Monday, 23 November 2009

My Gold medal!

I thought I'd show you my Gold medal I won for team sparring in Soo Bahk Do, on November 15th 2009.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Moles, moving and medals!

It's a bit of an obscure title I know, but that's basically what I've been doing recently!

First off, the moles. Unfortunately, the molehills started again! I say unfortunately, mainly from the mole's point of view really - unfortunate because this new mole obviously didn't realise he'd picked the wrong garden to explore in.

As soon as the first signs appeared, I rushed online and bought three Dufus mole traps.

The next day they arrived, and I buried them in a mole hill to take away the 'newness'. Two days later, and there were 2 more molehills, and various little places where the mole had popped through the turf, so, grabbing my gardening gloves (moles have an excellent sense of smell) and a trowel, I set to work placing the traps around and between a mound or two.

The first day, nothing happened, but my belief in myself as a mole catcher never faltered once.

The second morning came, and I went to check the traps I had set, and lo and behold SUCCESS!

I have now caught moles on both my last attempts in a day or two - I guess I must be getting the hang of it - especially as I don't know ANYONE who has caught a mole before!

Last week we hired a Luton van with a tail lift to move the last few remaining large items from our other house, which was not too bad, but it tired me out quite quickly.
Shelving units, armchair, other units - all had to be moved, but luckily I managed to borrow a trolley dolly type thing. It's basically a 1" ply board about 3'x2' with big wheels on the bottom, and it was a godsend to me!

I was able to gain some help from a friend of mine, who helped me move the biggest unit to my in laws house 20 miles away, and take it inside to where they wanted it to be.

I brought my bikes and sidecar home too, which was something I've been wanting to do for a while, but with them both in bits or not working, something I could only do with a van like this one.

My Honda CB750 Chop on the left, and my pre-diversion Yamaha FJ600 on the right.

I may have mentioned in the past that Kane does a martial art called Soo Bahk Do, well it's something that I also started some time ago after Kane started enjoying it.
I go to lessons in my local Leisure Centre, and am taught by Master Andrew Scriven, of Scriven Martial Arts.

Ever since I started, I've tried my best to embrace the art, and all it's parts, and I have a lot of respect for Master Scriven and all the people in the club. So when I was told of a sparring competition, I jumped at the chance!

A month before the even I was really confident, and keen to have a go and join in...

...the further towards the competition, and my confidence really left me - and by the time the day actually came, I was scared of the unknown, and SO unsure of my own abilities.

However, the competition was in two main parts - sparring (Deh Ryun), and forms (Hyung).

Forms are a vital part of training in the Soo Bahk Do art. Forms are prearranged patterns designed to teach not just technique but art. When a form is performed correctly it is a thing of beauty. There are many hyungs taught in Soo Bahk Do.

Students from around the South East came and performed their own slightly customised forms in groups, which was really interesting, and they had all worked hard to make their performances as interesting as they could.

The second part of the competition was the sparring. Although some people were unable to make it, there were still enough for the Little Ninjas, Juniors and Adults to make it a very enjoyable event.

I was asked to keep time for the Junior sparring, and it's amazing how nervous I was just having to press a single button on the stopwatch! All the kids did so well, and I knew quite a few of them, making it an even more exciting and inspiring occasion.

After the juniors, it was time for the adults, we were placed in 4 teams of three, and given two fights each and the points for each individual were all added together to make a total for the team.

I was placed in Team 1, with two guys from my class - a Black belt called Glen, and a Green belt called Dave.

To cut a long story short, we did very well, Glen and Dave beating opponents, and I also won BOTH my fights - which was blimmin amazing! The first of my fights was against a friend of mine called Martyn, so I was totally out of my comfort zone and so nervous - especially as I didn't want to hit a friend! (Control is the word in sparring, we have to 'pull' our punches).

Team 1 actually WON the competition, and all three of us received Gold medals for our efforts!

It's been a long time since I've been that proud of myself, and I can't wait for the next competition - maybe I'll even get to compete as an individual - something that will REALLY test my nerve!

Fight One!
I start on the right hand side of the screen, and my friend Martyn is on the left.

Fight Two!
I start on the left this time, with a guy called Graig on the right from a different club.

Medals are given in reverse order, you'll see me - I'm the baldy, beardy one with glasses at the end!

So I guess this means that Team One are Regional Team Sparring Champions!

Soo Bahk!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Small but beautiful!

There's always a lot of fuss over large vegetables. Large vegetables get their own tables at their own shows, but how many times do we think of small vegetables, and how great they are!?

We've had a lot of success with our tomatoes this year, they've produced most the year, and show no signs of slowing down.

I wanted to share todays pick of items that I collected this morning.

First we have the tiny tomatoes, probably only about 10mm (or 3/8") in diameter.

Then secondly, I thought I'd show you an egg from one of our Silkies. They are always small and white, but perfectly formed little wonders.

So next time you go shopping, or pick your produce from your garden, spare a thought for the little things!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Learning to weld!

It's something I've always wanted to do. I think it started when I bought my first motorbike, and has never gone away - the urge to learn to weld.

Last week, we asked Zak's school to fix his tray on his wheelchair, as on one side the weld had broken, and his tray flapped, meaning he wasn't able to use his switches for his pc - a major part of his free time!

We sent Zak in with a message for their engineering department to have a look and fix the tray/chair. Unfortunately, the trained and experienced engineers could figure out that the weld had broken on a certain part, so did pretty much nothing for Zak.

Annoyed by their lack of common sense, I went down to Halfords, and bought myself a welder, and a few welding supplies like electrodes, wire brush and gloves.

Now I have NEVER welded before - not even picked one up, but I was determined to fix Zak's chair - so onto Youtube I went, and began teaching myself how to weld. After about half hour of watching I decided to go and have a little play to see what was what.

After an hour I thought I had picked up the basics and took the part off Zak's chair that needed fixing.

It took me no more than 10 minutes to drill out the plate, push the bar into the hole and weld everything back together.

Now Zak's tray on his chair is fixed, and rock solid I might say - ok it's not the prettiest weld in the world....

...but it works!

I decided today to make Jo a little pressie, so I found some washers and a bolt and got to work.

Everything went well, apart from when it came to welding the support nail - it just MELTED!

I made a blob on the plate, then hurriedly pushed the nail into it while it was still soft - SUCCESS!

The butterfly is quite small - the plate on the bottom is approx 2" long, and the butterfly stands approx 2.5" tall.

Here is Jo's present, it's not pretty, but at least you can tell what I tried to do...

...and remember - this is only my 5th attempt at welding!!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

A busy day!

Yesterday I set about working in our paddock cutting the grass, trimming trees and hedges galore.

Luckily, one of my ladies was there to make the final inspection on my little tractor/mower to make sure everything was safe and in good working order.

Hmmmm.... too many leaves on the footplates...

...the seat seems the right height...

...yep - that's the right height for cutting grass...

...and everything looks ok down here too!

After she was satisfied the everything was to her high standards, she hopped off and let me continue.

Spider engineering

I find Spiders fascinating - horrible - but fascinating. How they spin that brilliant web, with such engineering skill is just so fantastic.

I managed to find a nice one, and took a couple of shots to show both sides of the little thing.

I didn't realise he was having a little snack untill i went to his underside - and couldn't help stay watching him for a while.

Tree tidy

I also cleared some growth around the bottom of this tree, cutting back brambles and removing low branches.

Then I removed a few dead branches, and almost dead branches from this tree. There was a low hanging, long branch on the right of the tree as you look at this photo, which I removed as it wasn't too healthy, and was starting to foul in the nearby apple tree.

Then lastly yesterday, I trimmed approx 60M of hedge, side and top (although I haven't taken a photo of the finished hedge) and so all I need to do now is the part of the hedge on the roadside.


...and during...

Because the hedge has grown so high (approx 9 or 10 foot) I had to stand on the seat of the tractor - even with my mighty KM90's long reach and bendiness, I just needed that extra length to get to the top of the hedge!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

A day to relax!

