"for the happy, the sad, I don't want to be, another page in your diary"

Monday, 31 December 2012

Moral Support Amid Pyrotechnics

Just three us in work today, while outside it's bucketing it down and blowing a gale. None of this stops those people who aren’t at work from heading to Sainsbury’s causing an almighty traffic jam. Do these people not have jobs to go to? Then I can do the weekly shop in peace.

We’ve been looking for somewhere to go for a meal tonight which isn’t as easy as you’d think. Lots of places are either closed or booked for private parties on New Year’s Eve.

Surprisingly we manage to get a table at our posh local Chinese Mr Mans and we invite my parents over to join us. They give us a table upstairs; I didn’t even know they had an upstairs. It proves a good choice as it’s much quieter up there. It’s a good meal with a lot of wine and a correspondingly big bill but it’s a very good night.

Then its home in time for midnight but only just. We make it just in time to offer Doggo moral support during the expected fireworks. At least our local pyrotechnics didn’t go on as long as those in London that were televised by the BBC. After seven minutes we switched back to Jools Holland's Hootenanny, so I’ve no idea how long they went on for. By the time they get around to Auld Lang Syne it’ll be almost February.

(Monday 31st December)

Sunday, 30 December 2012

We Are So Not Speaking

So, our first dog show for four months today at the equestrian centre in the South Staffordshire College. MD has been looking much better in training recently, which was the aim. To take him out of competition for a while and work on various stuff. Completing a course was the main thing...

This is a new venue to us. Three of the six rings are outside. Brrr. Come to think of it the indoor ones are a bit drafty was well and all the loos locked up but for four portaloos = big queue.

Doggo did his agility. A solid clear but it was a very simply course with only one piece of agility equipment in it, the rest being jumps and tunnels. So not really his speciality and not really an agility course either. 11th though.

MD is a bit overexcited on his first run, quivering on the start line, hence two poles down. Otherwise though it wasn't too bad. So all set for the next one.

Ah... Gutted. We are so not speaking. MD puts me in the car in disgrace. He did the most amazing run until I sent him the wrong way. L is supportive and blames last night’s OP.

Though it's not affected her, she's finished her gym based 12 days of Fitmas challenge today. It's been good because it has truly inspired her, although she's aggravated her knee a little in the process. Now she needs to adopt some of those exercises into her routine all year round.

Another clear for the old maestro, 10th place this time. Then one pole down on MD’s third run and then the first pole down on his last. When that hit the ground I thought, sod it, lets go for it and the rest of it was a superb run until we got E’d near the end trying to be too clever but we enjoyed that.

(Sunday 30th December)

Fantasy Shuffle Selection: Twenty Tracks From 2012

Finally to round off my review of the year, my 'fantasy shuffle' selection of twenty tracks that were released during 2012.

In no particular order :-

Kettling - Bloc Party
Cameraman - Spook School
State Hospital - Frightened Rabbit
Hey Jane - Spiritualized
Alphabet - The Twilight Sad
This Ladder Is Ours - The Joy Formidable
Headstrong - Feeder
Best Of Friends - Palma Violets
Motoring - Toy
Come on, be a No-One - The Cribs
Knock Knock - Band Of Horses
Observations - The Raveonettes
The Wrestler - Reverend & the Makers
Next Of Kin - Miniature Dinosaurs
Go Right Ahead - The Hives
Dead Man's Shoes - The Virginmarys
Weirdo - The Vaccines
Through The Dark - Anothers Blood
One Drop - PIL
Epizootics! - Scott Walker...

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Still No Living Room Door

We still have no door to the living room, which would only be a problem to anybody who has muddy dogs, which we do. Considering the current weather, muddy is an understatement. It’s the weather’s fault that we still have no door as I’ve been unable to get outside to cut the necessary centimetres off it. Whenever I’ve been at home it’s either been too wet or too dark to do so.

Tonight we head to Broadway where we renew our lapsed membership. It’s a bit of a shock to find it’s increased from £32 to £50. They’ve also axed the free drinks vouchers, although we still get two free films. Even so I reckon we’re going to have to see eight films to get our money’s worth, it used to be only three. Unless we eat there more often, for which we get an additional discount. Which is what we do tonight.

Then we see ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’. The film is based around an actual classified ad about a chap looking for someone to travel back in time with him.

Presumably it was placed as a joke but the film has a journalist called Jeff (Jake Johnson) investigating the ad, to find out who is behind it but more importantly to find out how crazy they are. Jeff takes with him two less than eager interns Darius (Aubrey Plaza) and Arnau (Karan Soni).

They can do most of the leg work because Jeff's own interest is limited. He has an ulterior motive for going; he intends to go back in time himself because the town they are heading for is where his ex-girlfriend from college lives. He doesn't need a time machine to attempt to start up with her again, just a good excuse.

Once there the three of them take the odd approach of not actually replying to the ad but instead stalking the guy by finding out where he lives and works, then asking him outright if they can be his time travel partner. When Jeff has no success, Darius has a go.

Kenneth (Mark Duplass) is undoubtedly the local misfit but Darius finds him oddly appealing and the more time she spends with him, the more of a connection she forms with him. He's going back to 2001 to save a girlfriend who was killed in a car accident. Only she wasn't and as we find out, still lives nearby. Darius has her own reasons for wanting to travel back, to prevent the death of her Mother.

