Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Hasta Luego

Clocking in for the very last time
But really I clocked out long ago
Dreaming of better places now
Not bound by their chains, you know

So I hope to visit sunnier climes
To smell and taste coffee
That's the thought that makes me tick
It's the only thing I can see

When stuck in a hot, hot room
With those that just don't understand
What the world could really look like
How it could be so very grand

Can't bear to hear their blinkered view
Won't step outside the box
The super highway that I'd build
Is filled with their road blocks

Some places here I know I'll miss
And some people too, indeed
But I know how and where to find them
When I feel the need

So I'll clock out from lovely Bolton
Laters, good night, god bless
Goodbye substantial, adios deficient
Hasta luego to the stress

Good luck Sir B

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Walk

So we took a late stroll by the pool and you told me you were sad. It was never my intention to make you feel so bad. I looked across the water in the fading light, and realised, once again, you were so right. I wanted always to make you laugh, make you smile, though I knew it wouldn't happen all the while.  I never ever wanted to hurt you babe, or see you cry, yet there you were with a tear running from your eye.

I took your hand and we wandered on, and I wondered where sometimes our love had gone.  For there and then a mountain stood between our hearts, but before I'd always been able to read the charts. Navigate my way back in to your arms and love, as if guided by a helping hand from above.  But this time it seemed the gulf was huge, so deep and wide, or was it my blinkered view or stupid pride?  I struggled for the touch to give, the words to say, and that's not me, not on any normal day.  But your hand in mine felt precious and warm, like it would protect me from any rain or storm.  I held fast not wanting to ever let go, for you're the one for me, you're my one, you know. 

As we walked and talked the feelings left me some, as we watched the clouds being coloured by the setting sun.  The distance between us shrank though there was still some space, I could see the miles as I looked in to your face.  But time we have and time is here, and I just have to keep you close, hold you near.  And as the minutes turn to hours and days, I pray we'll return to us, you and me, our special ways.


So I’m not everything that I could be
Every morning in the mirror it’s still me
Wondering and wishing for something more
That little extra that niggles from my core
A world, a town, a better place
Smoother skin on shaven face
Things that seem so very small
But would make me feel so very tall
And bring a smile to those close at heart
Those from whom I never want to part
I just don’t see what makes them grin
Stuck with grumpy me and all my din
Want them to smile from their very soul
I know that it would make me whole
How do I lift my game, you know
To let them know I love them so
How do I stop from being, well, me
It’s not who I really want to be

Monday, 28 June 2010

The Question

Ever asked yourself a question
And no one replied at all
The silence left you cold
Ever been left wondering
And knew deep down inside
That you'd never be so bold

To ask what wrong turn you made
What words had done the harm
To stop your insides churning away
Please reinstate the calm

I can't really concentrate
I'm thrown from my usual stride
Confidence is missing
Lacking all my pride

I'm waiting with my question
But there's no one here to ask
Not one can put me right
I'll stay here contemplating
Just like always so it seems
Through the long and lonely night

Can I put that turn behind me?
Stop looking at the past
Focus always on the forwards
It's approaching really fast

There's a whole world right beside me
I don't want to miss the fun
So I'll draw the line here and now
That's it, enough, I'm done

Friday, 25 June 2010

The Inquisition

In a change to usual programming, I've been tagged by Kailexness to complete The Inquisition, a series of questions designed to tell you more about me, and may be, tell me more about me.  These are all questions that she chose as part of the tag. We will see who learns the most.

1. Which (in)famous person (alive or dead) would you like to take out to dinner, where would you go and what would you like to talk about? 
Wow, this is not an easy one to narrow down - I always wonder if meeting someone like David Niven, Marilyn Munroe, Dean Martin or Humphrey Bogart would ruin the image I hold of them, but that's the risk you take. I'll go for Munroe and with her sitting opposite me the food would be irrelevant. I'd let her do all the talking, I'd be too captivated to untie my tongue.

2. What is the best gift someone could give you (tangible please)
I've always wanted to drive an F1 car and these days for several thousand pounds you can.  That or a sky-dive, I'd love to free-fall for several thousand feet just for fun. Either would do a treat. My birthday is in 4 months, you should start saving now......

