Wax on, wax off, starting out with karate

When the boy was four or five, I signed him up to karate lessons at a local school. They were after school on a Thursday and were an unmitigated disaster. We went for a month or so of Thursdays and all the boy did was cling to my leg for half an hour. He tried all the moves out at home but wouldn’t join in while we were there. At the time I thought it was a terrible waste of potential as he had such good coordination and core strength compared to every single other child there. Bless the karate school for not charging us for the lessons, they said they couldn’t in all honesty take the money from us for what we got out of it.

Fast forward 5 years and the boy is now back on the karate thing. On Sunday he had his blue belt grading, which went well, imbuing him with a bit more confidence. I suspected that he would find karate easy because it plays to his strengths; he has exceptional pattern recall abilities (he uses this to coast his way through his drumming and guitar), good core strength and very very good coordination.

All the skills he brings to karate mean I probably won’t have to get him to wash the car or paint the fence, which is a shame!

Holi Festival of Colours with Kingfisher

The festival of Holi is upon us! As part of ensuring our kids have a rounded world view, we tend to discuss big festivals from outside the Christian realm, and this year we decided to give Holi a look. Kingfisher, the premium Indian lager offered us the opportunity to have a closer look at Holi from the comfort of our own home.

The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships. Holi is also know as the festival of colour for a very good reason. Part of the two day festival, called Rangwali Holi involves covering anyone that moves with colourful paints. This was the part of the lesson the kids were interested in:

We found out there are such things a special Holi coloured dry paints, and after covering the kids in old vests and shirts, we made sure they had an experience to remember.

Kingfisher have also teamed up with Urban Rajah to come up with a top Holi feast, which is also part of the festival. The one thing we’ve learnt looking at different cultures festivals is how important the part that food plays in it all actually is.

I’ve put Kingfisher’s picture up because my attempts didn’t look anywhere near as appetising but they tasted good!

The special inks washed out of the kids and the clothes (and the cat didn’t tread them absolutely everywhere), so there is little in the way of a physical reminder of our celebration but it is something that the kids will remember for a long time and has opened them up to another culture, which in these times of more inward focusing introspection as a nation, can only be a good thing!

Incessant musical indoctrination DOES work!

The eldest has been learning the guitar for a little over a term now. The waiting list for classical guitar was enormous but the teachers at the music school were falling over themselves to teach someone electric guitar, so his wait was minimal if not quite nonexistent.

At Christmas his grandparents kindly bought him a 3/4 sized guitar as my full size (and mostly unused) one was a little too wide in the neck department for him. He started off learning how to read guitar tab and then moved on to learning a few riffs. The addition of the 3/4 sized guitar was a revelation for me, as I was able to manage the main riff from 7 Nation Army without moving any fingers myself! View Full Post

Nozstock The Hidden Valley 2017 Festival announcements

If you were to search Nozstock on my blog, you’d find some brilliant stuff. Like this or this or maybe even this picture:

Nozstock is a boutique festival, which in practical terms makes it much more family friendly- as some of the reviews out there say, it feels like you’ve been invited along to a private party, it’s properly intimate and you don’t get ripped off with the food.

Nozstock 2017, 21-23 July, is shaping up to be one of the best yet with some great acts already announced like Seasick Steve, Happy Mondays, General Levy, Ocean Wisdom, Mungo’s Hi-Fi, Beans on Toast, Rodney P & Skitz, The Correspondents, Dabbla Illaman and DJ Frosty, Land of The Giants, Stiff Joints, and Chainska Brassika

But if you want an idea about what to expect, have a watch of this:

WIN a family ticket to screening of Arsenal v Liverpool on 4 March AND more!

On Saturday, March 4, Arsenal’s family screening returns and YOU can win a family ticket to the screening of the Arsenal v Liverpool game at Emirates Stadium!

This event is an exclusive event for Junior Gunners- Arsenal’s young members, but this competition is open to any of our readers aged between 0-16 years.

The youngest age group that Arsenal do junior membership for is the 0-4’s, under their Welcome to our World banner.

The Junior Gunner Family Screening will be packed with fun activities where you will get to:

  • Watch a screening of the exciting away clash against Liverpool 
  • Try out fun football challenges for you to test your skills 
  • Get arty with Arsenal’s arts and crafts sessions
  • Challenge yourself with football skills sessions, hosted by Arsenal Soccer Schools
  • Meet Gunnersaurus
  • And much more!

Enter via the rafflecopter give away below, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions

The winner gets to bring three guests to the event and the guests do not need to be members but one must be over 18.

Prize is non transferable, no cash alternative is offered, if the winner does not respond by Friday 3rd March, an alternative winner will be chosen.

You will have to provide your own transport the the stadium and the competition is open to residents of the UK only

The prize is offered by Arsenal Football Club, Highbury House | 75 Drayton Park | London | N5 1BU and the promotor, Daddacool, shall not be held responsible for their failure to supply the prize.

Bikes through the decades, which was your favourite?

Born slap bang in the middle of the 1970’s, my first bikes were all very much hand me downs from my older cousins and nothing particularly noteworthy. It being the late 70’s, they were pretty much twice my weight and if I’m being generous made out of steel, if I’m not, cast iron recycled British Leyand Princess’s. My first new bike was an early mark II Rayleigh Grifter and it was magnificent. It had three gears, blue, green and red, operated via a gripshift that meant you could pretend you had a motorbike (with the prerequiste playing card stuck to the frame of course). It was almost impossible to lift it through the gates at either end of the New River footpath because like I said, bikes back then weighed many many tons.

