Monday, 31 December 2007

Happy New Year

It's already 2008 in some places, so time to wish everybody out there a Very Happy New Year. We're getting ready for a relatively quiet night in with Vikki's folks, the TV in one corner and the laptop showing the Fireballs WebCam in another corner. And some beer. And wine. And port. And whisky. Hope you all have a good time, whatever you're doing.

A soiree chez Keir

After my run in the morning yesterday, I felt I could do with a drink in the afternoon, so it was good to have a wee get together at our friends Bill and Lesley's place. It was a bit of a gathering of guys I used to play football with, including Steve and Martin who I hadn't seen for over 11 years, so it was good to catch up, drink wine, and eat haggis neeps and tatties which were all affie fine. We took some pictures which can be seen by clicking the one below.

2007-12-30 Party at the Keirs

Last Run of the Year

This is me crossing the finishing line of the Stonehaven Splash 'n' Dash 5K Fun Run - an annual event that takes place between Christmas and Hogmanay - with a time of 22:15 which I was very pleased with. The race is run as a handicap and I'd put down my expected time as 25:31, so I was quite a bit quicker than I thought I'd be (possibly partly because the route was a bit shorter than 5K). It was good fun - the handicap format meant that everyone started at different times and got closer together as the race went on and the route doubled back on itself so there were plenty of chances to say hello to people and for spectators to get some photos. Vikki took a couple and Dave (who didn't run because of a bug) took quite a few which are on flickr. The boys came down to watch but got bored and had to go and play at the park, but not before Vikki got this shot of Calum...

So, that's the last race of 2007 out of the way and it seems like a good time to look forward to 2008. For next year, I've set myself a couple of targets:
  • set new PBs at each distance I enter races for (1/2 marathon, 10K, and 5K probably)
  • run under 1hr in all 10K races I go in for
  • run a 10K in under 50minutes (and thereby beat Vikki's 10K PB)
  • run a hill race (if I can persuade Vikki I'm not going to break my ankle)
  • keep enjoying it
The 50 minute one is the toughest, but I think it's possible, especially after yesterday's run so we'll see how it goes. I've already signed up for a couple of races with plans to do a few others. Look out for posts on the following:
Best wishes to all in 2008.

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Friday, 28 December 2007

Blobby Christmas to all Our Readers

What do you mean it's a bit late? Some of us have better things to do than sit in front of a computer blogging all the time. Of course, some of us also spend too much time doing other equally pointless activities but that's not the point.

Hope you all had a good Christmas and got lots of exciting presents from your loved ones. We had a good time here in Stonehaven - quick visit to my dad's for mulled wine in the morning, then Vikki's folks came over to ours for a full day of drinking, interrupted by bouts of opening presents, cooking, and eating.

There were lots of great presents (see photos) including Singstar for the PS2 which we all had a shot of (against better judgement in my case - my ranking ranged from Tone Deaf to Amateur, thus confirming what we all knew). Vikki managed to get me a couple of surprise pressies - a Life Is Good t-shirt and a Spongebob Squarepants ukulele (which goes rather well with my Hawaiian shirt which my dad picked up in Hawaii but which I am completely unable to play what with having the musical talent of a tone deaf Brussel Sprout) - whereas I managed to get her a small box of chocolates. Which I forgot about. Until Boxing Day. The boys were very pleased with all their stuff and spent much of the day playing Nintendo DS games. Another big favourite was a big RC camper van that doubles as a speaker system for an MP3 player. Thanks, Uncle Peter, for another great - but noisy - present.

Click on the pic below for more

2007-12-25 Christmas 2007

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Building the Cooliseum

The kids have been having fun, making things. We try to discourage that sort of thing, of course, but it just doesn't work.

For starters, Calum built "Mr StickyOutTongue" with lego a couple of days ago...

Then, after a couple of games of Jenga (one of a few games that everybody in the family can play and enjoy), he decided to build with the Jenga. First he built the "Cooliseum"...

...and a cinema....

Of course, Lachlan had to get in on the act with a theatre...

...before Calum finished off with a 10 pin bowling lane....

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Have an Innocent Christmas

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Two years ago those fine people at Innocent sent me a Christmas tree. Last year it was a sprig of real mistletoe (only Vikki kissed me under it unfortunately). This year it was another tree, not as nice as the real one but not too shabby, I suppose. I particularly like the gingerbread man.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Xmas tree fun with some TV watching

Last weekend we went to get our Xmas tree (and one for my folks) from the Forestry Commission at Tyrebagger north of Aberdeen. It turned out that the boys didn't want to go so Iain and I had a nice drive ourselves. We met our friend Alex and had a nice long chat about the v quick arrival of his baby son (got me a bit worried!) and Iain continued stalking Dan who also works for the Forestry Commission. On the way back we were a bit squished in the car - it's lucky we are both so short or we wouldn't have managed it. The boys did enjoy dressing the tree and it is always nice to look at the handmade decorations they bring home from school. It got past bedtime though as we had to wait for Iain to saw the bolt thing out of the stump of last year's tree before we could put this year's one up. That is a job that is getting done in January this time! So we finally finished it the next day. Then I adjusted it when the boys were at school. Here are some photos:

Saturday, 24 November 2007

All Hail To the Ale

Yesterday, I went to the 21st Aberdeen and North East Beer Festival, and met up with Dave and Richard from jogscotland and a bunch of Dave's work mates. It was a good laugh - the new venue at the home of AFC had some weird acoustics, but more space and better toilets than the old place.

That's Dave and Richard enjoying some beer - they were also good enough to make sure I got the right train home and got off at the right stop, although Dave almost succeeded in persuading me to stop for another pint after we got back to Stoney which would probably have led to a major hangover this morning. As it happened I didn't feel too bad, but did get a bit tired earlier this evening and tried to get a wee nap while watching the very enjoyable "Earth: The Power of the Planet" with the kids

Back to the beer, and here are my tasting notes:

Williams Bros Ginger Kyte3.5% ABV
Very gingery and refreshing - like kids ginger beer but with alcohol. Dave thought the more beery less gingery Ginger Marble was better but he was wrong
Highland Dark Munro4.0% ABV
Nice dark beer from Orkney.
Brew DogParadox10.0% ABV
Very strong, brewed in whisky barrels giving it a fantastic flavour, which I am told varies depending on the whisky. Great flavour but wouldn't want to drink too much.
MarbleChocolate5.5% ABV
Nice - slightly chocolaty in flavour.
Orkney Northern Light4.0% ABV
Light and refreshing - not bad at all.

(I think I had something else as well, but I can't remember much about it. I blame the Paradox)

Dib dib dib and all that

This week, Lachlan was officially inducted into the Cub Scouts and became a proper member of the White six. I'm happy to say he seems to be enjoying it and making new friends. Can't wait until they start taking him away to camp!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Looking more like his mum each day

Lachlan got new specs today which are, strangely, quite similar to his mother's, but are in fact way cooler because they have a zebra pattern on the inside of the frames.

Calum's eyesight means that he has yet to experience the joy of new glasses, but he is becoming a proficient Lego builder, as this fine model of a man shows.

I've just realised that these two photos just about fit the latest Weekly Word Competition (which I've been meaning to get involved in for a few weeks now) because Lachlan is wearing his Purple school uniform and the Lego man is made from a mismatched Assortment of bits.
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Sunday, 18 November 2007

Happy Birthday, Aileen

To celebrate her 60th birthday, my Auntie Aileen invited a big bunch of family for lunch at The Atholl. For some reason, the birthday girl arranged the seating plan to have Lachlan and Calum on either side of her, not something most people would choose to do if they'd ever sat at a table with them before. As it turned out, it all went really well. The food was excellent, the kids were well behaved (as well as our two, their cousins Liam, Eilidh, and Kirsten were there and they all played well together or drew pictures when they weren't eating), and it was a nice chance to say hello to a number of relatives who we hadn't seen for a while. A good time was had by all. Lachlan and Calum took quite a few photos - a lot had to be deleted but enough survived for a slide show. Click below if you want to see the full size versions:

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Facebook Malarky

I have decided to join Facebook cos I was scared I was missing something. Seems moderatly enjoyable. I'm obviously now in a race to get more friends than Iain so please contact me! (Yes, I'm that sad!) Here is the link to my Facebook page so you can have a look:

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Ooooh! Aaaah!

Fireworks are great. As usual, Stonehaven managed to put on a really decent show with a nice big fire (featuring an absolutely brilliant Guy - where did they get that from?) and a whole bunch of fireworks. The kids really enjoyed it, although I think the sparklers were their favourite. I was able to muck about with the camera's "Night" and "Fireworks" settings which produced some fairly decent pics although camera shake is definitely a problem I'll have to work on.

2007-11-04 Bonfire Night

Friday, 2 November 2007

Sports Roundup

We've had a lot to blog about this last week, so some of this is getting to be old news, but there have been a couple of major achievements in the world of sport worth mentioning.

First, the Boston Redsox won the (ever so slightly misnamed) World Series for the second time in four years. Yay! Go Sox!