3. Where in the world would you most like to live?
We were lucky to travel round the world in 2009 as part of winning a trip to New Zealand.  Whilst I loved Sydney and Hawaii, Nelson in the north of New Zealand's South Island was a beautiful place, relaxed, and I imagine what England was like 40 years ago. Nelson would be perfect for me. It also nicely meets my life-time ambition of living by the sea. Sorry Kailua, you were beautiful though, as you can see.

4. What do you most enjoy cooking?
You know, I don't think I have a favourite dish. I love cooking and am the resident chef at 'Dropped Towers'. I love experimenting, making something out of nothing, and learning as I go. Sorry if this seems a cop-out, but it's true.

5. What is your favourite Novel?
 I'm a fiction fan and whilst Ludlum, Herbert and Clancy spring to mind, I'll go slightly left-field and say John Barth's 'The Tidewater Tales'. It's a strange mix of story-telling and poetry writing that's as difficult to get in to as it is to put down. I've not sold this to you, have I?

6. You have your own personal Tardis, where do you go first?
The end of the dinosaurs please. For all the horror of a meteor slamming itself in to the planet and killing virtually all life, it's something that must be seen to be believed. 

7. How old is the inner you?
Young, very. I think sometimes the kids act older than me - I am definitely the youngest in the house so about 5, may be slightly less.

8. Theatre or Cinema?
Theatre. My college days were totally occupied by theatre studies, and I did both acting and technical side. I love seeing actors in their natural environment, mistakes and all. They are only human, after all.

9. Would you be famous, with all that means?
I'm always amazed when people say "I want to be famous" I firmly believe you have to be famous for doing something like acting, music or sports - you cannot be famous because you go to all the best parties and the press throws your name about. I'd love to be a professional sportsman or in a band, and if that meant I was famous then so be it. I'd love to do something I love for a living. Guess I'd have to learn to live with what came with it. Hopefully.

10. You are able to learn anything at all, a skill, a language, whatever, what would it be and why?
I was always terrible at languages, but taught myself Spanish by audio not too long ago. So now it would have to be kite-surfing. In Hawaii I watched with open mouth as the guys flashed past with kite towing them on their smal boards, zooming over the waves.

So that's my ten, and my inquisition complete, I hope. Many thanks to Kailexness for the tag. It was fun and really made me think harder than I thought it would be.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Friday, 18 June 2010

And all that stares back at me
Is the darkness of the room
Before the dawn wipes away
The early-hours gloom

Soft breathing gently fills the air
So I know I’m not alone
A mummer here, a shuffle there
In the place I call my home

Why do you call to me so little?
Ask me to rest my weary head
Wrest me away from all my thoughts
Call me to slumber in my bed

What reason did you choose me
Above all others that I know?
I rage against your everything
You drag me down so very low

Sometimes it’s good to feel this way
But more than often not
The daylight is approaching fast
I know I’ll have soon forgot

How you made me feel lying here
How I despise your very soul
Please let me be, leave me be
Send sleep to make me whole

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Diary of a Stay-At-Home Dad

Don't know if i've told you
Or you've heard the latest news
My work at work is done now
And I've slightly got the blues

You see I've been working all my life
Virtually every single day
So it seems a little weird now
That I get to stay at home and play

I'm looking forward to summer
Spending the holidays with the kids
And getting away from spreadsheets
Or some other type of grids

But when they are at school
And I've dropped them off to stay
I feel just so useless
Like there's no reason to my day

I have a list of things to do
And believe me it is long
But my get up and go has got up and left
Is that so very wrong?

I just don't seem to have a purpose
In the hours they are away
I'm just so used to deadlines and meetings
I don't understand another way

Please don't think poorly of me
Hope you don't think that I'm bad
I knows so many of you would love
To be a stay-at-home dad

Monday, 14 June 2010

In the darkness, the eye inverts, looking, watching, searching. It does not understand, it never will.

Flanked not by sunshine, the shackles of the day, or trappings of the evening, honesty may fall around the feet, holding all to account. There is no escape. The realisation stings, burns, but for how long? When daylight returns has the night-walker hidden itself too far away?

