Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Mr Adventures' Guide For The Newly Married Man

So, I have been married now for almost a whole year and feel suitably qualified now to inflict my opinion upon you, masquerading as advice for the casually interested.

This will be an occasional series, delivered when inspiration strikes me. As opposed to when Mrs Adventures strikes me. Then I'll mainly shut up.

So, on to today's gem.

Whilst laying in bed, your beautiful wife may tell you that she's going to  "look carefully at you while you're asleep."


She is just going to buy you something nice for Christmas and needs to estimate your size.

I hope.

If I haven't posted in the next week or so, please alert the authorities.


Some Bugger With A Torch

I am tired.

Work is insanely busy and my evenings consists of dismantling stuff, building stuff, swearing at stuff because it doesn't quite fit/hasn't been supplied/I've hit my thumb with a hammer AGAIN* or feeling guilty about not being fully engaged in one of the aforementioned activities (although to be honest, my level of guilt appears to be directly proportional to the level of wine left in my glass).

The length of my to do list for Shit I Don't Want To Do is getting alarmingly close to the length of my Shit I Am Desperate To Do. 

Christmas is hurtling towards me and I have yet to buy a single solitary present.

Worst of all, I've run out of decent whisky.


Work pays me good money to be stressed from time to time so I'll just suck it up. The last of the heavy lifting in the kitchen will be complete tomorrow so that will be a big chunk of my list. On the Christmas present front I'm sure I can rely on the glory that is eBay (purveyors of cheap shite to the gentry) and next year is as good a year as any to start in earnest on my Shit I Am Desperate To Do list.

Once again dear reader, in the space of a few paragraphs I find myself thinking that the glass is pretty well half full.

And if Santa thinks I've been a good boy it'll be half full of decent whisky.


Monday, 25 November 2013

"Can We Have Everything Louder Than Everything Else?"

The title of this post is a quote by Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, uttered during some tour in the 70s to one of the sound techs (they probably weren't called that back then) and it's always made me smile.

I am, however, beginning to suspect that someone, somewhere in the management structure of my current employer is a Deep Purple fan and is also familiar with this little gem.

I also suspect that he/she applies the same principles to objectives. 

"Everything is more important than everything else."

Whilst this works as a great remark in terms of music, the important part, the bit that really makes the whole statement a thing of beauty, is its inherent irony. I'm sure that even in the drug & alcohol fuelled 70s Mr Gillan was aware of the Escher-like qualities of his request and wasn't expecting the erstwhile sound guy to actually be able to deliver.

Hopefully when I take the metaphorical approach of just turning everything up to eleven they'll be satisfied and we can all go for a pint of Watney's Red Barrel.


Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Future's Not Ours To See

I have The Boy Wonder this weekend and he's as entertaining as ever. Here's an extract from the drive home on Friday night:

Me: So how's your week been, fella?

TBW: It's been really good, we went swimming at school and I got to dress up as a Roman when we went to Bosworth Battlefield*.

Me: Well it sounds like you had a pretty ace week then.

TBW: I'm having my best year ever.

Me: Wow! I didn't realise things were as good as that. Why the best year ever?

TBW: Well I'm learning interesting stuff at school and my arch-nemesis doesn't recognise me anymore**.

The Boy Wonder is 7.

I often wondered what TBW would be when he grew up. I'd hoped for something cool and well paid for him but I never figured on him being a superhero.


* - Yes, I know that The Battle of Bosworth was a civil war affair, but I guess they just had an offer on for the Roman outfits that day.

** - After further questioning it turns out that his arch-nemesis is in fact a girl who once stood on him whilst wearing roller skates, so I suspect it's less a case of not recognising him and more a case of not being interested in him. Besides, standing on someone whilst wearing roller skates is a pretty piss poor power for any self respecting super-villain. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


So, the training for the Nottingham Half Marathon went something like this:

Time to event: 6 months plus

  • Discuss idea with Mrs A and convince her it's a great idea.
  • Create training plan

Time to event: 3 months

  • Congratulate Mrs A on her continued steady 3-4 times a week runs.
  • Accept that original plan has been totally ignored.
  • Create new training plan based around new, shorter time to event.
Time to event: 1 month

  • Congratulate Mrs A on her continued steady 3-4 times a week runs.
  • Accept that revised plan has been totally ignored.
  • Decide to do one 10 mile run and, if that goes well, stop worrying about not having done any training. At all.
Time to event: 1 week

  • Congratulate Mrs A on her continued steady 3-4 times a week runs.
  • Accept that 10 mile run hasn't happened.
  • Think about carb-loading plan
  • Find trainers.
Time to event: 2 days

  • Go out on a works night out for a couple of colleagues who are leaving.
  • Get involved in numerous drinking games.
  • Roll home at 1:30am in the morning.
Time to event: 1 day

  • Deal with monstrous hangover.

And so, on the day of the event I stood on the startline with my beautiful wife. She was well prepared but nervous. I was horribly unprepared, untrained, non-carb-loaded, dehydrated but unrealistically optimistic. 

A few miles, a few hours and a few painful joints later a cheerful kid in combat fatigues standing just behind the finish line gave Mrs A and myself one of these each:

We also got a customary post-race bag of tat, but I ate the only things worth taking a photo of.

Was it worth the pain on the day? Absolutely.
Will we be doing it again any time soon? Not a chance.


Monday, 23 September 2013

No Snickering Please.

This weekend I am running again. It’s the Robin Hood half marathon in Nottingham (surprisingly enough) and I am massively ill-prepared.