Secondly, Aberdeen beat Inverness Caledonian Thistle 4-1 in the quarter final of the CIS (which stands for Calum Iain Shanks) Cup to set up a semi final against Dundee United (or should that be Rangers?). Double Yay! C'mon you reds!

Finally, Glenury Untied have been promoted to III.16 in Hattrick after over three years (omg, has it really been that long) or ten seasons in IV.6. I reckon there's even a decent chance of staying up.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Oooh, scary!

It's Hallowe'en and all the scary spooky things are out and about. Well, they were earlier on - they're now tucked up safely in bed. Vikki and I took the boys out guising which was actually good fun and the boys got a good stash of sweets. Scott from next door had a Mike from Monsters Inc costume so he and Calum made a good pair.

Scott also had one of the best jokes - "Why does a squirrel swim on it's back?"

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Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Burn, baby, burn.

Last night at the Beavers, we had the annual paper fight (made even more unruly because it was bring a friend night) and Guy stuffing event, before handing over the guy to the Round Table who organise the bonfire and fireworks. Next time I see my handywork it'll be sitting on top of a pile of flammable stuff and then it'll be gone. Probably some sort of metaphor for life in general, if you think about it, which I haven't.
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Monday, 29 October 2007

Burn o' Vat and Wedding Venue Nosiness

Yesterday we took the boys on a trip in the car since it was too nice a day to go swimming, and Iain wasn't hungover. Nobody was car sick which must be a first for the Slug and North Deeside roads. Iain's workmate Andy had mentioned going to see the Burn o' Vat so we thought we'd copy him. Have a look at some photos:

The walk in the woods and the spectacular geological feature were pleasant enough but I think the boys' favourite bit was the fancy piece at the Ramoir Garden Centre in Banchory on the way home.

Since we were in the area we took the opportunity to have a nosy at the Glen Tanar Ballroom. This venue was suggested for my sister's wedding to the Daviator and we were suitably impressed. We are on tenterhooks here waiting on Amy and Dave to decide where the wedding will be as it could be here or Yorkshire but the bride's side are definately pushing for Scotland. Cos we're traditionalists, nothing to do with it being cheaper and easier for us! Maybe we should have an online poll of all the venues so our readers can choose the venue for them. I'll keep you posted cos I'm sure you're very interested. Or is it just me?

Sunday, 28 October 2007

It's that time again!

British Summer Time ended in the wee small hours of this morning. I've better things to blog about today, so I'll just refer you, dear reader, to my previous blog entries on the subject (1, 2).

Anyway, it's almost Hallowe'en and the kids got dressed up for a disco. As could have been predicted, the vampire teeth couldn't be found, and I'm not really sure why Sully should have a human skull inside his mouth (Calum seemed to think it made sense), but the boys seemed happy with their costumes and had a fine time by all accounts. We'll probably have to go out begging guising on Wednesday. I just hope the weather's better than last year when it absolutely chucked it down.

And once Hallowe'en's out of the way it'll be time for bonfire night. Like last year, I got the dubious honour of making the guy's head. Not finished yet, but here's a picture...

After the kid's disco, we dropped the boys off at Vikki's folks (where they got to watch Lindsay Lohan in Herbie apparently) and we went to visit Dave and Carole, which was good fun. We got a bit drunk (well, Vikki stayed completely sober and I drank quite a bit so we averaged out at a bit drunk), chatted, listened to music (a selection of Dave's favourites including Aphex Twin, LCD Soundsystem, and Sparks) and had a wee shot of Dave's new PS3 (as expected I spent a lot of time crashing cars and pointing the wrong way). All good fun, and the much deserved hangover didn't even materialize.

Monday, 22 October 2007

I'm afraid that I was very very drunk at the time

It feels strange not to have been out for a long run over the weekend. For the first time in a couple of months, I haven't had a training plan to follow and no great incentive to leave a nice warm bed. Also, I woke on Saturday morning with a very slight hangover, and would probably have felt the same on the Sunday except that I slept longer. The reason for all this revelry? My dear sister-in-law Amy has recently got engaged to The Daviator and they came up to show off the ring celebrate the happy event with us. This meant dinner at Vikki's folks on Friday night (fish and chips from The Bay), and Sunday night, and a nice meal at The Carron on Saturday night, along with suitable amounts of alcohol (I'm told that I drank three very large measures of brandy on Friday although I can only remember the glass being topped up once). It was all good fun, although Dave was a bit disappointed about the rugby, and the Grand Prix. The girls are busy sorting out venues, dresses, and all that sort of thing. I'm going to keep a low profile for a while.
Enjoy the photos:

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Cool Runnings

My official race time has come back at 1:59:42, but the timing system doesn't appear to have taken time to reach the start into consideration, and some of the people who lined up alongside me reckon we can take about 1min30 off that time.
It was a really good weekend, nice to have some time away with Vikki and no children, and an enjoyable run with some great views of the hills and of Loch Morlich.
I managed to keep a fairly steady pace, helped by finding myself running along with a bloke I'd never met before (I found out at the end he was called Mark) and chatting a bit to him. The legs started to feel sore at about 11 miles but I kept it going, and resisted the temptation as we passed the Old Bridge Inn (one of the drinkers there could clearly tell I was eyeing up his pint as he insisted it didn't actually taste very good). I managed to up the pace very slightly for the last little bit round the back of the holiday resort - at this point the route goes round a stony path and I heard Mark fall behind me. I turned to see if he needed help but he was back on his feet almost straight away so I sprinted (as best I could) for the finish. It felt great to cross the line and see Vikki waiting to cheer me on (and talking to Dave Morrow who had finished in 1hr36).
There were a lot of great runs from the jogScotland folk - the jogScotland ladies were the 3rd placed ladies team (although were too shy to go up and collect their prize which was maybe just as well because there wasn't actually a prize) and could have been even higher (we think) if everyone had put "jogScotland Stonehaven" down on the entry form.
I've uploaded some photos (fine photography from Vikki) here:

2007-10-14 Aviemore Half Marathon

Sunday, 14 October 2007

That'll do.

I can tell you're on tenterhooks out there, so just a quick post before we head off to the pub for the traditional post-race bevvy, to let you know I completed the Aviemore Half Marathon in around about 1hr58 or so. Thanks to everyone who bothered to vote in the poll - I think Vikki was the only one who got it right.

More pictures to follow but this one shows the jogScotland Stonehaven members who took part.
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Friday, 12 October 2007

Just 13.1 miles to go...

Yes, I did say some time ago that 10K was quite far enough and I wasn't running any further, but the Aviemore Half Marathon just looked so much fun that I couldn't resist. This document shows the training plan I was following and how my efforts matched up (not too bad I thought). My target had been to beat 2 hours but I'm not sure if I'll make it since my last long run was about 2hrs for about 11.5 miles (you can see all the rest of my training runs here). That said, the half marathon is at a better time of day, there's more downhill than uphill (click to check the elevation profile), I'll be better rested, and races tend to be quicker anyway, so there's definitely a chance I can make up the time. Anyway, feel free to vote/comment as you feel fit.


Before you vote on the poll, I'll probably be posting some more thoughts about the race and my training, so you might want to wait until then. Thanks to those who have already voted - your confidence in me is appreciated.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

1st Class!

This is Calum's first school photo. The local paper always prints pictures of the new Primary 1s from all the different schools in the area. Can you spot the future high fliers in this lot?
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Saturday, 6 October 2007

Very good but I didn't see his feet leave the floor!

Last week,we got a letter from Lachlan's Cubs to tell us that he is working on his Home Help Activity Badge and Home Safety Activity Badge and he had to do the following (and I quote):
  • Under adult supervision cook a simple meal
  • Hover and dust a living room
  • Keep your bedroom tidy and make your bed for a week
He's been doing really well with the bedroom thing, and today he cooked his favourite meal of Nachos and Fajitas (with a bit of help from his dad or we'd have been eating at bed time) and also dusted and hoovered the living room (after saying for the last couple of days that he thought Vikki and I would mess it up deliberately - as if). Despite interruptions from pirate Calum, he did a good job but kept his feet firmly on the ground. Should we fail him?

Monday, 1 October 2007

Playoffs here we come

During our stay in Massachusetts, Vikki and I acquired a taste for watching the occasional game of baseball and became fans of the Boston Red Sox. I'm happy to say, the Sox have won the American League East and progressed into the playoffs. If all goes well, they could end up in the misnamed "World" Series against the best team from the National League, in which the Houston Astros (for example) play. But it won't be them. Because they didn't get through to the play offs. Just sayin'.

Life's a Beach

Yesterday, our friends Bill and Leslie came to visit with their kids. As expected with a total of five wee boys in the house, much chaos ensued but the sun was out so we went for a walk down to the harbour for ice cream and to let the kids play on the beach. Calum got his trousers soaked but everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.

I managed not to get any pictures of Bill, Leslie, or their youngest son, Miller. I've no idea who the kid 2nd from left is in this picture.

I wanted to get a panorama of the full sweep of Stonehaven bay, complete with sailing boats, surfers, and kayakers. However, autostitch wouldn't put it all together, probably because the waves kept changing or something like that. Click below for the views South and North.