Sunday, 31 March 2013

Donegal Easter Weekend

I climbed up Mount Errigal in County Donegal yesterday. Being Easter Sunday it felt a bit like an Easter pilgrimage and I think it was busier than it normally is.
The views at the summit are spectacular but all I remember now is that we were clinging onto each for dear life. The wind was blowing like it knew our names and tugged at our coats all the way up and down.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Of Two Today

We're celebrating this week the second anniversary of the opening of our training centre. Since March 2011 our new centre has been used for its seminar rooms by countless organisations wanting somewhere quiet but central in Northern Ireland with plenty of parking.
Best of all we hope to extend the property further to add another couple of rooms and offer even more to local businesses and employers.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Of the Hell of Good Intentions

I'm learning Russian at the moment with a view to doing a GCSE in it next April. It's tough going.
The alphabet is full of lots of awkward letters the like of which I've never seen in any other foreign language. Some letters I've discovered do nothing except change the pronunciation of letters it follows. As I read out loud to my Russian teacher it must sound as painful as it does awful.
And there's worse to come. Verbs it seems change according to the tense they're in and the gender of the noun they're working with. Get it? No, me neither....

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Budget Day and Going the Distance

I felt good this morning as I yanked myself out of the swimming pool. For I had just swam 30 lengths in a record time of 20 minutes flat. That's 750 metres or, if you like, 0.75km. I did it by racing the guy in the lane next to me who is a fairly serious swimmer. By length 20 not only had I managed to keep up with him but I had put a bit of distance between us too. Rock on!
As I sat on the edge of the pool a lady slipped into my lane. She was well into her 50s and looked fairly serious about her task. Strapped around her energy drink in a flask was a training regime which no doubt she planned to consult during her morning swim. When I asked what was on it she replied "Well it's quite simple I suppose I just have to swim 4km in 90 minutes". I got out thinking I have more to do...

It's budget day today. It's a day all about money. As Bo Derek once said "Those who think money can't buy happiness just aren't shopping in the right place"!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Of Frog Racing and Passing it Down the Line

A while ago my family was into frog racing big time. When I say a while ago I guess I mean in the late 70s and early 80s and when I say frog racing I'm not referring to the real thing. Family frog racing was cardboard frogs which could only be marched from a start to finish line by carefully pulling a string that was threaded through the frog and tied to a leg of a chair some distance ahead.
For such a simple game it provided huge amounts of fun.The family would play it every Christmas and each time there was a different winner. For frogging is a bit like golf. You turn up and sometimes it works for you and sometimes it just goes horribly wrong.
In the early 90s disaster struck for the frogs were lost in transit from GB to Northern Ireland. My Mum tried hard to hide her distress for the frogs had brought the family lots of fun over the years and had become something of a family heir loom.
In fact Phillips family legend had it that the frogs had been handed down over generations and that my grandfather was in fact a fine frogger himself. Only recently did I discover that this can't have been right for on closer examination of the Frog Race game and box produced by gaming company Spears there's a clear date of 1973.
To my delight I found four frogs for sale on Ebay and quickly bought them to replace the ones probably still swimming lost in the Irish Sea. But it was only when inspecting the list of available items that I noticed "Jiggle -Joggle" a frog game identical to the one produced by Spears for sale in the US. It's marked "British Manufacturer" and is dated 1907.
So it seems the frogs were out the box at the turn of the last century and who knows maybe Grandfather Duckworth was a fine frogger afterall.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Of Baywatch at the Local Pool

A rather strange item has appeared suddenly in the car park belonging to the local leisure centre. It's a charge point for anyone brave enough to turn up in an electric car.The problem this morning was that if you were one such soul you couldn't get near the thing for it was surrounded by petrol guzzling vehicles. Does this mean that soon we will have to have yet more bays reserved for particular vehicles or drivers I can't help but wonder? We've got the disabled bays, the loading bays, the family bays; now spaces for the electrics amongst us one assumes? And what symbol on the ground will mark it out I wonder? A picture of a battery, a flash of lightning or maybe just a skull and crossbones over a petrol pump?. Watch this space as they say.

Monday, 11 March 2013


I was at Dunluce Castle recently with Mrs P. Wow it's a beautiful part of the world when the sun is shining and I guess, a tough place to be when it's not.
It's complicated working it who lived in the castle. It seems it was forever being attacked by various clans and folks coming over the 12 miles from Scotland and throwing a few crowbars on ropes up the walls and claiming it as their own.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Of Chester for Le Weekend

I was in Chester over the weekend introducing Mrs P to the cousins. Chester is gorgeous. The only thing I don't like about a trip to Chester is that you have to go via Liverpool airport. This invariably means you're sat on a plane full of Hens, that you'll get lost leaving the airport (for it will have been refurbished and extended since your last visit) and you'll fight to find the car hire place. For some reason, there's not a single sign in the airport directing you to the car hire desks which, strangely, are housed in another building altogether.
Chester was wonderful over the weekend. Spring was in the air, the sun did his best to show his face for a good 6 hours on Saturday and almost as many on Sunday. The Rels were on great form. Class weekend.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Of Angels of Halo

I was at a HALO event earlier in the week. This is when a number of entrepreneurs present in front of so-called Angels who are looking to invest a pile of wonga on the "next big thing". It is a bit like Dragons' Den but without the grilling at the end and a strange looking man not unlike Gollum at the start who does the intros.
Many of the pitches were mightily impressive and their numbers were very seductive. For just a £300,000 investment by year 5 you were looking at a major share of £50million!
The guy sat next to me had just made a bob or two selling a website designed for the medical industry whilst the man to my left was their to take a punt with other people's money on behalf of some investment fund. I left thinking I should put down a pound or two at some point this year only to return home and change my mind. The oil tank had been filled. The bill was £750!
Who wants a share of £50million anyway?