Meanwhile Jeff achieves his aim, gets to hook up with his ex, beds her and then falls out with her. Making it all a bit pointless plot wise. There's another sub-plot concerning Arnau. He's painted as your typical nerd in horned-rimmed glasses who is uncomfortable with women. So Jeff sets him up with some girls.

Although largely unnecessary these diversions follow the same sort of theme e.g. looking at relationships involving people who are quite different e.g. nerds, misfits/weirdoes, damaged females or annoying jerks in Jeff’s case, saying perhaps we should just accept people as they are. This does take screen time from the main story, which, to be honest, is the old one of where the damaged female falls for the misfit. Yep, I've just duped myself into seeing another RomCom.

This one though does have good characters. It's also better written and has more to offer than what you might expect. The time travel angle is more a façade for finding oneself and putting right past mistakes.

There is a time machine but we don't see it until the end. Thankfully. Which means the film doesn’t take too big a leap into the unbelievable. Kenneth stretches out his hand for Darius to join him aboard, asking her to decide whether he’s a genius or simply completely nuts... He may be both.

Finally kudos to Mark Duplass, who not only starred but co-produced and supplied the song to accompany the closing credits. A busy guy.

Afterwards we head to the Peacock where I’m deflected from the OP by some Caledonian Stout, which is pure Tarmac. It’s good but not good enough, so I’m back on the OP for the next one.

(Saturday 29th December)

Favourite Albums Of 2012

Third part of my review of the year, the oddball selection of my favourite albums of the past year.

Although I feel that maybe this list is getting redundant. It's difficult because hardly any of the tracks I've liked this year have been on albums... and sometimes when they are you can't get hold of them... or they're on download only. Anyway here are a few highlights.

Anothers Blood were formed out of the ashes of the Red Light Company, then promptly disbanded and released a good posthumous album but on download only.

More mainstream and with an actual CD release were The Vaccines, who were again excellent on 'Come Of Age'.

Bloc Party returned after a long hiatus with the rather brilliant 'Four'.

It was good also to have the return of Public Image Ltd, whose 'This Is PIL' is certainly entertaining.

The Cribs were also back with the solid if unspectacular 'In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull'

Best new band were probably the slightly Horrors-ish Toy.

Feeder produced their best album in ten years with 'Generation Freakshow'.

Scott Walker did an album... 'Bish Bosch' and as much as I admire his eccentricity, couldn't bring myself to buy it nor listen to the snappily titled 'SDSS1416+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter)'

But my highlight was the new album by the totally miserable Twilight Sad and 'No One Can Ever Know', although even that's not a patch on their earlier work.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Frazzled Friday?

Despite being early for one of the two buses, I miss it. It was earlier than I was and I watched it pulling off as I walked up. So I had to wait half an hour for the next one. At least it had stopped raining by the time I reached Derby.

L’s back at work to be greeted by the burglar alarm going off and a tradesman claiming to have the wrong code. There’s nothing so exciting at my place, even if it is Frazzled Friday, well, according to the Daily Mail. Something about today being the day the overindulging comes home to roost.

I do actually have a tub of Quality Street here all to myself to overindulge on but I can’t manage it. I just don’t really like milk chocolates. Now if they’d been plain...

Daughter goes back to Sheffield today, so we give her a lift. All of us, the dogs and even Son. We make an evening of it. We had contemplated a Chinese takeaway at her place but thinking of her house, it might be warmer to eat out... We hit what appears to be the food Mecca of Sheffield, albeit a slightly sleazy one, the London Road area.

I have an evil hot Chinese, which reminds me of the one I had two New Years Eve’s ago. Son has an evil massive Chinese, while L and Daughter have very long winded hot pots. Son has finished, well kind of, it was unfinishable due to its size, before the girls’ meals even arrive.

(Friday 28th December)

Favourite Gigs Of 2012

This is the second part of my review of the year, my favourite gigs of the past year.

Unfortunately it's been another not very prolific years for gigs, only nine this year... oh dear

When I did manage to get out to a gig they tended to be rather amazing. A year for quality not quantity.

These five were totally outstanding.

5. Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Rock City, Nottingham, Sunday 11th November

Surely the best entertainer around. Frank doesn't do bad gigs, he doesn't even do average ones.

Read My Review

4. Juliana Hatfield & Evan Dando, The Institute, Birmingham, Thursday 29th November

A improvised night from Juliana and Evan who just seemed to make it up as they went along. Thankfully they had the talent to pull it off.

Read My Review

3. Feeder, The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton, Wednesday 21st November

Three of this years gigs were to see Feeder and they got better with each one. On this occasion, some great set choices and an old skool encore to die for.

Read My Review

2. The Twilight Sad, Stealth, Nottingham, Wednesday 15th February.

A brilliant gig from an underrated band and as a bonus, the ears are fine, still attached despite being easily the loudest band I've seen this year.

Read My Review

1. Peter Hook & The Light, Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, Sunday 27th May

Peter Hook & The Light do Joy Division's 'Unknown Pleasures' in its entirety and plenty more besides.

A tribute band at number one... whatever next.

Read My Review

Thursday, 27 December 2012

A Well Know Cold Remedy

I'm back at work. L's back at the gym.

As it’s still raining, I don’t bike and get the bus instead. They are running a Saturday service and there are only two buses that will get you into Derby for 9pm. Consequently number one is packed but I squeeze on.

L sends me some swimming dates. Again. Yes I know I need to start swimming more but it’s the third time she’s sent me those dates. They are in my diary. Honest.

