Family Trip To Strensham

We planned to go to see Uncle Rod, Aunt Pauline and cousin Katie (More Duncan’s) over in Strensham, Worcestershire, before Christmas but what with one thing and another the diaries just wouldn’t add up together so we arranged to go after the Christmas buzz had passed us by, it also meant the kids got more Christmas presents after Christmas, always a winner!!

The plan was to head up to a hotel halfway on the Friday as I wouldn’t get home from work till late and then carry on in the morning on Saturday. As ever these things are all perfect in an ideal world, but lets face the world is far from ideal most of the time and this was no exception.

Lots of illness over Christmas, Jaycee with a sickness bug that kept her bed ridden for four days, Jaydan with such a bad ear infection that it resulted in a burst ear drum and yep you guessed it another illness struck again keeping Daizee-Mai off school on Friday with the sickness bug which threw it all up in the air, we decided to hang it out Friday at home and hope DM was better the next day to travel up and she was, though we had a bit of a moment when we stopped and she came over all sick, thankfully we had driven most of the way so there was only twenty minutes left to go till we arrived at our final destination, Strensham.

It’s been quite a few years since we’ve made the trip over to see them, about five or six years according to some old photos that Rod had taken that he gave us, so the kids have grown LOADS, in fact it was so long that Daizee-Mai was probably the same age as Djorgee-Ann the last time they saw her.

Pauline made one of her infamous beef pies for the adults, Kyler wanted some too, Jaycee and Daizee-Mai had chicken and chips but I don’t think they were too hungry though.

After a night of catching up and chatting Paula took Djorgee-Ann up to bed and Daizee-Mai went up too, Pauline wasn’t too far behind, Kyler and Jaycee however took full advantage of Dad and Rod chatting while Katie was dozing on and off on the sofa, it was a shade before midnight before Paula text me to send them up, whoops bad Daddy!

We spent most of the day on Sunday and left around 5pm so ended up getting home just after 9pm after a quick stop at Baldock services on the way past so we didn’t have to mess about getting dinner, it was a school night after all.

It always goes far too fast when we go to Strensham, we WILL be back in summer though when the weather is nicer and we can stay longer and enjoy the river and being outside, till then!!

The Gauntlet Games Hertford

I was contacted at the back end of last year by a family friend who fund raises for the Herts Air Ambulance charity, with what she said was a strange request!

To cut a long story short this year The Gauntlet Games obstacle course is supporting Herts Air Ambulance and Cancer Research UK and they were looking for “Gladiators” to participate in the experience, and the first people she thought of was Paula and myself!

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Of course, it’s for a great cause, my sister (Kerry) works as a paramedic on the Midlands Air Ambulance and I hear all the time about the great work she does, so I was all over this!

The Gauntlet Games

The Gauntlet Games is a hilarious obstacle course race. To successfully complete the challenge, run 5K or 10K, taking on a series of obstacles, and challenges against real Gladiators!

Forget pain-inducing runs and challenges, the Gauntlet Games is all about having a giggle – what better way to spend your Saturday than bouncing, sliding and fighting your way through all kinds of crazy challenges with your friends?

This is your chance to become a gameshow hero. Sign up and regret it never.

Course Highlights
– Real Gladiators (Including myself and Paula, the husband wife team and she’s tough trust me!!) challenging you around the course (We’re all friendly, I promise!)
– Huge rope swing onto an air bag to finish in true Gladiator style
– A giant slippery slide
– Climb, Splash and Crash in the water zone
– Giant Inflatable zone complete with foam

Here’s a few pictures from a previous event to give you a bit of flavour as to what to expect, looks good right?

Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough!!

So we have been given the opportunity to create our own team for anyone to join (You don’t even have to know us), one thing’s for sure, we WILL meet on the course!!

Prices start at £30 per person (with the discount) and this includes entry to the race, a free technical t-shirt, free medal, free car parking and free kit storage. There’ll also be loads of food stalls, music and other things going on in the event village area. 

