Monday, 30 June 2014

Starburst Loomage

cardboard model of north and south koreaguns and beer funny shop sign winBack to school with camels in my head going mehhh.
This holiday lark is tiring, and getting back to reality always confusing. So I took a large cardboard cutout of the Korean peninsula to school, as you do. Cunningly, there are actually 2 near-identical layers so it opens up, and on the inside are 4 bijou panels of information about the origin etc of the People's Republic of South Korea. This is my adopted country for the duration of the World Cup (already eliminated) and other people have done Powerpoint presentations about their chosen nations, for example Poppy, who I took home today.
stippled rendering prepared for plasteringShe marvelled at the freshly rendered rendering on the outside walls of the house and we all laughed about aiming a wee into the little exposed drain of the will-be-a-toilet.
rainbow loom banding starburst youtube demonstration on computerMostly we wanted to do loom-banding and we found the online Youtube instructions for the Starburst and giggled our way through it.
We also giggled our way through sausages and waffles and even a bonus ice cream afterwards.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

The 0420 Giraffe to Stupidville

derwent and victoria hotel fire drill evacuation belgrave road torquay german girls in hotpantsSo there I lay, snoring gently when my brain was sawn in half by the fire alarm. It was a quarter past 4 in the morning, a time that isn't supposed to exist on a Sunday.
We stumbled around the room for a while but the shrill insistency of the alarm drowns out even the obligatory "You are 'avin a giraffe..." and soon enough we had got partially dressed and were going down the back stairs and out into the street via the dining room. The many grannies did quite well.
Staff members showed us to one of the ballrooms in the Victoria hotel above the pub where we watched the match last night and lots of people were in dressing gowns and the half dozen German girls were in hotpants.
torquay hotels in changeable weatherThe roads were not empty - a trickle of taxis took partied-out revellers back to the street of hotels and we bleared at them. There was a real fire engine there and we guess that someone was having a crafty fag in their room or similar.
Breakfast was a subdued affair and they may have been more relaxed about what time it finished. From there began the long process of packing up the vast amounts of wet clothes and filling the car.
tlh hotel complex torquay views to brixham point torbayI had been promised a trip to Splashworld so I climbed the frames one more time and we found the seafront had been closed for the Ooo-Ar half-marathon. This put paid to an easy journey along the coast so we headed inland with lots of other lost cars. A diversion sign sent us all up a dead end and we struck out on our own through a nature reserve and tiny village down a single-track road and endless residential estates.
At last the tablet gave us a minute of battery life and we found Quaywest and Goodrington sands. This area looked very nice and it was a shame we didn't have more time to explore. SplashDown is a waterslide park and we all did the slides in order so we could keep track of our progress. Buying a 2-hour ticket, we started with the purple screamer which drops you in a big curve and gives you lots of tangential G-forces.
The mat rides are gentler, you just go round and round variously. The triple-dropper is a long straight slide with 3 drops on it and I got stuck.
quaywest splashdown paignton devonBut the most popular rides amongst the hordes of surfer dudes and bikini babes was the tyre ride section. You queue up and get a blow-up ring off the people exiting the slides and run to the top. Choosing your route, you slide down singly or in groups if you like and 3 times during each ride you capsize in a water bath waystation where you gather until the latest entrant pushes the first ones over the lip and down the next bit of slide.
This was pretty well it for us and we went round and round, I lost my ring at one point and slid down without it. The last ride is the death-dropper and again, it's a straight slide but vertiginous at best. In fact it looks like you're just jumping off a cliff from orbit, I refused to do it and even Bud had to try 3 times until I pushed him off. It was very fast and you get water up your bum.
I did have one bum-related difficulty on the rings, it's so small I fall through and get stuck.
We totally lied to Jof and said it was gentle and she'd like it. She capsized and lost her ring and bumped her head and her foot and went down the slide backwards and was always underwater and without poise or decorum at all, just like the rest of us. She elected to sunbathe instead until it started raining.
We didn't mind the rain, you're wet anyway and the water is heated so warmer inside than out. Eventually she told us we were half an hour past our 2 hours and the car ticket was going to run out so we dried off as best we could and drove to Exeter services where we bought food and watched planes land.
splashdown quaywest rubber ring waterslides paignton torbay devon
The journey home took us 5 hours in all, it's amazing how many A-roads and motorways double up as car parks just when we're travelling.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Saturday is Splashworld Day

