Will I Ever Get A Worse Hangover?

Writing this at quarter past midnight on a Monday morning – I am still feeling the effects of Saturday night. It is my own fault and I am the only person to blame – but it doesn’t half hurt. I have croaked out a few links on my radio show and it is up in the æther. Here it is –

Still, what else have I been up to this weekend?

Friday saw me stay in with Kathryn – I thought I would be DJing at RETRO Bar but it turned out to be Punk night – I found out 12 hours before hand and felt a bit … well, used. Still – it is a good source of income and I enjoy working there. Friday also saw the release of Pound Of Dub on the big stores – all except Beatport. Beatport seem to be really difficult to get to work with; we sent it off but as with the last time (for Dub Force) we are delayed in our release.

However, the guy we use for PR (Silk PR) has set himself the challenge of getting us to number one – not improbable as we got to number 2 with our debut.

Saturday was a long lie in – past midday. It was great; nothing to get up for and nothing to worry about. However, we had been tipped of about a local dance in York featuring an artist we hope to be working with in the months, Ras Tinny.

However, right up to the last minute, we were all in a confusion – we even set off to get picked up but ultimately our lift fell through. There is no public transport between York & Harrogate after 10pm (even earlier I believe) so we were reliant on the good nature of friends who drive. However, that ambition was smashed.

So, me and Allan headed out to Major Tom’s and I proceeded to make a bit of a car crash of myself. There was dancing involved and I believe I invited the bar staff to touch my nipples – they politely declined but it was nice of me to offer. After Tom’s closed we moved on to Blues then Montey’s and I got home at three thirty in the morning.

I woke at ten Sunday with the room spinning – turns out I was still drunk. I made my way to Major Tom’s to see Stewart play his records. I really was not in the mood but I had my Harinezumi with me and managed to take a few shots –

Big Band Sunday With Harinezumi

All that was left to do on a Sunday was to try and get home – I nearly fainted my hangover was that bad – however, I made it home and went for a six hour power snooze.

First Attempt With My New Harinezumi Guru

Harinezumi is Japanese for ‘Hedgehog’ – it is also awesome as a camera.

To be honest, the cost of film purchase and development had taken the fun out of Lomography. I was worried too much about the cost of the prints that I did not snap away as you should. However, after finding a Japanese site that claimed these cameras were “King of Artistic Digital” I was intrigued.

I found a brand new Harinezumi Guru from 2011 in France and I have been pacing about waiting on Colissimo delivering the thing.

My Harinezumi Guru camera arrived today around 14:50 and I was showered and away from my computer at 15:20. A quick stop at Bass & Bligh later and I had acquired a battery and Micro SD card – unfortunately these are not supplied with the camera – and I headed off to Major Tom’s to read the manual.

Over a friendly, delicious pint of Atom Pale Ale I familiarised myself with the rudimentary controls of the camera – six buttons and that is all you have. I fired off a few in the pub and headed out. Here are the results –

 

First Attempt with My Harinezumi Guru

The Bug vs. Dylan Carlson From Earth

The gig I missed – I completely got my dates mixed up.

I am writing this blog post after a Friday night in Leeds – to cut a long story short, I got the dates wrong for a gig featuring my favourite guitarist.

Kathryn has seemed to have come down with a cold lately, feeling feverish and having the sniffles. This did not bode well well for Friday night’s gig: The Bug vs. Dylan Carlson from Earth. Kathryn graciously bowed out and allowed me to take my drinking buddy, Stewart – we caught the expensive train in to Leeds and arrived at Belgrave music Hall & Canteen at 20:10 – we thought there would be plenty of time to see Earth.

When I presented my tickets to the lady on the door – well – I realised that I had my dates mixed up: the gig I had tickets for was on Thursday night! I had missed the gig by 24 hours.

I felt a right tit.

Still, the promoter took pity on us and let us in to see Man Cant Fly – a Kassabian type rock out fit with a really tight rhythm section. The music was of a high quality but I was kicking myself over the fact that I had missed my favourite guitarist promoting his latest album.

