Saturday, 30 April 2011

Some Music

Well I say music, just me trying to perfect the piece I messed up during my performance video at the end of the Acoustic Guitar week in France

Hope you enjoy it mum ;)..The rest of you...sorry :( I can't stop it auto playing. Just hit pause and your suffering will end...edit...fixed have to press play to be tortured.


Friday, 29 April 2011


I thought I would try a tiny dab of piri piri sauce on a cheeseburger....hmmmmm tasty.

Oh dear god the mouth is still very raw on the right side from the surgery and as soon as the slightest hint of the sauce touched it I could feel the heat...but being a sucker for hot spicy food I thought I'd go through the pain barrier......until the pain barrier turned out to be a solid concrete wall covered in chillie...

Water, Milk, ice, nothing eased it...lucky for me though I still have a bit of lidocane left from when I was having radiotherapy to numb my mouth. It worked.

Now I am scanning google to see which has the shorter half life...lidocane or piri piri sauce, cos if it wears off before the piri piri I'll be screaming again.

ohhhhhhhhh I really hate that I can't eat chillies any more.


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

IE9 or just blogger messing up

Yesterday was the day of non working computers, mainly becuase my main PC took it upon itself to update Windows 7 with a service pack and also update IE to version 9. I tend to automatically accept updates and with hindsight....

Anyway, after choking on the download for hoours tying up all the bandwidth it eventually went into install mode which somehow locked up the PC totally, even somehow causing the bios to reset itself...arrghhh

The SP1 for Windows seems ok, in fact its a little nippier, but 1st impressesions of IE9 are not great...why take a bit of software everyone is familiar with and change everything??? I will never understand that...but after a bit of twiddling I got it more or less set up to something recognisable though the loss of the favourites bar on the left is idiotic.

One odd thing though is I was unable to post to just refused to publish. Not sure if its still like that as I am posting on my laptop atm, but will check later and see. If indeed that is caused by IE 9 I will have to try and go back to IE8, I'm not pissing about with software that does not actually do its basic job right.


Monday, 25 April 2011

Off the booze for a bit and back to work...for a bit.

A whole week of indulgence in wine and other goodies has taken its toll. I am going to lay off the booze for a bit and give my liver a break.

I have been totally shattered since I came back from France, the long drive won't have helped but the general run down needing a holiday after a holiday feeling is taking a while to shake and I can't help thinking booze has a part to we'll try a couple of we....a week off and see how I feel.

Bina also got back from her break today, pieless I hasten to add, despite my pleadings for her to shove a couple down her knickers to get on the plane...oh well, will have to make our own.

Back to work tomorrow though, for a week, then a weeks holiday :D Oh I love my job.

But am looking forward to getting back in front of my 1st years again after a whole block of non-teaching work, it'll be good to get the juices flowing again.

This block I'm teaching PR4, algorithms and data structures, using Braben and Bell's Elite as a classic example of an alorithm driven game project. Its such a classic game and its absolutly chock full of clever little examples of algorithms to solve problems that they will hopefully learn the importance of using estabished alorithms and data structures as well as developing new ones, without even noticing it as they try to dissect, analyze and emulate one of the greatest games ever.

Also doing Networking HA2 with my 2nd years which will be more challenging as I am not the most informed network programmer around, but I have been doing my research and should be able to explain the basics, which is what we all need to know, in a clear way that will allow those who find it interesting to jump off into more detailed work.


Saturday, 23 April 2011

Fantastic week, fun, booze, sore fingers and sore toes!

Just back from my really fun week in the South West of France care of The Acoustic Guitarist Holiday

I had a really great week, lots of fun, really fantastic students who all gelled together really well and made the days fly by. Great home cooked food, prepared by Chris and Jenny Trotter (with help from Alice) who run the events and really calm and sensible teaching from Richard Perkins who managed to avoid laughing at some of our worst effots through the week.

Skill levels varied, Mike, Glen and Gunther showed some genuine impressive (ie I was drooling) skills at times which made me wonder why they were there, but even they found some of the work challenging. Paula, Danae, Dave and myself kept them on their toes though (bwhaha)

I was genuinly good fun, helped along by some really fantastic weather and a constant desire to play and play and play...oh and eat...ermm and drink. We did shift a fair amount of booze, my liver will need to go on its own holiday soon I think to recover.