Squash is interesting. My opponent is still recovering from something someone gave him for Christmas, a heavy cold. I win the first game easily and I’m well up in the second before that well know cold remedy known as ‘impending defeat’ kicks in and I lose 1-3.

(Thursday 27th December)

Favourite Films Of 2012

This is the first part of my review of the year, my favourite films of the past year.

10. The Woman In Black

Sort of scary and Daniel Radcliffe even actually rather good.

Read My Review

9. Moneyball

Not as good as they say but still not bad. Mr Pitt on song again.

Read My Review

8. Shadow Dancer

An intelligent, suspenseful and well-acted IRA thriller.

Read My Review

7. Dark Horse

I have no idea what was real and what wasn’t in this film but still loved it.

Read My Review

6. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

OMG a remake I liked. I would almost say it was better than the Swedish version but for Daniel Craig. So overall it’s still the rawer original for me, I think... maybe... I'm actually not sure.

Read My Review

5. Margin Call

A film about the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the collapse of the Mortgage Backed Security market... zzzzzzzzz. No seriously it's actually rather good.

Read My Review

4. Martha Marcy May Marlene

Another film where you're not really sure what's real and what's imagined but I do like a film that poses more questions than answers. This poses plenty.

Read My Review

3. Silver Linings Playbook

A film that ripped up the rom-com rule book but (sadly) still managed a happy ending, as two damaged souls heal each other through dancing... sounds dreadful doesn’t it.

Read My Review

2. Headhunters

A film that is full of surprises and at times leads you a right merry dance. You think one thing but then you think something else. It also turned me into an instant Jo Nesbø fan. Beware Hollywood remakes... because there’s no way on earth Hollywood could better this.

Read My Review

1. Shame

Perhaps an odd choice as my number one as it was perhaps a little disappointing at the time but we were still talking about it days later, so here it is - an orgasm addicted Michael Fassbender, a naked Carey Mulligan and no connection between the two, it's my number one.

Read My Review

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Reindeer Casserole

This morning it’s the traditional Boxing Day run at the Furnace Inn in Derby. We take Son and Daughter over with us, so that they can both head over to their father’s. Not that either looks particularly enamoured to be up at this unearthly time... 11am. I think both have unwittingly left their Christmas spirit back home asleep in bed.

I run the 5k attached to both Doggo and MD but forget the ‘dual lead attachment’ thing and have to cobble together a replacement using MD’s halti. They are also rather difficult to handle at the start. Doggo is hyper, which is making MD hyper and when MD does hyper, he does hyper with knobs on. We stand in the next street but not only can all the other runners still hear their barking, most of Derby can.

My lead replacement doesn’t work very well and just seems to glue the two dogs together. Which isn’t too bad but I worry that it prevents Doggo trying to stop when he tires. So I keep stopping and untangling them, while checking that Doggo in his advancing years is ok. He seems fine and we even have enough in the tank to overhaul a terrier near the end and perhaps be first dogs across the line. Although we’re only 84th, so not sure if anything else with four legs was further up the field.

After a couple of drinks in the pub we head home for a bit of post-race and reindeer casserole that L has concocted. It was very nice. We don’t save the boys any despite the fact they’ve both been after a bit of deer for years.

(Wednesday 26th December)

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas Jumpers

So, Christmas Day.

It was going to be difficult to top the Helsinki effect of last year's present for L but somehow that seemed easier to organise that getting her a watch this year. I hope the shop assistant got good commission when I set her the challenge of something small, dainty and ladylike but preferably with six inch high digits with hands to match. Bless. The only part of my nearest and dearest to have aged since I met her is her eyesight. It'll be me next year.

L joins the boys and I on the park, from where we are rained off earlier than we intended. Then my parents arrive and after we’ve slammed our online goose in the oven we head off to the pub. It’s the Admiral Rodney this year, which is rammed.

When we return we have a pleasant Christmas Lunch with Daughter and occasionally Son, who drops in a vital points e.g. food and presents.

L is resplendent in her self-knitted Christmas jumper and Daughter in hers, also knitted by L. The manufacture of which exhausted us both and I wasn’t even involved in their production. This was not helped by the fact that Daughter came home two days earlier than we expected. Note to self - don't decide to knit presents for people. Thankfully, that's unlikely to happen.

Then it’s time to fall asleep in front of the TV. Primarily ‘Tangled’ of which I understand little and then ‘Dr Who’ of which I follow even less.

His new assistant is nice though. Again. We could do with poaching the head of his human resources department for my company.

(Tuesday 25th December)

Monday, 24 December 2012

The Perils Of Afternoon Drinking

It’s Christmas Eve and I finish work at 12.45. L is in transit from Stoke from where she has retrieved Son who’s been celebrating his girlfriend’s birthday.

Once she’s back in Nottingham I get the bus back over and we meet in town. We head to Brewdog for an assortment of their strong ales, although even we baulk at the 18.2% Tokyo Stout. It’s pleasant in there and I could have continued to work my way along the bar, slowly e.g. a third of a pint at a time, but we are tempted across town to the Roebuck by Daughter and her friends.

It’s our round naturally but £10 for two pitchers of basically coke with a dash of vodka isn’t too financially taxing and they’re good fun to hang out with for a few hours. The fact they also have the Honey Milk Stout that we had at the Ropewalk the other week helps.

We make it home and order a festive Chinese takeaway. I also, drunkenly, make the stuffing for tomorrow and a Stilton, mushroom, brandy, garlic and chilli pate, which will be the starter. I think I only put chilli in the pate and not in the stuffing. I hope. My Mum will soon tell me tomorrow if not.

