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The training course is taking place at a farm/conference venue a little way outside Hull, and I was rather surprised to discover, once I'd made it past the outskirts of civilisation* that there was actually quite a bit of snow about. Had I been so forewarned, I'd probably have allowed myself a little extra time for the Castle Fox -> Happy Holiday Home -> Work Training run.

As it is, I wasn't late, arriving about 2 minutes early, but that's slightly closer than I like to cut things.

Anyway, the drive back was through some pretty thick fog as we came up over the hills, and it caught me by surprise. At home, briefly, before heading up to the Farm to collect ex and thence to P's school for parents' evening.

Beach dog

Jan. 1st, 2010 10:30 pm
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M&D, although in Hull from yesterday afternoon, didn't turn up at Castle Fox until this morning, whereupon they summoned both myself and the hound to join them them for a walk on the beach at Withernsea.

It was a really nice day, and Mali had an excellent time running around across the sand, hurdling the groynes and saying 'hello' to the relatively few other dogs about. For their part, M&D seemed rather taken with Mali, which surprised me, because they don't see him that often, and he can be a bit, er, Full On, as it were.

They're off back down South first thing tomorrow morning, so I'm not expecting to catch up with them again before they leave. But 'twas a pretty decent day, so leaving on a high note means it's all good :-)
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M&D rang from the car this morning to say that they were on their way up to see friends at northerm destinations unspecified, but would be calling in on me somewhen. Exact timing is unspecified, but has at least been narrowed down to 'some time in the next two or three days'.

Not heard from them since, so maybe it'll be tomorrow.

Or, then again, maybe not.
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It feels like it's been a long day: Castle Fox to ex-Brother-in-Law's house and back in day. 400 miles, c8 hours driving, so as to pick up P.

Anyway, because I knew I'd be out of the house for longer than my five hour Mali-threshold, I took the hound with me; he had a good walk through the woods with P and his cousins, even if the world was just a little muddy.

Anyway, it was a long drive down, so I stopped half-way, to let Mali have a break from the Fox-Mobile. And we got to the target abode c1.30ish, just after lunch (I purposefully timed it so that I'd miss lunch there, it not being practical to join them with Mali in tow). Then we had the walk, and then P and I (and Mali) set off back to Hull.

By about 5ish, I was feeling hungry, and P opined that whilst not exactly wasting away to nothing, some sustenance would hardly go amiss. However, I didn't really want to leave Mali in the car whilst we had a meal proper, so we went for the lazy option, and a McDonalds Drive-Thru.

McDonalds doesn't have a wealth of options for vegetarians, but their Spicy Veggie Deli thingy's OK, so that's what I ordered. P had a cheeseburger. We pay at one window, and crawl forwards to Window 3, where the attendantette hands us a milkshake (correct) and a bottle of water (um, nope), which really should have been the clue.

The water was promptly changed for a fruit juice, as ordered, but when the bag of food itself was handed over, the girl was already looking behind impatiently at the queue of cars, so we set off without checking.

So it was only once underway that we realised that we had someone else's order; given that I had Mali in the boot, I didn't want to get into parking up, explaining the mix-up to the staff and waiting for a resolution, so we just made do as was.

On the positive side, though, at least it meant I had the right change for the Bridge.
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So today was spent mostly on the A1, travelling down to a mutually distant place of meeting for both my parents and myself and P. The weather's been a bit dicey of late, so I had to nose the Fox Mobile a little gingerly away from Castle Fox's immediate surroundings, the streets remaining, as mentioned a day or so back, complete sheets of glass in terms of traction-like qualities.

Nonetheless, once we were out onto roads proper, conditions improved, even if the weather did not, freezing fog hanging around us as we headed over the bridge. These days, y'see, rather than the old M62-M18-A1 route, I prefer to go over the bridge and round Lincoln. Yes, you pay the bridge toll (£2.70 now), but it's shorter, and the reduced trip distance offsets the cost, not to mention the time factor.

The downside is that the A15 to Lincoln is an evil road, with helpful signs up every now and again telling you how many people have died this year compared to last.

Anyway, P and I arrived at the appointed hostelry a little early, but M&D, having similarly worried about the impact the weather might have on logistics, had set off even earlier, so were waiting. Everyone was in good humour, though (which is surprisingly rare for these things), and the parental units were pleased to see P (I hadn't mentioned he'd be with me, thought it'd be a nice surprise).

Pub meal, chats about eBay (M&D are getting into selling some surplus stuff they have about the Parental Abode); to be honest, I had been fretting somewhat about their adventures with the 'Bay, but it seems my fears about them unknowningly swimming with sharks are unfounded, so I'll just leave them to it on that score.

