anyway, we just made it and caused lots of trouble by being in the wrong carriage with 3 bikes.
At Fareham we made our way to the start of the Rapid Transit Bus Route, following the course of the old railway to Gosport. This top-quality cycleway was marred only by the occasional bus: we did those big curvy sine waves on our bikes that you can only do when you know there's no traffic. I even did a complete circle in the middle of the road.
Eventually we made it to our first stopoff: Bridgemary swingpark, access from Cameron Close bus stop. It was quite a good one, we didn't do the skatepark but climbed a lot.
bridgemary park recreation ground gosportStopoff #2 was Gosport Leisure Centre swingpark. OK, it's not big or clever but I like the obstacle course. It's also right next to Fort Brockhurst which we failed to notice last time but Jof was hungry and I concurred. The Sailmaker is a Marstons Carvery right in front of the Ice Rink (so that's where it is!) and it had a climbing frame for the kiddies and roast dinner, which pretty well nails it for me. On the way in we met Sharda, auntie of Zak and Zena the ex-Puddlers, for that is our randomness.
We all had the Carvery with big piles of meat and I even went back for more carrots and peas and gravy, for I am like that.
Fort Brockhurst was closed. But they did have a sign outside saying open every 2nd Saturday of the month so we shall return. They also had swans and geese and ducks and some sturdy brickwork.
Further down the line, Fort Rowner was closed. It was very closed, with razor wire and land mines and warning signs etc. The MOD is holding onto that one.
english heritage site fort brockhurst gosportLeesland swingpark has wooden forts and a giant pyramid of ropes and a zipline and some older kids with lots of bad words. I played soldier attack with Jof but it's just not the same without Ben or Bobert. By the time I wanted to stop at Broken swingpark, Jof was getting impatient. We compromised with an extra long stop at Cockle Pond swingpark, which has an exercise section and I played roundabouts with some tiny humans and swung Jof on the swinging basket, she has trouble with vertigo and doesn't like swings etc so I provided loving therapy and we had her swinging in circles and she didn't vomit once.
From there it wasn't too far to the ferry but the last bit back home seemed a very long way for my tired little legs. I am going to get a new bike in a fortnight with bigger wheels and gears and stuff. Jof was saddlesore and simply cannot believe how many times we stop off to visit parks and forts and places of very little interest, apparently. But that's what we do. Today's journey was wheely fun (ferry funny) but actually slightly less than the 12 mile standard: but full of family bonding in adversity as well as victory. Just before bedtime I vomited it all up again, just one of those things.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Cloudy with a Risk of Meatheads

bransbury park milton portsmouthUp at 1015, a clear 12 hours sleep. Met Pops in the park and moved on to tunnel park where I recreated the old screensaver picture of yesteryear. Bought a vast box to keep Lego flats in, as I am again running out of storage space. That's when it started raining, so I put my shirt back on.
We cleared the Lego room of the last creation (St James' football ground) in order to make way for the new construction project. Bud has given way twice, for the stadium and the Cyberdyne Systems building, and now it is his turn to decide so we will build a rollercoaster using the railway track from the £120 worth of red Lego Train I bought with Xmas money a year or 2 ago.
When Jof got back from her long, arduous Saturday shift (explaining to stupid people how they'd unexpectedly spent their own money in shops, and no, Madam, we can't help you if you can't remember your name, please remember to wash next time you visit), I forced her to start Lego-ing with us, making granite piers and support struts for the rollercoaster.
bransbury park milton portsmouthBut then the game of Risk we'd started several weeks ago re-asserted itself and we sat down to do battle. Originally, we all held sensible domains, but due to the vagaries of the game and the cussedness of the players, we had changed ends at half-time and all occupied foreign territories without viable plans. Once we'd annoyed Bud once too often, he pressed the nuclear button and there was a brief period of all-out war until Jof was killed and I was left alone in Eastern Australia (and Yakutsk). Bud re-armed with 41 armies and I capitulated because there weren't 41 spare armies in the bag to fight with.
The good bit was when I was singing about "Mongolia, Mongolia, no-one can roll ya" and Jof noticed that my half-term homework is to write a football chant for the hard of thinking. She got suddenly busy, particularly when I was defending Siam.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Tile waits for no man

cat chasing whirling target troll funny Egyptian day at school and Pops was all dolled up as Isis. We used the Sarcophagus and painted it.
At kicking-out time, I had one job - be first out, so we could get home for the builder. OK, so I was last out and hadn't even packed my bag when everyone else had packed up and gone, but it's not my fault, I had to pack up my bag! Just because everyone else managed it ...
The builder was supposed to be coming round to tell us how many tiles to buy to cover the floor and walls of the new shower room. But time slipped away from us like a hemimetic polyalloy in a hopper of molten iron.  We waited. The builder never turned up.
Eventually we had to go to my swimming lesson (in a tiled pool with tiled surrounds) with no tile instructions whatsoever.
My friends at Schwim told me of the fabled game of Manhunt. I have rarely hunted men since my firearms licence was forcibly revoked but after only the lightest interrogation it bore an increasing resemblance to "it".
I asked if I could play with the others and when the answer came back too slow, too negative or too indecisive, I ran away and played it anyway, in the overgrown mounds of rubble behind the carpark.
You elect a hunter who has to count to 20 and you all hide, he comes after you ... stop me if you've heard it before.
charter academy southsea car park
Anyway, I have an ongoing problem with the tablet. I want to sit and play Minecraft indefinitely but I tend to say I'm full at dinnertime to facilitate my return to the blocky world of unreality. Thus they said Thou shalt not block until thy supper is consumèd to completion. Tonight I served up: Luxury Fish Pie with carrots, broccoli and baby corn. I stole 3 of the 4 broccolis, extra sauce, potato topping and marine meatiness. I polished my plate and used a loud fart as part of a sentence, earning me Blocktime X-Treem and disapproving looks from Jof. Hurrah for being a bloke. In addition, I secured agreement for a family bike-ride of 11 1/2 miles, that'll teach Jof to be a girl.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Onwards and Upwards (well, Sideways and Backwards)

charlie put my barbie in his butt and got poop on it funny pencil note poop on his hamsterExcellent news! Not only is it Egyptian day tomorrow, but we get out of wearing school uniform! Erin suggested coming in naked but I think she was joking. I might, though.
There was a lot of 'Electrical Disturbance' but it wasn't a Terminator landing, it was lightning.
yew trees and bay trees in park edgesWe also have a scootability day coming up, where you get a certificate in pavement etiquette, safety control and even a bell! It says scooters will be provided for the Have-nots, but I'm a total Have with my Blue Scooter of Giant Wheels (Blooter).
It was bright sunshine when we got back so I said I'd do Park Thursday without a shirt and we met the usual suspects in a bar on 9th Avenue. OK, in the park.
We did start off with throw-the-bouncy-ball in strange ways with Harry, but then we remembered the climbing trees and played bases and dens when the teenagers weren't in there. There was an epic dogfight which brought all the kids to the yard and Harry had to go home when his kid brother vomited copiously.
tall hedge by milton park bowls club
We feasted on the Jaffa cakes I always bring and we ignored the persistent rain ("I see no drips") until the parents reached saturation levels and I took Ben back to mine for TV - there wasn't enough time for Lego. 17 minutes? Not good enough.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Nuclear Button Mushroom Cloud

creative oriental crafts kingdom shop name funny fail cockI was called upon to demonstrate the Egyptian Cardboard Sarcophagus today. I emptied out the contents (pulling the brain out of the nose) and crouched in it with the lid on. The teacher said we can put him in the attic now, but I heard her and emerged making Mummy noises (Grr, not Ooo my little sweetie).
After work, Dilly came round to play Lego. She may be a girl (and a particularly pink one) but she's into cars and Lego so we got busy with a double-ended Police boat and I made the wheelhouse and jail while she did everything else.
She didn't get long due to other jobs, but at least she knows where we are now and might come back.
In the laundrette I weighed myself; I am 66kg, still quite small. Then it seems Bud was linen-ly over-enthusiastic, washed too many beds and had to make an emergency trip out to buy a sheet. O sheet.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Chasing that Neon Rainbow

duck prints funny fail mallard walks across wet concreteOnly got 1 bit of chocolate for pre-guitar snack today, can't think why.
My guitar lesson co-pickers and grinners are now all on the same tune (If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands) and so we can all do it together, even though Mr Decca says guitar groups are on the way out. I got a well-done.
Then the sarcophagus arrived. Bud gets coffins from work when the dead person is upgraded to 'Alive' and we can swipe used coffins for use.
rameses pharoahs head pyramids scarabs school class project on egyptiansWe've used them for packing paintings when we moved house, 40mm Howitzer emplacement (see "Cardboard, Joy of Box" link on the right), Erins' winter hamster quarters, and a Dracula coffin for Halloween, but that was when we were all a bit smaller.
This particular one was for our Egyptian project at school and we put it under the display table for tomorrow. These are the treasures, artefacts and archaeological remains as produced by the class, including Bens' Pyramid of Lego with added Indiana Jones.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Ducks, Beavers and other animals