Whilst the music was good in the Blegrave, I felt a right tit and had to go downstairs to get another beer. Scoob due-fully obliged and I plied him with (non-alcoholic) beer. I was on the Beavertown Lupoloid and Scoob was on some weird concoction.

We left the Belgrave and went to a few other pubs – one of note was a pub I can’t recollect the name of: it had the original Victorian bar complete with tiles and refurbished copper worktop; Whitlock’s I think it’s name was.

We then went to another pub where I bought my wife a Motörhead beer stein and we caught the train home.

All in all it seems a fairly quite night out – but, I have to say it is one that I needed. I had received some terrible news this morning and I needed a bit of mate time; who better to make you feel better about yourself than Stewart Thornton – he is a rough diamond. It takes a lot of bad news to realise that what you have may seem a burden a lot of the time but to others it is a light load.

I will not go in to the details of the bad news just yet – it is quite personal and I do not want to step on family toes. Let’s just say it has left a mark.

Checking In This Thursday

I seem to have broken my run of frequent blogging.

There was a time when I would knock out two or three blog post a week – all crap, but still; good times.

However, I took on a bit too much work and the result was that I burned out temporarily, in a minor way. The thought of sitting down at a computer for fun was a daunting prospect although I seemed to have picked up the baton again. So what have I been up to?

I recorded this radio show at three o’clock this morning –

 

 

I am also getting increasingly excited about the coming weekend – Friday sees me and Kathryn in Leeds to catch a gig, Saturday sees me DJing at FIRE (I will enclose a flyer in this post at the footer) and I plan to go back to the farm on Sunday to catch up with my cousin and her children – they are coming for the Easter break with my sister who I have hardly heard from since we saw Star Wars Rogue One over Xmas.

Kathryn is having a short break from her duties as a dog-walker as the majority of her clients are teachers – so, as it is the Easter holidays there is a dip in hours.

Also, in music news, GDS seem to have crashed out of the charts on Beatport for the releases but seem to be getting there in the singles chart. It has all proved a lot of fun and I will tell you more about our next plan for world domination at a later junction – although it is safe to say EP2 is in the bag.

Mother’s Day 2017

It has been a hell of a busy w/e.

On Friday, our debut Dub EP was released on major stores as a download. There are a few teething problems with the Beatport version but I have been assured by State51 Conspiracy that things are going to run smoothly from now on and it should be up there in a bit. I had a lot of fun making the EP and we are well underway for the second, follow up EP.

Saturday was spent walking. I trundled all over town and down to the PO depot – the reason was that I had just been sent a TRAKTOR AUDIO 2 Soundcard. It is a beast of a thing and tiny but quite cute. It is the same size as a metric beef patty. Look at this –

Saturday night was spent in great company trying out the Soundcard and a newly built TRAKTOR F1 MIDI Map. It is based on DJ Endo’s MIDI Monster F1 mapping and has proved a lot of fun. Whilst I had not used the four decks available due to the mapping – it felt like I was strapped on to a rocket riding roughly.

Sunday was Mother’s Day – Kathryn was out walking a Westie/Maltese Cross Terrier so I woke and got fueled on espresso before catching the bus to Ripon to head to Home Farm.

Mum was a bit under the weather due to a very nasty cold and Dad was preparing to go to the rugby. When it was just Mum and me (after Dad went to Leeds – they won) we just sat and enjoyed each other’s company. Something we never really did when I lived at home. It was nice just to sit there and have a natter with the woman who carried me for nine months and still carries me to an extent (misplaced metaphor?).

I managed to bring my camera and hoped to get some images of Mum – however, she refused to have her photo taken. So, I set about trying to see the different textures on the brickwork and stonework on the farmhouse and surrounding buildings. There is a great variety of stuff to see in the microcosm of a lens – here is the album, embedded on my Flickr page:

[rev_slider alias=”mothers-day-2017″]
 

I also had Kathryn’s LCA in attendance – I will try and post the results from that up here in a few days time when I get the images back.

Whilst at the farm I managed to see Jess, my sister’s black cat. Jess is a bit of an enigma – I never know when she is going to be at home but it is always a pleasure to see her. She is a Speaking Cat – when you say “Hello Jess” she will respond with a ‘Meow’ – quite how this came about, other than a loving Mum in my sister, is lost in the depths of antiquity – Jess is around fifteen or sixteen years old and doing great for her age: in fact – she is the cat that made me warm to Cats. She is a lot of fun and it is a pleasure to share her years with her. Here are two photos of her –

 

When I arrived back in Harrogate (with a floor lamp I was given on the farm) I found a wife covered head to toe in flour and egg. Kathryn had been making Courgette & Lime Muffins and they taste delicious – she hot-footed it to her folks to spend some time with her mum and Dad (I figure she may need a break from me) and I set about doing my show – below you can listen to the show – it is a lot of fun to do.

Dreaming Of A World Without Borders: Utopian Visions From The Past

I found the below article on theconversation.com – I will credit it with appropriate Canonicals, but I wanted to share it here, on my blog – If I have done anything wrong then please let me know. But, with Brexit, Mayism & Trumpism at the forefront of the western political psyche, I thought it a poignant post.

In the age of heavily restricted migration, passport control seems a natural prerogative of the state. The idea of abolishing passports is almost unthinkable. But in the 20th century, governments considered their “total abolition” as an important goal, and even discussed the issue at several international conferences.

The first passport conference was held in Paris in 1920, under the auspices of the League of Nations (the predecessor of the United Nations). Part of the Committee on Communication and Transit’s aim was to restore the pre-war regime of freedom of movement.

Indeed, for much of the 19th century, as an International Labour Organisation report stated in 1922:

Migration was generally speaking, unhindered and each emigrant could decide on the time of his departure, his arrival or his return, to suit his own convenience.

But the World War I brought harsh restrictions on freedom of movement.

In 1914, warring states France, Germany, and Italy were the first to make passports mandatory, a measure rapidly followed by others, including the neutral states of Spain, Denmark and Switzerland.

At the end of the war, the regime of obligatory passports was widespread. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles, which established the League of Nations, stipulated that member states commit to “secure and maintain freedom of communications and of transit”.


Freedom of movement was on the agenda at the Treaty of Versailles. Imperial War Museum London

Fences are easier to build than to dismantle. The 1920 Paris conference recognised that restrictions on freedom of movement affect “personal relations between the peoples of various countries” and “constitute a serious obstacle to the resumption of normal intercourse and to the economic recovery of the world”.

But its delegates also assumed that security concerns prevented:

for the time being, the total abolition of restrictions and the complete return to pre-war conditions which the Conference hopes, nevertheless, to see gradually re-established in the near future.

To facilitate freedom of movement, participants agreed instead to establish a uniform, international passport, issued for a single journey or for a period two years. This is how we ended up with the format of the passports we use today.

Participants also decided to abolish exit visas and decrease the cost of entry visas.

Close but no cigar

During the conferences that followed, several resolutions again highlighted the goal of abolishing passports, but concluded that the time was not yet right. In 1924, the International Conference of Emigration and Immigration in Rome maintained that “the necessity of obtaining passports should be abolished as soon as possible” but in the meantime advocated other measures to facilitate travel. These measures included an increase in the number of offices delivering passports, allowing emigrants to save time and money.

In Geneva in 1926, Polish delegate, Franciszek Sokal, opened proceedings by bluntly asking the parties to adopt “as a general rule that all States Members of the League of Nations should abolish passports”.

At that time, passports and visas were still regarded as a serious obstacle to freedom of movement, as a Mr Junod from the International Chamber of Commerce said:

Could not the Conference adopt a resolution contemplating the abolition of passports at the earliest possible date? Public opinion would regard this as a step in the right direction.

But by then, most governments had already adopted the uniform passport and some of them saw it as an important document that was meant to protect emigrants. As the Italian delegate reminded the conference that conditions had changed after the war and the passport was “particularly necessary as an identification document for workers and their families; it provided them with the protection they needed, enabled them to obtain permits of sojourn.”

Another delegate alluded to the Soviet Union when he refused to restore the pre-war regime. He said:

conditions had changed so much since the war that everyone had to take into consideration a good many things they could formerly ignore.

Passports were never supposed to be forever. www.shutterstock.com

Discussions about passport abolition resumed after World War II.

In 1947, the first problem considered at an expert meeting preparing for the UN World Conference on Passports and Frontier Formalities, was “the possibility of a return to the regime which existed before 1914 involving as a general rule the abolition of any requirement that travelers should carry passports”.

But delegates ultimately decided that a return to a passport-free world could only happen alongside a return to the global conditions that prevailed before the start of the first world war. By 1947, that was a distant dream. The experts advised instead a series of bilateral and multilateral agreements to attain this goal.

World leaders were still talking about banning passports as late as 1963, when the UN Conference on International Travel and Tourism recognised “the desirability, from both an economic and social point, of progressively freer international travel”. Once again, it was estimated that “it is not feasible to recommend the abolition of passports on a world-wide basis.”

Now, neither the public nor governments consider passports as a serious obstacle to freedom of movement, though any would-be traveller from Yemen, Afghanistan or Somalia would no doubt argue differently.

It takes less than a century, it seems, to see the absence of freedom as a natural condition.

Lomo LCA In Major Tom’s

I have just realised I have not written up about the weekends adventures – it is now Tuesday (Pi Day too).

Most of it was spent trying to sleep and failing miserably – then my Douche Flute broke at 02:30 on Sunday morning. I waited out until I was climbing the walls and, yes I admit it, I relapsed and bought some tobacco.

However, as soon as the Douche Flute shop was open I went out and got a new coil to stop me using the tobacco.

Sunday afternoon saw me in Major Tom’s with a host of camera apparatus – that it turns out I cannot use. I figured that as I can shoot digital I would be able to shoot analogue – they are as different as Rugby League and Rugby Union. But, there the sport analogy stops.

Major Tom’s is an independent café, beer bar & pizzeria based in Harrogate. that was established in 2014. They locally source and sell craft beer and real ale, especially dealing with local breweries in Yorkshire. That is all complimented by their famous stone baked pizzas made fresh on site and baked in the trusty pizza oven. Alongside all this they also serve award winning tea and coffee.

They have have gained a local and national reputation for their range of products, venue and customer service. In our first year they were nominated for “best newcomer ” at the Harrogate Hospitality Awards. Since opening they have also been featured in The Guardian, ShortList and are now included in the “Good Beer Guide”.

Food, Drink, Music & Art are their Passion. A laid back hangout with plenty on hand to keep you entertained and an ever changing selection of quality food and drink to tickle your taste buds, a youth club for grown ups if you will! And, I am happy to call it my local.

I had the beaming presence of Simon G. (pro photographer) overlooking me but I was pissed as a fart and could not operate the camera – but, this was a pleasure jaunt not paid work – I figure if a photo worked out then it would be a god send.

It turns out they have not.

I used a variety of films and here are the photos. They were shot on an old Russian Camera called a Lomo LCA – It is my wife’s camera and actually has a manual in the Cyrillic alphabet.

…. but, I wish I could use it. Although, if I wanted to document the event I would have brought my DSLR. I know how to use a DSLR …. Think of these as artists impressions …

Of three films – here is the second (the first had to be posted away as it is B&W) …

…. and then I had another go with another film – the below is the third out of three films I used – there is also a 120 Film that needs processing but that will have to wait as I only took two exposures.

The Restorative Power Of Sleep

As readers of my blog know – I have had quite bad insomnia since 2009. I will sleep for fifteen or sixteen hours and then go three or four days without sleep. I never got to the point where I felt like I had a good night’s sleep – I was like the walking dead most days, unable to function.

Such an episode occurred recently – it was my birthday on Friday and I had not really slept until Tuesday. On the advice of my siblings I got in contact with the local GP and came down to the surgery in crisis. I cannot fault the NHS – from the time I picked up the telephone to speak to the helpful receptionist to holding a prescription in my hand there must have only been an hour pass.

I picked up my repeat prescription and was also given some controlled drugs – they are quite heavy weight but I took one around 4pm (I was having palpitations a that point) and quickly fell to slumber. I was expecting to be out until dawn this morning – but, I woke up 10 hours later completely refreshed!

I feel like a new person!

I had always been wary of taking extra medication – especially for something I considered subsidiary, like sleep – but the effect it had on me is amazing. I did not need to reach for the coffee first thing (at 1am), I did not feel like I could have done with an extra three hours in bed – I felt comfortable, clean and welcome in my own body.

But what happens when I don’t sleep?

Firstly, I will have missed out on one of the biggest benefits of sleep – feeling fresh in the morning!

Secondly, sleep is vital for healthy physical, mental and emotional processing. When I go without sleep, or have insufficient sleep, my body struggles to perform to it’s full potential and, as a consequence, I can expect impairments to my next-day physical and mental performance. The same happens to you, you know.

Due to a close link between certain hormones and sleep, not sleeping has the potential to cause imbalances in hormone activity. Human Growth Hormone, for example, peaks during sleep meaning that insufficient sleep may affect growth and cell-repair throughout the body.

In addition to growth, my metabolism may be affected as well. Studies in which healthy individuals have been sleep restricted have shown that there are alterations to hormones involved in the regulation of appetite and an accompanying increase in seeking out food, as well as glucose metabolism.

What interests me is what happens in the brain when there is a shortage of sleep: overall, research has suggested that normal functioning is likely to be hindered by loss of sleep. Repercussions such as reduced energy levels with bursts of euphoria, unstable moods and excessive sleepiness during the day (obvs.) have all been observed in people who haven’t slept, according to research conducted by S.C.I.E.N.C.E.

Excessive sleepiness can be especially hindering and even dangerous as it tends to be preceded by frequent lapses in focus before individuals fall into a short episodes of sleep, also known as ‘microsleeps’. These episodes are a known contributing factor to traffic accidents with drowsy drivers falling asleep at the wheel (Boyle et al. 2008).

Whilst we can recover from not sleeping very quickly, it can have negative long-term consequences for our health. Chronic poor and restricted sleep are known, for example, to be associated with the development of illness, notably cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and certain types of cancers.

The most well known experiment on total sleep deprivation involved a teenager called Randy Gardner, who managed to maintain wakefulness for 11 days. During this period, he experienced problems with his working memory, speech and eventually hallucinations.

It is safe to say that keeping yourself awake long after feeling the pressure to sleep is unwise. Sleeping is not something humans can choose to do or not to do – it is essential for facilitating normal functioning.

However, this is not a scientific paper – it is a celebration that my brain has had a night’s rest. I missed out on a good swath of my birthday and, poor Kathryn, Valentine’s Day was a bit of a write off – but, I intend to make up for it. So, thanks to M. & A. (my siblings) for getting me to go to the GP.

Boyle, L.N., Tippin, J., Paul, A., Rizzo, M. (2008). Driver performance in the moments surrounding a microsleep. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 11(2), 126-136.

RIP Paddy

RIP Paddy – he was a good pup.

The realisation that I have seen Paddy for the last time has come true. I do not know if you remember, but in my post Xmas 2k16 Mk. II I mentioned that I thought I had seen my dog for the last time – well, he is now buried next to Mutt in the garden.

On the Sunday evening of the 12th he suffered what appeared to be a stroke – he could not stand or move his head, according to Dad who found him. The humane thing to do was to put him out of his misery and send him to sleep.

