Sunday, 20 July 2008

They grow up so fast!!

It's been a busy few weeks with lots of family events, and milestones! And lots of reminders that my little girls are growing up VERY quickly!

This photo of Eloise was taken last week on our (now) annual family outing to Greenwich. We started this 3 years ago, just me, Melissa and Eloise, and had such a good day that we've ended up spending a day there every year since (obviously now joined by Maisie, and other members of the family over the past couple of years!!). Anyway, Eloise has now officially left Pre-School, with her final day being Friday, when they finished up with a Beach Party. It's odd to think that this is the same tiny little person I held in my arms on that wet Saturday night in November 2003, it seems to have passed so quickly. Now she has School uniform hanging in her wardrobe ready for the upcoming September morning when she attends school for the first time! Although no-one from her Pre-School will read this blog (as far as I'm aware!), Melissa and I have to say that they have been brilliant for the last 2 and a bit years. Eloise has loved her time there, and they've prepared her well for her move up to "big" school - for her part, she can't wait to get started. And now the Pre-School staff have a few months to catch their breath, and prepare themselves for the arrival of Hurricane Howell part 2 in January next year! And here she is:

Maisie hits 2 in September. In some ways she is a completely different character to Eloise, but has seemed to grow up so much just in the last few weeks. Her speech is coming on really well now, and she's not backward in coming forward, particularly if she doesn't agree with what you are saying! As Nanny discovered last week when she referred to her new cardigan as a jacket!! She loves trying new things, and dotes on her big sister, who is happy to reciprocate.

And finally to my other girl!!:

As you may recall, in my last blog I mentioned that Melissa had been into hospital for some surgery. Well, that all went well, and she is now on the road to recovery, although still a little bit sore around the area of her head where her "lump" was removed. The photo above was taken at a recent family wedding, and I just thought I'd add it because she looks so lovely in it!

I'm incredibly proud of my girls! We've just booked a family holiday for next Easter, just the four of us, where we're going to go on a little adventure to France for a week, driving over there, staying on a campsite, and driving back again! The times we spend together are ones that I cherish, particularly as events continue to develop around us, and sometimes it feels like we're "running through treacle" - at least I have three reasons for keeping a smile on my face!

Thursday, 26 June 2008

June Journal!

It has been observed that I have yet to blog in June, so I thought I'd better rectify the matter before incurring further wrath from the general direction of South Essex!

So June began much as May had ended, with me completing my "UK Pension Tour" 2008. I finished (as all good tours should) in London on 9th June - Wembley was busy though, so I had to make do with a conference room on the 3rd floor of an office complex in Farringdon. It brought to an end a four week tour that had seen my deliver my presentation a grand total of 33 times in Newcastle, Scarborough, Barnsley, Birmingham, Norwich, Letchworth, Richmond, London, Basildon, Colchester, Hammersmith, Lewisham, Burton on Trent, Southampton, Letchworth (again), Southgate, Hornsey, Letchworth (for the 3rd time), Slough, and London. Now I get a few months respite, until I set out on repeat performances sometime in October. Book early to avoid disappointment!

Also this month saw our first meeting at the School Eloise will be starting in September - we're pleased that she got into the first choice school, and also that she will be in the class we were hoping she would be allocated to, but having to start buying school uniform, book bags etc is still all a bit odd!

Maisie is now hurtling towards her 2nd birthday in September, with her own individual character developing more each day. She's talking more now, and loves to be doing whatever her big sister is doing. She has also started "music and movement" session and now looks forward to her Thursday morning Dance!!

Today has been a bit fraught as Melissa has been into hospital for some surgery. About 6 months ago she noticed a lump that had appeared above her ear. After numerous tests it was found to be benign, but still had to go in to have it removed. Thankfully it turned out to be fairly straightforward surgery, but she is spending tonight in hospital as she recovers from the after effects of the operation.

Lastly, this month has seen me get my 15 minutes of fame with a feature in Weight Watchers magazine - I blogged about the photo shoot back in April, and the results were published a few weeks back. The magazine is still available in newsagents, but probably only for another week or so - check it out!!