While my Grifter doesn’t appear on the Halford Bikes Through the Decades infographic you can see below, it’s main nemesis the Chopper does. The Chopper was the bike that the cool kids in our class had- the ones who were reading the Dempsey & Makepeace books and pointing out the swearwords to everyone else- but it wasn’t practical enough for my dad to agree with, so I got a Grifter and my brother got the junior version, the Strika. View Full Post

Bored kids? Remake a scene from your favourite movie!

Hand on heart, we get bored. Despite having a house full of toys, games, books and several TV streaming services, on occasion getting outside and doing something silly is the best antidote to being fed up with everything you have.

Today was one such day, so we decided to reshoot my favourite scene from Monty Python & The Holy Grail. Well, the most suitable scene for children anyway. I opted against doing the Grail Shaped Beacon scene. The great thing about the Holy Grail is the whole film was made for under £250,000, which even in 1975 didn’t amount to a whole hill of beans.

Swamp Castle with kids from daddacool on Vimeo.

View Full Post

The most beautiful little soul

I hit 42 years of age on Saturday. As birthdays go, it wasn’t a great one to be honest, mostly my own fault but I felt a bit flat after Christmas, the weather was awful and we’d arranged my daughters 8th birthday party for the late afternoon.

I’m impossible to buy stuff for because the only things I really want (as oppose to need) are too expensive for presents. You know, a PSVR headset, a nice turntable and an amp, all in the £350 to £600 range, which is about (at the top end anyway) ten times more than have for presents. So I had a nice homemade SpongeBob Square Pants storage box from Fifi and a pair of techno socks* from my lovely wife.

It wasn’t the lack of gifts that made it a bit duff, rather the weather- originally I’d wanted to go out for the day (trip to the rather bleak seaside top of the list) but having Fifi’s party had put the kybosh on that. No problem, we could go out for a walk in the morning. Both the boys protested by taking their socks and trousers off when I suggested this (pants stayed on mercifully), so that didn’t happen. My first trip out for the day saw me go to the DIY store to buy a can of damp sealant. I scraped bumpers with the bloke next door on my way back which was a nightmare I could have done without. It put me a really rotten mood.

The rotten mood was alleviated by Fifi though, who provided me with an envelope containing the following:

 

Extra birthday present!

A photo posted by Alex Walsh (@daddacool) on


Which was lovely and cheered me up no end. The post title comes from Fifi’s aunty, who made that comment when she saw the letter!

I should point out I’m generally miserable on my birthday, I hate being the centre of attention for simply being a year older, as though I’ve done something to warrant it other than simply not dying. I don’t like people spending money on me either. It’s never anyone else’s fault I have a rubbish day, it’s all self inflicted!

 

 

 

*merino wool walking socks, not some dance through back global hypercolour socks.

The Nintendo Switch Launch

Nintendo, never a company to follow the trend, have launched a new console today, with a release date of 3rd March. That means retail units have already been made to build up stock for launch. They kept that one quiet! The Nintendo Switch unsurprisingly doesn’t follow the trend of more of the same but more powerful than what came before. Don’t get me wrong, I love the PS4 and Xbox One S, they both give a gaming experience that is unparalleled in terms of home console gaming but in a sense they follow a distinct paradigm that was started by Sega and Sony with the Saturn and the Playstation. A disc (and now disc and downloadable content) based system that focuses on 3D grunt. As the grunt gets more grunty, the games look more realistic and become more involved.

Nintendo have looked at the market and decided to do something different. There are some differentiators between the PS4 and Xbox One, the PS4 has it’s new PSVR virtual reality headset, the Xbox One tried motion control with the Kinect but now focuses on a better integrated user experience. In the end, if you’re not willing to shell out £350 for the VR headset, the choice effectively comes down to exclusive games and which system most of your mates have. From Nintendo’s point of view, it seems they decided there was little sense in introducing a third system that was much the same as the other two, that would make for a very crowded market. View Full Post

The Remover of Inconvenient Obstacles

I read a book once where the main baddie was called The Remover of Inconvenient Obstacles. It was a good book and the name stuck with me. We could currently do with a Remover of Inconvenient Obstacles because every way we look there seems to be an insurmountable obstacle.

Yesterday I took a car load of crud to the dump and was there for about an hour and a half queuing, dropping large pieces of chipboard in to skips and individually flatpacking about 40 8 and 16bit computer game cardboard boxes, removing the plastic inserts, and flinging them into a cardboard recycling skip.

It was a large car load too. I now have a company car, a Honda Civic Tourer, which is a posh way of saying estate. With the seats flat, like they were yesterday, it has a boot capacity of over 600 litres. I still had stuff in the passenger foot well.

After that we filled the boot with several hundred (probably somewhere between three and four at a guess) books and drove them round to the Oxfam Bookshop. The staff looked a little shell-shocked as we did about 8 trips to bring them all in.

Next up was six bin bags full of clothes to be recycled. I got rid of some that I have pictures of me wearing on our honeymoon. We were married in 2004. I did find some nice newer stuff that I had forgotten I owned, which was good. Basically I’ve been wearing the same 4 t-shirts on rotation for about a year as anything else requires me to have my section of the wardrobe out in it’s entirety because it’s rammed past capacity with clothes. There is still room for improvement though. I still have 5 pairs of shorts and ten jumpers, which seems a little excessive.

So all this stuff removed, a car full of junk, 3-400 books, 6 bin bags of clothes, it’s transformed our house right?

Nope. While we have almost cleared one bookcase, we still have about 3 ft of books on it and most of the four other bookcases are double stacked. We could easily fill it over again and still not completely un-double stack everything. The garden does look a bit tidier as the horrible plastic toy car has gone but that’s about it.

I keep telling myself it must have made a difference because I can see physically the amount of stuff we’ve removed but it really doesn’t look much different. I suppose the only way forwards is to do it again. And again. And again, until we’ve got next to nothing but space.