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Friday, 26 August 2016

1608.26 ARE WE GOING TO SCARBOROUGH FAIR...?

We did, yesterday...

Scarborough is approximately 2 hours drive away so an early start was called for. Having a teenage daughter means that early starts aren't always achieved. Not a problem getting her out of bed (like her older sister), it was a getting the right outfit and makeup right. We were 45 minutes late setting off.

Before we set off we checked the weather with this guy... 
He said it was going to be overcast and warm in the afternoon (with some showers in the morning). This is Owain Wyn Evans, the camp Welshman who presents Yorkshire weather on the BBC.


The drive northeast was uneventful and we arrived at Scarborough Fair without incident. 


Scarborough Fair is a collection of vintage (mostly steam driven) fairground rides and Victorian attractions and well as a number of vintage vehicles. They are all housed in 2 large hanger style buildings located between Scarborough and Filey.
The price is a little expensive but we had a discount coupon (£3 off) and the proceeds go towards preserving the collection, the staff there are all volunteers. The great thing about the collection is that a number of the rides are available to ride on (for the price of a £1 token). We rode the Merry-go-round, Caterpillar, a Ghost Train and I had 2 goes on the Dodgems (they let you bump unlike the 'health and safety' obsessed Dodgems I've experienced recently).

We were there a few hours before heading into Scarborough. We walked along the front when the heavens opened. Hoping for a passing shower we ducked into an amusement arcade to wait it out.

It didn't stop. Well done Mr Evans, you were way off on this one. 

We decided to get some tea at one of the fish and chip restaurants that we (Morticia and me) visited last year.


The rain continued and as the visitors started to leave the shops began to close early. We waited for the traffic to subside before heading home ourselves.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

1608.24 A VOICE FROM THE FUTURE

Last post about my holiday I promise (maybe not but I'll try).

We've been visiting New Quay (Cei Newydd) in Wales now for 12 years. This year we reminisced about something that happened on our first visit. We were only staying for a long weekend (it was some sort of special offer from a newspaper) and I remember how excited Morticia was at the prospect of seeing dolphins in the wild, it's something Cardigan Bay is famous for. We had a great weekend but by the last day (and after a boat trip) we still hadn't seen any dolphins.

Morticia still tells the story of how she was alone on the pier (I think I was in the cafe with the kids) looking whilst forlorn looking out to sea. At that point she was approached by an elderly couple who consoled her saying that they had been coming to New Quay every year for over 40 years and had never failed to see dolphins.

Sure enough just a short time later the dolphins appeared just off the pier. I've surmised that this elderly couple could very well have been us travelled back in time to advise the young Morticia.

So I might be needing a time machine in about 20-30 years. Any ideas where I might get one?

An impression of what might have actually happened

Monday, 22 August 2016

1608.22 GOLDRUSH - THE OLYMPICS

I'm not really a massive sports fan, especially if the sport involves a ball. I love the cycling (as most know) but that's about it. So what is it about the Olympics that gets me watching sports I wouldn't entertain normally?

Back in 2012 when London hosted I was lucky enough to be working when the Olympic torch came through Sheffield. I managed the crowds at 2 separate hand overs (over 2 days). For my trouble I was awarded this medal (as we're many thousands of others that worked over those games). I'm immensely proud of this medal and it counts as one of my more prized possessions.
My Olympic Medal
I've watched the Rio coverage every chance I've gotten. Even whilst being on holiday I've caught up with the action. I've been amazed at how well Team GB have done.

Highlights? Hard to say since there were so many. The cycling was amazing and we were world beating. The Mens Kerin final with 2 false starts before Jason Kenny took the gold was nail biting stuff. Laura Trott became the most successful UK female Olympian. Mo Farah's double gold in the 10000 & 5000 metres was great to watch as was Usain Bolt's triple success. Really there was so many highlights, the hockey, the tennis, the cartwheels on a mat. There were few sports I didn't watch (I didn't bother with the football or the horsey stuff).
Images copyright © Getty, Sky, BBC, Mirror, CNN, ABC
Then there's Team GB's success. 2nd on the medal table is insane! Look at us, we're a few rocks off mainland Europe with a population of approx 64 million. Compare that to the 319 million in the USA and 1357 million in China. I'm so proud of our athletes.
©BBC
In the cycling we beat the world.
©BBC 
I'm going to miss not having the Olympics to watch now, I have to say that the BBC coverage was amazing with 8 extra pop up channels dedicated to the summer of sport. And of course, being our public service broadcaster we got uninterrupted coverage without commercials. Thank you to them for bringing the whole event to my home.
©BBC
This was our most successful games and hopefully is inspiring the next generation. Reports of sports clubs filing with new members, children inspired to achieve are being reported across the country. 