It must have been difficult for the vet. Paddy always brightened up his day when he went for his health check – indeed, the vet described Paddy as a twelve year old puppy not so long ago. However, Paddy had been starting to wane over the past eighteen months and arthritis had taken a grip – he was getting confused and his joie de vivre had left him.

However, he was still a very loving animal. Here are some photos of him:

He was happiest when he had something truly smelly to eat – dead carcasses or poo – you name it. He would then come and try and lick my face with his offending tongue and breath that could strip wallpaper.

We got him as a puppy from the Stockman on the farm – he came from working stock so had good instincts. You could not ask to meet a dog who was so full of beans. But, as I mentioned, he waned in his final years – age was not kind to him and he gradually lost the plot.

However, he never harmed a fly – bees on the other hand, he ate bees. He would try and catch them mid-flight and they would sting the inside of his mouth so that we would have to rush him to the vet so he would not go in to anaphylactic shock.

His sex drive was the stuff of legend – regularly he would wonder down to the village, from the farm to have his way with the lady dogs of the village – whether he fathered any pups I do not know, but it is nice to think there is a genetic remnant of him close at hand.

Indeed, his first venture looking for love nearly cost him his life at the age of eight months. He strayed off his hunting ground and wondered on to the main road – he got hit by a truck and thrown in to the hedge. The driver of the SUV, the head chef at the Black-A-Moor Inn, thankfully stopped and went to look. We were told that if he made it through that night then the vet would be shocked – that was thirteen years ago. He carried with him a piece of dislodged bone in his face and a dent in his skull the shape of a Mercedes car headlight until his final trip to the vet.

So, RIP Paddy – gone but never forgotten; you are now re-united with Muttley, chasing bees and smelling the flora in another place.

The Parish News – Twenty Fourth Edition

I nearly blew my cool on this edition.

I figured I would try and play new tracks that would appeal to a wider demographic than the one I had fostered previously – it started to get a bit irksome. I downloaded the best tracks of 2016 according to Bleep – they are awesome; really good tracks. Just, not what I want in a radio show.

So I had all of my playlist lined up, ready to go – I even made myself a strong tea and was highly motivated. However, the pounding EDM riddims got to me and I nearly swore on the radio 🙁

There is a time and a place for the music that I was playing – it really is exceptional music; the best of 2016. However, I was not feeling it. I felt like I was a ball-bearing in an aerosol can being shaken about to apply a finishing touch to TINO142’s WildStyle and it wasn’t nice.

This caused me to play a Nils Frahm track and I soon regained my equilibrium. The track following Nils Frahm’s duet with Olafur Arnalds was a six minute field recording from an Arctic Cliff (by Patrick Franke – awesome work) and we were back where I had left off in 2016, before the Winter break. It felt good to be home.

I had hoped for a ‘New Look’ show – with more exciting music and appealing to a wider demographic …. but it was not to be. Out with the new / in with the old. Below is the tracklist:

Artist / Album / Song / Track Time

The Qualities / Singles: The Definitive 45’s Collection 1952-1991 / Happy New Year to You / 1:48
nonkeen (Nils Frahm, Sebastian Singwald and Frederic Gmeiner) / The Top 100 Tracks of 2016 / Chasing God Through Palmyra / 6:21
Cavern Of Anti-Matter / The Top 100 Tracks of 2016 / melody in high feedback tones / 3:53
Bullion / The Top 100 Tracks of 2016 / Loop the Loop / 3:25
Muslimgauze / The Top 100 Tracks of 2016 / Untitled 1985 (Victor Shan_Gerd Janson Rave mix) / 6:26
Anna Homler and Steve Moshier / The Top 100 Tracks of 2016 / Ee Chê / 8:03
JT The Goon / The Top 100 Tracks of 2016 / Oil on Ice (version 2) / 3:56
Jessy Lanza / The Top 100 Tracks of 2016 / It Means I Love You / 4:41
Kowton / The Top 100 Tracks of 2016 / Scido / 4:50
Olafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm / The Top 100 Tracks of 2016 / 20_17 / 5:55
Patrick Franke / Earth (Listening) / Arctic Cliff / 6:43
Truists / Ballroom / you need a get out of hell free card / 4:07
Pinkcourtesphone / Taking In to Account Only A Portion Of Your Emotions / High End Smalls / 10:07
Geir Stundstøl / Langen Ro / Tony’s theme / 3:29
Disrupt / Foundation Bit / Foundation Bit / 4:59
Chris Abrahams / Climb / Shoreline / 7:20
Sendai / Ground and Figure / Perfect Boulevard Exclusive  / 4:41
The Aggrovators / Dubbing at King Tubby’s / Bag o Wire / 3:25
James O’Callaghan / Espaces Tautologiques / Empties Impetus / 20:02