japanese engrish product funny name fail It was baking hot on leaving school, but by the time I'd tried to renegotiate Minecraft time and had to do some homework, I just couldn't be bothered to go to the park, an opportunity missed there.
One of our current projects is a bathroom rebuild so we visited Bathstore around the corner. This is the mens' bathroom so we asked for the sturdiest shower cubicle and he showed us one with double slidey doors that meet and clamp magnetically, which was very exciting for me.
sanitaryware display shower mixer tapsBut then the one next to it was extra-long, for those extra-luxurious showers after bike rides etc. But then will it fit in the room? So many questions. I took off my shoes and got into a bath to consider my options.
Then I saw the first duck. This yellow chap sits above the salesmen out of reach. This is effectively a light industrial unit with a massive selection of showers and toilets and radiators and baths, some not even nailed down.
But behind the gaudy façade, it's breezeblocks and air conditioning pipes. And this is where I saw the first duck. Pretty soon, Bud saw 2 more on speakers and this piqued my curiosity. It's to distract the kids when they're playing up, said the salesman. We've hidden an unknown quantity around the brightly lit displays, and everywhere else. So the challenge is to find them all.
milton 5th portsmouth scout group meeting in st james church hallI located about 10 but they said there were three times that number, and they gave me 2 free blue ones. Bud said you don't really play with ducks in the bath any more, plus we're buying a shower although you did insist on a duck when we came here 5 years ago. So I challenged the kids of future generations by re-hiding the 2 ducks myself.
At Scouts today several were missing due to tiredness. We discussed balancing the books, I helped promote some Beavers in the good old river crossing ceremony and we lost some Cubs to the Scout troupe. Or is it troop. Instead of crossing a river they bounced the length of the church hall on a space hopper, and through a flag. This is not the official sanctioned Scout Promotion ceremony, but one made up by a parent.
Anyway, all was good until bedtime. I came downstairs at 930 looking for my Minecraft book to read, he said no chance, get a storybook or factual one, not Minecraft, bedtime was 30 minutes ago. So when I knew he was in the shower, I snuck downstairs quietly and retrieved it. When he checked on me après-shower, he said what have you been doing all this time (for there were some quick shuffled movements) and I said reading Horrid Henry, sir, look, there it is. Then he whipped out the Minecraft book from where I'd hidden it under said Horrid Henry and he said not only shall I not buy you the other one I promised, this one is going to the charity shop tomorrow. Double jeopardy - deliberately disobeying a direct order and lying about it. Loss of book, loss of privileges, kept the testicles (this time).

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Bump

homebase shower cubicle display unit sliding doorsToday I got up late, it's been a busy couple of days. I had an early shower and we did one of those supermarket trips "Small shop only, hardly need anything at all" that somehow cost £200.
But we lashed out a massive £5 on having some ethnically indeterminate workers clean the car while we checked out the shower stall selection. There was a selection of 1, so I got in and declared it to be good. I like the double doors, and am looking forward to the Monster Deluge I've been promised when the downstairs shower room is refurbished.
moorings way path sea defences by milton commonAnd while we were there, I selected an olive tree and we were mightily tempted by the bottlebrush trees, but thought we should wait until we have a garden.
Our bikes were still at Bens' place so I collected mine and Jof went off on her own private bike ride to get used to the rigours of modern traffic, and where nobody would laugh at her if she got lost again.
milton common nature reserve national cycle path 222I had better ideas and we cycled to Tunnel Park, and along to Eastney lock where we rode up the coast path and I found my goldmine. Ben and I have been coming to this giant slab of concrete for years and digging away at the sea defences in the hope of discovering some long-lost artwork. I found some fragments of glazed and patterned tile and we hid them under the other flat rock, which is our vault.
From there I wore myself out riding through the bumpy paths. At every junction I basically did eeny-meeny and chose a route, so we zig-zagged all over the place. This triangle of reclaimed land is riddled with paths, apple trees, damson, elderflower and super-long grass. It was in grass of this height that Bud first contracted hay fever, at exactly my current age. But I sniffed at its polleny nastiness and took him to Yellow Plum Park where I relived the mindless excesses of my youth (ie yesterday) and we improved the barricade and went home so I could do homework and Minecraft.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

The Yellow Plum Hamster Festival

portsmouth guildhall irving brewery aquacars taxi firmThis morning I woke up in a museum, but not because I'd been in stasis for 25,000 years. I had seconds of cornflakes.
kids on a bed during partyBensmum dropped me home and I wowed Jof with my salty stories of what I'd got up to in the Navy.
kids giving girl a ride in a big rocking chairTodays plan is to cycle to Yellow Plum Park and meet up with the Puddlers: from there we will go to Bens' house and play silly beggars while the PuddleMummies drink Gin and eat complicated French cheese, which I bought for them. We will also hold a funeral service for the dead guinea pig, bereft of life, it rests in peace. The reason for this maternal Puddling is that the PuddleDaddies have invented yet another Beer Festival which is just an excuse to meet that nice newspaper photographer girlie and get in the paper again.
In the park we dragged branches back to the treeline to make dens. Erin had a box of millions of coloured rubber bands and we wove bracelets and rings out of them.
brown and white hamster folding garden chairBack at Bens' place we ran riot as usual and the PiddledDaddies came to join us and some of them fell asleep. We couldn't cycle home as we don't have lights on the bikes so we walked and got home after 1030.