Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The DJ's Guide To The Ultimate Jubilee Playlist

Having a party this weekend and want to celebrate the Jubilee? Not sure what music to play. Well Bicester Blogger has done all the hard work for you - today I am proud to unveil my "JUBILEE PLAYLIST".

This has been the result of many hours of work and research by myself to come up with the ultimate list. Here are the criteria I used. Here are the goals I set myself, and how I went about achieving them.

1) To showcase music from across the Queen's reign.
2) To include as many different types of music as possible.
3) To include only British artists.
4) To provide appeal to all ages and tastes.
5) To have a running time around 5 hours.
6) To be useable as a party playlist, or for personal listening.

So how did I get on? Let's see.

1) My original plan was to include hits from every year since 1952, which was conveniently also the year that the charts started. However, I soon ran into a problem with this. The problem being that in the 1950s the charts were largely dominated by American acts. The few acts we had were doing mainly ballads and cover versions - our hitmakers at that time were the likes of Jimmy Young and Doris Day. Plenty of Rock and Roll around from the mid 50s but largely American as I say, and for the purposes of the Brit List, artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis are disqualified. Some other artists that were mentioned such as George Formby, well all their big hits were before the war - Sally's favourite, Leaning On A Lampost actually hails from 1937.

George Formby - big in the 30s

However I am sure Sally will be able to keep you entertained on Sunday with some hits from the 50s and if you do want to croon a Jimmy Young number, well he's in the karaoke books too.

Jimmy Young - No 1 with Unchained Melody decades before Robson and Jerome.

So most of the British acts I looked at from the 50s were not really the sorts of tunes you could include in a playlist you might want to put on at a party. Now I realise that this will probably horrify some people who think I am being ageist, but I decided to take the controversial decision not to start my playlist until the birth of the Beatles, some 10 years into the Queen's reign. But from that point onwards there are hits for every year from 1963 to 2012, two in most cases, in some weaker years only one, and very occasionally three.

The Fab Four

2) I decided very early on that the list would be chronological and that we would move through the ages, reflecting the types of music of each period. I did not want to favour any type of music over another and make it exclusively rock for example - this isn't being played in the Hobgoblin (Bell). So you will see we take a tour through classic 60s pop, glam rock, punk, new romantics, indie, britpop, boy bands, dance, it's all there. I also reluctantly decided to limit my personal preferences, so much as I adore my St Etienne, Garbage, etc I decided they were not mainstream enough for inclusion. However I have indulged myself to some degree so you won't be surprised to see the likes of Happy Mondays, Kaiser Chiefs etc appearing.

From the great "Madchester" era.

3) I had decided British artists only, which as I mentioned could be a problem in some eras when the charts were dominated by American artists, but other than the 50s I managed this OK. I also had a rule of no more than one song from any one artist. There are some holes you can pick in this - for example I have both a Take That and a Robbie Williams song, but that would be picking holes.

Ooh, don't they look young!

4) This ties in with point 2 really. Something for everyone. For every "cool" song there's a cheesy one too. Plenty for granny to enjoy as well as the youngsters. But younger people will enjoy the golden oldies too, as many of them are songs that have stood the test of time and that everyone will know.

A smattering of cheese. And it looks as if whitening toothpaste really did work back then.

5) I aimed for 5 hours as that's about as much as you'd normally need for a disco. I am officiallty on from 8:30 to 1:00pm on Sunday, but I normally start a little early, so this should work out about right. Obviously you won't be hearing the whole thing as we have karaoke on, but little snippets of most of the songs as we go through the night.

Classic Britpop - one of the best albums ever.

6) Funky Mike said he would nick this playlist for Saturday night - I've no problems with that - might want to amend it a little to make it pub friendly. If any of the rest of you are having a party and want some ideas, well help yourselves.

Proof that British talent is alive and well in the 21st century

So here is the list - I realise it is bound to cause some controversy - most likely you'll be wondering why your favourite artist is not there, or why I have included such and such a song. Well you have to appreciate, condensing 60 (or rather 50) years of popular music into just 5 hours means I can cover only a tiny fraction of the amazing creativity of the British pop scene over that time.

Enjoy and have a great weekend.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jason xx

And now - the list:

Love Me Do Beatles 02:21
I Like It Gerry & the Pacemakers 02:14
I'm Into Something Good Herman's Hermits 02:32
You Really Got Me The Kinks 02:15
It's not unusual Tom Jones 02:04
Paint It, Black Rolling Stones 03:48
Hi Ho Silver Lining Jeff Beck 02:55
Fire Crazy World Of Arthur Brown 02:57
Bend Me, Shape Me Amen Corner 02:37
Something in the Air Thunderclap Newman 03:54
All Right Now Free 03:36
In the Summertime Mungo Jerry 03:34
Get It On T Rex 04:26
Coz I Luv You Slade 03:32
All The Young Dudes Mott The Hoople 03:31
Blockbuster Sweet 03:15
Can The Can Suzi Quatro 03:34
Tiger Feet Mud 03:50
Sugar Baby Love Rubettes 03:26
Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel 03:54
Bye Bye Baby Bay City Rollers 02:34
Don't Go Breaking My Heart Elton John & Kiki Dee 04:26
You to me are Everything Real Thing 03:21
Rockin' All Over The World Status Quo 03:35
Smoke On The Water Deep Purple 03:47
Baker Street Gerry Rafferty 04:09
Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've) The Buzzcocks 02:43
Tears Of A Clown The Beat 02:40
Cool For Cats Squeeze 03:10
Geno Dexy's Midnight Runners 03:27
Enola Gay OMD 03:32
That's Entertainment Jam 03:35
Tainted Love Soft Cell 02:42
House of Fun Madness 02:49
Hungry Like A Wolf Duran Duran 03:25
Karma Chameleon Culture Club 03:51
Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go Wham! 03:52
Together In Electric Dreams Phil Oakey & Giorgio Moroder 03:53
Walking On Sunshine Katrina & The Waves 03:40
Dancing In The Street David Bowie & Mick Jagger 03:09
Venus Bananarama 03:52
You Keep Me Hangin' On Kim Wilde 04:19
Respectable Mel & Kim 03:24
Push It Salt-N-Pepa 03:27
The Only Way Is Up Yazz And The Plastic Population 04:05
Fools Gold The Stone Roses 04:10
I Don't Want A Lover Texas 04:05
Dub Be Good To Me Beats Internationl ft Lindy 04:01
Step On Happy Mondays 04:21
The Size of a Cow The Wonder Stuff 03:13
America : What Time Is Love The KLF 03:31
Ebeneezer Goode The Shamen 03:40
Out Of Space Prodigy 03:41
Could It Be Magic Take That 03:30
Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use) Sub Sub Feat. Melanie Williams 02:43
Girls & Boys Blur 04:17
Common People Pulp 04:08
Roll With It Oasis 04:01
Alright Supergrass 03:00
Wannabe [-5 SECS] Spice Girls 02:53
Tubthumping Chumbawamba 03:33
You're Not Alone Olive 03:54
Perfect 10 Beautiful South 03:39
Millennium Robbie Williams 04:05
Hey Boy Hey Girl The Chemical Brothers 04:49
It Feels So Good Sonique 03:49
We Will Rock You Five Feat Brian May 02:57
Don't Panic Coldplay 02:18
Buck Rogers Feeder 03:12
Shake Ur Body Shy FX 03:20
Just A Little Liberty X 03:53
No Good Advice Girls Aloud 03:47
Hole In The Head Sugababes 03:38
Take Me Out Franz Ferdinand 03:26
Golden Touch Razorlight 03:30
I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor Arctic Monkeys 02:53
Love Me Like You Magic Numbers 04:50
The Modern Way Kaiser Chiefs 03:31
She Moves In Her Own Way (radio version) Kooks 02:48
Grace Kelly Mika 03:07
She's So Lovely Scouting For Girls 03:44
Goodbye Mr. A Hoosiers 03:48
Mercy Duffy 03:42
The Fear Lily Allen 03:29
Bulletproof La Roux 03:26
Starry Eyed Ellie Goulding 02:57
Dynamite Taio Cruz 03:23
Price Tag (Clean Edit) (w/out BoB) Jessie J 03:09
Heart Skips A Beat Olly Murs Feat. Rizzle Kicks 03:22
Hot Right Now Dj Fresh Feat. Rita Ora 03:02

Monday, 28 May 2012

Cheese and Biscuits

On a day like today, there really is no point in cooking. Claire is not here on a Monday evening, and it's pointless me slaving over a hot stove for the children in this weather when they are hot and irritable and would rather have a sandwich.

I didn't really feel like a hot meal either - however as tea time approached I felt one of my cheese cravings coming on. Fortunately this was a good thing as I am well stocked up on cheese at present. Not only do I still have some of the famous French "Stink Cheese" that Jo and Alex brought back from France but I took advantage of a very attractive priced jubilee special edition cheese pack in Tesco the other day.

Same thing I bought, minus the Union Jack packaging (see footnote #1 below).

What's this, I hear you gasp? You are praising a Tesco offer, Bicester Blogger - are you ill? No - I did say you had to sort the wheat from the chaff and this little baby at £3 a throw was too good to miss.

I was also fortunate enough to have in stock a good range of "Biscuits For Cheese" and decided to have a selection, including Cornish Wafers, Tuc biscuits and Ryvita (Dark Rye).

Now I know that Ryvita might seem an odd choice for me, not because it is too girly or diety, but let's face it, Ryvita, those of you that know and love me, would you put the two of us together? Funnily enough I really like Ryvita, particularly the dark rye one. Unlike other vile concoctions people have attempted to persuade me to eat over the years, hence this conversation from many moons again:

Some ex girlfriend (can't remember which one): "Try Snack a Jacks, Jason, they are just like crisps but much less calories"
Me: "OK, anything for you darling....Uuurrgghhh....that's absolutely rank!!! - in fact...BLUUUUURGGHHHH!!!!!"
The ex: "You don't like them then?"
Me: "You're dumped".

Now available in four different varieties of cardboard

But Ryvita - very nice - and here is a little tip I can give you when eating them. It actually came from a weight watchers magazine that someone else I used to live with once had the audacity to bring in the house. I can't remember the exact wording but my interpretation is something along these lines.

"When spreading butter on Ryvita, always spread it on the rough side, not the smooth side. On the rough side it all goes into the holes so that way you can have loads of butter whilst to the casual observer it doesn't look as if you've got that much"

The correct side to butter is uppermost in this picture.

Useful tip that, next time the wife's giving you stick about your eating habits. But don't thank me - thank weight watchers.

So anyway, with all that on the plate, I just had the finishing touches of a few pickles and a pork pie chaser and "Hey Presto" - a meal fit for a king.

And there is more excitement to come later in the week. One of my eagle-eyed team of Snack Product Spotters has sent me the exciting news that Lidl has an exciting range of balls in a variety of flavours. I shall be heading down that way in due course to sample these "spherical cheesey delights" as they have been described to me.

300gm of pure cheesy delight!

With it being such a pleasant evening, I think it may be red wine in the garden after the kids are in bed - and perhaps a little more cheese if that's not being extravagant. I think not. And no-one can stop me. What an Englishman gets up to with his cheese in his own home is his business.

Jason xx

Footnote #1. You will recall today on facebook I mentioned "Clever Dicks", we all know one. And I don't mean me. My facebook comment was about the hilarious cliche "Well that was our summer then" when it rains after a few fine days early in the season. These pedants love to boringly correct us as well in order to re-inforce their "Cleverdickness" - a new word I've just invented. Hence my use of the term "Union Jack", a deliberate misnomer guaranteed to get any Dick worth his salt to pipe up with "Actually, it's called the Union Flag, it's only called the Union Jack when it's flown at sea".

Did you see William Shatner on "Have I Got News For You?" Wasn't he great? Which leads me on to my final paragraph on Clever Dick. If you suspect you may be talking to Dick, get into a conversation about Star Trek and then utter the phrase "Beam Me Up Scotty". If he is a true Dick there is only one possible response he can give to this question - can anyone comment and tell me? If not I will give you the answer later. There's a clue in the caption below.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Did I say it?