Finally, next Monday, 30th June, is the fourth anniversary of my dad dying. Seems four years has gone very quickly, and Eloise still talks about her "Grandad Charlie" although she only knew him for a few months. It's saddens me to think that Maisie won't ever be able to form any memories of him, but in some ways I'm comforted that he hasn't had to face some of the events of the last 18 months. Love you Dad and still miss you every day.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

London - Grrrrrrrr!

Work is manic at the moment - I am in the middle of a series of presentations to one of our clients - by the end of the series I will have presented 45 times in 17 different locations. Last week I travelled almost 900 miles visiting Newcastle, Scarborough, Barnsley, Birmingham and Norwich ( I get all the best gigs!), and by and large those travels were fairly trouble free. With the exception of a 30 minute delay on the M11 coming back from Birmingham, I have been pretty successful in keeping moving thus far. So, today's trip seemed fairly simple - starting off in Richmond at 9am, followed by the City of London at 2pm. Now I know the M25 can have it's off days, so with that in mind I set off at 6am. 3 hours, 75 miles, that should be fine.

All was going well, I was across the Dartford crossing by 6.45 and everything was still moving until junction 5. Then I stopped, and started and stopped and so on for about the next 30 miles, and for no apparent reason either. Still, I got off the dreaded M25 at 8am, and only had about 9 miles to go, so that should be fine shouldn't it?? At 8.45 I was thinking I was cutting it a bit fine, but was entering Richmond so just about had time to get parked, unload the car, set up the laptop and projector etc for a 9am start, as long as there was no further problems. Then the phone rang - it was the meeting organiser, who was based at the company's main office in Hertfordshire to inform me that she was very sorry, but she had given me the incorrect address for the presentation. It wasn't at their office, but at the Hampton Hill Playhouse. Great!! So I punched the details into Navman and set off for the extra couple of miles now added to my journey, except in turning around I was now sat in a queue of traffic waiting to get out of a junction. However, I located the Playhouse, parked up, unloaded the car and went in - only to be told by bloke who worked there that they had been told on Friday that the meeting was cancelled! After a few phonecalls it was established that there had been a bit of an error, and then 3 people turned up for the first session. The HR rep from the company was stuck on the M25 so I started on my own. I'd sat in the car for 3 hours, and had no breakfast, so by the end of the session I was starving! Anyway, grabbed some toast, and went back for the second session, which 5 people turned up for, and the HR rep also managed to arrive for.

I was finished by 12, and was due in the City of London for 2pm - no problem, was only 15 miles, surely that wouldn't be a problem? Anyway, as I began my afternoon presentation at 2.35pm.......Honestly, London is supposed to be one of the finest cities in the world, yet to travel 15 miles took me over 2 hours and I had to pay £8 for the privilege - Madness! Boris, I can't help thinking you've got your work cut out!!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Strike a pose....

So, last Thursday saw me setting off to London for the day to take part in the Weight Watchers photo shoot that I mentioned in my last post.

It was a really good day, although a bit long - there was quite a lot of standing around and waiting actually, so I'm not sure I could handle being a model and doing that everyday! The official shots aren't out yet, but one of the other guys took some pictures on his own camera, so I thought I'd share some as a bit of a taster.

As you can see, there were four of us taking part in the shoot, and the morning was spent doing the group shots, however, before any photos could be taken we had to have our hair sorted out and make up applied. The make up artist in question has worked with lots of famous people and also does the hair and make up for Eastenders - she said she would make us look like stars, so I chose Dot Cotton!

Breakfast was kindly laid on for us - Croissants and Pain au Chocolat - we did point out that feeding us with that kind of food kind of missed the point of why we were there in the first place, so the Weight Watchers magazine staff ate them instead - a very cunning plan!

The photographer was excellent, really put us at ease and made us feel comfortable. Very funny guy as well, and the photos looked great on his laptop. In the afternoon it was time for individual shots and a change of outfit, before the day was over and we all went home.

It was a great, if slightly surreal, experience - I never thought I'd see the day I featured in Weight Watchers magazine. The feature is appearing in the July issue, which hits the shops at the beginning of June, now if you'll excuse me I have to go, I have a meeting with my agent.......!

Friday, 21 March 2008

Work that camera!!!