tlh torquay leisure hotel sun terraces victoria carlton toorak and derwent hotelsIn an earlier incarnation I was a boy in the 1970s. I strode the world living in hotels and apartments, a new country every month, practically. Unfamiliar bedrooms lead to nocturnal difficulties and we had one last night as Bud tried to find the toilet in my wardrobe.
At breakfast we took our own personal table: I had a fry-up and marvelled at the juices lined up 1973-style. Amazingly, none of the elderly residents had passed over to Blue-rinse heaven overnight.
#12 bus route stop seafront belgrave road torquay torre abbeySplashdown is waterside madness in the middle of Torbay. The Russian hotel receptionist told us to get the #12 bus from the seafront so we stood and waited dutifully. But the English perma-winter struck again and it poured so hard we were wet through in no time, insane in the rain.
We thought we might as well be officially wet so went swimming in the indoor pool: the only occupant of the outside pool was a herring gull.
sun terraces in rainstorm english holiday weatherThe rain kept stopping and starting so we never really got the chance to get to the bus stop so I played in the soft play and Jof beat us both twice at 10 pin bowling and gradually we realised we'd have to write the day off, and abandon hope of splashing, because it was splashing.
inside kids playzone victoria hotel belgrave road torquay toorak carltonAfter lunch in the Aztec bar Jof lined up with the Blue Rinse Brigade and did crocheting: us chaps headed back to the pool. Just as I was getting good at underwater handstands, it was suppertime so we all showered and I had Mrs Miggins' Horse Willy and chips.
boy with yellow kids size bowling ball in skittle alley toorak carlton hotelAfter another marathon through the mazes of the hotel I used the official childrens' club for the first and last time, watching the Simpsons movie with a bored blonde, some sad Mega-Bloks and a roomful of upside-down furniture.
The Albert Pub (under the Victoria Hotel, more on that later) was our venue of choice for the football and I watched the second half of the Colombia v Uruguay match in the Med Bar because the Yellow Submarine Soft Play Zone was closed. We all liked Colombia, Uruguay bit off more than they could chew.
watching world cup in pub in torquay toorak carlton apartmentsBed approx 10pm so I missed legendary singer/comedian Steve Laister. Jof thought it was a private function but really it wasn't: he made lots of octogenarian-friendly risque wisecracks and sang some Matt Munro power ballads. He gratefully made way for the 'late night disco' with DJ-Bot 'Aana'.
This electronic personality wouldn't pass the Turing test but managed to fill the dancefloor with as many as seven (7) (sieben) dancers of various ages, an odd combination of 38-stone hen nighters and assorted Geriatrica.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Over there, between the Land and the Sky