Since recently Jo and I have been working hard, what with both kids being on holiday, and working at the other house, I decided this morning that today would be totally different.

I gave Jo three options. to go to Chichester or Arundel, to go to some place of her choosing, or to go to Hobbycraft in Crawley. Jo chose the latter, so once the kids were off at school, and we'd had our cup of tea, we set off to see what the store was like.

The store itself was on two floors - much bigger than any other craft shop I'd seen (not that I'd seen many before) and luckily there was a PC World shop nearby, so I decided after bravely going inside the craft shop that I would prefer to spend my time drooling at wonderful electronic gadgets, software and books!

I managed to find a great mouse for my gaming, which is programmable, and is SO much faster than my other mouse, I almost have trouble keeping up with it - or seeing where my arrow on the screen is!

It is the 'Deathadder' mouse, from Razer, and it is AWESOME!

I also bought a Roxio VHS to DVD set, which will enable me to sort out my old video tapes of things like our wedding, and dating back to some of my old gigs I played.

After spending as much time as I could possibly muster in PC World, I thought I'd better go and see how Jo was getting on - and if she needed a hand with the multiple trolleys of stick on's she was going to buy( only joking Jo - please don't kill me!).

As it turned out she was still on the ground floor - so like the dutiful husband I am, I bravely walked around the shop trying to be as interested in everything as I possibly could!

Once Jo had bought some rather interesting little items, and some presents for some kids, we paid for the stuff and left the shop - after being directed to a 'local' pub by the man behind the desk. (The directions took about 5 minutes to listen too - and I forgot what he said after the second turning to be honest!)

We drove sort of homish, sort of going the way the man had said, until we eventually - and by massive stroke of luck - found the place!

The place in question was the Dukes Head in Crawley.

If you go to the website you can see the sort of things they do, but we were greeted in a very friendly manner by our waitress, who gave us a choice of tables.

I'm afraid I went for the unadventurous burger and chips option, and Jo went for a pasta with spicy sausage meal. They were both delicious, and we certainly would go there again!

Once we had finished, we made our way home to play with what we had bought.

What a great way to relax and enjoy each others company!

We had a delightful lunch, Jo was great company, and we decided to try to go out more - even just for a couple of hours now and then.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Bees, Mushrooms and morning dew.

This morning we had free, due to the kids both being elsewhere last night, Jo wanted me to take a couple of photos of a mushroom just off the drive, so I thought I'd share them with you.

I love the detail of the underneath of mushrooms - they have incredible architecture!

Since I had my camera in my hands, I thought I'd see what else was out there this morning, and moved to the back garden to explore.

One of the first things that came to mind was the flowerbed by Zak's room, it has some beautiful colours and the flowers are wonderful.

It was while I was deciding which flower to take a shot of, that I noticed a solitary bee hovering from one flower to another, so I took a couple of shots.

The first shot was of a thistle, and the second shot was caught as it was collecting pollen from inside the flower itself.

The last shot I took this morning was of a spiderweb that was covered in the morning dew.

All I could think of when I saw it was, how you could imagine certain parts of it looking like jewelry.

What do you see?

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

VICTORY!! Stiggy vs Mole update!

It's been a while since I started an assault on a mole that had been causing me no end of trouble and heartache.

The war started with smoke bombs, to try and push the mole out of our back garden, which worked quite well, making Mr Mole scurry into our paddock area. The main problem with this was that he then had free-reign to dig and burrow for all he was worth. This made it very unstable in the paddock, due to the unbelievable amount of tunnels, which collapsed underfoot and under mower!

Enough is enough I thought, and preceded to buy a couple of mole traps which I didn't have much success with to be quite honest. Mr Mole seemed to delight in back filling the traps until they went off, and then tunnelling around them!

The same thing happened when I used a 'Humane' mole trap. The little wotsit just glued the little tin doors up, and then tunnelled round the trap!