After two hours, though, conversation was drying up quickly, and both sets of us wanted to start wending our ways back to our respective starting points, so Present Exchange and done.

Drive back was in better weather, and we made even better time - and P agreed with me that that section of the A1, where the central reservation gets wide and the road North goes up and down and left and right, at speed, feels just like Out Run (common cultural frames of reference FTW!).

Dropped P back off at the Farm from whence I'd collected him yesterday evening, and then trundled carefully back home to an empty Castle Fox - Mali's at his Happy Holiday Home for the day (because there was no chance at all of doing the whole there and back again within five hours, and I will not leave Mali alone for longer than that), so I pick him up tomorrow.

Which means that the whole present-swap operation really takes something like 36 hours all told. So I hope they all like 'em...
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P was only at Castle Fox until lunchtime yesterday - he had a party to go to Saturday afternoon, and for a change ex and co came to Hull to pick him up, rather than me ferrying him back. Unfortunately, ex not having much practice in the commute, sort of underestimated the time it would take to get here, and ended up being an hour late. But hey, all good in the end.

Today saw me venture into town at lunchtime, just as the skies went almost completely black. I caught a single glimpse of lightning off in the distance, but it would seem that the weather wasn't really that interested in putting in the requisite effort for a storm proper, and instead just contented itself with a spot of rain.

Mali and I have had a couple of brisk walks around the Avenues - if I move quickly enough, he'll walk to heel almost perfectly. And he maintained that for a little while as I attempted a light jog, but patience isn't that dog's strong suit, and he eventually went into Race Mode, so we called a literal and metaphorical halt on that one. But I'm going to try and add some light jogging into the standard walks every now and again, and see how that goes.

Bookwise, I'm currently reading (or trying to read) One Red Paperclip by Kyle MacDonald. This is the tale of that guy who traded items sequentially on CraigsList, starting off with the object of the book's title, and moving ever on up until he managed to trade himself into a house. The parenthetical hesitancy is due to the little 'zen wisdom' nuggets that pepper the end of each chapter. Since we're currently on one chapter per trade, and we're at him having acquired a camping stove, I'm somewhat fearful for my sanity, should I have to endure too many more observations of the calibre of 'now was two words ago' (I actually make that five, and so does Kyle himself in the paragraph explaining this gem, which makes the paragraph's title all the more bizarre).

Anyway, since Christmas is coming up, obviously this is the time of year when I buy myself stuff, and so I now have Assassin's Creed II for the 360... I know all the hype this year is about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, but I am hopeless at FPS titles (seriously, Colleague N lent me Gears of War once, and I couldn't make it out of the training level without being killed. Repeatedly).

So expect the book-reading to tail off a bit as the year closes ;-P
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Today is one of those days where, from about lunchtime onwards, everything needs to run exactly to schedule if I'm going to achieve everything in time.

I've got my appraisal this afternoon, which is a little bit weird, because it's going to be with New Boss, who still doesn't really know what I do day to day, nor has he been in touch with Old Boss/Effectively Still Acting as Boss to find out said. Hmm.

Anyway, that's scheduled to end at 4pm. Which is fortunate, because I then need to pick P up from school, so that I can get the two of us back to Castle Fox to walk Mali, eat (speed dining FTW!), possibly take Mali out for Walk 3, and then amble across to the KC to watch Hull City take on the mighty Everton in what will be P's first evening match.

I've only been to one floodlit game before now, which had a less than optimal outcome for the Tigers, so I'm kinda hoping for better things tonight.

I'm currently reading Rachel Caine's second Morganville Vampires book, Dead Girls' Dance, which is... not quite as much fun as the first instalment, but is certainly readable. Proper review to follow on completion.
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Have the day off work today, as I'm on childcare duties, looking after P and W, one of his friends from school. This afternoon we're off to the cinema, this morning we've taken the dog for a walk (principally to acclimatise him to the New Person's presence, which seemed to work, mostly), and have tried to generate some enthusiasm within W for the Avenues Tree Sculptures (we have a new one in memory of Anthony Minghella, who used to live on Park), but I'm not sure I succeeded on that count.
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It's always the same when I wake up after 4am, but before 5.45am - I wonder whether it's worth trying to get back to sleep, or whether I should just get up anyway. This morning I decided I'd try and get back to sleep, and amazingly I actually managed to achieve it this time.

What was weird was that I then had a whole sequence of dreams, one after the other, all distinct, but sadly the details now are too faded to recall. One, at least, had my dad, post-op but recovering, in, which is certainly unusual (I hardly ever have dreams involving M/D/Brother), but is probably explained by the fact that I rang him yesterday evening to check how things are. He certainly sounds a lot better, so that's good.
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Yesterday was mad: Mali. Muesli bar. Work. Mali. Lunch. Mali. Farm. Mali. Residents' Association. Too tired to eat. Bed.