When I ran the marathon I was very focussed indeed. I had a plan. I stuck to the plan come what may and the resulting statistics were something that I was quite proud of:
  • Miles: 480
  • Hours: 87
  • Calories: 58,000
This time around, although I had a jolly good plan, I exhibited all the self discipline of a labrador left in charge of a plate of sausages. Consequently the figures look a little* less confidence-inspiring:
  • Miles: 28
  • Hours: 5
  • Calories: 3,700
Add to this I have a very busy week this week, culminating with a leaving do for a couple of colleagues on Friday that will doubtless involve a sherbet or two and just possibly we are witnessing the genesis of a disaster.

But with all the misplaced confidence of a flamboyantly handlebar-moustachioed World War 1 General I am looking forward to standing on the start line on Sunday. I’m sure it’ll all be fine.


* - a lot.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Reasons Why Turkey Is Ace.

  • Why just import the leading brand get-pissed-quick alcohol for the holidaymakers when you can get a cheaper version with a name that will make it virtually indistinguishable from the original item and appeal to the Irish.
  • On the drive to the airport, on a major route (pretty much the equivalent of a major A road in the UK) there is a tunnel with single carriageway in each direction. The incline through the tunnel is quite steep and on the uphill entrance is a sign with a picture of a horse and cart with a line through it, just in case you were tempted. I presume that the downhill stretch doesn't have this sign on the basis that you can load your horse into the cart and keep up with the flow of traffic.
  • Of course four cars driving abreast will fit on a three lane road.
  • The maximum number of passengers allowed by law on a moped appears to be a complex equation involving figures ascribed to the bravery of the potential passengers multiplied by the rider's sense of balance/adventure. Livestock appear to be a null value.
  • If you fall off the edge of anything, you've only got yourself to blame.
  • Dolmus'. They're brilliant for any number of reasons but are even funnier when the English are involved.
Drinking a Martini of an evening as the sun goes down is pretty excellent too. Roll on the next one.


Saturday, 14 September 2013

The Devil doesn't wear Animal.

At the risk of sounding deeply effeminate, I have a question for you:

Do you think that shoes can convey emotion?

I do.

May I present exhibit A, my favourite pair.

They say 'happy'. And the sand-dusted dishevelledness says 'relaxed'.


Friday, 30 August 2013

A Bit Of A Trot.

Back when I started this blog I was right in the teeth of big long training runs in preparation for the London marathon. I would, 4 times a week, pull on my trusty trainers and run. My short runs at the time were 5 milers and the long runs by that point were between 15 and 20 miles.

Through wind and rain I ran, past most of Leicestershire’s  assorted weirdos, yappy dogs and (from time to time) hookers. And I enjoyed it in a perverse kind of way (the running, not the hookers). I even used to throw up from time to time, so I knew I was doing something right.

After the big day I decided to have a few weeks off my feet to let my knees and ankles recover, which turned into months. I tried to get myself started again, but just never quite made it stick. Oh, I know there are a million and one reasons that I could point to for not getting off my arse, but at the end of the day they’re all just excuses. I could have found the time if I’d put my mind to it.

So inspiration finally struck a few months ago when I had the bright idea of entering the Robin Hood half marathon.

It’ll give me the target I need to motivate me, I thought.

So far my training schedule has consisted of creating a spreadsheet detailing run distances and dates, taking account of rest days and tailoring long runs around when The Boy Wonder is with me. It really is rather good and has coloured in bits and everything I have entirely ignored this plan and instead opted for a handful of 3 mile jogs when the weather’s sunny/I can be arsed and a huge amount of sitting on a sofa looking out of the window.

Mrs A, on the other hand, has been steadily knocking off the miles on a weekly basis.

My current plan is to do a 10 miler sometime over the next few days and if I make that in one piece, not to sweat it. What could possibly go wrong?

So at the end of September I will be standing beside a focussed and prepared Mrs A at the start line in Nottingham with my usual ill-prepared cheeriness. Wish me luck, because I suspect I’ll need it.

Oh, and if you fancy adding to the pressure I’m trying to raise a few quid for a phenomenal local hospice called LOROS. They looked after my Dad in his last few days and were quite frankly ace. The link to my Just Giving page is here: https://www.justgiving.com/Robin-hood-half/


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Going Down.

Have you ever truly thought that you might not see the end of the day? Found yourself in a situation, however briefly, that you thought you might be about to become nothing more than a fading memory in the minds of your family and a few friends?

Here's one of mine.

It was several years ago (I think around January 2001) and I was out in the hills around Snowdonia with a good friend of mine. We'd started off in clear but cold conditions at sunrise with the intent of climbing three peaks on a circular route, with a couple of exposed ridges along the way for entertainment. We made good time and were sitting on our second summit by lunchtime. Teeth chattering from the cold, muscles burning from the strain of the climb I sat on a rock eating my customary squished cheese & tomato sandwich and Marsbar, looking out across the jagged country below us and watching the high altitude clouds cut across the clear blue of the sharp midwinter skies. All was good. We finished our lunch and dug out the map, plotted our course for the final ridge and peak. My buddy pointed out a useful emergency route off the mountain, should we need it, and I laughed at him for being such an old fart. We shouldered our packs and headed off.

We got to the tail end of the ridge (it's the one in the picture) about an hour later as the weather turned really bad. High winds and snow had come in quickly and the cloudbase had dropped below our altitude, making navigation very difficult. Once this had happened I came to realise that the distinction between 'old fart' and 'experienced' is a fine, but important, line and after a couple of minute's huddled conversation behind a rock we made the decision to use the emergency route.

Unfortunately the wind, snow, low temperatures and poor visibility, combined with our tiredness, lack of GPS and map-reading ineptitude led us to miscalculate our position. We thought that we were at the head of our emergency route down and not, as was about to become frighteningly obvious, the head of a steep gulley.

I was leading down, I remember the snow underfoot being extremely slippery and thinking that the ground was a lot steeper than I was expecting it to be. I had my doubts that we were in the right place and I turned to tell my mate that I thought we'd got it wrong and should go back up to flatter ground to recheck. As I turned my feet went from under me and faster than I could blink I was sliding down the gulley, speed increasing rapidly as gravity did its thing. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as thoughts flashed through my mind. I thought of the shiney new ice axe that was sitting in my garage at home and how useful it would would have been at that point. I thought about buying crampons. I thought about how GPS units didn't seem so expensive now.

Then, with the thought of the airy ridge we'd just crossed fresh in my mind, I thought about how it might feel to suddenly find myself being spat from the edge of a rockface and to be in freefall. It's fair to say this concentrated my mind fairly well on the problem in hand*.

I started jamming heels and elbows hard into the snow in an effort to slow down. I hit a rock and that slowed me enough that I could stop myself. Breathing and harsh ragged gasps I shuffled myself slowly and carefully towards a clump of grass sticking out of the snow, grabbed it like my life depended upon it and started to gather my thoughts, get myself together.

After a few seconds I heard my buddy calling me from further up the gulley. He'd watched me disappear down the slope at alarming speed and out of sight into the cloud. He'd been calling me for a couple of minutes without response and was turning his thoughts to how he should break it to my girlfriend of the time that I was now no more than a large stain at the bottom of a cliff when I finally responded. To my undying gratitude he climbed down after me, called me a twat, and we then set about climbing down via numerous waterfalls and scrambles to safer ground.

After we'd walked around a mile and a half back to the car, he broke the news about my leg. The rock that I'd hit had taken quite a chunk out of my waterproofs, trousers and leg. There was an impressive amount of blood and, now I was aware of it, an equally impressive amount of pain. My mate told me that if I made a mess of the upholstery in his car he'd give me some more injuries to worry about.

And then we were at the car. Once we were there I started laughing hysterically - I'd been in a few oh-my-god-this-is-it moments before, but this one was different because even after the initial drama was over we were still quite comprehensively in the shit and not really sure how the situation was going to pan out. Keeping it together for the couple of hours getting back to the car seemed to intensify the sense of relief and joy.

Since then I've become an older and wiser dog. I always take not just a map and compass, but also a GPS and spare batteries with me. The axe is no longer shiney (even though it hasn't been used in a few years now) and I have a much better pair of boots.

I still like a squished cheese sandwich and a marsbar though and my walking buddy is still equally cantankerous.

Happy days.


* - Even now, when I think of that moment, my palms get a bit clammy.....

Tuesday, 6 August 2013


As far back as I can remember, I have been searching for that elusive piece of wisdom that would be the keystone for living a full and happy life.

There have been a number of contenders over the years, but have quite often been too limited in their range of applicable real-world situations. For example, asking myself ‘what would James Bond do?’ may have been appropriate when trying to chat up the laydeez in a bar, or when clinging precariously to a rocky outcrop in North Wales. When faced with dealing with a long queue in the bank however, the resulting course of action would be at best inappropriate and probably illegal.

Others that have been tried on for size have either been a bit too vague (It is what it is), a bit too rigorous (Do or do not. There is no ‘try’) or a bit too aloof (Never look back, never explain and never apologise). I was beginning to think that the only way I would find true enlightenment would be to trek barefoot through the Nepalese wilderness and track down a mountain-top hermit with a baldy head, wispy beard and a distrust of all things material.

As it turns out, not so much.

Enlightenment is a four word sentence. But it gets better; it’s only the structure and middle section that’s fixed, giving the seeker of wisdom the opportunity to modify to suit the situation. It goes like this:

X The Fuck Y

Some examples:

“I’m having a bad day, things are going wrong and I’m upset.”
Cheer The Fuck Up.

“I seem to be making decisions that are quite poor, making my life more difficult as a result.”
Wise The Fuck Up.

“I’ve followed the ‘what would James Bond do’ philosophy in a bar and the lady who I have chatted up appears to have an angry burly husband.”
Sit The Fuck Down and Shut The Fuck Up
Run The Fuck Away

See? Works every time. Once the basics are mastered you can even move on to more complex arrangements, combining elements of ancient Latin wisdom. I currently favour ‘Carpe The Fucking Diem’.

If I could be arsed to eschew modern society, find a decent mountain and grow a wispy beard I would be legend.


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Handbags At Teatime

Generally on a Tuesday evening I can be found ambling up and down the aisles of our local Sainsbury's, daydreaming of doing something considerably more interesting than loading up a trolley full of groceries. I sometimes find things to amuse myself along the way (see herehere and here.) and, usually, the whole experience is just made a little less tedious as a result. No harm, no foul.

Sometimes, however, things go wrong. Badly wrong.

I was on the home run on this particular occassion, bakery behind me, heading for the freezer section and my boredom ratio was already well into the danger zone when she hove into view. She was a thirtysomething lady who we'd spotted earlier, heading towards us and carrying a fancy handbag. I know it was fancy because Mrs A had commented as such, but I could have probably taken an educated guess as she was carrying it on her arm (rather than it being slung in the trolley with the couscous) in the manner of ladies that are pleased with their handbag. That strange walk with the bag slung in the crook of her arm, wrist up and outwards to the side as though she was carrying an invisible tray. Every time I've seen this walk performed before the person involved wasn't having to control an errant shopping trolley at the same time, which was clearly a tricky skill to master.

I know this because I had a go myself after we'd passed her (sans fancy handbag) and almost ended up putting the shopping trolley into the frozen peas. As I said, boredom levels were dangerously high by this point.