Can't wait now for Tokyo 2020!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

1608.21 Mae fy nghalon yw yno, nid yma

We certainly had the weather last week, it's been glorious (although if I holiday-ed for the weather Wales probably wouldn't be the ideal location) with sun all week.

The place was a lot quieter than in previous years with the Penwig Hotel (located next door to our cottage) closed by 23:00 just about every night. We're not night owls so it's not a massive deal.

There were also a few less places to eat this year but we found the Penrhiwllan Inn (we had visited back in 2012) was under new management and did excellent food.
A photo posted by CaptainKirt™ (@captainkirt) on

The cottage we rent (same one as last year) was the perfect base, it probably wouldn't be to everyone's taste but it was comfortable, spacious and full of character. We penciled in a booking for next year whilst we were there.

I'm not a big drinker but I do like to try out local ales when I visit anywhere, this year I sampled these beers:
  • Orme (Gt Orme Brewery) 
  • Rev James (Original) 
  • Rev James (Golden) 
  • Brains Bitter
  • Cwrw (Evan Evans) 
  • Welsh Pale Ale (Evan Evans) 
  • Moho (Mantle) 
  • Welsh Gold (Gt Orme Brewery)
  • Double Dragon (Felinfoel) 
  • Ramnesia (Penlon)
One of the least wanted souvenirs I picked up this year was an ear infection that's meant I've had a little pain and a loss of hearing. Still, I haven't let it get me down.

We saw friends that we've made over the years, that was special. I realise that to us this is not a holiday, it's sampling a lifestyle that is our dream.


The journey home was long and the weather seemed to match our feelings.

What I fear the most is times like these will end one day. We almost lost them back in the mixed up years of 2013-14 but with hard work we got them back. I love this place with all my heart.

My goal, my dream is to live in this place (or near this place). Dreams do sometimes come true don't they?

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

1608.16 POSTCARD FROM CEI NEWYDD

Dear all, 

We arrived safely to beautiful bright sunshine. The cottage is just as we remembered it. It's great that people know us here and are so nice to us all. We had our Sunday dinner in the Wellington Inn as usual which was lovely. We've had great weather so far with Monday and Tuesday on the beach.

On Tuesday morning we went on a boat trip. The owner remembered us from our previous visits.

Today we're going to visit some friends who live nearby. Safe to say we are all having a wonderful time and as usual we never want to come home.

See you all soon.
Love CaptainKirt™ xx

Saturday, 13 August 2016

1608.13 BRACE YOURSELF WALES...

The time is upon us. It's time for our annual holiday. A lot of people I know get 3 or 4 a year but we just get one shot at this so it has to be right.

06:20 - It's an early start. The car is loaded and (hopefully) everything is prepared. We have a long journey ahead, it's a journey I really enjoy. The actual milage is about 200 miles but the miles are through Snowdonia National Park and some of the most breathtaking areas in the UK.
Rags said I should be good at Tetris. 
We were a little behind schedule getting underway leaving at about 6:55 but I expected that since I wanted to delay going to bed until I'd seen the Olympic Men's Team Pursuit Track Cycling final which resulted in a gold medal for Team GB and made Bradley Wiggins the UK's most decorated Olympian.

08:32 - We've stopped at Chester services off the M56 as we usually do. Looks like the place has had a makeover. 
Next stop will be in Wales.

10:26 - We've  stopped for food at Bala Lake just on the edge of Snowdonia National Park. Time to break out the picnic. We shared our food!
Rags feeding the ducks
10:54 - Time to carry on our journey, I get a break from driving as Morticia takes a turn (I'll be back at the helm before Aberystwyth). Time to sit back and enjoy the view.
We took a comfort stop in Machynlleth then continued through Aberystwyth at with point I took back over driving duties.  We then continued following the coast to our destination. 6½ hours on the road and 196 miles travelled. Finally at the place in the world I feel most at ease in.

Time for a pint of Brains! 

