The New Play House

Well the missing bits arrived on Friday so Sunday afternoon was spent constructing the new play house with Uncle Darren’s assistance. It went up fairly easily although it was dark by the time the slide was attached and we had to leave the swing until next week. It looks pretty good although nothing was quite square, and the quality of some of the timber left a little to be desired – nothing that will stop Megan from enjoying though I’m sure. We’ll post some pictures soon – probably when we’ve attached the swing.

There weren’t too many injuries sustained along the way, just a couple of splinters and a hammered thumb – and a bumped head and bashed knee for Megan as she flew head first out of the patio door trying to be the first person down the slide.

It was another sucessful weekend on the sporting front too, with the Reds winning 1-0 against Man City (sorry Jim!) and Clydesdale Vs winning 2-1 against Glasgow Academy at the aptly named Windy Edge playing fields. Just a shame the Champions League game on Wednesday ended with a soft goal conceded to Benfica – I’m sure they can turn round in the second leg next week though, as long as one of the strikers remembers where the goal is…


Having ditched Outlook many moons ago in favour of Thunderbird the only thing that I’ve really missed since is the Calendar. Thunderbird is a much better email client (in my opinion) but has no Calendar – the new Lightning extension may address that it time, but it’s based on the Sunbird project which has been knocking around for a while now.

It’s early days yet for Lightning/Sunbird, but it terms of performance and functionality Sunbird has been going backwards over recent months and it’s hard to see when anything close to Outlook or iCal on Mac OS X is going to come out of the project.

All of which has left me looking round for an alternative solution – something based round the iCal standard that wouldn’t tie me to any particular operating system. Which is how I stumbled across 30boxes – a web based Calendar application, that’s been up and running for less than a month but already provides a front end that is light years ahead of Sunbird.

Your calendar is held remotely and updated/accessed through any web browser, but you can also connect to it using any client (including Sunbird) that supports remote Calendars – there are a few holes in the functionality, particularly around recurring events, but it can already do many things that the competition have trouble with.

It’s clearly the flavour of the month in Internet Land, and for anyone looking for a Calendar application to organise their life it’s definitely worth a look…

FA Cup & Other Stuff

An action packed weekend, with a mix bag of results. Liverpool managed to beat Manchester United in the FA Cup for the first time in 85 years, with the only goal coming from the head of Peter Crouch in the first half. The game finished on a sour note though, when Alan Smith broke a leg and dislocated his ankle blocking a free kick from John Arne Riise.

At about the same time Clydesdale Vs were throwing away a 2-0 half time lead against Motherwell, to finish up hanging on for a 2-2 draw. At least the weather was a good deal better than it was last week in Greenock. The latest round of snooker saw Darren winning this time 4-1, although it was probably a bit closer than the score suggests. Three frames went to a black ball finish, one was won on the pink and the standard of potting has definitely improved since the first time we went!

Megan’s new garden play house/swing arrived last week, or at least most of it did – we’re still waiting for the slide and swing bits. Spent Sunday morning dismantling the old one, which had suffered somewhat from the bracing sea air – all the nuts and bolts had rusted solid so it was no easy task. Hopefully the rest of the bits of the new one will turn up this week and we’ll put it together next weekend.

A Lovely Trip But a Sad Farewell

Just got back from Leeds and a good few days was had by all. As you can see from Steve’s earlier post, I nearly never made it to Leeds in the first place.

We managed to get on our way about 12.30pm – regardless of everyone fretting about me driving ‘all that way’ – and made it to leeds about 5pm, which was a miracle as I didn’t even get lost once. Laura and Andy came to the Hotel to meet us. We had a quick drink in the bar with Laura opening her belated birthday gifts and Megan getting a funshine bear (seeing as I manged to leave Andy Pandy behind…) from Auntie Laura.

We had dinner in the Hotel which was a carvery, and Andy thoroughy enjoyed helping himself to the potatoes! Megan thought Andy was brilliant and wouldn’t leave him alone, I told Laura that he was very hunky, he reminds me a bit of Steve (no jokes please!). Very good bloke indeed, played with Megan while Laura and I caught up on some gossip.

They left about 8pm as Megan was looking tired with a promise of meeting up the next morning. We went to our room where eventually at 8.50pm Megan finally gave into sleep, and so did I. I was wakened by Megan at 3.30am asking if it was morning yet! You can imagine my reply, she eventually went back to sleep an hour later and then woke at a very reasonable 8am.

We got dressed and had some breakfast then made our way to the swimming pool, where 2 hours later we were joined by Laura. We got ourselved dressed and headed out into Leeds town Centre where we met Pete for lunch. Megan was in her element with Pete, and we went shopping for a present from him for Megan’s birthday in March.

Pete was heading to Leicester for a couple of days before setting off on his travels so we had to say goodbye, which was very sad, but we are happy that he is doing something he has always wanted to do. He has promised to keep us updated on his adventures.

The girls spent the rest of the day walking around Leeds shopping Centres. Megan was getting tired so we headed back to the Hotel and Laura left us, as Megan said she wanted it to be just us two for dinner. We ordered some room service and Megan manged to eat it before falling asleep at 7.30pm. She woke up at 8pm coughing and splutering – caught it from me I’m afraid – but got her back to sleep an hour later. An hour after that, I was dozing off myself… Then boing! 6.30am Megan is bouncing around the room saying its light its morning time!!! argh!!! A quick turn on of the TV and she is quiet again.