Mrs A gave me a playful dig in the ribs, told me to behave and I chuckled my way to the end of the aisle where I waited as she grabbed some stuff from the freezer.

There was a noticeable determined click-clack of angry high heels along the aisle that we'd just come up and, with hindsight, this was the point at which I should have abandoned the shopping and run.

Mrs Fancy-Handbag had come back. And she was cross.

I stood very still, hoping that her vision might be movement based*, but apparently not. She asked if I made a habit of taking the rise out of people in the supermarket and gave me a really first class telling off. I did the only thing I could do under the circumstances - I apologised.

This just made her madder.

She embarked on quite an impressive rant that culminated with her telling me to grow up and calling me a dick. I half heartedly told her that there was no need to use that kind of language and that was that. She click-clacked angrily away towards the bagels.

Mrs A looked disappointed and the moral of this sorry tale hit me with blinding clarity. A moment of epiphany to rival Saul on the road to Damascus:

Never stop for fishfingers.


* - Well, it worked with the velociraptors in Jurassic Park

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Insert Interesting Title Here

I find myself in a peculiar and quite unusual predicament.

I have a list of things to record for posterity as long as your arm at the moment. Some funny, some nostalgic, some just plain weird. Content is not my issue.

No. My issue is not being able to find a place to start, finding a flow to the jumble of stuff that's in my head just now. Maybe it's because I've not really blogged so much of late, maybe it's because I've just hit a rich seam of sitting on my arse and not doing stuff.

I'm sure once the dam is breached I'll find my voice again and it'll all find its way merrily into the ether, where it can be duly ignored by the world at large, read only by the beautiful and rich of spirit. Yup, that's you.

So, what should I write first?

  • The Dangers Of Acting The Goat In The Supermarket or Fury Has A Fancy Handbag.
  • The Quick Way Down or A Salutary Tale Of Knowing Where You Stand.
  • Argh! My Eyes! or It's Not Just The UV Rays You Need To Worry About.

I'd appreciate a bump to get me going. Your thoughts, as always, would be most welcome.


Tuesday, 18 June 2013


One of the main features of having hair like mine is that I don’t really have much choice in haircuts. At best I have two options that I can select from.

a) - Short
b) - Afro 

Unfortunately my job precludes the latter so I’m pretty well down to one. The big benefit of having a haircut that is described to the prospective contractor as a single digit number is that pretty well anyone can do it and therefore, rather than having to select my barber based on skill and ability to execute complex coiffuring techniques, I can choose based on entertainment value alone.

I used to go to a top establishment just around the corner from where my office was located. The guy who ran the joint had a number of enormous racy artworks on the wall that would’ve got Christian Grey’s approval and piano in the shop that was given to him by an elderly neighbour for reasons that were never made clear. He would regularly stop midway through running the clippers over my head to have a shot on the bongos at the back of the shop. This is not a euphemism. Conversations ran from drunken archery exploits to lurid fights with landlords.

After I’d left to get A Real Job, it just wasn’t feasible to get to his shop anymore and I had a spell at a normal hairdressers with normal people and normal conversations. Then I found a new home.

I knew it was right for me from the very first haircut. The guy doing my hair spoke almost no English as far as I could tell. I held up three fingers, he nodded, smiled and went for the clippers. A good start. The TV in the corner of the shop was playing Bhangra and as he clippered away at my head he decided to join in enthusiastically with the singing and the dancing and teh shoulder-waggling, all whilst mostly avoiding my ears. Lovely.

So last weekend I took The Boy Wonder to get a haircut. I explained to the chap that I would like his hair to be reasonably short at the back and sides, but still with a bit of length on the top, just a bit of tidying up and some left on the fringe please. He smiled and with a look that said “Certainly sir, number 3 it is”, reached for the clippers and set to work.

I sat in the waiting chair, and free from the fear of losing an ear to the clippers for the first time, actually took a good look around the shop. The TV was playing a music video that was like a cross between a Kanye West video and a Bollywood movie – unfortunately the lyrics were entirely lost on me but the gist of the song appeared to revolve around a lovely lady who needed to decide which man was right for her – the wealthy business man, the shy geek, or the bad boy. In the end the surprise winner was a chappy with a six pack, a jacket with no armpits and a penchant for wearing every primary colour at the same time (I assume he was he pop star responsible for the video). It was ace.

Next to the TV was a large LED sign with the legend “Now Servig” (sic).

After a few minutes the bewildered but freshly shorn Boy Wonder was offered a lollypop. He still had a fringe of sorts, which I took to be a small victory, so we paid and headed for the door. As we were leaving I overheard the next occupant of the chair explaining that that he was a huge fan of Formula One racing and was going to watch next weekend. He went on to ask if the barber could clip “Button” into the back of his hair to show his support for Jenson. As we reached the door I looked back over my shoulder to see our man flashing his best “Number 3 Sir” smile and reaching for the clippers.

So If you see an angry looking chap in the crowds with “Go Jimson Bitten” writ large in the back of his hair, you’ll know why.


Thursday, 30 May 2013


"I've come to know that memories are the best things you'll ever have.*"

Tonight, sitting here on the balcony, a couple of beers to the good and a vodka and lemonade by my side, I'm shrouded in darkness and watching the steady Turkish stars, whilst listening to Ben Howard's album 'Every Kingdom', via some rather good knock-off headphones from the market. My hippy credentials are finding their voice. 

It speaks to me metaphorically of my teenage world (hot sand on toes/cold sand in sleeping bags**).

It hints at the hard times (this apathy you feel/makes a fool of us all***)

It speaks to me of redemption (I saw a friend the other day/ he said that my eyes were gleaming"****).

It speaks to me about the beautiful life and fantastic wife I have now (you give me shelter/you show me heart"*****)

It's a musical masterpiece that seems to chart my time on the planet to date. I'm sure Ben is currently working on That Difficult Second Album and wondering why it's turning out so relentlessly cheery.

And tomorrow the stars will still be here, my glass will be empty and my head will ache. And all will be right in the world. 


* & ** - Old Pine

*** - The Fear

**** -  Keep Your Head Up

***** - OnlyLove

Thursday, 2 May 2013


I've been on a bit of an unintentional sabbatical from my blog over the last few months. family stuff, house buying and work stuff have all conspired to make me feel, on regular occasions, that I have been at the very epicentre of an explosion in the WTF factory and as a consequence I haven't really be posting much.

However, I think things may have turned the corner. Yesterday we (hopefully) agreed a completion date for our new home and  today is a gloriously sunny day. Even though at this moment I am sitting at my new desk in the office*, I know that tomorrow Mrs A and I will be heading North for a long weekend seeing friends and generally whooping it up. This makes me very cheerful indeed. I am aware that after today there may be little more sunshine to be seen until next week but to be honest I expect that the we will be mostly observing the weather through the window of coffee shops/galleries/cafes/restaurants or pubs.

I may even take a photograph or two.


* - It's a fancy corner desk by the windows, some have said the best seat in office. Guess who was drafted in to do some work when the bigwigs decided to rejig the seating plan on our floor.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013


The lady I currently sit next to at work is a source of great amusement to me. Today she was in the mood to dispense advice.

In a Zen-like exchange, never ceasing from the keyboard tippety-tapping that comprises her job, she delivered a beautiful, succinct credo. Something that a chap can rely on in dark hours. A rock to anchor the psyche to.

"Cheer the fuck up."



Tuesday, 16 April 2013


Last week I buried my second father.

Shirl, for that was his name, was a huge character. Not in a hugely gregarious, in-your-face kind of way, but he collected people as he wound his way through life. He seemed to have a very easy way with almost everyone he met and people in the main couldn't help but like him. Not least of all, me.

The circumstances that we were introduced to each other were far from perfect, he and The Mum got together at the cost of my Dad and I held him responsible for quite a while. At on point The Mum was genuinely of the opinion that I was going to shoot him (the fact that I didn't own any kind of firearm or even have the first clue where to get one didn't seem to get in the way of the theory).

But the thing was, he and The Mum loved each other hugely and I took the view that it wasn't for me to stand in judgement or shout the odds - and this point of view, looking back, was facilitated mainly by my Dad's almost superhuman efforts to never bad-mouth anyone.

Years went by and he became part of us as a family. He was funny, warm, kind and just great friend. When my relationship of many years broke down he said things to me that meant the world. I will miss his advice and his company.

That's him, on the right. With the fancy shorts.

Cheerio Shirl, it was an honour to know you.


Monday, 4 March 2013

Every Day's a School Day.

Ah, The Boy Wonder.

He was with us last weekend and there was a pretty good exchange of life lessons.

For my part, I educated him in the value of never making a bet that you can't be sure of winning. I had to drop him off for one of his many social engagements on Saturday and on the way we stopped off to buy some blinds for a couple of the bedrooms. He was convinced that they wouldn't fit in the boot of the car. I was pretty sure they would* but he was like a dog with a bone with the idea as we ambled back across the busy Saturday-afternoon-shopping-centre-carpark.

"OK" I said, in my best Wiley Old Fox tones, "if you're so sure I'll make a bet with you. If they won't fit in the boot I will do the Gangnam Style dance in the carpark. If they do, you have to do it."

He considered for a moment, but the prospect of his dad making an arse of himself in  the middle of the Saturday Shopping Experience was too much for him to let go. He stuck out his hand and we shook.

After a few moments of panicked jiggling and some judiciously applied force, the boot lid shut and I grinned at him.

Yes I made him do it. I now know that the dance is even funnier when performed by a seven-year old with an expression on his face that just says 'one day I will pick your care home'.

It wasn't all one way on the learning front though. I now know that it is possible to burp your way through the entire alphabet. Apparently Q is the most difficult letter.

I am a proud father indeed.


* - OK, OK, it hadn't even crossed my mind that they might not actually fit in the car until they were bought, paid for and TBW raised the notion as we walked back to the car.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Independents Day

Last night Mrs A and I went out, sans enfants, to see a funny guy that I have laughed at for many years.

The guy in question is a chappy called Adam Buxton and it’s kind of hard to describe what he does – I guess he’d be best described as an indie comedian. He’s been in a few sitcoms, he used to have a TV show called The Adam & Joe Show back in the 90s, and hosts a show from time to time on 6 music. I guess you could say that what he does best is to find the quirks and oddities in the world (quite often via weirdness’ spiritual home, The Internet) and brings it to your attention. He quite often adds to the planet’s peculiarities with his own video and musical concoctions. His stuff quite often reduces me to tears of laughter.

I felt like I was out on a limb with this particular gig as Mrs A quite likes clever comedy and this is what I can only describe as ‘juvenile’. Which is just why I like it. But given how much I wanted to see him live and the fact that the tickets were cheap, I thought it was worth a punt.

The evening got off to an excellent start at a small independent restaurant. I had a steak which was delicious. Mrs A had a tian of Mediterranean vegetables, on the basis that it was the only choice on the menu for vegetarians. The waitress clearly didn’t know what the feck a tian was and the chef clearly didn’t know what the feck a Mediterranean vegetable was, so a bowl of carrots and green beans in tomato sauce arrived. To be honest I like my menus to be presented in a language other than Bollocks, but if they are going to insist on using £5 words they should at least ensure the staff understand them.

After that we headed off to the indie cinema for the show. We ambled in and found ourselves a couple of seats. Eventually the turn bounded onto the stage and started to chat about the show. He informed us cheerfully that this wasn’t going to be a stand up comedy gig as such, more a collection of music videos that he’d found and thought were interesting for various reasons.


Although I’m quite keen on finding new music I’m fairly mainstream in my tastes and the thought of sitting for two hours in a darkened cinema with a bunch of bearded 30-something hipsters all muttering approvingly about the ‘obvious influences of the late 90’s acid-rave-dub scene on the middle eight of this track, yeah?’ didn’t fill me with excitement. Also, I felt bad that I’d dragged Mrs A along to suffer such nonsense. Her view on music is quite binary:

  • She loves it


  • It’s unutterable shite.

I braced myself for an uncomfortable couple of hours. I needn’t have worried.

The show opened with a version of the Chanel/Brad Pitt advert that was pretty weird to begin with but had been doctored so that Buxton’s mouth had been blended in with Brad’s face. After a couple of minutes of watching Brad smouldering to camera whilst singing about poo the whole audience was giggling like schoolchildren. The tone was set.

From there we went through a rollercoaster ride of videos featuring gay virtual footballers, angry songs about having a beard, adverts for redneck taxidermists, white guys rapping whilst cooking pancakes and songs about mouse droppings in your cereal, periodically reading through the comments feed on Youtube in silly voices. Eventually, after the frankly obscene denouement to the Brad Pitt ad, we wandered out of the cinema still chuckling happily.

Although I have to say I was, like, totally disappointed by the complete lack of examination of the overarching themes of grimestep influences, yeah?


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Days Like These

Today was a day that I was really not looking forward to. Really not looking forward to.  All the hallmarks were there - too many meetings this morning, spaced too far apart geographically, with (in one case) people I really don't care for.

but, as these things go, the Taoists were right as always. There was yin and yang all over the shop.

I had to drive to Slough, which is a bit much to ask of anyone to be perfectly honest, but my company provided a car for me to hurtle down the motorway in.

Some time ago I realised that I had two choices when getting cars provided for going out on business (I'm not enough of a bigshot to warrant a company car of my own). The route chosen by most of my colleagues (and indeed pushed quite heavily by the company) is that a hire car courtesy of Alamo is provided. This is invariably an Astra, or if you're lucky, an Insignia.

But there is another way.

If you're nice to the secretaries, if they take a shine to you, you can get access to the poolcars. These are cars that have been provided to erstwhile employees of the company who have now left. As a result of a fairly relaxed company car policy, it's quite a 'roll the dice' kind of strategy. there is a risk of getting a clapped out Golf estate that smelled like it had been driven for three years by a chainsmoking salesrep with poor personal hygiene (Manchester, November), but you just may get a shiny Jaguar in a jaunty colour (not managed that yet, but I live in hope). Today's car made my heart sink when I got the news. A Skoda.

The thing was huge. I grew to like it a lot as I hurtled down the M1. It had cruise control, a stereo that made my shirt sleeves vibrate in a most amusing way and a lovely sense of being at the bridge of a road-going container ship. But best of all was its Assisted Parking system. Basically you just have to get the thing alongside a space, press the button, stick it in reverse and let it do its thing.

Due to my absolute confidence in technology and the sure and certain knowledge that it wasn't my car, I used it to park with a speed and decisiveness that quite surprised a pedestrian and her small dog. As I whizzed backwards into the space at an alarming pace I sat and watched, transfixed, as the steering wheel span wildly, sensors chirped and The Barge parked itself.

The meeting was OK, I drove home and got caught up in huge traffic jam which was a bit tedious, but I amused myself by playing I-spy with myself. I won a couple of rounds too, so I didn't feel my time was entirely wasted.

Last stop before getting home was a quick run through Sainsbury's to pick up some bread. It was made considerably better by listening to The Darkness as I wandered aound the aisles. I'm sure Justin Hawkins would've enjoyed the irony.

So a Yin & Yang kind of a day all round. Some things went my way, some didn't, but given how little I'd expected from today when I got out of bed this morning, I'll take today's score thank you very much.


Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Mr. Whitworth Was Right.

I love a bit of fancy design as much as the next man, I truly do. Even though my engineer’s outlook makes me fundamentally unskilled in producing things of beauty I can honestly be moved by good design. May I draw your attention to several Ducati motorcycles, an Aston Martin or two and most of the classical architecture of Glasgow.


However, much as I can appreciate aesthetic innovation, I worship at the altar of Good Engineering Practice and one of the most fundamental tenets of engineering is standardisation. Standardisation is, in its own way, beautiful too. It’s the reason that your USB stick fits any laptop you may need to use. It’s the reason that when you hop into a new car the brake pedal is just where you expect it to be. It’s the reason that soldiers look like soldiers and not Gok Wan.


Simple, functional beauty.


So why has nobody shared this wonderful principle with the people who design men’s pants?


Please consider Fig. 1. below:


I’m genuinely not worried whether they decide upon system A, B, or C for access to Stephen and the twins when I need a leak, but just pick one ferchrissakes. Great embarrassment can be caused to a fellow standing at the urinals, rummaging about in the trouser department trying to work out whether the access route is Vertical/Vertical (A), Vertical-Horizontal (B) or just hoik the waistband down (C). The situation is exacerbated by the very fact that you need to take a wizz and consequently;


i) you are time-limited




ii) Your concentration is elsewhere.


This would never have happened on Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s watch.