Friday, 12 August 2016

1608.12 IF IT'S NOT PACKED IT'S NOT COMING

This week has been stressful. Preparations for our week's holiday has been the forefront to our activities.

As well as the packing and prep my thoughts are with a colleague from my team at work who was bitten by an unsavoury type whilst going about his duties (can't really go to much into this as there are strict rules about what I can share).

This morning we started by getting the car wash at our local Eastern European hand wash establishment.

Then Morticia made a few sandwiches for the journey...
...yes, we could probably survive the whole week on these.

The cases were finally closed. Morticia asked if I'd got enough underpants to which I pointed out that I only had 1 arse and had packed enough for a week and a half anyway. Morticia always packs for all weather and occasions, even though she'll probably only wear a third of what she takes.

Financial matters have been dealt with via online banking (so there will hopefully be no interruptions to our break).

The last job is to buy cat food (our cat, Angel, will be well looked after by Morticia's dad) and fuel up the car...

...now all that is left is to shower and get to bed. Early start tomorrow.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

1608.09 PACK and PREPARE

My holiday is almost upon us and all that is left to do is prepare and pack. For me this is easy, get my clothes out and chuck em into the suitcase. Then buy the supplies we will need such as the toiletries and food. Easy! Not for Morticia, she's stressing about the whole affair. Ok there's making sure the laundry is all done (I do my share with that) and the cat is catered for (Morticia's dad will be popping by to feed and check on her). If we all remain calm everything will just fall into place ready for our departure.
My daughters on our first visit to New Quay,
Wales back in 2004
We are off to Wales as we have done many times before. In fact, except for a couple of years in 2013-14, we've visited the same place every year since 2004. People often judge us on this fact but it's a place that invokes a certain feeling of contentment and inner calm that I never experienced anywhere else in the world (or at least the bits I've been too). 

Monday, 8 August 2016

1608.08 MONKEY MAGIC

Around the meal table at work the other day we were discussing childhood television and our favourite shows off the day. Of course there are quite a few a bit younger than me so their offerings were a bit recent or I'd not heard of them. Then someone (of similar age to me) mentioned "Monkey".
Monkey was a Chinese production which was adapted and translated into English and I think shown on BBC 2 in the afternoon. It followed a Buddhist monk (played by a girl) and the Monkey King as they ventured from China to India assisted by Pigsy and Sandy. I remember the next day at school we'd all want to play at "Monkey", acting out the fight scenes and hoping you didn't have to be Pigsy.  I do recall being very good at the cloud summoning finger blowy thing. 

It was an unlikely hit with kids of my generation giving them larger than life characters, some kung fu and a moral life lesson. What more could you ask for? Oh yes, it had an awesome theme tune too.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

1608.06 A WEDDING I'M OVER INVITED TO

I'm down south for a wedding of one of Morticia's family friends. If I'm brutally honest I'm not too enthusiastic about being here especially since I will be missing my cycling club's 100 mile ride to Humber Bridge tomorrow. To add insult to injury the Olympic Men's Road Race is on whilst the service is on (and apparently it's not appropriate to watch sports in church).

The day starts early. Morticia is taking the photos as a wedding present (since she has a half decent camera and a couple of weddings under her belt) so she's going to have to go over to the bride's house before for a few snaps.

11:39 - I'm sat in my car whilst Morticia and her mum are with the bride doing whatever they are doing. It's a hot day but at least my car has air conditioning. 

13:32 - In church. I've not got a lot invested in this event. I'm just thinking about the men's cycling road race which is happening in Rio right now. Physically I'm witnessing a wedding but mentally I'm willing on Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas or maybe even Adam Yates to win gold today. I've resigned myself that I'll find out the result before I see the race. 

15:39 - I just got back from the church. If I'm honest it wasn't quite as bad as I thought it was going to be.  If I'm really honest I quite enjoyed it. I just dropped the car back at Morticia's mother's (I dropped them off at the reception venue) now I'm going to walk back. It'll give me some time to myself before the reception (it'll be about a 30 minute walk).
20:16 -  The reception is in full swing and I'm actually enjoying myself. I even got to watch the Olympic Men's Road Race on my phone (although I was disappointed with the result - gutted for Geraint Thomas who crashed on the final decent). I'm going to enjoy the party. 

23:52 - And we're done. I'm exhausted. Didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. 