So, it's been a while........again!! However, I do have some exciting news - I'm going to appear in a magazine - I'm going to appear in a feature in a magazine - I'm going to be one of the subjects of the magazine feature, not just someone who has been stopped on the street and has then been quoted a couple of lines - I'm going to be in a photo shoot to accompany said feature - the feature is going to appear in a magazine that is available in stores like WH Smith, Sainsbury, Tesco etc all around the country - yes ladies and gentlemen, I am going to appear in (drum roll please)..............Weight Watchers magazine, oh yes indeedy!!!! Am due to be going up to London in the next couple of weeks for the photo shoot and then it will appear in an issue of the magazine over the next few months - who knows where it will lead......maybe when the conservatory we're currently having built is finished "Hello" will want to do an exclusive multi-page spread on it......oh the possibilities!!!

And in other news that also involves me being in print, found out last week that the SA are publishing a piece of Songster music that I wrote the words for. It was written about three years ago (music by Dean Jones), and seems sort of funny that it's only just being published given our current situation.

Busy April coming up, but looking forward to a week at Center Parcs towards the end of the month with some friends, and also to Eloise being a mascot at Colchester United for the last ever league game at Layer Road before they pull the old place down. She's very excited (so am I!)

Anyway, check out my blog list as there are a couple of new additions - Katie's blog is entertaining and should provide a few chuckle. Ed's likewise, despite the numerous references to Ipswich Town - I have known Ed for many years, in fact he used to attend Layer Road on a fairly regular basis for a while, and then somewhere along the line it all went horribly wrong for him............!!!

Sunday, 3 February 2008


Yes, on January 21st I reached the "5 Stone lost" milestone, and am now approximately 73.5% of the person I was when I started my diet in January 2007! As you can probably imagine, I am quite chuffed with this, and once I have shifted another 7lbs to 1st will be able to say I've reached where I want to be!

In other news, Christmas came and went, and we had a very nice relaxing one, although it seems like ages ago now! Just before Christmas we completed Eloise's school application ( can't believe she starts this September) and we find out in April which school she has been allocated a place in (hopefully the first choice!) - Belated thanks to Mrs Fox for her professional opinion on said 1st Choice school's latest Ofsted report!

As most of my recent tv favourites all seemed to reach the end of current series just before Christmas (Spooks, Heroes and Dragons Den), there seems to have been a lack of decent programmes to watch in these long, dark, cold winter evenings (although I must admit a sneaking enjoyment of Relocation, Relocation on Channel 4 and re-runs of Never Mind the Buzzcocks on "Dave" - great name for a TV Channel!). However, it would appear things are beginning to pick up - I've caught the first couple of episodes of a new US Comedy/Drama on E4 called "Reaper" which, although it is quite a black comedy, looks like it will keep me entertained. However, I am very excited this week, as Thursday night sees the start of a new series on BBC1, "Ashes to Ashes", not a sequel to, but more a spin off from the wonderful, superb, fantastic, brilliant "Life on Mars" (Yes, I quite liked it!).

Now, I must admit, that when the idea of "Ashes to Ashes" first surfaced last year I was a bit dubious, particularly as "Life on Mars" had only just finished, but I'm looking forward to seeing what they've done with this so will be settling down in front of the tv on Thursday night to find out! Hoping DCI Gene Hunt is as full of great one liners in the 1980's as he was in 1973, and I'll leave you with one of my favourites - "She's more nervous than a very small nun at a penguin shoot"!

Friday, 21 December 2007

Yule (B)Log

Sooooooo, I haven't blogged for ages, and it's nearly the end of the year. The photo above is the "christmassiest" (new word, will be in the Oxford English Dictionary next year, just you wait and see!) I had to hand, and was taken on our recent trip to Disneyland Paris, which Eloise and Maisie enjoyed almost as much as me and Melissa!

Not sure how often I'll be updating from now on (not that I've been that regular anyway) but just wanted to take the opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I'm winding down towards the end of the day now, off to client function in Southend shortly, and then it's 11 Days off. Looking forward to some chill out time, a bit of football (watching and playing!) and then spending New Year's Eve at home with the family and finally kicking 2007 into touch, not a year I'll be disappointed to see the back of!

Here's to 2008.