We decide to continue our tradition, usually though when the kids aren’t there, of opening our presents at midnight. This will enable Son to have his usual epic lie-in and avoid too much exposure to daylight tomorrow.

It actually becomes difficult to stay awake though, the perils of afternoon drinking, so we go to bed for an hour or so and then get up again.

(Monday 24th December)

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christening The New Carpet

MD looks ill, that is when he isn’t looking un-ill and being as playful/noisy as usual. He manages a park session but that is before he treats us to a second vomiting display in two days. This time on the new carpet. When I pick him up to carry him into the kitchen, he aims at the new footstool. Nice.

Something else that happens twice in two days is my attendance at the gym. This time L’s ‘personal trainer’ isn’t there so I don’t have to fend off any sensible advice. Just 10k on the bike this time but followed by 2k on the rower, which wasn’t pleasant. When I attempt a warm down jog on the treadmill I start to feel faint and my knee flares up in sympathy. Time to pack it in I think.

Then it’s time to play Santa and exchange presents with my brother’s family.

(Sunday 23rd December)

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Putting In An Appearance

This morning L takes me to the gym. Well I suppose it’s about time I put in an appearance. I meet L’s self appointed personal fitness advisor, who seems keen to self appoint himself to me as well.

I manage a good 15k bike session and a bit of a warm down on the treadmill afterwards. I started out listening to my audiobook but was only managing around 170 watts on the bike, whereas once I reverted to some punchy music it shot up to 220 watts. So that was an interesting, if unintended experiment.

After returning home, L heads off to the panto with Daughter and her family, oh yes she does. The boys and I go for a paddle on the park. Paddle we do, water water everywhere and with the low lying mist as well it’s very eerie.

After which I do the weekly trip to B&Q, this time for a loo seat, perhaps we should look after our guests this Christmas after all and give them something to sit on. Well at least something that doesn’t constantly move around like the old one.

I take the dogs with me, they’re not allowed unaccompanied in the revamped living room and unfortunately the new squishy carpet means the door no longer fits so there’s nothing to stop them wiping their paws wherever they wish. So come with me they must.

Then we all meet up back at home to chew on a leg of lamb.

(Saturday 22nd December)

Friday, 21 December 2012

And Now, The End Is Here...

And now, the end is here...’ Our time is up or so the Mayans say at 11.11am this morning. How exciting. So we bring forward our 11am coffee break, just in case. It’ll be a shame really because we’re having new carpet installed this afternoon.

11.11 passes and nothing happens. Perhaps they’re running late, can the apocalypse be delayed by flood water?

An hour later, still nothing has happen. Oh well, best start planning for Christmas then.

At home, the carpet layers arrive and now we have lovely squishy new carpet.

In the evening, I decline our company’s Christmas night out in favour of Derby’s match at home to Hull City. We didn’t expect to see many turn up after they switched the game to a Friday night but it turns out to be one of the biggest gates of the season courtesy of a lot of free tickets handed out. This is quite obvious from the high pitched chanting, you can always tell it’s a freebie night when it’s full of school kids.

The match is a let down, Derby are on a good run but the baffling decision to play one up front at home means we never really threaten the Hull goal and lose 2-1.

(Friday 21st December)

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Them Were The Days

It's very wet today but still a colleague and I go out for a lunch time stroll in the rain The lamb and mint pie and an excellent dark ale called Starry Night from Black Hole help us get through it.

This year’s Christmas Goose has gone online. Our farm shop's weekend hours only extend to noon on Saturdays and we just haven’t been able to get to ‘order in person’ as required. So I tried to order as local as possible online instead. So it’s coming up from Somerset. I nearly managed a Yorkshire one but it turned out to be too small, too expensive and would have probably come with built in Yorkshire grumpiness anyway.

Anyhow, it arrived this morning, in a box. So I assume it’s dead which was one of my concerns, as the website wasn’t very clear on this.

'Sexual misconduct, embezzlement, and treason' comes in another message from L in reference to her current reading matter. She does like her Tudors and she does have a point, them were the days. I shall have to get her a period bodice for Christmas.

I get home to find a body rolled up in a duvet and dumped across our new settee. Daughter's home! It’s just like she’s never been away. We’re got a bigger sofa now and there’s still nowhere to sit.

L is shopping in town and reports a sighting of some Treacle Stout at the H&H. I offer to collect her from town and we pop in for one or we try. Standing room only, or rather no standing room at all, so it must be bloody good. We go in the Ropewalk instead, who have Honey Milk Stout which is probably as good if not better. Clearly it is the season to be Stoutly.

(Thursday 20th December)

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Famous Last Words

On the bike again today and it’s perfect conditions for it. Famous last words. No sooner am I five minutes into the ride home in the evening than the heavens open. Then comes the question whether to stop and kit up for the conditions or to press on. Delaying on this dilemma quickly makes the dilemma irrelevant as what is the point of putting dry waterproof clothes on top of wet clothes. I press on, getting wetter and wetter but warmed by the fact that I’m passing loads of static traffic that I would have been stuck in had I driven.

L’s Twelve Days of Fitmas has added Russian Twists (which I thought was a vodka based cocktail - perhaps it is) and a 3k dreadmill run. Even I think it sounds tough and it’s only day five.