swimming with a difference waterslide and friends schlitterbahnFinally left the builders to it late morning and set off on our unexpected long weekend to Torquay. As tradition dictates, we steamed along the motorway at 90mph until the Divisional Police HQ in Ferndown, Dorset, when we came to a grinding halt and parked on the road for a while.
Dorset CC has improved the Canford Bottom roundabout to such an extent that no traffic moves at all. Aeons later, we reached Megacity 'Dorchester' which is in a Wi-Fi blackspot all of its own, being stuck in the 17th century. I used the exercise park once the rain had stopped and we turned down the chance to eat at Judge Jeffreys' (built 1685) and Ye Olde Tea Shoppe (built 1635) and had a Wetherspoons.
While waiting for our food, I bought some loom-bands, and bath fizzers in a charity shop because you just have to.
tlh leisure resorts toorak derwent carlton victoria hotels torquayDorchester to Torquay was slow. Tractors abound, beware of motorbikes, area prone to fog and roadworks meant a grumpy Jof. The tablet found a GPS signal near Exeter and we located the DERWENT Hotel and orbited it a couple of times looking for the car park.
toorak victoria derwent carlton hotels tlh torquayIt is hilarious inside with a maze of corridors and hidden staircases at uneven intervals and we tried to get Jof lost by using all of them. It has sun terraces and pools both inside and out and its own swingpark and a spa and gym and all sorts.
We came back in, turned down the wrong corridor and we were in another hotel! (and another time zone, not to mention another decade.) This one (the VICTORIA) has an arcade with pool tables, bowl-o-rama, video games, vast indoor bowls room, a second soft play area and a 5th bar.
We were quite lost and left the building onto a different street. Torquay seafront was surprisingly empty but we were further along from the old town which Bud and Jof visited several years before I was born and confused people in the local pub by playing pool badly.
jubilee gardens royal terraces torquayThe road our hotel is on is entirely populated by hotels, and it is soon obvious that the whole town of Torquay is entirely populated by hotels with a generous filling of pubs and clubs, a smattering of bucket and spade shops all selling the same blow-up dolphin and a light dusting of theatres.
Walking past the understated yet accomplished marina, we spied a Ferris wheel and absolutely had to have a go, Jof was unsure and asked to hold my hand when I said we should all go in separate gondolas. It was very tall and we went round 3 times and stopped at the top and it rocks the little plexiglass pods deliberately and Jof was not at all sure but the view was worth it. The middle of the old town has several of those wonderful Victorian buildings like the Pavilion (closed) and the Bank Chambers (Costa) and they've got a new footbridge and lots of fish and chip shops.
torquay inner marina and town centre bank chambers We were running low on time so I had a Oreo ice cream and we adjourned for supper. The hotel is a large and complex complex of 4 linked hotels and in the dining room (still 1973) you get your own table for the duration of your stay so you don't get lost. Our arrival lowered the average age of the clientele by 50 years: everyone seems to be extremely retired and from Birmingham.
Our buxom yet butch serving wench gave me chicken morsels. We returned to the room via several staircases I'd not met before and got ready for the promised swimming. The indoor pool has a baby section, adults lengths, hot tub, slopes and squirters, and a sauna and steam room. I tried out most areas but the steamies were too hot for me.
victoria derwent toorak carlton hotels belgrave road torquayI swallowed too much pool water as usual and made it to the toilet to vomit. We were the last ones there and got ejected at 9pm. From there we found our bedroom from the floor above and hit the entertainment suite. 2 old blokes with guitar and Hammond organ played all the easy-listening hits of the 50s - 80s to a geriatric audience who played dominoes determinedly or, for the more exuberant grannies, whist.
We decamped to the pool hall where I was the only kid in the soft play area until Bud came in to join me. I jumped on him. He threw me off. I said F***ing hell. He said this is not your word. Jof took over and her trousers fell down in the ball pit.
Meanwhile upstairs the entertainment section were doing their thing in the 'Starlight Lounge'. The dodgy duo had retired hurt after getting no grannies whatsoever (zero)(0)(nilch) to perform any hip-crunching dance moves and had been replaced by some Step-Club-5-alikes who were local singer/dancers who performed many hits from Wham, Spice Girls, ABBA and similar.
dance group performance hotel entertainment torquay toorak carlton Beth from the restaurant was resident DJ and Rebecca the lifeguard was MC! But eventually the spraytanned ladies with their sturdy legs and lukewarm pants finished their set and I was tired and hit the sack. I chose the upper bunk bed for the first night. It has its own duvet, easily-reachable night light and little retaining fence, so it doesn't matter how drunk I am.
After I went to bed, I can report that in a surprise move, the 2 dull blokes from earlier ('Hi-Life') made a re-appearance and played Imagination, Clapton and Elton John in an ebullient and incandescent display - almost identical to their earlier performance - which persuaded about a dozen septuagenarians to zimmer their way onto the dance floor. Once they had sung their final Status Quo number, the automated DiscoBot took over and everybody hobbled off to bed.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Poor Mans' Friday

