Thursday, 24 April 2014

Of Forecasting the Great Arrival

My wife is due to give birth in less than five weeks' time. I said, my wife is due to give birth in less than five weeks' time. Yes we've got all the gear but I still don't think either of us have quite got our heads around the fact that soon there will be three of us and not two. So many people have warned us that Sebastian's arrival will turn our world upside down but in a positive way. And I suppose we're taking heart by this. Perhaps it's a bit like going to university. I've never met anyone yet who regretted going to uni (though a few perhaps like me regret having stayed there for so long) and I've yet to meet a parent who admits to regretting ever having been one.

The gear we have for the long awaited arrival is just astonishing. Our main pram (for we have two - one for standard duties and the other for off road work apparently) is the most extraordinary contraption I've seen in a long time. It reminds me very much of Professor Pat Pending's vehicle from the Wacky Races which could transform itself into just about any shape or size for what ever task was needed next.

We both think the wee fella could well pop out quite musical. For he along with his Mum and Dad have attended more live music gigs in the past 8 months than most people would experience in a life time. His Mum plays him Shostakovitch every morning whilst his Da subjects him to the BBC World Service most nights. The poor fella probably thinks he's better staying put if the recent shipping forecasts are anything to go by...

Onwards! To the finish and the maternity ward up the road but not just yet Sebastian if you please. Be on time by all means but not like your Pa and your Grandpa by arriving so early its almost rude...May 26th will do just fine

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Of Russian to the Finish Line

I had a go at an old GCSE Russian paper over the weekend. The results were not encouraging. I've realised that my vocab is far too light. Whilst I can now get my tongue around many of the Russian letters that for so long I guessed at, there seems to be little point if I don't know what they mean. Also, I get the complicated grammar and how tenses are structured etc but could I reproduce it to prove it in an exam at the moment? No.
On Sunday I hastily checked the date of the first exam paper and worked out I have just 13 weeks to turn this all around. I may even have less for inside 11 weeks a baby is due and I'm assured that such events can have a somewhat disruptive effect on schedules and routines.
The next few weeks I expect to be nothing but painful. To borrow from Churchill "I have nothing to offer myself except blood tears and sweat". To get over the line here I'm going to have to throw everything I have at it.
Suddenly it's become all or nothing and very personal....

Friday, 14 February 2014

Of Stress and How to Find it

I have to confess to being at a big of low with the Russian language studies at the moment. You see I've just discovered it's even more difficult than I realise and I've always realised its a tough son of a Kalasnikov language.
I soon learnt that Russian is obsessed cases. It has six in all more than in the German language even. But I could cope with this finding for, and like German, the cases follow a logic which once learnt is easy enough to understand and implement albeit after hours of practice. Yes it does mean that a word may have any one of six different forms depending on the role it's playing in the sentence but I managed to cope with this discovery reasonably well too. But what is threatening to push me over the edge here is what I realised on a trip to Dublin and back yesterday. Whilst reading out loud to Mrs P in the car having first got through five pretty tough going pages on Russian pronunciation it dawned on me that Russian letters are pronounced differently in accordance to where the stress is in the word. Hah! Not such a big deal you might think, if, like in some languages, the stress as a general rule falls at the front, middle or back of a word. But in Russian it doesn't. As far as I can tell the stress can fall anywhere and you simply have to remember with each word as you learn it where it carries the stress.
I'm beginning to think I was born 40 years or so too early. Surely by 2050 there will be a pill you can take or at least a headset you can wear that will have you speaking fluent Russian at the drop of a Ushanka...


Saturday, 8 February 2014

Of 2014+

This is my first blog for this year. I'm not sure why but I seem to have had a dose of "bloggers block" and I'm not convinced I'm fully shot of it yet.
Anyway, I thought I'd share some of my goals for the year. They do say they peer pressure can help you achieve goals so they're better posted online than kept in a drawer somewhere

Overall Goal for 2014 : To improve who I am, become the best father I possibly can be and make an effort to improve the lives of others

1. Russian :

Get GCSE Russian by the summer. (This is the b......d!)

2. Stay Fit 

Swim at least 3 times each week and do sets. Run at least twice and match minimum times.

3. Shop, Store, Prep and Use Food Well

Shop wisely but above all stop wasting so much food. There's so many people going to bed hungry in this world. throwing away food is just wrong.

4. Read More Self Improvement Books

Read a book each month. I've just read Dan Pink's "To Sell is Human" wow it's good.
Begin with one on good parenting

5. Learning and Development

Keep a better record of the things I learn -- get to know and use Evernote much better

6. Do More Family Stuff

Communicate and appreciate

7. Do at Least One Thing Each Month Because It's New or Challenging 

To be published here end of the year

Friday, 27 December 2013

Of One Great Place After Another Part II



It was a beautiful day yesterday and we decided to return to Kinbane Head and kick around there for a few hours for Boxing Day. We never made it. With about three miles to go we took a road signed "Fair Head" and made yet another fantastic discovery.

What we found were glorious walks over wonderful countryside much of it on the cliff's edge with drops of many hundreds of feet to the stoney beach below. Having a fear of edges, knees turned close to jelly the near er we got to a cliff face.Watching three climbers abseil over the edge turned said jelly an awful putrid pink colour! Still a great day though..

Monday, 16 December 2013

Of One Great Place After Another

The wonderful thing about Northern Ireland is that you can keep discovering great new places to visit that few others seem to know about. Recently, Anna and I took the neighbour's dog to the north coast and came across one small sign in a hedge pointing to "Kinbane Head". "Never heard of it" we both declared and decided to give it a go.
For me it's just as interesting as Giant's Causeway and certainly more sheltered. Whilst there we were completely alone and the views were just outstanding. The only one who didn't seem too sure was the dog, Remi. There was nowhere on the stoney beach to launch himself into the sea. This might have been just as well with all seals that were kicking around. I'm not sure how they might have taken to their awkward interloper who is just too playful for his own good at the moment.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Of Mad Dogs and Englishmen

I went to Ballintoy on the north coast of Northern Ireland recently with Anna and the In-laws. Vitali spied a rather interesting wall and joked that he would like to see how far he could walk along it before getting washed off. It was a mistake, for I couldn’t resist the temptation of trying to do just that without of course, the getting washed off bit.

My risk assessment went something like this :

    - Only one wave in four seems to be big enough to make it over the wall
·        -  Of those waves only 50% seem to be big enough to wash you clean off the wall
·         - If you do get washed off you fall into a very big pool. It’s deep enough to break your fall but cold enough to kill you if you don’t get out inside 30 minutes

With all of these three things clearly in my favour I determined it was worth a punt and safely made my way to the end of the wall. What I hadn’t bargained for was the neighbour’s dog wanting to join me. Of course he made his way across without having made any of the above assessments and indeed with no reference at all to what the waves were doing. It was agony as I watched him cross and I saw a wave come right in and give him a good soaking.

We duly studied for a good ten minutes what the sea was capable of then noticing a break in the lashing waves made a dash for it. And No I didn't get taken off the wall by a 6ft wave but very nearly a mad dog on the end of a lead.


Fun, but in a risky sort of way.