I started packing and getting dressed and called Laura to say we were up and about. We had breakfast and loaded the car, checked out and waited on Laura. We had a drink and then said goodbye with the both of us in tears…….

Manged to take 3 wrong turns on the way home, Steve has no idea how I can possibly get lost coming home but not going to Leeds, but there you go.

Gramps Update

I’ve recently updated the gramps software we use to trace our family tree to the latest version (v2.0.9), and have been experimenting with the new reporting options.

The website generation has been improved, so that you now get a tree of ancestors displayed for each person – you can see for yourself by clicking on the our family tree link on the right. It’s definitely better but it’s still a bit hard to see the bigger picture.

For the bigger picture though there’s a new relationship graph, which renders all the people and their relationship to each other as an SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) image. This is actually quite impressive, but you will need support for SVG files to be able to view it – the latest release of the Firefox brower has native support but its a bit limited (no zoom facility).

You’re better off downloading the Adobe SVG Viewer plugin as that well let you zoom in to the image so you can actually read the details – it will work with both Internet Exporer and Firefox (provided you disable the native SVG support in Firefox).

For the more adventurous there’s the excellent Inkscape – an open source SVG editor which will run on Linux, Windows and Mac OS X – giving you the capability to edit the SVG if you’re that way inclined.

Once you’re SVG enabled you can click on the our family tree – svg link to the right to see the full tree and all the connections – there are currently over 300 people in the tree and all connected one way or another!

The first time we were able to generate the graph it highlighted a number of errors and omissions in the data we’d collected – we actually had two completely unconnected graphs thanks to a missing relationship, and several people that didn’t appear to be related to anyone.

We’ve fixed all those now and the graph is really quite fascinating – so much so that we’ve sent for some certificates to increase the coverage…

New Tyres for the Trip

The trip to Leeds nearly didn’t happen at all – I was checking the tyre pressures this morning and found a nail in each of the rear tyres. Both nails were close to the side wall of the tyre so there was no hope of a repair, and there didn’t seem to be a Kwik-Fit or Budget in the whole of Scotland with the right size of tyres to replace them.

Fortunately Kilmarnock Tyres & Exhausts came to the rescue, and fitted two new tyres for the same price (£138) that Kwik Fit would have charged for one (assuming that they had any). I think we might just be using Kilmarnock Tyres & Exhausts again…

Yesterday saw an upturn in results too with the Reds managing a 1-0 win at Wigan, although they were greatful for a goal from Sami Hyppia as the strikers drew a blank again. Almost at the same time as the Reds were getting back to winning ways, Clydesdale V were also grinding out a 1-0 win at a very wet and windy Battery Park in Greenock.

For those not in the know Battery Park at Greenock is right on the Firth of Clyde and is always wet and windy, but yesterday was just about as bad as it gets – the rain was driving sideways across the pitch for most of the game, and made flowing hockey very difficult. Not that we play flowing hockey even when the weather’s good…

A Trip to Leeds

Megan and I are heading down to Leeds on Sunday 12th Feb. We are going to catch up with Laura, who moved down there about 6 months ago to be with her bloke. We haven’t met Andy yet, so the poor bloke is probably a bit nervous……. We are also hoping to see Pete before he leaves too.

We are staying at the Ramada Hotel in Leeds, and it has a spa/pool so both mother and daughter should be catered for….

Steve has printed me out travel instuctions including where to stop for breaks! awwww. will let you all know how it went.

Another Urgent Action

Another urgent action arrived today, this time for a student activist arrested in Nepal…

Yagya Raj Pant was reportedly severely beaten by police when he was arrested on 26 January 2006. According to the non-governmental organization, the Forum for Protection of People’s Rights – Nepal (PPR-Nepal), he has not received adequate medical treatment for his injuries.

With Pete hoping to get there in the next few weeks, hopefully a bit of external pressure will improve the situation.

Went to Potters in Largs last night with Darren for the return snooker match, and managed to level the series. Took the first two frames for an early lead but Darren pegged it back to a deciding fifth frame which went to the home team!

Monday Night Results Again

Not a good week’s worth of results, with the Reds losing to Chelsea on Sunday and only picking up a point against the 10 men of Birmingham earlier in the week. They’re going through a bit of a sticky patch with goals difficult to come by – they’ve got Charlton on Wednesday and would hope for a change of fortune, and maybe a goal or two from Robbie Fowler!

To compound the misery Saturday was spent first with Darren watching Rangers on the wrong end of a 3-0 thumping from Hibs, and followed by a 6-0 demolition by Western IV playing hockey for Clydesdale. We were somewhat overrun, and despite some stout defending and the odd goal line clearance we were never really in the game. Here’s hoping for more luck at the snooker tomorrow night…

On a more upbeat note, our buildings insurance is just about to run out and after some searching we turned up a good deal from Barclays – we’re getting buildings & contents insurance for less than the buildings only renewal quote, and you can pay by monthly direct debit at no extra cost.