Recently though I thought that Mr Mole had moved on to pastures new - to either the field next door - or to the field across the road - that was until I walked round the chicken run and nearly broke my ankle when I trod on a three way tunnel junction...

...I then realised that the problem hadn't gone away - just out of sight!

I wasn't too optimistic about catching anything, but I thought I'd give it a go before I spent any more money buying a few Dufus mole traps, so off I went into the paddock, armed with two of the traps I'd bought previously.

One of the advantages of a long campaign is that you do actually get to know, or recognise certain signs of mole behaviour.

One of these signs is to find a tunnel just under the surface that ends with a little mound of earth. This is one of his exploration tunnels, which he may or may not come back to and continue on his way.

I roughly tore up the roof of the tunnel about 8" before the mound of earth, and set the trap. The second trap I placed in one of the tunnels I knew the mole was still using. You know Mr Mole is still using the tunnel because you have to flatten all the tunnels in the first place to see if he repairs any - then BINGO, you know where he goes!

I went back to the traps the next day, and didn't think anything of the trap that had gone off - but i took it out and looked into the tunnel...

...low and behold, I saw a little tiny paw sticking into the tunnel - I didn't want to get too excited, just in case I'd actually caught a rat or some other animal...

...slowly i grabbed the little paw...

...pulled it out of the tunnel...


I pretty much whooped with joy - I know it sounds silly, but no-one I know has had ANY success in catching or killing moles.

I was exalted!

Straight away I brought Mr Mole to the house like the proud hunter I was, and showed Jo who took the photos, and although Kane wasn't too impressed with it, hopefully it will help to harden him up to country life a bit.

One thing I remember is a comment on my first post about the moles (which I deleted), from a professional mole catcher - which pretty much pooh-poohed my attempts at mole catching, suggesting instead I contact a 'proper' mole catcher to do the job, as I was unlikely to get any results, and I was just wasting my money.

Well I hope you're reading this Mr Mole Catcher - because you are totally and utterly WRONG!

ANYONE can catch a mole, and it's even easier I hear with the Dufus traps - you just have to know what you're looking for in the first place in order to set the traps in the correct place!

I feel like I have just come of age!


Saturday, 1 August 2009

School Sports Day.

Since I'm on the subject of summer, nothing symbolises the break up from school for the long, summer holidays than the School Sports Day.

Kane recently had his, and it's always a great day, with a chance to watch the kids having fun, and (sometimes) getting that competitive feeling.

An awful lot of schools, I hear, in the UK have stopped the tradition of sports day because they don't want their pupils to feel in any way inadequate by losing a race!
Personally I have the opinion that in order to survive this wonderful and difficult life, we have no choice but to teach kids the bad with the good - and how to cope with losing occasionally...

...even if it IS losing the 'running with a plastic cone on the head' race!!

Anyway, I digress.

The way the Sports Day works at Kane's school is they have lots of different events placed within the school grounds, each one being run by either a parent or one of the older kids at the school. Last year I ran the 'kick the football at targets on a wall' event, and felt I missed out in a big way from not being able to see Kane compete.

This year was different. This year I decided to drop all responsibility, and to follow Kane round and give him support. Jo and I went together and I decided to take a few snapshots of the day. I wish I could post more than I have here - but to be honest, I actually took 192 photos of the day!

So be prepared for lots of photos here - I'll just put a quick note saying what each one is!

Kane's 1st event of the day - 'balancing 3 tennis balls on a tray race'

Dribbling ball round cones.

Get a score with beanbags.

Standing long jump.

Run to get 1st beanbag and put it in bucket, then 2nd beanbag etc...

...then run carrying bucket to finish line.

Dribble football round cones.

Skipping race (which Kane was WAY in the lead until he got caught up in the rope!)

Famous 'cone on the head and run as fast as you can' race.

Egg and spoon race.

Having a laugh between events!

The sack race.

Get score by throwing balls in baskets.

See how many times you can bounce the ball on the racket event.

Obstacle course race.

Last event - get as many balls through the hoop with 3 balls.