new york post sports pages fail greatest tie against the british since bunker hill
What I particularly liked about this Thursday was that was a Friday. Tomorrow is a designated day off due to an Incisor Day, dedicated to Luis Suarez who we all agree should have been banned for 2 years. Personally I reckon that the next opposing team manager should say that due to the health and safety of his players, Suarez can only play if all his teeth are removed or he has to wear a hockey goalkeepers' mask, like those dangerous dogs.
kids on carpet for birthday partyWell I was just sitting upstairs having a mock battle with my Lego collection when the phone went and it was Nanna saying that of the 20 other inmates in her temporary rest home facility with hot and cold running nurses, the only one she can have a coherent conversation with is the mirror because all the others are barking, quacking, hootling or just plain mad.
Then the other phone call was Bobert inviting me round to eat his birthday cake.
This one was a no-brainer and I am not casting aspersions for I have run out of them. I scooted round, narrowly avoiding a rainstorm. Bob has many new presents including a stunt scooter, massive goalkeeping gloves and a Tivo box.
blowing out the candle of birthday cake
He found it difficult to operate the remote control wearing the gloves but gradually we settled down: he watched Planes and Simpsons and the Argentina match and we did loom-weaving and I learned some groovy techniques off Erin who reckons her mum is old and lame but is really good at that kind of thing and anyway we all feel that way about the elderly ie over 15.
His birthday cake was tall and chocolatey but the tour de force de coup de grace was the icing which was a seascape of rough conditions with assorted Lego-alike surfers having trouble staying upright. Bob blew out his candle and we all pigged on calorie-rich surfers.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Fiends Reunited

realistic realtors land sales sign funny by graveyard
While school is all very well, mostly I was looking forward to Wednesday park.
We had only one builder today but he had given us a new floor in the bathroom, something we should find useful. I showed off my new bike and left for pastures new.
matching red england football supporters hatsThe park used to be pastures about 110 years ago, but it isn't now. Due to pleasant weather it was very well attended and I fell in with 8 or 9 of my old compadres from my old school, some of their little sisters, associates, kids they once swapped a Moshi monster with, that kind of thing.
Ben joined us and was given a new hat like mine and Bob arrived and wasn't angry and LittleMax still hasn't had a haircut and I didn't wear a shirt.
We played 'Steal the hat from the Idiot' which is not as cruel as it sounds and I did some circuits on my bike and at the end I took Bob back to mine and we were just setting up for a LegoFest when he was collected from my grasp, most unfair. He liked my bullets collection.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Driven round the U-bend

up shit creek without a paddleCaptain's Log. Because we have the builders in fixing the downstairs loo, our 1 working toilet has been subjected to a Bottie Blitzkrieg: this scatological situation really has us down in the dumps. But I don't want to get bogged down in this, c'est lavvy.
lego 60034 human arctic explorer 4-husky sled metal detector ice core sampler I have now finished assembling my Lego Glacier Core Sampler team, I particularly like the guy with the metal detector. In gym I got my chit for Badge #3 and got home to hear that Nanna spent so much time on the floor unable to get up that she has been taken into protective custody at a nearby cottage hospital to recover.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Shawarmas, Kolaches and Kopi luwak

badly designed middle eastern pavement holes for trees funny failDidn't want to get up this morning but that's Mondays for you.
The builders have put the drainpipe back on.

lego castle on top of mountain with train tunnelIn return for delivering and collecting some new work uniform in a smaller size, Jof has got me my new Lego Arctic Expedition which means that the Alpine redoubt can go. This sheer mountain has a railway tunnel with granite piers and is topped with a fortress that Adolf would be proud of.
On the way to Scouts I played in the park and got Bud in the head with a large marshmallow that I found under the slide. Cubs was mostly games today apart from the bit about not having a poo in the river. I won dodge-ball and we played Rounders and Elevens and I'm sure there's a point to all this fun.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Doing the Southsea Shuffle

southsea beach safety buoys Up early so I could use the Minecraft tablet quietly and make this look like I was doing them a favour. Nothing wrong with being devious.
I really didn't want to go supermarket shopping because I've looked at all the Lego and it's all old stuff.
But amazingly there were some new kits and I presented Jof with the expensive one, the cheap one and a pleading face, knowing that she'd be railroaded into it and go for the cheap one. Nothing wrong with being devious.
southsea beach for familiesA quorum decision was made to hit the beach but by car, not bike after my little ride yesterday. Choosing the place us Puddlers like, I selected some bikinis to sit next to and hobbled off across the shingle with my bodyboard in what I can only describe as the Southsea Shuffle. Everyone does it: arms outstretched, you gingerly pick your way down the slope waving your arms to try and escape gravity.
We all went swimming and I finally made it to the buoy against an annoying sideways tidal current. Later, we dug a hole, as you do. We have a metal spade for digging up metal-detecting finds and the hole got to an adult's arm's length but it was bell-shaped inside so I could squat and disappear.
Even later I wrote out my homework about South Korea and watched them getting stuffed by Algeria. This caused me so much angst I went to bed at half-time with heatstroke and exhaustion.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Swing Park, Sweet Chariot