A few lows though, I almost broke my toe dropping a false drawer front on it...that left me hobbling for a few days.(pics below)

I was also pretty crap during my final performance to video piece (a jazzy version of Amazing Grace), I'm sure Richard can edit it to get 20 seconds of decent playing but I have done better, I am going to practice a bit more then post a proper recording on here, but am sure my crap efforts will be on show on Richards link soon

I also got a bit ill on Friday night/Sat morning, not sure why, but was up at 1.30am scrambling around in pitch dark (stubbing my already briused toe) trying to find a big white telephone to call Hugh on...fortunatly I found it just in time..something didn't agree with me, and its better out that in...more than likely waaaay too much free vino. I was fine in the morning, and had a really nice Braised Ham dinner in a service station on the way back, lets hope it stays far so good.

I didn't really take a lot of pics, since they take a lot of pics for the blog anyway, but I have no idea who that fat bastard is wearing my clothes and playing my guitar on most of the pics. But what I did take are posted below.

Overall I feel this was one of the best things I've done, guitar wise it was challenging at times and I didn't really enjoy having to learn masses of strange Gypsy Jazz chords, its not really my thing though the others enjoyed it, but I have been inspired to make more effort to learn them and move forward.

The pieces we were given struck just the right balance of difficulty, though in such a short space of time I didn't really get them all worked out as well as I would want, but will do at home after a good nights sleep and a bum rub (sadly solo...) after the 9 hour drive back.

Working with other guitarists at varying levels was also incredibly good fun, I really need to make more effort to play with others and bounce things off people, that alone was worth it.

I hope to keep in touch with everyone, I have to send a few tabs to people, hopefully going to go back again later in the year for the electric course where I will take Lucille for an outing, and perhaps have a bit more skill to show so that I don't fluff my performance bit.

pretty....the rural setting had lots and lots of lovley insect and birdlife,

My Battered Toe....

And again.....not the best pic but I want to emphisise, hey..that hurt!!!

Can you see it?

just missed

there he is, there were loads of these Gecko like lizards around.

And at last a proper pic.

Getting quite used to the camera now isn't he...

1st up the ladies do their version of Turn the Page with Richard singing.

The rest look on and wait.

Dave gets some backing..

Can you see it?? Yup thats as close as I got to the Eifel Tower...though Paris Traffic seems to be pretty busy for miles outside

There are many many more pics over on Richards blog of the course

And now time for a sausage buttie and a bit of practice.

Friday, 22 April 2011


After class yesterday we all went to the local micro brewery to sample some of their delights, not being a beer lover I opted for some local whiskey which was really nice after the initial rawness...We all had a few snifters and loosened up. I bought a few bottles of the "scotch" aged in Pinot barrels to take home.

The alcohol theme was continued as we came back for our evening meal (more alcohol) and in true drunken group of guitarists style, we ended up singing (even me a bit) and playing with a few strange dancing efforts to boot. ( I did however thankfuly refrain from any dad dancing and stayed firmly in my chair)

All in all a good night was had.

Today is the last day, with a final "performance" evening tonight, which we'll have to try to stay sober for.


Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Sunny French Villa's

A few pics of our farm accomodation.

Very nice weather is continuing and we even managed to eat out in the sun last night, though as it went down it got quite chilly and we had to use our wood burning stove in the cottage.

today has been a challenging day, doing some strange jazz chords which I am totally unfamiliar and we haved a jazzified version of Amazing Grace to learn for this evening.

Most of the others have gone into Cognac to have a look around, but I prefered to stay and catch up on some work during the down time before practicing my Amazing Grace again.

Bina is off to the UK today so hopefully she will be bringing back a stock of pies on her return (yum yum hint hint)

Off to follow up some student emails...... A Beintot...or something.


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Hic Strum Hic

The travel down to the "south" of France was of course quite long but fairly uneventful I am happy to say, though I was totally shocked by the cost of the toll roads, I had to take 3 toll roads and in total was charged around 50 way!! Thats kinda steep, I had loads of change in my pockets expecting it to be 3-4 euro's a time it never occured to me it would be 15,22 and 23 euros....seriously thats absurd.