I'm still disappointed that I'll be missing my cycling club's 100 mile ride in the morning. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

1608.03 PUBLIC TRANSPORT HAS FAILED

Back in 1986 an act of parliament deregulated bus services in the UK. Prior to this buses were run by local authorities or the government owned National Bus Company. Back then I was 15 years old, public transport was my primary method of getting about. In fact it was a lot of people's primary method of getting about. Fares were cheap and buses were frequent, plentiful and reliable. Because of this the knock on effect was that the roads were relatively congestion free (there were traffic jams but nothing on today's scale). The government of the day thought that a free market system would be good for the system providing competition that would in turn lead to better services.
Source: Guy Arab (Flickr)
Fast forward 20 years. Has the market created a transport system that work. Has it hell! Those market forces initially saw loads of start up bus companies driving old and potentially dangerous buses (that had probably previously been sent for scrap), those companies scrambled for customers on the profitable corridors ignoring the rural and quieter routes. Fares more than doubled overnight and since that time have continued to increase. The roads have become congested as passengers move away to private cars. Most of the local authority bus companies along with the smaller operations have merged into a small number of large operators who control the majority of the UK bus companies.
Source: citytransport.info
In contrast London's model is more of a tender system where private bus companies bid to run specific routes with fares and timetables set by the local authority.

So what happens now? I hope public transport isn't dying as I would love to see it as the future of getting out and about. I don't see private cars as a sustainable transport for everyday travel. The problem is now also cultural. I know people that wouldn't dream of using public transport and see it as 'beneath them', this snobbish behaviour might be the biggest stumbling block even if investment and infrastructure is improved.

My wish is for the London model to be taken up in other urban areas across the country with fares subsidised which will in turn will mean people hopefully will choose to leave their cars at home. I used to work in a deregulated public transport industry (all be it 10 years ago) and use it regularly, my transport priorities are cycling, public transport, private car.

Monday, 1 August 2016

1608.01 HAPPY YORKSHIRE DAY

Today is Yorkshire day and as a proper Yorkshireman I am wearing my flat cap eating Yorkshire Puddings whilst feeling smug in the fact that I'm from Yorkshire!

Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, 31 July 2016

1607.31 SNIFFLES and NEW TOYS


It's been a bit of a difficult week for me mainly because I contracted a bit of a cold which has slowed me down a little. Thankfully it's stayed in my head so I've managed to work and keep up my cycling all be it on a limited scale. It's also been the long week at work (it's 6 days) which has been a bit of a slog through plus all the preparation for our up and coming holiday. This has given me very little free time. Once I get through today's shift I'll only have 5 more shifts in the next 2 weeks to get through.


On a plus I have a new toy. I've pondered getting an activity tracker for a while and a heart rate monitor for cycling. I decided to get a Garmin Vivosmart HR and kill 2 birds with one stone. I know a wrist based HR monitor aren't generally as accurate as chest straps but I'm never going to be a pro athlete so that's not too important.
New activity tracker and heart rate monitor
on my extremely hairy wrist
It's also a smart watch too.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

1607.28 CLASSIC COMEDIES

I was chatting with a few colleagues the other day and I'm not sure how the subject arose we started talking about old movies. I mentioned the likes of Laurel and Hardy, Harold Lloyd and the Marx Brothers. I was surprised, no in fact I was shocked that there were quite a number of my work mates had never heard of some if not all of those that I mentioned.

I remember watching classic black and white comedies, usually shown on BBC2 in the afternoons. Why are they not shown on TV anymore? We could have a channel for them. I've looked around the internet and there are a few lurking on YouTube. It's worth searching them out, they certainly still hold their own as comedy and even surpass modern cinematic efforts. 

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

1607.26 TOUR WEEK 3 and ROUND UP

Week 3 saw Mark Cavendish pull out to concentrate on his preparation for the Rio Olympics and Chris Froome further his lead and guarantee his hold on the Yellow Jersey. Quintana never got his challenge off the ground and some said that the Tour lacked drama. Although the challenges rarely came, the professionalism of Team Sky and the way they kept control was amazing.

Peter Segan wiped the floor in the points (Green Jersey) competition, ever the showman he certainly entertained.

So the Tour came to Paris and Froome took (or rather kept since he had it since his stage 8 victory) the Yellow Jersey for a third time. Surely a knighthood is deserved.
My free time is free again. I can't believe another Tour is over. Roll on La Vuelta!