Saturday, 9 February 2013

Bread & Butter In The Gutter

Today is The Boy Wonder’s seventh birthday.

This year’s had a lot of change for him and he’s coped with it all incredibly well. I am constantly amazed by his capability to remember infinite detail about things that interest him and entirely forget the blindingly obvious if it doesn’t.

This year we have built volcanoes and rockets, we have constructed starships and huge robot warriors. We have fought battles as deadly ninja enemies and concocted secret handshakes known only to ourselves.

With every year that passes the achievements and goals become bigger and more exciting. I watch him grow in all senses with a mixture of pride and excitement and curiosity and trepidation. In that order.

Happy birthday Sunshine. We still have our appointment with mountains, figurative and real.


Monday, 4 February 2013


Back in the swirling mists of time, on one of our very first dates, Mrs A and I found ourselves in a cookware shop. I like to think of myself as a bit of a foodie and love such places. This one is a fine example of the genre, being located in the upmarket (for Leicestershire) town of Market Harborough and is choc full of food mixers in jaunty colours with heart attack-inducing pricetags, chef’s knives so sharp that they’ll relieve you of a finger faster than you can say “Ambulance please” and sufficient beautifully designed pointless gadgets in primary colours to fill the junk drawers of even the most spacious kitchens.

Middle aged women wandered hither and thither, fondling Cath Kidston teatowels and dreamed of their shabby chic kitchen in their seaside cottage, middle aged men stroked fancy coffee machines and wondered if their wives would look at them in the same way they look at George Clooney in the Nespresso ads if they bought one. The shop hummed with the hushed, polite exchanges of ‘excuse me’ and ‘oops, sorry’ that comes from having too many well-to-do folk in a restricted space.

And then I saw them.

Hanging from a wall at the rear of the shop were a number of designer teacosies. Something primal in my man-brain took over and I was drawn to them like a bee to nectar. I selected a particularly bright example, plonked it on my head and turned round grinning.

Mrs A looked genuinely horrified and thus I learned that her acceptable level for @rsing about in public was considerably lower than mine.

Fast forward to last Friday. I was sitting at my desk beavering away at high-powered stuff* when a picture message arrived from Mrs A. She was taking The Tall Guy to get some new clothes and was in M&S. The photo was taken in the swimwear department of M&S and depicted Mrs A wearing a surprisingly large polka dot bikini top. On her head.

I like to think that it’s a charming example of how close we’ve become, you may think that she’s been staring into the abyss for a little too long.

And me? How have I adopted Mrs A’s foibles? Moved towards her sensibilities?

Well, last night I signed up for a book group. Between my surprisingly short attention span and my reading speed in line with people who are likely to be aiming to finish the book to get a gold star from their teacher, I can’t see it ending well. But I bet it’ll be entertaining.


* - Probably drinking coffee and/or talking to my delightfully bonkers assistant.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Fancy A Swift Half?

Tonight I pulled on my running shoes for the first time in a long long time. It felt good to be out again.

To be honest it was quite tough, there's been too many pies and wine and beer and biscuits for me to be straight back into the level I used to view as 'steady'. A short 2 miler that once served as a warm up and I could feel it. Not in my legs so much as my chest, to be honest I'm not quite sure what to make of this. I pushed myself moderately but not to anything approaching intense levels in either distance or speed (2 miles, 9.5 minute miles), but I guess it's a case of building back up slowly.

And I love the calmness of mind that comes when fitness and exertion balance. My mind is a wonderful/scary/bizarre/hilarious thing at the best of times but when I'm fit enough that legs and lungs just get on with it as the miles pass it tends to amuse itself with all sorts of peculiar stuff. On long runs in the past I have considered an array of stuff from the colour of smurfs to the secret commercial lives of large houses. I love the mental space to sort through a few of my trickier personal issues (yes, there are a few).

So the motivation for running in the dark and blustery rain? There's so many, but of particular interest is my propensity to eat cake and watch the tellybox. That, and I'm thinking I might fancy a half marathon later on this year, but we'll see on that.

In other news my blog is now just over 2 years old now. I really must read through a few old posts at some point, a lot has changed since Post Zero.


Sunday, 20 January 2013


This morning was glorious. We spent the morning in bed, eating toast and drinking coffee and watching the snow fall outside our window. I wrestled with the Sunday Times sudoku, Mrs A trawled t'internet for a new house. After a while we played the 'No Maximum Budget' game on Rightmove.

We've learnt that we're not really aristocratic enough to suffer the stately home decor horror that is a £2m plus house. The £11m pile that we saw was beyond horrific.

Our happy hunting ground appears to be around the £1m to £1.5m properties. Mrs A leans towards the classy Victorian sympathetically restored property, I lean towards the Drug Dealer Chic end of the spectrum.

There was one property that piqued our interest, a large detached place that was on the market for around £500k, clearly worth significantly more, but 'priced to move'. We talked about making an offer based on our finances (which are somewhat adrift from this by a significant margin), briefly laughed like lunatics and had another coffee.

In the afternoon we painted the kitchen which now tone quite nicely in line with most of the rest of the downstairs, had a couple of glasses of wine and a bowl of pasta. 

All of which is a pretty good way to spend your day.

My fuckwit ex also had an input to our day, by way of making my son's life pretty miserable. Mrs A was, quite frankly, incredible but given the system's indifference to fathers being given equal billing, I am struggling to see how I can sort this out for him*


* - This'll probably be deleted soon. I think.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013


Back when I was a lad and it was all fields around here, I was a died-in-the-wool petrolhead. Although most of my weekly adrenaline fix was delivered by lairy motorbikes, I also had a penchant for ‘entertaining’ cars too. My garage ran, at various points, from classic convertibles to battered landrovers to the ubiquitous hot hatches of the 80s & 90s. I even owned a Second World War tank recovery truck for a few hours at one point. They were all hugely impractical, often dangerous (at least in my hands), and immensely fun.