We were so proud of Kane, and the way he handled himself during the day. It was lovely to see how much he had improved at certain events, and just how wonderful he was generally with everything that was given to him to do.

All in all everyone had a really fun day, the kids behaved impeccably (as did most of the parents!) and no one was mortally wounded or put into deep depression by any of the events.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Memories of summer

I haven't really got time to blog in a regular fashion at the moment, but I thought I'd share with you some fun that happened over the summer, when my Mum and Dad came over and helped to set up our crops in our polytunnel.

I thought I'd give my Dad a bit of a laugh - so decided to take him on a race around our garden on my little tractor with him in the trailer!

As you can see he enjoyed himself rather more than I thought he would!

Then we had to get down to the task of moving some of our wonderful, fantastically broken down compost and chicken manure. Part of the reason our manure is so fine, is that when the ladies free range - they scratch around and turn everything over, leaving us with almost a find sand like texture!

We had some great success with all of our crops - in fact probably TOO much success as we have been unable to eat everything we've grown and had to resort to handing out various vegetables to friends and family!

Well, that's me done for a little while - I hope to be able to write more posts as time allows - but seeing as we have both kids now for 6 weeks summer holiday - who knows!?

Take care,


Tuesday, 14 July 2009


I apologise for my lack of posts recently, we've been rather busy in life, but hope to return soon as I get enough time!

I hope you'll still check back once in a while!


Friday, 12 June 2009

Another loss today.

I thought it was sad the other day when Cherie died, but it seems she may not have just 'died' as such.

I was standing in the school playground, chatting to a couple of the dads I know, when my mobile phone rang. Jo was on the phone telling me that a fox had attacked the chickens and one of the hens had been got, so I rushed in to get Kane from school. Luckily it was home time, so I asked Kane's teacher if I could take him right away.

We rushed home to find Jo in the paddock, she told me that she heard some racket, and rushed outside to see what the matter was. Jo saw the fox attacking one of the hybrid hens - the brown ones - and told me that Rhydian had stood up for the girls, clucking and flapping his wings at the fox!

Jo herded the chickens under the big fir tree, and protect them until the fox ran away.

Unfortunately, Jo told me that when she got to the hen that was attacked, she picked her up and she was breathing very fast, then she lay her head on Jo's arm and closed her eyes. Then she was gone.

From now on, I will only let my 'ladies' free range when I'm there to protect them. It's a shame as it's lovely to know they're enjoying themselves without my watchful eye.

I guess it's just the country way.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Overdue update!

Today I thought I'd put some time aside before I start anything else, to update my blog on a few things.

Recently I laid some turf down for our back lawn, it was the first time I had ever tried doing this job, but it seemed to go quite well.

I have had to go back up to twice a day to water some patches that have dried out, but it seems to have been worth the time spent, as the odd strand of green has been seen poking out of the straw coloured turf.

R.I.P Cherie

Unfortunately we found Cherie dead in the paddock the other day - I had let them out in the morning, as is usual, and when I went to put them away, I found poor Cherie lying down.

It seems she may have had the same thing happen to her as one of our older chickens some time ago - although my medical skills are limited, there were no marks on her, and no feathers littering the grass around her - so she must have gone very quick which is a good thing.

Cherie was one of five rescue chickens we picked up last year, and she was especially endearing as she had a twisted beak, which is why we named her after Cherie Blair!

She was one of the few hens that let me pick her up, more than the others anyway, so it is especially sad that she would be the one to go.

Rest in peace Cherie - we'll always remember you!

Kane rises the ranks!

Kane has been doing really well at Little Ninjas, he seems to have a natural flair for martial arts.

Well the other week he successfully passed the grading to give him his new belt - the yellow belt with a green stripe.

Every training session he goes to he receives a tag on his belt, and every time he gets 8 tags on his belt, he is eligible to do the grading for the next belt. Kane now does 2 sessions a week, and gets 2 tags a week, this has cut down the time he takes to get a new belt - not that it's rushed or anything - the test is quite comprehensive for the next belt.

Here he is in a fighting stance, with his new belt!