That’s one hell of a playlist

We drove in to London yesterday to attend a screening of the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, The Long Haul (expect a review tomorrow or the day after). The car ride itself wasn’t particularly memorable other than the roads being more quiet than typical for a Sunday morning, but the radio provided some unexpected entertainment.

I have my car radio tuned in to Absolute Radio (Virgin Radio in old money) and they were playing their usual mixture of 90’s onward rock. This annoys my wife as I’m not down with it (her car is tuned to Radio 1) but I’m too old and too set in my ways to change.

Things took a turn for the surreal when we got to Staples Corner. I’ve always had a soft spot for Depeche Mode’s Violator album but not to the point I’ll inflict it on others, so image my surprise when Personal Jesus came on and the boy started singing along to it. By the second verse his sister had joined in. I’m struggling to think where they could have heard it before; they’ve probably heard the Johnny Cash version on his America IV album (they also love Hurt from that album too) but they nailed it pretty perfectly. View Full Post

Failing on World Free Comic Book Day

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Saturday was, as the title suggests, free comic book day. We failed at this fairly spectacularly. The ten year old had been made aware of it by some other agency than me, so had his usual unrealistic expectations. No, you’re not going to be able to get the shops entire stock of Spider-Man comics for free, what there will be is a limited number of a few specific titles.

As it turned out, when we made it to the comic shop just after lunch, there were no comics at all. As we mooched around, several small boys came in and approached the chap behind the counter who had to tell all of them that the free comics ran out a couple of hours previously. I imagine the people queuing for the shop to open got the majority of them; free isn’t really free if you have to invest the time to queue, and we had plans first thing. View Full Post

Now it’s summer – Amazon, and a BBQ

A couple of weeks ago now I was invited to the Amazon Now It’s Summer rooftop BBQ in London. It’s taken me a couple of weeks to blog about it as I thought it would sit well with a lovely upturn in the weather but since outside is still doing it’s best impression of late Feb/early March, I’ve scrapped that idea. Ironically Amazon’s  #NowItsSummer store itself is actually weather reactive when it comes to recommendations- if it’s sheeting it down outside, you can guarantee it’s clever algorithms won’t be recommending suntan lotion; you’re much more likely to get brollies or wellies. Perhaps I can stop asking my Echo Dot what the weather is going to be like every morning and just check out the Now Its Summer Store. View Full Post

Marvel’s Iron Fist a Netflix Originals

Whatever Iron Fist have have had in terms of reviews, I’m loving it. I didn’t get the opportunity to binge watch it when it came out last month as I was too busy with work and external commitments (and we were watching Sleepy Hollow but sshhh, don’t tell anyone). It’s more enjoyable than both Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, and, at the moment at least as much fun as Daredevil. Danny Rand is simply a nicer person than Matt Murdoch, which makes it easier to empathise with him. I love the fact that Danny is determined to be nice to everyone, despite their intentions for him, it’s unusual to see but I suppose reflect the Buddhist teachings that sit behind Kung Fu. View Full Post

Games consoles, Overwatch, kids accounts and a meltdown

Recently we were exceptionally decadent and added a second PS4 to our house. We did this through the accumulation of Nectar Points which we used to get a decent discount at Argos on a bundle that was already reduced. Go me!

Although it seems silly, there were a couple of good reasons behind the purchase. Firstly we had pretty much been driven from the living room where MY PS4 lives by kids incessantly playing games on it. Secondly, the high functioning child gets very valuable secondary socialisation from using it. Secondary socialisation is important for people on the spectrum; it involves chatting and interacting with people whilst doing something else. Put kids together in a situation where the sole purpose is to interact and they’ll have trouble, give them something to do that leads to interaction as a secondary benefit of whatever they’re doing, and it works much better. View Full Post

Doggone fed up

I recently got into a bit of a fight with a work colleague on Facebook over dog mess. On holiday we had what should have been a lovely day at the beach, followed by a trip to an iron age hill fort. In both instances dog owners pretty much spoiled it for all of us.

On the beach at Charmouth, as we settled down to have our picnic after a morning of fossil hunting, 7 different dogs that weren’t under control came and nosed around our food. We hadn’t even stopped for very long, ten minutes maybe. As we walked back along the beach later, we spotted several of the owners eating their own lunch. With their dogs on leads so they couldn’t snuffle around their sandwiches.

At Blackberry Camp (the iron age hill fort). I couldn’t properly take in the splendour of the place as almost every 5 paces there was a pile of dog crap. On the one occasion I did look up, I could see several bags of it that were hanging from high branches in some of the trees. With three kids to show round, this became an unnecessarily stressful trip as I didn’t want the mess trodden into my car.

I can’t understand the mentality required to go to all the trouble of bagging up a turd only to throw it a few meters up a tree. What if it hadn’t snagged on something? Did it take more than one attempt to get it to stay up? The mind boggles.

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The argument I got into on Facebook involved children being just as badly controlled as dogs. Fortunately I don’t know anybody who lets their children steal from other peoples picnics or indeed simply poo in the woods. Perhaps it’s because we’re from St Albans? (I doubt that’s the reason.)

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: