First new bike since 1978: with 70% off!

I got a new bike. The last time I had a new bike was when my parents bought me one in 1978. Normally I'd just pick up a second hand clunker on the cheap. But the UK Govt offer a scheme where your employer can buy a bike VAT free then hire it out to you through your gross salary until the principle is paid off then sell it to you for 'fair market value' which winds up being 5% of the original purchase price. Cool! So with the NI contributions, income tax and VAT taken off you get around 45% off the retail price.

But what happens when you buy it off a wholesaler? Heh! Another 30% off. So I got all wound up reading about the KHS XC604 and have been itching to get it for the last month. It came in the post today and we're expecting to head for the hills on Saturday to roll our wheels over rolling hills….

Here's a snapshot of the bike:


We'll be doing something like this again (sorry about the poor quality)….

Sourdough fingers

Baking bread. I've been an eager convert ever since we got our first breadmaker three years ago. But around at Mike and Elena's in December, I read their copy of Leith's Baking Bible. Yum. Three pages of detailed instructions on making one loaf of sourdough bread; the adjectives were inspiring promising thick crusts and intensely chewy insides. And there's no need to add yeast; it gets captured from the air around you.

So Mary found me a copy for christmas and Freddie and I have been busy successfully experimenting ever since. And the breadmaker that was once my pride and joy is relegated to a five minute knead every now and again.

So what does it involve, making these loaves, you ask? It takes about five-ten minutes a day to have a 1kg loaf every three days. Here's what you do: Continue reading “Sourdough fingers”

New Volvo vehicle


Couple of months ago our Audi A4 estate got broken into; we were woken up at 1am by the cops who informed me a chap was caught attempting to extricate his swag bag from the clutches of the rear windscreen wiper.  Mr Not-the-sharpest-tool-in-the-box got a fortnight behind bars; our car was scrapped; and we got as much as we paid for the car we've had for the past eighteen months back from the insurance company.

So today Freddie and I hiked up to Edgware to get a replacement; it's a smashing old Volvo that does 50+ miles per gallon (that's 5.6 litres per 100km) with dead low mileage, an old tapedeck and a sunroof. Yay! It will be easier to move house when we need to, and we'll be able to hit the ground running in the country again…

A Nature and DIY Weekend

This Saturday we skipped off to Pett’s Wood again. It’s so peaceful out there, barely a soul for miles and the rustle of the squirrels and balmy wind in the autumn leaves, the sound of birdsong, and random mushrooms sprouting off the leafy paths are all so relaxing for a brain, child, relationship and body constantly on the go during the week.
It’s only a 25 minute trip on the train from Brixton Station, then a 10 minute walk to the forest. We did take a detour through the charity shops where we found a Matchbox motorbike for 15p – Freddie’s not lost sight of it since.
We also found this cool tree with eight trunks and a raised bit in the middle. Freddie and Mary stood in it, and with the sun shining through the canopy captured this halo of light and family-ness:
Saturday night Craig stopped by for dinner then Freddie and I toddled off to Brockwell Park this morning while Mary practiced her yoga. Freddie’s pal Leon (they both get childminded by Patricia) and his German parents Phillip and Stella were there. Really nice to meet them after all this time.
Last month we bought a dishwasher. Plumbing constraints forced our workbench elsewhere, so a few weeks ago we picked up a 2.5m x 60cm worktop and finally got around to installing it this afternoon/evening. And here it is in all it’s glory:

Featuring Freddie: Daily Snaps

It had to happen. With technology’s thumping pace in the background, the days of waiting a week for the local chemist to develop your ‘instamatic’ snaps then posting them in ship to relatives overseas have well and truly been shattered. Two minutes ago I took a photo on my phone, did some quick cropping, added some text and a frame, converted it to black and white, then clicked ‘post to flickr’. Bingo, it’s on Flickr. And wouldn’t ya know it, when it’s on Flickr, it’s on Freddie’s blog.

So I heartily recommend on this and subsequent visits to our hero’s site you check in at ‘Daily Snaps‘ where we’ll be posting our family photos on a regular basis.

I’ve also been a little busy tidying up the code on the site, so instead of the page having to ask the database ‘what’s my name?’ each time it loads, I’ve written the name into the page. Same thing for the stylesheets, pingbacks, versions, and a few others bits so with any luck we’ve cut down the time it takes to load the page considerably. Happy browsing!

Farmer Freddie: gettin’ down with the animals

We’ve happened on a few farms recently, what with all the sheep in Snowdonia, there was also the Dean’s City Farm at Morden Park, the Vauxhall CIty Farm at the Lambeth Country Show. So here’s a slideshow of Freddie’s animal exploits…


Arup, there, me hearties! Daddy’s got a new job…

Yup, he’s leaving the GAD in port, with many a fond memory, and heading across Goodge way to be the Network Content Manager for the good ship Arup, a world renowned engineering consultancy with their fingers firmly entrenched in the Sydney Opera House, the Penguin Pool at London Zoo, the Tate Modern and a plethora of tunnels, bridges and assorted structures internationally. Renowned for its collegial atmosphere, they’ve also contributed large sums to WaterAid, where Dad’s buddy Gregor recently got a plum job.

And what on earth does a Network Content Manager do, you may ask? His job is to build and populate Arup’s business and design intranets with relevant content other staff members might be interested in. It’s currently a little anarchic, lost in an ocean of information with no compass to guide it. Pappa’s gonna be steering the boat, using his info-know-how for pointers, getting hints from up high and finding success when he gets the booty ashore. So we’re all happy!