As time moved on and baggy jeans & hightops were replaced by business suits and briefcases, my rides became less fun. MPG became more important than MPH, insurance groups more important than power-to-weight ratios and a succession of cars were bought more for reasons of practicality and economic prudence than entertainment value. The advent of The Boy Wonder meant that Cubic Metres in the load area outranked Cubic Centimetres in the engine. All this culminated in my first (and probably only) company car being a Volvo V70. It shifted small children and large children and boxes of safety boots and me and Mrs A all over the shop in great comfort, but it would never be described as ‘exciting’.

All that changed earlier in the  year when I decided to get a job that just needed me to transport myself and a briefcase to the office most days. Encouraged by Mrs A*, back in the spring I bought a car that would have had my teenage self hopping from foot to foot with delight. I bought a 2 seater convertible.

It’s been a hoot through spring, summer and autumn. My 40 mile round trip to the office has been brilliant, careening through the backroads of Leicestershire with the roof down on a warm summer evening is just ace. It even has a ‘Sport’ button on the dashboard, the main function of which appears to be the scaring of shite out of the driver, passenger and oncoming traffic. Lovely.

Yesterday morning however, it snowed.

As I pulled off the drive to go to work and headed down to the main road things were looking bad. Every time I went anywhere near the accelerator, the dashboard would light up like a demented Christmas tree as the car’s various electronic nannies tried to stop it from wheelspinning straight into the nearest lamppost. Once upon a time I'd have thought that such electronic trickery was for wusses, switched it all off and pirouetted my way to work with merry abandon. However, with the benefit of experience and the reaction times of a 42 year old man to work with, I decided to leave everything switched on and approach the accelerator pedal in much the same way as one would approach an unexploded bomb.

Once onto the main roads, things were a lot easier, my journey to work was uneventful and I arrived in one piece at the office carpark, just me and my briefcase. Only my briefcase (complete with laptop) wasn't in the car. Being honest, I was convinced the car would end up in a ditch long before getting to work and I’d been so intent on putting my hiking gear in the boot that I'd forgotten to put my bloody briefcase in too.

There’s a lesson here for us all, kids. The lesson is this:

When you have an inappropriate car, all journeys are entertaining.


* - Although I’m not sure she thought I would actually be daft enough to actually buy the thing.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


Warning: This post is a mush-fest. You have been warned.


What a day.

30.12.12 will be a day I remember until I draw my final breath. It was the day I got married.

It was a day of close friends and family, of heartfelt words and glittery eyes, of the start of adventures and a shared story and I loved it all. Every. Single. Minute.

The hotel we were married at in Glasgow was just fantastic from start to finish. They gave us a suite with a bath in the bedroom (just my kind of bonkers) and supplied a steady stream of celebrities for us to gape at over breakfast/dinner. The staff there were brilliant in keeping everyone happy/delivering gifts/keeping surprise kilts under wraps. We told them that my parents were to be referred to at all times as Lord and Lady (insert surname here) at all times, which they stuck to fastidiously despite the initial looks of bewilderment from The Mother and protestations from my stepfather. The Mother loved it.

And on the day of the wedding after walking a mile to Kelvingrove in the pissing rain, walking back in sunshine(ish) and getting dressed in a kilt with the boys despite being English, I wandered down to the the hotel bar, had a whisky and waited for people to arrive.

Friends and family started appearing, warm words and smiles were in abundant supply, various official people asked me lots of questions, to which I often didn't have a clue what the correct answer would be. So I smiled and said 'yes' a lot, which seemed to make the official people happy and move things along quite nicely.

The Girls both looked beautiful - classically elegant in the case of the eldest and edgy and cool in the case of the youngest who wore navy blue Converse trainers with her bridesmaid's dress. Elder daughter did a reading for us that reduced most of the guests, us and to large extent, herself, to tears, such was the warmth with which it was read. This despite having told me on reading the poem a couple of nights before the wedding "Well I'll read it, but you should know that inside I'll be pulling this face." She pulled a fingers-down-the-throat-sicky-face. I laughed and promised not to tell her mum.

The boys both looked ace in their kilts. The eldest liked the cut of the jacket, the youngest loved the Sgian Dubh. They both liked the Jaffa Cakes that I'd put in the sporrans for them. Eldest boy gave his mum away and youngest was my best man. They both did sterling work.

And the bride looked stunning. Properly stop-you-in-your-tracks stunning. As soon as she walked into the room I could only see her. She smiled and everything was right in the world.

So we said our vows (for my part in several different voices, some of which I have ocaasionally used before in emotional moments, but most of which were a surprise even to me), we exchanged our rings, signed the register and got the living bajeezus photographed out of us, before retiring to the bar for a drink or two. Or three.

Dinner came and went in a blur of speeches, fondant this and reduction that, wines and coffees.

Then my real Moment Of Truth. The first dance. I did my best and shuffled around as best I could. My beautiful wife made it easy for me although the pirouettes worried me.

We spent the rest of the evening getting photographed, laughing with friends, getting photographed, chatting with family, getting photographed, dancing, eating bacon sarnies, getting photographed, wondering where the kids were, snatched moments and coruscating smiles with the love of my life.

And all too soon the day was done.

So the woman who came into my life as The Future Mrs Adventures and then became The Imminent Mrs Adventures, is now Mrs Adventures (or am I Mr Auntiegwen?) and I am the happiest man on the face of the Earth.