beach by fort cumberland eastney sewage outflow pipeToday is the day the sun stood still so we got out our little model of Stonehenge and did a little dance around it with Mistletoe and woad and freshly squeezed virgin juice.
But in reality, he woke me up at 1030, a most gentlemanly time. After a nourishing omelette I decided our agenda: the 12-miler.
hayling swing park Just 2 days ago I took delivery of a new velocipede and one has to try these things out: the 12-miler is a bike ride up the old Hayling Billy Trail (disused railway line, now a bike track and bridleway, on Hayling Island) where you have to get the Hayling Ferry over there, and the train back from Havant.
western coastline of hayling island by billy line trailI have done this ride before and jolly pleasant it is too. In Bransbury Park I met Charlotte and Genevieve from my old school and we pressed on to the ferry where we discovered it was on its lunch break, getting more petrol no doubt.
So we had 50 minutes to kill at low tide and we went to see our dam. This is a really big pile of rocks that our entire family has been working on for months and we found that the sea liked our idea and had covered our dam in a damn great pile of shingle. It made the rockpool even better.
The revitalised ferry turned up on time and took us to Hayling. Stopping off at the park for a bite to eat, I tried the bucket swings which are quite comfortable as I only have a small bum.
salterns on hayling island tidal basinsAt the base of the old railway is one of those stunt-cycle courses with slopes and hills and I always like to have a run around it, I'm not good enough to ride around it.
On the bridleway I stopped off to climb the Dead Oak: it was growing happily until the earth around it was washed away by wave action: however it retains some roots growing sideways into the adjacent barleyfield and so survives in reduced fashion.
mudflats at low tide off hayling islandThen we stopped at Crab Gulch but the tide was still out (so no crabs) so we made a dam with some logs, as you do. Lots of Samphire is available if you're a cordon bleu chef (your name should be Gordon Blue) but we didn't pick any.
The Ship Inn sits by the entrance to Northney Marina and every year it serves us fish'n'chips to die for. We polished our plates and didn't die.
eastern road bridge to portsea islandNow this is where I was fooled. Normally we carry on up the old railway track and get the train back. But he said O if you don't go that far, there's a cycle route all the way back across the top of Langstone Harbour and down the Eastern Road, you'll be laughing. Now of course that's true - but gross misrepresentation because if you don't get the train, you travel the distance by leg-power. So we went right through his workplace, laboured up the mountain that is the old land-fill site and got into 6th gear going down the hill by the motorway slip-road, which I loved.
By the time we got to the Eastern Road bridge, I was mildly tired and the wind decided to blow right in my face at 700 mph and I got slower and slower until grannies and caterpillars were overtaking me. But finally I got home after a mere 5 1/2 hours of investigation and I had cycled 16 miles on my new bike.
Now that's what I call a good day.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Burns with a Squeaky Pop

2 women on a boat go past tanker stuck in flooded riverThe English are engaged in one of their traditional activities. For weeks the streets and cars have been an understated riot of colour with stiff upper lips and patriotic flags dangling from every tree. And early this morning legions of beer-soaked sulkers quietly took them all down again out of embarrassment.
While technically we didn't plummet out of the competition like a wet brick until Italy were beaten by Costa Rica, we all knew it was a hoover, sorry, it was all over.
School was a many-trousered thing today with Sports Day and Open Day.
My house (Warrior) was victorious even though our carefully-laid plans on the relay came to naught. Ben and Harry and Harvey and I planned our order of baton-holding and even practised but by the time we were told we were at the wrong end and had run to the right ends, we were too tired to win.
At home I inspected the building progress from the vantage point of the garage roof. I am the only one wearing personal protective equipment in a hard-hat zone but that's because I was going on my bike.
fresh brickwork and trellis aluminium ladder home improvement projectThe plumber went to the bath shop and got quite angry at them for selling us the wrong bits, all because the part numbers look the same, a mistake any administrative Norbert could make.
I rode my new bike into town to invest in my house deposit and at last the 2 passports, mortgage statement, driving licence, firearms licence and footage from my BBC interview finally constituted enough identification to allow me to open my 4th account there.
In the street we met Sausage and Mash who are not a comedy duo but one of Bud's old work friends and his son.
After swimming I told Jof all my sporting results but she just can't listen at my pitch and speed of delivery (bibble, not babble). ps, Burns with a squeaky pop is the standard test for hydrogen or swiftly-lit farts.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Suffering Fools Madly