It’s on Saturday 16th April in Ware, Hertfordshire.

If you want to join my team, Rick’s Rhino’s (it’s really simple), click the button at the bottom of the page which will take you directly to the team page and signup to either the 5K or 10k options as a multiple team 2+ team (Highlighted Red in the screenshot below, click on it) and you will receive an automatic 10% discount, feel free to join as many people as you like, remember, it’s for a great cause and one day you or one of your family MAY need it, and if nothing else it’s gonna be a blast, see you there!

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Snow Joke, The Force Has Awoken!

On this fine winters day we battled the snow, albeit not very much of it, and made our way to the O2 in North Greenwich to watch “The Force Awakens” in the D-Box at Cineworld, and in the words of the great Jedi Yoda “worth it the wait was it”

*Note this blog does not give away any spoilers for the Force Awakens

Being the time conscious guy that I am, I planned in lots of contingency to get ourselves to the O2 with plenty of time to make sure that firstly we got there and secondly without having to rush around like a blue ar*ed fly, there’s nothing worse than that, Paula will disagree with me on that, she seems to thrive on doing things last minute!!

So I dragged Kyler out of bed bleary eyed at around 7.45am which gave us half an hour to get up, dressed, brushed our teeth and grab ourselves some tea an toast which we executed perfectly, now I knew the night before that we were likely going to have to battle some snowy conditions to get to Stevenage where we were going to get to train to Kings Cross and sure enough it snowed overnight, fortunately not too much so the delay was minimal, last year my Jag’s DSC stability control system wasn’t working correctly so driving in the snow was seriously challenging, this year however with all that fixed the journey was an absolute delight, 4WD with full DSC working as it should meant the car ate up the snow no issues.

So we got to the station with plenty of time to spare, I had to buy Kyler a ticket which was the real surprise, a day’s travelcard including the tubes (which is free anyway) was a snip at £2 #bargain, we grabbed a hot chocolate @ Costa to warm up and a croissant then made our way down to Kings Cross, onto the tube and after one change at London Bridge we arrived at North Greenwich where the O2 is well ahead of schedule.

Now I had read a lot of reviews about huge queue’s at the O2 particularly to buy a ticket, which is why Mr. Digital (That’s me) bought online, and I thought we’d see what the queue’s were like and whether it was worth waiting for popcorn, drinks, sweets etc. to my surprise the queue never happened, not one person, but still it’s good to plan ahead just in case, I’m the worlds most impatient person in a queue!! We grabbed our bits then headed in to the screen to get our seats.

We were about 20 minutes early but even still I never expected to be greeted by a completely empty cinema, and that it was, we proceeded to find our seats which weren’t too difficult to find as I had upgraded them to D-Box (I’ll go into that in a minute) and they are pretty obvious.

So D-Box is basically a special chair that literally moves with the action which is supposed to add to the realism of the film, you can even control the level of movement you wish to your own taste. Now I did a lot of looking around the internet at various reviews about D-Box to see what to expect and I found quite a lot of negativity about the experience so didn’t really go in with very much expectaion, I think I may do a separate review on it at some point but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, I really thought it worked well and added to the experience, Kyler definitely agreed with me.

I’m not really going to write a great deal about The Force Awakens but all I can say as expected it’s full of a twists, turns and unexpected “oh” moments, some of it was a little cheesy for my liking but all in all I think it really captured the feeling of the original films, not too much horrible plastic CGI and was awesome, a definite must watch again and really leaves you wanting for the next two films a bit like The Lord of The Rings / The Hobbit series, there’s one thing for sure the next Star Wars films will be watched sat in D-Box at the O2 without a shadow of a doubt, great experience aside from missing wind, water and smells like I had expected, still!

Thinking Of Buying a Whirlpool Oven, Think Again!

Holiday season is upon us again and the bargains are rife, all the retail outlets are bringing forward their January sales so the competition is strong for all manner of items, I wonder if Whirlpool ovens are on that list!

