Friday, December 31, 2010


Well, I did it. Before Christmas I took myself up to the travel shop and spent a while with a nice young lady. A couple of weeks later I went back and spoke to another nice young lady. They clicked their mouse buttons and we talked and looked at options. Eventually I decided on a surprise family holiday destination. I was going to keep it a secret until the day of departure but I’m not good at keeping surprises. My family are even worse. They just don’t like not to be informed about what’s going on. I could have kept the whole thing secret of course and not said anything. But I was absent for several hours and would have had to make up white lies and remember what I’d said, so keeping secrets from the family is a difficult task. After they knew I’d booked a holiday the questions came and kept coming, so I decided that I would let them know on Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve I prepared a slide presentation on my netbook. On Christmas Day, just before leaving to visit the family I plugged my netbook into the big television and gave them the presentation. They seemed to be pleased with my choice. Thank God!

I haven’t spent this much on a holiday since our honeymoon. And I certainly haven’t booked one so far in advance of the time before either – I know this time of year is quite traditional for buying holidays but I really don’t usually indulge in holiday booking until at least March. However, I hope this holiday will be great. It’s in Spain near to Barcelona but not actually there, so I’m hoping for hot weather, lovely beaches and lots of good lounging around, playing in the water and general relaxation with my family. My son was a bit worried about flying but he seems okay about it now, I can sympathise with a certain anxiety over flying myself but mainly at take off and landing times. I do think about disaster movies when flying though.

Hope everyone has a great New Year celebration tonight, my best wishes for the New Year to all of you.

The Status Quo

It feels like this year has gone by and nothing has really changed on the surface and then again under the surface change has been happening. My daughter is 11 years old in six months and I’ve certainly noticed her becoming more of a young person. My son is 8 and he is becoming more mature in his thinking and is getting physically stronger.

When I talk about the status quo I am really referring to the fact that I haven’t changed jobs and we haven’t moved home. The change of home is becoming ever more an urgent requirement and I’d really like to progress that this year, even if nothing happens to my job. I said pretty much the same in the autumn of 2009. That’s quite depressing in of itself.

I have a feeling, nothing more than that yet, that something is about to change for me on the work front but I can’t quite put my finger on what will happen. I don’t feel able to be proactive on that front though, which is worrying me inordinately.

I hope a house move will help to shift me from this depressed feeling. I’m not clinically depressed yet, I don’t think, but I do feel like I am on a gentle slope down and not sure how resilient I would be if I got a few knocks. I think this feeling is probably what a lot of other parents feel who have been married for 10 years and have children who are getting older: in other words, I think it’s the Middle Age Malaise. Admitting I’m middle age is bad enough but the fact that it doesn’t feel wrong or out of place as a description of me is even worse. Definitely need to feel differently about this age thing…


I don’t spend any time on creative writing. It’s a real shame because I enjoy it and I’d like to do more of it. I tend to use my family and work responsibilities as my excuse however, there is time in the day to do creative writing but I choose to spend it on other things like playing videogames or web browsing. So, I think my first New Year resolution is to begin a campaign of weaning myself away from other stuff in order to devote more time simply to writing.

Christmas 2010

This Christmas the temperature was really down and the snow that had fallen in the previous week was still around with no sign of thawing. My annual leave began on the 23rd. I had a cold before the start of the holidays and it hasn’t gone away, even now. The snow has gone though, the temperature has climbed to 6 or 7 degrees.

The final two days before Christmas were busy, we went with friends to Berkhamsted for lunch and then watch on to the film The Polar Express in The Rex, a lovely old cinema where the owner appears on stage to introduce the film and the kids can collect cushions to sit on from the foyer. The Polar Express is a bit of a crazy film isn’t it? Some of it didn’t make a lot of sense to me, it is a bit like a train ride through a dream.

On Christmas Eve we travelled to High Wycombe to watch a pantomime, we usually go to see a pantomime on Christmas Eve. This year it was Peter Pan. We saw the earlier matinee showing this year, a bit of a relief with the weather being so bad – I was hoping that it didn’t snow again and luckily it didn’t. Seeing the earlier show meant we could slip quickly out of the car park and get home early enough to ensure we didn’t have to wrap presents past midnight. Our kids were eager to get to bed. My 8 year old son had “practiced” sleeping the night before, he said so he was ready. They did fall asleep pretty quickly bless them.

Christmas and Boxing Day are a bit of a blur, we slept in a bit and went round to my wife’s mom’s for lunch and the afternoon and generally had a couple of family days.