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Alpha Males, M5 frisbee and more Tesco rip-offs.

I've got one last holiday blog to do, then we are up to date.

Should you find yourself down in Devon on holiday, another place you can visit is Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur park.

We had a half price voucher for this place which we had picked up somewhere on our travels so the whole family got in for under £20, which compared well to the £30+ we spent at the Big Sheep. However I was soon pissed off when I was handed a half price voucher for the Big Sheep with my receipt, apparently these things are everywhere, as are 2 for 1 offers for most theme parks these days. I am probably therefore the only person ever to pay full price to get into the Big Sheep. Which annoys me, because as you know I pride myself in seeking out value.

More on value to come later on - so what about Combe Martin? Well it's not for the faint hearted - the hills, not only getting in and out in the car but also on the footpaths are horrendous - feels like about 1:2 in places. All the animals are good though, and they've got lions. The alpha male looked pretty hefty, apparently he's just killed off a rival to become the top dog. Good on him.

The "light show" was the lamest thing I have ever seen - a few flashing lights and lasers with a bit of Close Encounters and War of The Worlds music. I could do a better job with my starcloth.

The day before we came home, Ollie and I took a long walk up the cliff path to "Baggy Point" - now this was a long old trek, much further than I expected, and very difficult terrain but Ollie did really well and we had some quality father and son time - talking about all the things we saw on the way. Here's Ollie enjoying a well deserved biscuit as a reward for reaching the summit.

So the holiday came to an end, and we headed home, with taped on wing mirror, superglued windscreen wiper, we should get back in one piece? No. Stopping at some traffic lights shortly before joining the M5, Claire was startled by a man tapping on her window. He was from the car behind. Apparently one of our wheel trims looked like it was about to fall off.

I got out and sure enough it was very loose, so I pushed it, or rather kicked it back into place and it seemed strong enough. It had a tie round it anyway as part of the recent wheel balancing so that should be OK I thought.

Wrong - a few minutes later off it flew, past Claire's window and up into the air, like a large frisbee prior to bouncing down into the middle of the motorway and rolling along in the time honoured fashion which I'm sure you'll recognise from various car chases on TV in the past (normally just before they crash into the pile of boxes).

So just two wheel trims left now. On the plus side the mirror is still on.

So what's the latest on Tesco piss-taking offers? It really is getting ridiculous now. Here's some I spotted this week.

A pack of "Best of British" sliced beef on the end of the aisle with a Union Jack packet (cashing in for the Jubilee) - advertised as "Half Price" reduced from £3.40 to £1.70. An almost identical product (just without the union jack packaging and with a measly 20g less) is available on the main fixture where it is, and always has been £2 (available on a permanent 2 for £3 offer).

When you do the maths you can work out that the offer pack really is nothing special at all.
 BOGOF on the 2 litre Robinsons concentrated No added sugar squashes - normally retails at around £2 in Tesco (and that is its permanent price in Iceland - with a 40% extra free sized pack). However for the purposes of the promotion, Tesco hiked the price to £3.65. So you are actually paying £1.82.5 per bottle - not Buy One Get One Free at all is it - buy one at double the normal price and get another one free at double the normal price would be more appropriate. And in Iceland you could have got one for £2, with 40% extra free so it is actually better value.

BOGOF at £3.65?

A 12 pack of Walkers crisps inflated to £4.65 for a BOGOF - these normally retail in the £2.50 range.

Iceland had an 18 pack of Walkers retailing at £2.50 the same week - again, you do the Maths.

Say what you want about Iceland but at least they do not treat their customers like fools.

Apparently some of the other big chains are equally guilty of these practices. We shall have to see what happens when Sainsbury comes to town.

But right now, it just becomes more and more blatant. Did you buy any of these offers? If you did I've got to say that they've pulled a fast one on you. I reckon they are laughing their heads off in Head Office at how easily people are fooled.

It's not all doom and gloom - they do have amazing offers from time to time which really are fantastic - genuine BOGOF's from the original price and genuine half price - even Buy One Get Two Free - but people - please make sure you sort the wheat from the chaff. If we all recognise the rip-offs and stop buying into them they will stop doing it.