I've settled into my weeks intensive guitar course/holiday. I'm in a group of 7 "students" mostly my age or older, a few who are better than me and a few not so good so I am able to pair up with the better ones to get a challenge and show off to the not so good ones :D Nah really its quite handy being able to alternate your playing with people of different abilities.
I am sharing a farm cottage with 3 others, making 2 men 2 women (and only 1 shower so no wandering around with my dangly bits out), with another group of 3 in another cottage

The Cottages are really cool and calm, though the bedrooms have wooden floors so they are incredibly noisy. I'm sharing with GĂșnter, nice Austro/German chap, who snores...sadly our beds are too far away for me to elbow him or give him a cuddle to persuade him to roll over, which works great for Bina...maybe just as well!

The wine, fresh French country air (we are in the middle of nowhere I have to say the night sky is incredible) and 1st night travel tirednes have so far ensured I've been pretty tired and gone to sleep regardless of the snoring....that may change at the end of the week :D

Richard the tutor keeps a blog of the course activites, and there's a few pics of some strange long haired pasty fat bloke that keep popping up..

The weather is fantastic, wonderful sunshine so its a good job I brought some sun cream, though I did forget a few important things, like a stand for my Breedlove which has now picked up its first scratch from being laid down on the floor..oh well, its only the 1st 1 that hurts.

Playing is improving already, I've found my timing getting better and we're all enjoying playing some reasonably complex tunes properly. My fingers are aching though, and I am also limping after dropping a fake drawer front on my toe this morning..ouch.

Internet and phone connections are a little ropey so I better get this uploaded while I can, and go catch up on some work I need to do while I am away this week.

Missing everyone at home, I think Bina would LOVE this place, you have to come for the sax course, though they do admit its possible a little advanced, they may consider doing a beginners course sometime.

Working hard...


Saturday, 16 April 2011

Haw he haw he haw!

I am off to France tomorrow for a Guitar Holiday...nope, I never knew such things existed either! Its a weeks intensive guitar tution with a small group of like minded nutters who spend the days twanging strings, drinking wine and drinking wine, there may also be some wine drinking involved.

Its run by a company called Creative Vacences and I am hoping to attend another course later in the year, perhaps even get Bina to go to one of their Sax courses (I said Sax!)

I'm really looking forward to this, at the vast age of 47 I am about to go on my first ever holiday does that work? Who's going to make sure I packed my underwear?

Nah its cool, Bina is heading off to the UK next week with Jodie and I don't really want to spend time in England(though it would be lovely to see you mum, I think you get fed up with me after 20mins!!!) so the timing of this is nice.

I've not got any work to do, so there's no problem with me taking a week "off", though I do need to keep in touch via email, there's no need to go to the office so I can head off to France and have fun while doing a bit of lecture prep in the evenings over a class of wine....I love my job!!!!

I should have internet access there, so will post updates if I can. Its a long drive though, 8 hours accoring to the sat nav, so more like 10/11 allowing for stops to eat and stuff.

Since its an acoustic course I'll take my Breedlove AC25/SR+ with me, and also my Ovation VXT for a bit of extra silent late night noodling. Also taking my G-Dec amp and of course my Ipad for Amplitube fun with headphones.

If I have any fingers left at the end of this, and I've been damaging my hands all week in the run up to this, so who knows what is going to happen when I am there, there may be some recordings to come this space.


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Breaking nails

I have got pink nail varnish on my thumbnail..I feel like a plonker...but I had to take emergency repair action when the nail on my thumb...which is quite long for guitar playing purposes, snapped almost clean off at the top of my thumb, 3/4's of its width hanging off...this a few days after I cracked another nail further down the nail bed but its stable.

Since I need that nail next week when I am off for a weeks intensive guitar lessons I had to take drastic action...Superglue to hold it down..fortunately there was a nice clean ledge to put the nail back, and, nail varnish on top to support it.

All I could find in this house of women was pink sparkly stuff...well there was a bright red hussy shade..and I am not that kind of boy.

So...for the moment at least I have a pink thumbnail...very fetching, I'm sure the ladies can provide some clear version in due course.

But the glue seems to have worked, we'll have to see if it holds up to full playing on the day..I'll take a thumbpick with me just in case.


Monday, 11 April 2011

More Pride

All ready for the Prom....

all grown up now...still 'orrible at times but how things change in 2 years.