This week has gone by all too quickly. On Monday we went and did some shopping. On Tuesday we visited my parents. It was nice to see them again, it has been a few months longer than I’d have liked this time – weather, health and other stuff has prevented me getting up to see them. They live a couple of hours away, so it’s not easy to just pop in like it is with my wife’s mom.

Wednesday and Thursday and probably today went and will go very quickly. We’ve done some walking into town and back. Not too much of anything else really, apart from eating and resting. Tonight will probably be a quiet night, as it usually is for us since having young children. We haven’t invited any friends over for drinks or anything. Hope your New Year goes well if you’re celebrating and if not, I hope it passes pleasantly into 2011 for you whatever you decide to do.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Weathering the Storms

There are only four sleeps until Christmas, can you believe it? The snow here in the UK has been pretty bad recently, we had some on Thursday/Friday last week and again a big load fell on Saturday. The temperature outside has stayed below or at zero degrees centigrade, so the snow has stayed on the ground. It is affecting shopping, travelling and all aspects of life really. It is also really cold in the house, even with the heating on. Snow looks pretty but it really disrupts normal life.

I’ve had a rough week in many ways, I’ve had a stinking cold and because I’ve been rundown, predators in the form of cold sores have caught me on my top lip. At least they are on their way out. I wish my cough was on the way out, that seems to be lodged quite happily. I’m starting to get headaches from coughing all the time and never being able to clear my throat to breathe properly.

At work things are difficult too. A colleague is behaving in a very negative way and is bad mouthing the work I and another colleague of mine are doing. Every couple of days I find out about a fresh attack and we’re diverting energies into responding to these rather than getting on with our work. I am finding it very draining and there doesn’t seem to be a way for us to put pressure back on her, she is more senior. We’re trying to remain professional and calm through it all but I’m really starting to tire and I don’t want to work with the person anymore. The problem is that I’m supposed to be working with her on the next project also.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It’s A Book For Our Times

I liked this.

Cyber War I

It is interesting watching the story of WikiLeaks evolve into Cyber War I. It seems to me, as a casual observer, that it is not necessarily WikiLeaks that is the problem, rather who got hold of the information and thought of the idea to pass it on to make all the dirty linen public. It is obvious that there is a lot of pressure, a hell of a lot of pressure, being applied by the authorities to close down WikiLeaks. What is even more interesting is the support for the site from freedom of speech groups and also some individuals who are trying to coordinate cyber attacks on well known sites that have responded to the pressure from the US.

I sit on the fence, leaning towards freedom of speech but I can’t condone cyber attacks or physical violence at all. If this Cyber War develops, I think it will results in an Internet that is less free than it is now. Anyone who thinks that the Internet is a free space now is a dumb ass – everything done online can eventually be traced back to you, just remember that. There will be actions taken to prevent this kind of attack that will restrict what we perceive as freedom on the Internet now. The Internet is just a channel. It is a world wide channel and that is both the value of it and the problem with it. I think inevitably there are some misguided, easily led people, who will claim that they are attacking the corporate, commercialised, authoritan Internet. They are just deluded. Others are probably just criminals who would hack sites anyway.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Feeling like Christmas yet?

It’s been a while since my last post. Some weeks are like that. Never seem to find the right time to sit down and do the blog thing. This weekend is a bit of respite from rushing the children around. My daughter has been doing a woodwork course on Saturdays during November but that has now finished. They have both been unwell with colds and coughs, so have missed a day at school. My son isn’t well enough to go swimming today, so we have had a pretty lazy day. We did go out and buy a new Christmas tree. We looked at the real ones first, I like real the natural trees but my wife was concerned about the cost and the space one would take up – even a short tree can have a big diameter near the bottom. So we bought a slim artificial tree in the end, it was reasonably inexpensive and came with it’s own lights and decorations. We had our own sets of lights and baubles but it’s always useful to have spare ones. The tree now looks nice, tall and compact in the corner of the room, pretty but also not taking up too much space of its own. I like Christmas trees, considering the tradition isn’t that old it is remarkably effective. I can’t imagine Christmas feeling the same at home without a tree. I’m not a great fan of corporate Christmas trees however, they feel a bit impersonal to me.

There is Christmas music in the shops now and on the radio. I see the big supermarkets have lots of party food in stock. It all looks good but is all very packaged and processed. I don’t feel very Christmassy at all I’m afraid. I hope I get the feeling soon.