I think there are some people out there who will buy anything if they think it's half price. I bet if they advertised a loaf of bread at half price, reduced from £10 to £5 - there would be some idiot who would buy it as they are getting a "bargain".

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jason xx

Why can't we win Eurovision?

So - another poor performance at Eurovision - and out will come no doubt the usual predictable comments about how the rest of Europe hates us, Balkan block voting, how it's a bad draw going first and all the rest of it.

You know what - these excuses are spurious at best, the fact is, we just don't have a clue when it comes to putting an entry in. What the younger, more forward thinking countries in Europe do is put forward a song that's going to appeal to the masses, particularly the young, who are the ones picking up the phone dialling in greater numbers.

No matter how much of a hero our great "Hump" may be to us, regardless of where he sang in the order, do you really think he would have been of any interest to some young clued up 20 year old in Russia or somewhere? You may laugh at some of the acts tonight, but really, I can imagine most of these viewers over in the Eastern Bloc thinking "Who's this old ****?"

No disrespect to you Engelbert - you were number 1 before I was even born and I'm no spring chicken. But quite frankly you weren't the right man for the job - it's not your fault, whoever thought you were was clearly bonkers.

No - it's not ageist - yes, the Russian grannies did well, but they had novelty value. So where are we going wrong?

Where did we go wrong? Quite simply we picked someone who would appeal to the UK - not to the world, well Europe at least.

I think rather than lurching from one desperate ploy to another why not bring back the old "Song for Europe" show, after all it's only a predecessor of the X Factor which seems to be quite popular. Even better, make the X Factor winner do it, they seem to do quite well with their Christmas Number Ones. Write it into the show that they have to do Eurovision also. Well it would extend their manufactured careers by a few months.

Or what else? Well look at who's won? Nothing like the tacky shit we put out - look at Daz Sampson, Scooch, Jemini etc the list goes on. The rest of Europe does not hate us - we just put entries in that no-one wants to vote for!

I'm surprised we got any points at all tonight to be honest.

But I had a huge laugh watching with Claire - and chatting back and forth with Jo on her status with our observations. If you are friends with Jo, go and read her status - quality stuff.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jason xx

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Nightmare On Chapel Street!

As you know I'm a fairly laid back person and most of my blog is normally of an upbeat nature, but like everyone, occasionally I have to let the dark side out, and today I have a rant of truly Meldrew-esque proportions to lay upon you.

Without further ado let's have a picture of the great man himself to set the scene.

I don't believe it!!!!

What's this all about then? Well as you know, for six years now I have lived in Chapel Street, 3 years in this house and 3 in the one next door (which has no off road parking). During the period I was next door it was a constant battle to get a parking space opposite the house, the only free ones left in the area, and not included in the residents parking scheme unlike everywhere else nearby, e.g. Priory Road.

The one time I stepped out of line and parked on the single yellow line for about 5 minutes because I had just got back, Ollie was crying and had a soiled nappy and I had to make getting him in and changing him a priority I got a ticket! Amazing - the one time in 3 years I stepped out of line and whammy! It's almost as if they were waiting for me.

Anyway, that's all in the past, what's going on now? Well for the past year we have effectively been living in the middle of a building site. Six new houses on Chapel Street, either side of us, and two new blocks behind us. This has meant an awful lot of noise and disruption, but I have put up with it without complaining, however, the state of things in the street these days really is getting out of hand!

One of the thing that annoys me is that the builders, people who are working or going for lunch in trinity, and assorted other people who use the street as a car park (when there is a perfectly good half full one opposite) are now parking all the way along the street, all day, every day, making it increasingly difficult to drive up and down the street - it's single file all the way. And none of these people ever gets issued with a ticket. I haven't seen a Police community support officer or traffic warden down here for years. People have got wise to this and now it's a free for all.

Why pay to use this empty car park when you can park
 on the yellow lines opposite for free and never get caught?

In case you are wondering what the car is doing in the middle of the road at this point, it's waiting. With a lot of shouting, beeping and hand gestures coming from the car. And it's going to have a long wait, because here is what is going on a hundred yards further on past my house.