Christmas 2016

Well, that was that!

A lot of blogs do the whole retrospective sweep around Xmas – I prefer to do that on New Year. So, I will, in this post, just write about what happened today: Christmas Day 2016.

Things got off to an excited start. Like a cotton headed ninnymuggins, I woke up at 03:30 and wanted presents. I tried, valiantly, to raise my wife from slumber. I did the gentlemanly thing and wait until 4am to do this. We exchanged gifts. Kathryn received a print by noted local artist, Robbie Burns. This was the winter scene called ‘Drawn to the Lights’ that compliments the autumnal scene that I purchased for Kathryn to mark our fifth wedding anniversary – also by Robbie Burns. I also got Kathryn the dress below and a couple (three) albums.

The dress looked stunning on Kathryn – it was as if it was made to specification solely for my wife. Kathryn bought me some amazing presents (a Sun Ra CD among them).

I then had four hours wait whilst Kathryn slept the sleep of the righteous – all I did was look at wrapped presents and feel useless. Thankfully, one of the gifts that Kathryn gave me was an espresso porcelain set and ground coffee – this set me up nicely in time to wake her up at eight thirty and tell her that “Now is the time for presents.”

Mum and Dad kindly gave me a voucher for a music store I frequent (Bleep) and my sister bought me a telescope – it looks ace as it has the added tech benefit of being able to sync with the SkyView app on my phone and point towards the stars labeling them as you go along; so that I am not wildly pointing my new telescope at airplanes.

We spent the morning of Christmas Day in our flat as the world busied itself for a day of gluttony. The chosen destination for our feasting was Kathryn’s parent’s in Harrogate. Kathryn’s mum is an accomplished cook and treated us royally. The feasting led to lethargy and I had to tag out after the third round of seconds was called up.

They even had Xmas pudding in for me and Kathryn – so the story told to me today goes, the humble Christmas pudding fell out of favour in Kathryn HQ to be replaced by a boozy trifle. Kathryn had not eaten Xmas pudding until she spent her first Xmas with me at Home Farm – she is now hooked on the stuff. We were treated great by Kathryn’s parents and it was great to spend time with them. They had got a lot of beer in for the day, but, after the feasting, I was a little bit full to start a one-man session.

The afternoon led to an intense game of scrabble – Kat’s dad cheated/won* and I came third – still it is the taking part that counts … until I win a game and then it is the winning that matters.

I managed to phone Home Farm and have a chat with siblings and parents – they seemed to have weathered the Xmas storm. Storm Mum was battering around the kitchen of Home Farm annoying the low pressure of Dad and generally clucking – but she was pleased that her Grand daughter was spending the majority of her first Christmas at the family HQ.

Back at Kathryn’s parent we slipped into a diabetic coma after over indulgence and woke up to see that Len Goodman was retiring from Strictly Come Dancing. Power snooze accomplished, we hot footed it back to our flat and slobbed in our Pyjamas. Yes, I have a beer in hand and, yes, I am wearing my pyjamas – well, it’s Christmas!

So, I would like to wish you the very best of days and I hope that all of your Christmas wishes have been fulfilled. So, from Kathryn & Andy Backhouse (plus Ted the Goldfish) – have a very merry Christmas!

*delete as appropriate