For when day breaks, so does it’s heart. As the heavy clouds swirl the memories fade away, the character falls down, not to be caught or collected again - or so it seems. The eye is lost, the vision blurrs and the spirit lies tarnished and forgotten on the wet, cold floor.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

iPod frame of mind

Turn on the iPod
Which title grabs my eye
What tunes are calling me
Click on shuffle, don't know why

You know I can't decide
If I dictate the mood I'm in
Or it's what the machine picks
As the hard drive starts to spin

Does it read my mind
I think it really can
Knowing just what to choose
To make me a better man

Calm me when I'm pacing
Speed me up when I'm too slow
Steady my course when it's askew
Getting me in to the flow

And it's never ever failed me
Not once have I hit skip
If finds the very sounds I need
Without a single blip

And when I'm off and mooding
Or need some time to think
Plug myself in to the headphones
To get me back in sync

Friday Returns

Packing up to go home is always a fraught, sole-destroying experience.  The clock is ticking knowing we have to leave by a certain time, and the internal clock is counting down the dreaded minutes till we get home to Birmingham.  It's not that we don't like Brum, we would love to be somewhere else, and this somewhere else with it's remoteness, picturesqueness, and easy access to lots of places was a sad place to be leaving.  But pack we did.

It was, fortunately, easier and faster than normal as without the usual roof-box we take with us we were limited to the amount of, erm, stuff that we could take with us.  Packed and off, we left a pretty and sunny Ham Island behind us.

Our wont is to always stop somewhere on our trips home, to break up the journey and squeeze a little extra in to our break.  We decided on Oxford as it's on the route home and is a nice place to stop and explore (me) and shop (the others).  Parked up, we wandered through Westgate and out in to the sunshine of this pretty city.

Little one, gradually declining, decided that by the time we had reached Boots that enough was enough and brought up her lunch which also brought an end to our stay.  We knew that home and bed was calling for her so off we went.  May be.

The traffic on the ring-road decided that our journey would not be prompt, and despite our efforts to avoid the blockages easily, we were not to succeed.  This is when the strangest bit of the holiday occurred.

In programming the sat nav to avoid the ring road, it asked if we wanted to avoid the toll road.  Toll road? There's no toll roads round here, we thought to ourselves.

Swinford Toll Bridge near Eynesham is, apparently, it's own little tax haven and the owner does not have to pay any tax on the revenue from motorists crossing the Thames via it's Grade II listed stone structure.  We were amazed as we approached the bridge, not believing that a toll bridge could be here.  We were flabbergasted at the price they wanted to charge us for passage.  I simply could not believe the man in the booth would have the cheek to stand there and hold out his hand for the princely sum of five pence from each passing car.  Yes, 5p.  We were amazed and laughed as we rummaged through our wallet and purses to find the right change.  How very, very strange.

Once found, the clear motorway ensured the passage home was swift and we trudged up the steps to the house and in we went.  Another breakcomplete.

We'd have no hesitation returning to Ham Island, a simply lovely place in the right location.  We didn't even touch the surface of London and have plenty more to see there, to show the kids there, and to explore ourselves.  We will, I hope, be back there soon.  I do love London so.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Turn Around Thursday

In the choice between Legoland or Thorpe Park for our Thursday adventures, the little ones selected Legoland without hesitation.  Little did we know we would be visiting both, and only briefly.

Loaded and away early, the stream of traffic grew gradually the closer we got to Legoland.  The queue forming in the opposite direction was formidable, and that was before any crossed the roundabout to enter the park.  Roundabout navigated, we joined a queue. A very long queue.  A very long queue that wasn't moving.  See for yourself.

We quickly decided that this would be a very bad idea and I turned the car round as we watched others begin to do the same, obviously realising it would be a nightmare in there this day.

Knowing Thorpe Park was close, I re-programmed the sat nav and we eased back passed the lines of cars both inside Legolands borders and the long line yet to find what awaited them.

The crowds at Thorpe seemed lively but not quite as packed as our first choice of the day.  We skipped those waiting to buy their tickets and wandered over the bridge and in to the park.

Knowing this place from a previous visit, we headed immediately for a small section that had about 6 rides just for the litle ones.  They love the rides here, and whilst they enjoy their spins and rides, I went off to cool down in a rather forceful way.

Tidal Wave is a short flume that throws up the most enormous splash when it hits the bottom of it's only dive.  Knowing that there are fools like me about, they've built a 'viewing' platform so that onlookers can enjoy the ride too.  I did, and came off rather wetter and cooler than I'd started the day.  It was lovely.  While I had the chance, I also sampled 'Saw - The Maze', a live-action horror ride where as you wander round on foot, people would jump out at you in an attempt to scare you.  Quite a few of the train I walked round with screamed, a lot.  I laughed, a lot.  Despite all the hype, it was pants.

The kids had headed for the shade but wanted most to head for the man-made beach and large paddling pool there.  Though the water was rather cold, the warm sun made for ideal paddling.  Little one, though, was begining to suffer the effects of the temperature she had battled against for the last couple of days.  Enjoying the water as she was, she wanted to go home so we headed back to the car for the short hop home.

We'd driven past the Windsor Farm Shop several times during the week, but never stopped in.  With the little one asleep and lunchtime barely over, we pulled in to same their wares with things to both eat and drink.  Back at the accommodation much earlier than expected, we settled down to do our own thing, which involved more sleeping, drawing, and for me a walk along the river to explore places not yet seen.

A strange day, curtailed by both illness and crowds. We hoped Friday, our head-home day would be better.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Windsor Wednesday

After the exertions of museum day, our party were a little tired, so the morning began relaxing around the accommodation.  Each occupied themselves in their own way which kept us all happy.  It wasn't until early afternoon we ventured out and headed for Winsdor for a mooch around the shops and a look at the sights.

We immediately fell in love with the place. The old railway station converted to easy shops, the pedestrian spaces to wander freely around, all helped by the beautiful sunshine and a light, cooling breeze.  We ambled along, the women stopping off at regular places, the kids especially intent on buying the odd thing or two. Turns out about 5 more like.  I stopped at a shop selling speciality oils, vinegars and most importantly, whiskey.  It was presented in little casks, and I was very tempted by the owner's offer of sampling a dram or two.  Unfortuntaely, my Windsor-Women came and dragged me away before the process could begin. I said to the owner I would return, but the chance did not present itself.  I keep this picture close at hand to remind me.
We continued on through the traffic-free paths, the girls scouring the souvenir shops for momentos of their trip here, and especially to London.  They finally settled on 'I Love London' hats and small hangbags, and their smiles showed how very happy they were with them. 

I was happy enjoying the views of the castle, or small village as I took to calling it - it really covers a huge piece of ground.  Although the castle was closed, I stood for ages watching the cars and people leaving, smiling on faces of those walking away.  It's an enchanting place, just for being itself, as I know very little of the history of the place, but it's size and very picturesque appearence just captured me.

As 5pm was approaching and the expiration of our parking ticket, we strolled towards the car park, but not without visiting an antiques shop mrs drop4three had spied on our way in.  The ladies stopped at a display whilst the girls and me wandered further in.  I halted at the payment desk, some shiny rings attracting me, with the girls continuing on to stop at a different display.  When the owner came off the phone he spoke to me.
"Are they your children?"
I replied with a simple. "Yes"
"Can you keep them with you," he continued. "It's not a toy shop."

It was his tone more than anything that annoyed me, simply no need for it at all. The girls were behaving themselves.  I called to them saying we were leaving as I would not be spoken to that way.  As we collected the others and I told them we were leaving, the man had the cheek to call down the shop "They were running around the place" We left. I didn't give him any more of my time. Little did he know that mrs d4t collects silver trinkets, especially those made by the company her great (x5) grandfather worked at then owned. His shop's loss, but I will neither think of or speak of him further.

Returned to our lodgings with kids fed and tucked up in bed, we went for a little walk up the river again, watching as the boats passed underneath us as we stood on the bridge to Ham.  The planes continued over our heads towards Heathrow, landing lights blazing making them just lights in the sky until the noise carried towards us.

The sun setting with hints of red and orange in the sky made for a perfect finish to a lovely day full of exploration, relaxation and beautiful surroundings.

The view from the bridge to Ham Island

Science - neither weird nor otherwise

We promised ourselves and the kids a museum day when the weather dictated time indoors. We lined up the Natural History, Science and the Victoria & Albert for one day.

The weather people were not to let us down with their prediction for the 1st of June. Thick grey coulds blanketed the sky and rain began in earnest from about 6am. We made the short hop to Slough to grab the rather expensive train in to Paddington.

Some of our group are not the best of travellers and things occasionally get a touch tense. This trip proved no difference and our rather relaxed air gets trashed. But once arrived in London proper and 5-stop tube run to South Kensington completed, we took the long but thankfully dry subway to the Museums as the contented air returned. The Science Museum would prove to be our only stop that day.

Usual arrival visits completed, we headed for the top of the building to work our way down.

The little ones were not overly enamoured with the floors covering medicine, and we raced a litle round there. It was when we reached the third floor with Launchpad that they got to interact and explore. The were lots of things to see, touch, test, but the rather big crowds made it slightly difficult. It wasn't long before the tannoy announced a show called "Crash, Bang, Wallop" was about to start so we headed off to see and hear some explosions.

The show startted with smallish explosions and built up all the way to firing Barbie out of a cannon, much to the sheer delight of all the young boys in the room, and to quite a few of the dads. I did cheer. The kids enjoyed this show, and once the 20 minutes or so was done, we headed back out to play some more before heading for the big-boys toys. Aeroplanes and engines.

The vast array and sheer size of the engines and planes on display brought an enormous grin to my face. Little un quickly grabbed the camera and snapped her way round the room. My mind boggled at the different layout of cylinders on show. Wow.

 I'm always amazed by the size of planes and the sheer effort the engines must go through to lift them to the heavens.  We wandered for quite a while looking, musing, climbing in to cockpits to see what the pilots from yesteryear faced. 

We wandered the other floors, conscious that the day was rapidly coming to an end, and we'd still not made it to the other museums. There was, in truth, far too much to see and do in one day, highlighted by the The Secret Life of the Home exhibition that we found our way to in the basement. The kids really loved testing and playing with things of yesteryear, and the adults laughed at how we used some of them as children.

With time creeping on, we made our way back to the stations to head back to Slough for the 4-wheeled transport to whisk us back to Ham Island.

A lovely day, not spoilt at all by the weather. And the Science Museum is somewhere we will have to return to.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

World Adventures of Monday

As Christmas rolled by and New Year celebrations receded, Mrs d4t in her usual hunt for bargains and offers, saw a post for vastly reduced Merlin annual passes. These get you in to Alton Towers, Thorpe and many other theme parks and attractions across the country. As part of our #ThatLondon trip, we'd planned to visit three parks and the London Eye, all weather permitting.

Monday dawned in a rather dull fashion and with such low cloud that we couldn't even see the planes overhead as they screeched out of Heathrow. This place is directly on the flightpath, not that I mind that though. I'm always amazed at how slowly they climb up in to the sky, and I always wonder where they are headed. Always. As we waited for the weather to show it's hand, the kids explored the house further, especially the spinning chair in the conservatory – it's in for some serious usage this week.

Bank holiday or not, food shopping was needed after our emergency dash to the local Co-Op on Sunday evening. Tesco Slough, despite warnings of the loveliness of Slough, was programmed in to the satnav for the short trip.

At this point a nod to the naysayers is required, as they did warn me. Slough is not the most delightful place to visit first thing on a Bank Holiday. The experience, I hope, will not be repeated.

Shopping purchased and returned to SL4, we starting the ever-lengthy packing process for the trip to Chessington World of Adventures, our destination for the day. Short car-hop completed, we trundled across the grassy field that was the car park, strolled past the lines of folk waiting to buy their tickets and went in.

Of all the parks that we've visited, this was by far the most disappointing, or so we thought. The rides seemed rather tame, few and far between, and the oft rude client̬le did little to warm our hearts. We passed several hours meandering between the various themed sections, the kids enjoying the odd ride, us getting wet on a flume (whilst the little one completely covered herself in a protective mac Рcheek) and more, but still the park did not set us alight.

The short wait for the sky-ride, which would take us round the park with an elevated view, changed our opinion of Chessington in a few minutes.

We knew there was a zoo but the ride showed us the animals as we motored past, with all of us straining to see more and already planning where we would go once the ride had finished. The post-ride highlight had to be the gorilla enclosure. A baby sat in the far corner of the pound pulling at and chewing on a branch, much to the delight of the crowd that had gathered. As lovely as it was to watch, I can never fail to feel sorry for them stuck in an enclosure far smaller than anything they would wish for.

After seeing the lions, sea-lions, leopards, birds, and lots of others, we seemed more content with the park, more relaxed. Even the rather unpleasant 'lady' who seemed intent on abusing us and her child with unrepeatable words whilst queuing for a ride couldn't put a damper on the day.

We returned to the car as the park began to empty for the short drive back to Ham Island, passing the picturesque Runnymede on the way. A walk there might be a pleasant way to spend a few hours. We will see.

We'd said half-way round that we'd never return to Chessington, but may be we would now.