Good job I don't need to go anywhere in my car today -
my driveway is about opposite the lorry's cab.

Needless to say this chaos took some time to sort out. Once these two were out of the way, the next lorry immediately rolled into place, and this one was set fair to stay for a while.

Note the red car parked on the pavement to the left.

Still, some people didn't waste the time purely on beeping their horns and making a noise. This enterprising chap decided this would be a good opportunity to change his shoes.

Such a lovely day, think I'll put my sandals on
as I've got a few minutes to kill

I should have offered him a cup of tea, he was there long enough. Meanwhile, back up the other end of the street more unsophisticated blocking tactics were under way.

I'll just stop here then opposite this red lorry for maximum disruption.

Eventually after all of this, the road was clear again for a few minutes. So I will leave you with one final picture of the not one, but two selfish bastards who left this van and this red car parked on the pavement all morning, directly opposite the part of the pavement currently closed off where the houses are being finished off. Just about room for an able bodied person to squeeze through the gap - but if you've got a wheelchair or a pushchair? Well you can take your chance in the middle of the road with the lorries.


Do you know what, I would never have been so happy to have seen a traffic warden today - I would have run up to her - or him, and kissed them!

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jason xx

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Big Sheep

Whilst down in Devon we did a fair bit of travelling about. On the Sunday evening we found a lovely old 16th century coaching inn called the Foxhunters Inn where we had a lovely meal.

But the undoubted highlight of the week was a trip to "The Big Sheep", a theme park (if you can call it that) near Bideford.

As the name suggests this place was all about sheep. There was various stuff going on there - different animal shows, tractor rides and train rides for children, gift shops, all the usual sorts of things one finds at these kind of places.

Now that particular day was the one day away when the weather started badly - in fact on arrival at the park it was tipping down and there seemed to be hardly anyone there - about 30 paying customers and that was it. It was before 11am, and I discovered shortly after arrival that the one thing I had particularly come to see, the Sheep Racing did not take place until 3:50pm. How on earth were we going to fill all that time in this quite small place.

We need not have worried. A number of shows were advertised throughout the day, and it quickly became apparent that the entire days entertainment was being provided by just one man, a hugely likeable character who had a voice virtually identical to that of Justin Lee Collins. If you are a fan of JLC (as I am, and as I shall refer to him from now on), you were sorted, he was absolutely fantastic.  The first show was a sheep show, and then an opportunity to feed them, here is Ollie doing just that.

I was also delighted to discover that there was a brewery actually on site, and an accompanying beer and cider making show (again presented by JLC), which in itself was good, but it was followed by a free tasting session of the fayre made on site. Now for once I decided to break with my "no alcohol during the day" rule and sample the goods. And I have to say they were absolutely fantastic - I had six different beers and five different ciders - all awesome. Here are the beers:

Real Ales from Country Life Brewery
" OLD APPLEDORE ALE - 3.7% abv (alcohol by volume) 
" LACEY'S BEST ALE - 4.2% abv 
" POT WALLOP - 4.4% abv 
" GOLDEN PIG - 4.7% abv 
" BLACK BOAR - 5% abv 

Before you question what I was doing knocking back so much booze when a) in charge of children and b) driving back to the caravan, it's probably fair to point out we were given no more than a tiny cup full (probably about 25ml) of each - in total I doubt whether I consumed more than half a pint!

And so the day went on, the weather got better and better and by the time we had had lunch it was bright and sunny. There were plenty of things to entertain the boys, in particular Ollie, here he is on the pig ride.

And so to the undoubted highlight of the show - the Sheep Racing. Now JLC obviously knew his stuff when it comes to racing as he advertised the race as the 3:50 from Uttoxeter. Basically the sheep run all the way down from the top of the hill to the finish line where their food is, jumping 3 hurdles in the home straight. There was even a highly realistic bookies board, here's me doing my best bookmaker impression.

And so the race was ready to run - now for the first time I have attempted to upload a video to my blog but with no joy - it won't accept it - so instead I have uploaded it to YouTube and put the link here so I hope this will work. It's about 6 minutes long and worth listening to for JLC's preamble, but if you just want to watch the race cut to the last minute. It's pretty amateurish filming to be honest and much of it is just of the kids and I didn't get that much footage of the sheep, but worth it for a laugh. Keep your eye on Number 5 - a truly amazing runner who quite honestly took the piss out of the others by getting so far in the lead he decided to turn back and run the other way causing a pile up!