whoever stole our ac units keep one it's hot where you're going
Thursdays are my day off, a chance to vegetate and recuperate and do all those other things ending in -ate. Well, some of them.
So immediately we left on a multi-drop delivery to the laundrette and the charity shop, just a couple of things said Jof, just you try navigating the mean streets of Pompington just as the schools kick out.
bathstore fratton way portsmouthOur next job was to buy a shower. You may very well think that we had done that already: but the builders said (and this is what they're paid for) "Nah, mate, you've got all the wrong bits and you haven't got a shower head and you need a riser or we're going to have to dig up your floor to install the waste pipes".
So at the bathroom shop I pretended to have a poo and ask for toilet roll while they admitted that yes, they'd sold us the wrong bits and not enough of them. We paid more.
portsmouth cycle exchange victoria road north portsmouthThen by jiminy we cycled to the cycle shop to buy a cycle, because that is the best place to get them. They offered me a pony for my old bike, but I said where am I going to keep it plus we haven't even got a lawn until he said that is modern Cockney-speak for £25. So I got £25 off the new one and cycled home inexpertly but what do you expect with suddenly larger wheels.
I may not have the sheer leg power of a Ben or an Erin but I should be able to keep up now.
To round off a boring day we hit the park for some keepy-uppy with my foam ball but because we're a bit crap, it was keepy-crappy. Funnily enough, I talked all the way through the first half of the England-Uruguay match before I was dismissed for lip and I saw even more keepy-crappy there.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Surfin' GB: Happy as a Shingleboy

abandoning child at orphanage not your fault funny cartoonToday our class had to make up a silly story by collaboration. So the pet shark did an enormous fluff (fart) which filled the house with the stench of rotting seaweed and then the cat did a huge vomit made of fish.
The shark developed an orange Mohican which descended from the planet Bong which is possibly what we were smoking to come up with such claptrap.
The Inspection Of The Builders was done from up a ladder today and they have replaced the roof.
trying to get a video on you've been framed
But the main attraction was Beach Wednesday. The new No Fear SlickBoard is a bit big for the bikes so we drove to the coast and joined the boys, we all had body-boards and all different ones too, so we could swap.
no fear slickboard sports direct on southsea shingle beachIt wasn't as warm as last week but we're hardened criminals that play footy in the park come rain or ice all year round, some of us in shorts.
We weren't going to be frightened off. We all bodyboarded together and then Bud went metal-detecting and we dug holes and went back in the sea.
We like the idea of getting on 'You've been Framed' and winning money so set up another 'Boy falls down Hole' sight gag and slid down the shingle beach on our boards. Fun had: lots. Metal objects found: 3 bottletops and a bit of shrapnel.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Wild and Crazy or Mild and Lazy

drinks boiling water scalds throat funny fail darwin awardsAt school we are learning to sing songs from Disney's 'Frozen', it's torture by twinkles.
As soon as I got home I stalked into the garden to interview the builders and monitor their progress.
The back yard is full of binbags and detritus and the house is full of sinks and toilets and stuff in big cardboard boxes.
The old shower room is now completely empty so everyone has to use the upstairs toilet. The roof has been removed so the traffic noise is louder.
shower room extension with roof replacedIn Gymnastics I finally managed to perform the handstand against the wall and the backwards roll so I've won Badge 3! They also ticked off a couple of the easier parts of Badge 2 but there's a long way to go.
I watched some of the Mexico - Brazil match, a lively affair, shame nobody scored.