If you are looking for an oven particularly then I wanted to bring your attention to one brand in particular, that you might want to steer clear of.

Whilst our lovely casserole was in the oven stewing away last might, glorious smells wafted around the house and our taste buds were salivating as they do, we were watching some TV minding our own business awaiting our glorious meal, then *CRASH* there was a load crack/smash noise in the kitchen so we ran in to investigate, half knowing what had happened, but hoping not AGAIN!

Sadly our fears came true, the oven door had shattered, there was glass everywhere, first thoughts were of the children because those glass bits literally go EVERYWHERE and they are nigh impossible to see, and while less sharp than conventional broken glass, probably more dangerous and hard to avoid! Next thoughts were that we hope the dinner is done so at least we could eat, it was, kinda! Then it was followed by a sinking feeling and the sudden realisation that Christmas is only 5 days away and now we have NO OVEN!!

So when we say again, this is the 2nd Whirlpool oven that has exploded on us in less than 2 years, and looking into it, it’s not so uncommon, as a quick Google search can verify.

So OK, another oven has exploded, one would think that Whirpool would be proactive and help out, especially given the close proximity of Christmas, sadly not, not a dickie bird, not a single peep! It seems they’re not such a caring company, too busy enjoying their obscene profits from defective goods no doubt!

So no thanks to Whirlpool, I tried to get in touch with the parts people they refer you to on their website, I called them up, sat on hold for about 10 minutes, after they hung up on me 3 times and finally made it through to an operator, I explained the situation and she asked me for the service number of the oven which I had already found in preparation. After giving them the number they asked me to repeat it a few times before putting me on hold again, they couldn’t match the number, in fact the number was allegedly 2 digits short, wtf?!?!? And that was that, without a valid number they weren’t able to offer me any help at all, not even if I gave them the model number or any other information, what now?

So now I am stuck with a shattered oven, the service people can’t give me a new part because my oven doesn’t have the right service number on it and Christmas is now looming up fast!

The last option was to go back to Curry’s and explain the situation, and they were zero help too, but then as you see from the search results they don’t have amazing feedback on Trustpilot for customer service either.

So all in all thanks to Whirpool and their questionable products and Curry’s bad customer service we’re stuck in the situation of either dish out a whole wedge of cash to buy a new oven or Christmas dinner is off #nochoice the only choice we have in reality is to buy another oven, and trust me when I say it, we WILL NOT buy another Whirpool oven or any other product they make at that, ever again and likely we’ll find somewhere other than Curry’s to buy our replacement.

Incidentally our fridge freezer is also a Whirlpool and that has never worked properly either, it leaks all the time and food goes off, maybe you should have stuck to washing machines Whirlpool.

8th Kyu – Kyler Now Plus One Ninja Level

Kyler has been training at the Buntingford Karate Club for nearly a year now and he has made some pretty impressive advances with his skillset.

Tonight was time for Kyler to bring all of that training together and grade for his next level, which is 8th Kyu in karate terms or Orange belt to the average Joe.

The previous week we all trained in class pretty much going over the orange belt syllabus for the benefit of Kyler so he pretty much knew what was coming when it came round to the grading, it was also a good opportunity to highlight any issues he might need to work on to improve ready for his 8th kyu grading.

So tonight before we headed to the dojo down in Buntingford I worked with Kyler on the two kicks he was struggling with, kekomi and keage which significantly improved the mistakes he was making!

He was definitely nervous on the way in the car but once we got there we continued to work on those kicks to drill it home and before long it was time to grade.

As we were quite early I decided to video his grading so he can have it to look back on and also to see the things he was doing that maybe needed a little work on, you can see the highlights in the video below.

I have to say for his age and level Kyler already looks like he is going to be a formidable opponent in Karate once he gets some size and real strength, his grading although not perfect, you’d never expect it to be at his age or level, was pretty awesome, if he was nervous it didn’t really show.

I’m pleased to say he passed with flying colours, with some pretty high scores across the board, well done Kyler, I am very proud of you 🙂