Fewer days like that, please. Ta.

All good preparation for today's one-on-one with the Auditors.
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Reasonably busy weekend, all told. Aside from the usual library and dog-walking stuff, instead of kayaking at the swimming pool yesterday afternoon, P got to paddle around Princes' Quay in town instead.

The weather wasn't being very co-operative, what with the especially timed downpours and all, but I think the main reason the boy ended up getting soaked was his paddling through the fountain multiple times :-P

I had thought that the 18:50 showing of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen would be relatively OK, but it turns out it's a loooooooooooooong film. And, truth be told, not a very good one either - the first was much better. But P liked it lots, which was, of course, the point.

Bookwise, have just finished Subsmash by Alan Gallop, which is all about the loss of the Royal Navy submarine HMS Affray in 1951. First half of the book, dealing with the circumstances surrounding her loss, the subsequent search mission and the corresponding press reaction was good. The second part of the book, mainly conjecture as to possible reasons for the loss of the boat was less compelling. Tremendously sad tale, all told: 75 people lost their lives :-(

Have now moved on to Deer Hunting with Jesus by Joe Bageant, which is subtitled Guns, Votes, Debt and Delusion in Redneck America, and is very good. In fact, it seems to be addressing much the same issues as Susan Jacoby's The Age of American Unreason, but from almost exactly the opposite end of the spectrum - looking at life for the American working class, rather than surveying the landscape from the confines of the ivory tower.
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P and I have been playing Cribbage, which is a good game, and probably more fun than Rummy - at least for us at the moment.

Our book of card games also has rules for Two-handed Hearts, which was entertaining (playing the rule that the Queen of Spades hits you for 13pts).

Aside from Cribbage, Rummy, Hearts and a few versions of patience, we've not tried any of the other games described.

I do remember getting very into Auction Pinochle whilst at Uni, but you need four players for that one, and sadly P & I simply number two (Mali can't really be trusted to join in).

So, any other 2-player card games that you lot recommend?
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Sneaking online over breakfast, before Mali and I head up to his Happy Holiday Home where he's staying for the next 48 hours (or thereabouts). Tomorrow, see, I'm off (with work) to Stockton on Tees: we're setting off at 7.30am, and we're not expecting to be back much before 8pm.

Kennels, for their part, open at 8am, and close at 5.30pm, in terms of drop-off/collection, so as is usually the case with these work thingies, I tend to end up having to put Mali in for an 'extra' day, as it were. To be honest, he doesn't seem to mind: when we park up at the place, he'll be desperate to get inside and meet up with the staff there. And, despite it being a huge place (they have room for 72 dogs and I forget how many cats), all the staff know Mali on sight (I'm pretending this can only be a positive thing).

Actually, this works out quite neatly today, as I'm babysitting up at the Farm this evening for both P and his sister (who's now three years old, and is cute beyond belief). So, having dropped Mali off at the kennels, I drive to work, and from work I drive straight up to the Farm, without needing to worry about coming back to Castle Fox to check on Mali.

And the babysitting also ties in neatly, because the Farm's PC crashed on Monday (they had a series of repeated power cuts, after which their Dell has reportedly flung itself into a massive sulk and won't. do. anything). So I'm going to have a look at that whilst I'm there and see if I can help at all.

And finally, going back to that post on Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool, I've learnt that Windows will do a cursory scan on the next rebook of the PC after that month's Windows Updates have been installed, but that the Full Scan is only a user-driven thing. So it's worth running.
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Just back from manning the tombola stall (with ex) at the boy's school fair. The spoils on offer were, in general, unwanted Christmas presents and other tack of momunmentally undesirable attributes: my unease at asking people to cough up 20p per ticket (special offer: buy 5 for £1!) was assuaged somewhat by the knowledge that the proceeds were going to the school. Nonetheless, I was glad when the table was cleared, and the last bottle of bubble bath had been handed over to its delighted owner.

In addition to the tombola, the school field was given over to a car boot sale. Car boots are, apparently, something of a lifestyle for, shall we say a, uh, certain demographic in this green and pleasant land, and there's something profoundly dispiriting about trudging around a school field on an overcast Sunday, looking at outgrown toys/aged VHS tapes/utter junk whilst, in turn, being watched by the (impossibly optimistic) sellers, all of whom managed to effortlessly confirm any and all of the lazily convenient stereotypes that I had assumed would be appropriate.


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