So that was the Big Sheep. Highly worth a visit if you are going to be in the Devon area any time soon.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jason xx

Monday, 21 May 2012

Getting Wet!

So, Saturday dawned after our first night in the caravan, and as on the previous day it was glorious sunshine and blue skies all the way. So we decided to go and have a walk round the local area, and found ourselves at the beach.

Now this is the first time Jamie had been on a beach since he could walk, back in Ibiza last May it sounds amazing but he was only crawling back then.

Croyde Beach is one of those which is very flat and therefore the tide goes in and out a long way. Now we had not gone prepared for the beach on that day i.e. no swimming costumes or towels, but decided to have a walk on it anyway. Whilst Ollie was happy collecting his "treasures" (shells, stones etc) Jamie instantly made a beeline for that great big wet thing in the distance i.e. the sea.

Now I was messing about at this point trying to get the video camera to work. As Jamie approached the water's edge it was clear he had no intention of stopping, and ran straight on in - complete with shoes and socks. Now being a flat beach he was not in any danger but even so, how far was he going to go. Completely fearless and up to his knees and ran out and lifted him up from the waves - and wow - was it cold! Not that Jamie seemed bothered in the slightest. It did not do my shoes any good either - they had already suffered badly from an ill-considered shortcut across a waterlogged field at Butlins the previous week, but there was no time to take them off.

Out of the water we were able to remove our shoes and socks, roll our trousers up and go back in - together this time, the two of us, whilst Claire and Ollie explored the rock pools.

As Jamie grows older I become more and more aware how different he is to Ollie. He is just completely fearless when it comes to new experiences. For example the first time Ollie even set foot in the sea he screamed and screamed. Jamie I really have to keep an eye on - today I went out of the room for a couple of minutes - when I came back in he was standing on the kitchen table!

But in other ways, Jamie lags behind - still at almost the age of two he has not said any words other than mum or dad though he can clearly understand everything that is being said - and follow quite detailed instructions. He just does not want to speak. Ollie was talking nineteen to the dozen and had a vocabulary of at least 100 words well before his second birthday. Yet can't do some things that Jamie can already do. I understand that all children develop different skills at different rates, but I often find it remarkable how different siblings, who are made from exactly the same genetic material can be so different.

This was demonstrated further at our next port of call, "Cascades" the on-site swimming pool at Ruda. Take a look at this slide from the pool - the white one with the steps, not the red one.

Not too daunting?

Now for years I have been trying to encourage Ollie to go on things like this slide, and been frustrated by his tantrums and refusal to do so - which can be very upsetting when every other child is going on it, and yours simply refuses. As you will know I try so hard to encourage Ollie to try new experiences to build his confidence and I have made some progress in some areas, but no joy with this slide. Jamie however, was straight up the steps, sat down and slid down the other side laughing his head off - and again was fearless. He was round, back up the steps and off again. I was sat just beyond at the bottom to catch him if needed but he did not need much help - even though more than once he got off balance and ended up underwater but no tears from these duckings, straight up, full of beans and round for another go.

Ollie however spread his wings in other areas, by wings I mean his water wings. As with the pool at Butlins there was a lazy river but this one was on a much smaller scale, and with few people in the pool, he was not intimidated, here's a picture of it.

The lazy river
Now in the past I have always had to hold on to Ollie in the water, he panics if he realises he is out of his depth, but little by little, I was able to encourage him to let go, even thought it was out of his depth, he was quite safe with the water wings, and eventually he was going round quite happily on his own with me a couple of metres away to help him if he got into any trouble. But all was well, so all good for his confidence, and he had a great time. There were various fountains and waterfalls in the pool as well, which he loves, so this pool provided us with some great entertainment, and whilst Claire was minding the children I was able to have some fun on this.

Yes, they even had a large tube - which whilst not a patch on some of the big ones you get at some water parks was quite enough for me!

Jason xx