Tonight is the dog club’s Christmas fun night, that I’ve been roped in to co-organising. Unfortunately all the games we organise seem to involve a lot of running and not just for the dogs. I also end up running two dogs myself, MD and another I’ve borrowed. A bloody fast one as well, that I have to try and keep up with.

What with cycling today as well, I’m well knackered, as is MD. Doggo isn’t though, he spends most of the night as a distant observer and will be a pain when we get home.

(Wednesday 19th December)

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Mentally Scarred

It’s a pleasant day today so I try to remember how to ride my bike and cycle into work.

As I head back in the opposite direction later, L is heading up to Sheffield to do the panto with Daughter. L’s a bit of a panto fiend. I was mentally scarred by one when I was a child and have never recovered, so tend to stay well clear.

Two very large Pinots, and no food, later she seems to be having a great time. When they start on the interval ice creams, I can see extra burpees are going to be required tomorrow.

Once over she then needs to leg it to the train station to get the 10pm train, in heels. I offer to collect her on route from Derby, which is actually going to be easier than trying to find a way into the dug up and one way hell that is Nottingham station.

(Tuesday 18th December)

Monday, 17 December 2012

Behind Closed Doors

L has started a new gym based fitness programme known as the Twelve Days of Fitmas. This involves adding a new activity each day. Day one sounds easy and is called ‘Sign up’ but day two is harder ‘30 Press Ups’ and day three requires a google ‘Burpees’.

L suggests that she might do the Burpees on her own, behind closed doors, as they might be embarrassing. Well the name is embarrassing, so if the exercises themselves aren’t it will be a huge disappointment.

I head to Sainsbury’s looking for Christmas meats, a whole leg of lamb for this Saturday and Reindeer (aka venison) for Sunday, with not much expectation that they’ll have either. So I am pleasantly surprised when I find both. Clearly the extra culling on Wollaton Park has been beneficial somewhere.

Nope, not doing Burpees in the gym. No way José.’ She must have googled them.

I shall leave her to it; I’ve got some wet outdoor dogging to go to.

(Monday 17th December)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Officially Falling Apart

After a wet trip up on Friday it’s stayed pretty much dry since. Although we’ve already had enough rain to make parking on the usual fields impossible. So we have to make a £4 donation to the National Trust to use their car park. It should have been more but we’ll take the risk that no one spots we’re going to overrun the two hour limit.

As usual its a 12 noon start for the traditional Great Langdale Christmas Pudding 10k. The new owners of the Sticklebarn - the National Trust, who annoyed us last time by changing the pub so much, now appear to have annoyed the race organisers as well. Consequently the race HQ is now at the adjacent New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. This also makes for a slightly changed course due to a new start and finish position.

Even then I start too far back, this is of course L’s fault as she told me to take it ‘steady’. So it’s a congested start and the first km takes me 6:35. Which is slightly misleading because the 1 km marker hasn't moved despite the new start beign further down the road. When I finally get my running legs together, I can start getting on with the task of overhauling Spiderman.

Once he’s been despatched I turn my attention to Wonder woman, who isn’t so easily dealt with and hangs like a carrot in front of me for the entire race. That is until near the end where she finds a finishing kick from somewhere. It comes from a place that I haven’t been informed about because I can’t find one and she edges further out of my range. Then just to complete my misery, who should sprint past me but bloody Spiderman. Woe is me.

The last km here is usually way shorter than a km and due to the repositioning of the finish, will be even shorter today. Only the marker doesn’t turn up at all, clearly it is now so close to the finish it’s not worth putting out at all.

My time is not good, 46 minutes something, my slowest Langdale ever, clearly my legs are now officially falling apart. I am handed my Derbyshire Mathew Walker Christmas pudding and a mince pie before heading back to the car to unleash the boys.

The rain holds off but for a shower in the middle of the race followed then by another shower at end after I’ve got changed and I’m wandering around looking for L who has sneaked across the line when I wasn’t looking. To be honest I was probably being pulled towards a wall for a long peeing session at the time.

There’s not the usual post-race crush in the Sticklebarn due to the race not being based there any more but it’s still busier than the New Dungeon Ghyll which simply does not have the room to be busy. The lack of space means they hold the presentation in the tent at the finish which detracts from the atmosphere a touch. We at least do frequent their bar for a swift one.

After which we start making tracks for home via an art gallery. This is not something I make a habit of. I certainly don't make a habit of buying things from art galleries and particularly not expensive things from art galleries. Naturally it has collies on it but clearly it’s not just my legs that are falling apart.

(Sunday 16th December)

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Soft And Sticky

I quote...

Winter has now arrived in the Lakes, with deep snow on the tops, and some cold days with blue skies. We're keeping fingers crossed that our new Sticky Chocolate Trail Run at Cartmel will have a light dusting of snow to keep with the festive spirit of the event.

Sadly it doesn’t. The recent rise in temperatures and rain has made the going officially ‘soft’ at Cartmel Racecourse, which we again struggle to find a way into but we get there eventually.

It’s a leisurely 2pm start and even we are there in enough time to walk around the village first and visit the pudding shop.

Entries are still open, as they keep reminding us. Do they think I might be tempted? Nope.

I’m sitting this one out, so the boys and I settle down to watch the football match going on nearby, as assorted Santas, elves and even a couple of Christmas Crackers head off on a wade through 10k of sticky mud. L has unforgivably, not that either of us gave it a thought, left every possibility of festive fancy dress at home and we had quite a few options.

I do feel slightly miffed to be missing on the mulled wine and mince pies that are being served at the drinks stations out on the course, that is until I have a beer from the local Unsworth's Yard Brewery in my hand and then all is forgotten.

When the runners re-emerge and cross the finish to be handed their locally produced Sticky Chocolate Puddings, they’re not actually even that muddy... Not that I’m saying I’d like to have done it. I have enough to contend with tomorrow with the Grand Langdale 10k and that’s on terra firma.

First though back to the Old Dungeon Ghyll for refuelling.

(Saturday 15th December)

Friday, 14 December 2012

Softening Things Up

Yorkshire get the Tour de France. Wasn’t expecting that.

We’re off to the Lakes this weekend, camping naturally and perhaps just for us the weather warms up and rains. Great. I think I’d have preferred it cold.

It rains most of the day, well at least it’s softening the ground up for the tent pegs.

L collects me straight from work and the trip up the M6 is relatively easy, although wet obviously. The campsite is oddly quiet, even in December the Great Langdale campsite is usually busy. Instead there are only around 15 tents this weekend. This means the pub is quiet too, so at least we can get a seat and settle in for a night of Old Peculiar.

(Friday 14th December)

Thursday, 13 December 2012

End Of An Era

As I’ve said the council have promised to collect our old three piece suite this morning, yeah right. Actually, what’s this... a bin lorry? At 7.20am? It’s not even light yet. I’m well impressed.

It's the end of an era. I feel quite melancholy and almost shed a tear as I watch it go in the crusher. I’ve had that suite since I moved in, in erm... 1994 and it was second hand then. It’s seen some, ahem, action, over the years. In its better, more frivolous days that is, before practically every spring in its structure gave out leaving it in the end as basically just a cloth covered frame. In fact I can't believe it held out as long as it did. ‘Held out’ being a bit of a loose term.

I also suspect there’s still some money and teaspoons wedged in there somewhere. Although to be fair to the old thing, we have had a few drinks on the proceeds of turning it upside down earlier in the week.

I take the bus to work again. Taking into account my accident record, I reckon it’s still too icy to cycle.

Squash is also (oddly) a victim of the weather. A water main has burst at Portland and the centre is closed. It’s a shame really because for once it might have actually been quite cool on court.

(Thursday 13th December)

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Another cold night but still not particularly icy.

On Saturday, when we finally got someone to visit us, the floor man decreed no hard floor. So it’s carpet again, after all that. So tonight we head to their Beeston shop after work as its open conveniently until 7pm on a Wednesday night.

Despite this advertised late opening they are closing up as we arrive just before 6pm... and we even let them know in advance that we were coming. This company really do not want our business do they?

Despite that we order the carpet and buy a rug. See guys, it was worth you opening late after all.

Dog training tonight and I’m on the graveyard shift 9pm-10pm, which I manage to get out of by swapping into an 8pm through our Facebook site. Handy isn’t it, it’s a good job I set that up for them.

Back home we lug the old three piece suite outside and place it at the front of the house. The Council are apparently coming to collect it tomorrow. Yeah right of course they will.

(Wednesday 12th December)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Speed Skating

It’s still very cold but it’s more frosty than icy. I plan to run tonight and don’t want to end up speed skating rather than running. That said, the notorious Teflon corner here at Pride Park has claimed another cyclist. I don’t know how his ribs are but his ego looked bruised.

At 5pm I head off on my run, the pavements are ok although some places still don’t seem to have defrosted from this morning but the ground is crunchy rather than slippery. I’m planning exactly the same run as Friday. Nice, simple and boring. Only this time without the rescue party as L is at book club.

It goes ok. My fitness might be returning slowly.

(Tuesday 11th December)

Monday, 10 December 2012

Busy Schedule

L goes to Leamington for the day. Where Son manages to fit her into his busy schedule..., two days a week at Uni... But not now as he broke for Christmas over a week ago. The two of them do some Christmas shopping.

Her return train passes through Derby at around 5pm so I collect her from the station. L brings me a pressie. Cool or is she buttering me up because she’s overspent? It’s a nice beer though. She’s a treasure.

Then it’s off to some very cold dog training.

(Monday 10th December)

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Just Marking Time

There was a vague suggestion of the Walsall 10 miler today but I wasn’t serious. I think that’s too far too soon for me. L of course points out that I did 10 miles the other day... well yes, but it was in two chunks. Large chunks admittedly. Instead she can take me to the gym. It’s not often I say that.

I set out to do 15k on the gym bike, then round it up to 16k as that’s a nice round 10 miles and then, well let’s call it 20k that’s even rounder. So I’m quite pleased with myself in the end. I was just marking time really until L had finished her session but she ended up waiting for me.

What we don’t do is go to B&Q, which is the first time in weeks. I don’t know what this says about our relationship, whether it’s a good thing or not.

Then we head off to Cineworld on a ‘2 for 1’. Not that it is easy to get. They won’t accept our e-tickets because their scanner is broke and send us on a second gym workout of the day around the helter skelter insides of the Cornerhouse. Bit of a farce really.

We get in eventually, late but far earlier than most of the other customers, many of which arrive up to half an hour after the advertised start. They are obviously more frequent Cineworld visitors than us because they know exactly how long the tedious adverts go on for.

Luckily tonight’s file ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ is well worth the wait. Written and directed by David O Russell, who made last year's memorable 'The Fighter', it is based on a book by Matthew Quick.

In it we follow Pat (Bradley Cooper) as he moves back in with his parents after spending eight months in a mental institution because of a violent outburst that occurred when he found a history teacher in his shower. Which isn't too outburst worthy until you realise this wife was in there too and their wedding song was playing on the stereo. A perfectly understandable reaction if you ask me.

Although now diagnosed as bipolar Pat is determined to get his life back on track and that includes reconciliation with his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee). There’s one major obstacle to this, she has taken out a restraining order against him. This though is something he thinks he can work round, just got to stay positive and look for the silver linings in life.

His recovery doesn’t seem to be going that well when he bursts into his parents’ bedroom at 4am ranting about Ernest Hemingway's failure to provide a happy ending to his novel ‘A Farewell to Arms’ before flinging the book through the (closed) bedroom window.

He may however be saner than his father (Robert De Niro), who himself has been prone to the odd violent outburst, getting himself banned from attending the Philadelphia Eagles games. He is totally OCD about the Eagles, bets on their games (he’s a bookie), wants his Pat to watch them with him as a good luck charm and to further Father-Son bonding.

A dinner party organised by his friend Ronnie, and Ronnie’s wife Veronica... introduces him to his saviour, although he wasn’t to know that then. This is the rather tasty Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence aka Katniss from The Hunger Games). She too has issues to deal with after the death of her husband. Seriously depressed by such a tragic event, her method of coping was to sleep her way through eleven colleagues at her office. That includes a woman, a fact that fascinates Pat. As he walks her back to her parents' converted garage where she lives, she offers him instant gratuitous sex but he is appalled and declines, one would assume because he's still hung up on his wife.

They forge a very unconventional friendship, often while jogging/arguing around the local neighbourhood. Him in his bin liner, her in an ever increasing selection of interesting Lycra. Though Pat maintains his distance, Tiffany is certainly looking for more than friendship and she agrees to deliver a letter to Nikki on Pat’s behalf if he helps her out... by agreeing to be her partner in a dance contest.

OMG, don’t do that, don’t dance. L will think I've brought her to a rom-com. They do though, Pat figures that not only will this enable him to communicate with his estranged wife; it will also impress her and show her how well he is recovering.

I thought this film would be complex but it isn't. The film is exactly what you would expect from one about bipolar men, depressed women, OCD fathers, American Football and ballroom dancing with a nod to Hemingway but I didn't expect it to be romantic. Well at least it’s ripped up the rom-com rule book. Then bugger, there's a happy ending as well, as these two damaged souls heal each other through their dancing... sounds dreadful doesn’t it.

It’s a great film though, great dialogue and some really great scenes. It just goes to show that despite everything, despite the dancing, there’s a silver lining in all of us, and never mind how quirky/complicated/weird the girl is, don’t worry about it (n.b. they’re all like that).

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are both terrific. They are two central characters neither of which you want to throttle, which is a rarity these days. You care about what happens to them. The supporting cast is good too and it’s especially good to Robert De Niro with a great performance still in him.

Like Russell’s ‘The Fighter’ this surely will also be up for a few awards.

(Sunday 9th December)

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Eighth Straight Win

The first thing to note is that the new settee turns up and so does the floor man, at the third attempt. Naturally they both turn up at the same time.

Still it’s early enough to get the boys on the park afterwards and then get to the match for the 1pm kick off where Derby record an eighth straight win against Leeds. Ta da. Very satisfying.

In the evening we head down to the Navigation on Meadow Lane for food, which is normally our post squash bolt hole. We would have stayed longer were it not for the bands they had on, which repelled our custom rather than attracted it.

Instead we embark on a not terribly exciting pub crawl. There’s still not any Midnight Owl on at the Vat & Fiddle, so we head across town to where the Ropewalk are running out of beer and the Borlase is totally out. The Hand & Heart may have had beer but lacked space, it didn’t even have standing room. So we wind up at the Blue Monkey pub, which I think is ok but L isn’t a fan of their beer.

(Saturday 8th December)

Friday, 7 December 2012

Mad, Unrealistic, Compulsive Viewing

I do a little training run tonight, just to get back into the swing of things. A quick jog from work through to Chadd and then the bus down to Stapleford before running the four miles home from there.

L walks MD and Mr Unmentionable up towards me, to rescue me from myself. The run goes well, in fact I could have gone on and on, so it’s a good job I had the rescue party planned to stop me.

We head home to solve the conundrum that L had been battling with earlier in the day. Just how did I get the old settee into the living room? Hmmm. It went in... somehow. Now it needs to come out to make room for the new one... somehow. She could try taking the dog off it, which might help.

The conundrum is soon solved, with only minor damage to the door frame.

We'd already pencilled in an extra debauched Friday to make up for the complete lack of ‘us time’ on Saturday due to a multitude of expected tradesmen and a lunchtime kick for the match with Leeds. Yep, I’m talking ‘Hunted’.

The series has created a buzz, not necessarily about its good points but a buzz none the less. Now we’ve finished it and as everyone else has been taking the piss out of it, now it's my turn or rather, actually, I'm going to stick up for it. Perhaps it's just because we don't watch much TV but decided to watch all eight hours of this crammed into a fortnight courtesy of our PVR. It's so completely mad and impossibly unrealistic that it’s been compulsive viewing.

The plot... An East End gangster wants to buy the Khyber dam. The mission of the spies at Byzantium is to stop him. That’s it, dead simple. So I can’t see why people found it so hard to follow.

Byzantium’s star player, centre-forward and centrefold is Sam Hunter played by Melissa George, an Aussie playing a British spy pretending to be an American nanny. This particular 5ft and not much, undercover nanny is one mean lass. Not only does she start off dead, recover and then die again (although not really), she scythes her way through so many East End gangsters that they had to recruit a load more from abroad. The body count is so high each week that they keep adding new characters each episode to top up the cast.

Teflon Sam doesn’t bruise easily, which is just as well when you want to slip into a slinky little black dress seconds after some thug has tried to kick seven bells out of you.

Sam sleeps in corners and has distressing childhood flashbacks. That is when she actually sleeps at all. Most nights she sneaks out to go to Byzantium briefings which are relayed on the biggest ipad you’ve ever seen (I want one), kill a few crooks and still be back for breakfast looking as fresh as a daisy. In fact, she can even sneak out in the middle of a romantic tryst, get changed, burgle an office, get changed again and still be back before her date notices.

She’s also pretty mean on a mountain bike. Have you ever chased car driving criminals across London on a mountain bike and kept up? Sam has. Move over Laura Trott.

That said she’s not really that bright, well none of the Byzantium lot are. Don’t drink that tea Sam... oh no. Don’t drink that water Sam... oh no.

Among her colleagues are Sam’s ex-shag Aiden, not his real name, father of her dead-not-dead baby and now infiltrating an MI6 agent named Natalie as often as possible in a hotel bedroom, all in the name of the cause but really she’s spying on him because he’s the mole or at least we think he is.

The series mixes the humour of the improbable with some dark humour too. I particularly loved the death of the wonderful Rafi-the-Rabbit, who had to bite the dust because he lives in a prime spot for a sniper to shoot down an important official. Then there’s the use of dead team member’s Hassan’s boot as a paperweight, not that he wore boots.... The murder of a left wing economics expert with a statue of Karl Marx...

I’m sad that it had to end but end it did, as it started, with Sam dead again but recovering well in the Scottish mountains.

It was quite simply one of the most nonsensical TV series I have ever seen. We were open mouthed with admiration throughout. Miles above the normal BBC rubbish. More please BBC.

Only problem being the BBC have already cancelled the second series due to poor ratings and complaints by viewers that they couldn’t follow the story... What do the BBC expect? They have spent the last twenty years dumbing down their output so that everything can be watched with the brain turned off and then they seem alarmed when people can't follow something a little different. Give me strength.

(Friday 7th December)

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The World’s Eldest Puppy


Someone from the dog club has had one of her two collies run into her little non-collie dog and break its leg in two places. OMG.

Meanwhile Doggo has destroyed L’s jeans. OMG. He's the world’s eldest puppy and he’s not popular, in the slightest. MD is though, he’s been basking in being the most popular dog in the house for a few weeks now and his halo has just got even brighter by proxy.

Total traffic chaos on way home. I get home at 6.30 and I’m due at squash at 6.45. I quickly pat the boys and then after a whirlwind superhero style change of clothes, I join a massive and unexplained queue along Queens Drive. Then of course the Embankment is shut, as I already knew, for tram works. I rush on to court 25 minutes late.

So it’s a very short match in which we manage to cram three very fast games. Speed squash anyone? I hope L’s exercise schedule went better than mine today.

(Thursday 6th December)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Correct Call

Today it is icy. So I think it’s the correct call not to cycle and take the bus instead.

Saturday is getting busier. DFS now have our furniture in stock and want to deliver. Apparently they don’t do delivery slots or else we could have given then a couple of hours in the week but all they’ll say is any time between 7am and 7pm. I told them how prehistoric this was but they didn’t seem bothered. They seemed even less bothered that obviously this would be a major barrier to us ordering from them again.

L’s been glossing the doors at home, so if no dogs run up to greet me when I get home tonight I’ll know why. Then I’ll have to carefully unstick them, trying hard not to leave any hairs behind. I unlock the door... one dog... two dogs... no unsticking to do.

Dog training goes well, if bloody cold and this is the indoor session. Now all I have to do is to remember to collect L who is at her parents.

(Wednesday 5th December)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

A Rebellious Rampage

I risk the bike and overtake L out walking the dogs. In fact she’s just picking herself up from having slipped on some ice. This makes me even more cautious than I already was but I don’t find any ice, I think she slipped on the only patch. The roads are just wet and getting wetter as it starts to rain on me. It’s not that pleasant but it’s still better than driving and then trying to find somewhere to park.

It’s L's Christmas meal today, which is bit early really. I hope she doesn’t get too drunk and then goes on a rebellious rampage through Waterstones, hence breaking the ban on additions to the book pile.

I have ruined our Saturday lie-in. After the floor man didn’t turn up for a second time I sent him a snotty email causing the guy to ring me up to apologise and grovel a bit, offering a discount etc etc, should ewe give them a third chance. So I’ve booked him for this Saturday at 10am because I’ve got an early 1pm kick off to go to. Well it’s got to be easier than trying to get someone else to come out. That is, if he turns up.

(Tuesday 4th December)

Monday, 3 December 2012

Out Of Date

A planning application have been submitted to turn the once nice Old Peacock pub near us on Ilkeston Road into student flats.... well, at least it's not another Tesco.

but then of course another nice old building, the Bentinck Hotel by the station is becoming a Starbucks...

Both are nice pubs, just in need of good management.

I get a message saying that dog training is on tonight unless we get more rain later which is a surprise. When I get there I can see why, although the bottom part of the field is a bit boggy the top part is very firm, well frozen. Should be ok though.

We eat Son’s out of date haggis.

(Monday 3rd December)