Another Year Older…

Today James is 30 and I’ve reached the lofty peak of 58!  To be honest I don’t feel that different to how I felt 40 years ago aged 18 as I’m still playing with toys, reading science fantasy and dreaming of being an astrophysicist…

Getting up rather early as Emma was excited to hand over her presents to the two of us we had to wait for James to waken from a deep slumber which to be totally honest and transparent is a pattern established over many birthdays and Christmases over the past 28 years!

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I have to say that this year I was very pleased with my stash of presents which included a Bluray restored version of my favourite war movie “Dunkirk” from Alex and Emily.  From Emma two books namely the Tom Hanks book “Uncommon Type” and Tim Peake‘s “Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space“, both of which I’d wanted for quite some time, as well as a keyring made from an “Uncharted” ancient coin!  

The other birthday boy James got me “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” by Neil deGrasse Tyson and a rather snazzy LED head torch that will prove very useful when taking the dogs out late on their favourite canal walk.

My dear wife got me Roger Moore‘s last book before he passed away called “À bientôt” which from the brief read I had this morning is full of his self-deprecating humour that really resonates with me (if not most of the senior management of my last employer)!  I’m so glad we went to see him live a few years ago when he was on his UNICEF book tour full of amusing anecdotes.

Lastly, somehow the PS4 game “Call of Duty WWII” crept in last jointly funded by Deb and Emma which crowned off a wonderful haul of goodies for yours truly…

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Hamish in the background just checking that nothing edible had dropped on the carpet

I won’t go into detail about James’ swag bag but needless to say he seemed very appreciative and so after an hour or so we decided to head into Merthyr and play a game of ten-pin bowling at Superbowl, a mere snip at £22 for the four of us.  Sadly Emma forgot the noble tradition of letting the birthday boys win and came out top, with at least Debbie having the grace to come last to avoid further masculine humiliation.  Still great fun and one to repeat methinks.

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The gallant loser in lane two…

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After my narrow loss at bowls we headed over the road to the local Harvester which has actually got good selections of veggie food for Emma and I as well as the salad starter.  Even more promising to this aged Yorkshireman was the welcome admission by the waitress that if I had their “app” on my phone I would qualify for 50% off the main courses at which a huge smile appeared on my face as I tucked into my bean burger feast!

Back home via Asda Brynmawr I stopped off briefly to secure a Mrs Christmas companion resin gnome to the Mr Father Christmas purloined yesterday despite the £30 price tag each this caused a lot of mirth from fellow shoppers (both days) as i wheeled them out individually in a trolley to the Galaxy where Emma had volunteered to hold them safe on the back seat…

Now in the spirit of Christmas surprises I won’t unveil what these gnomic characters look like until December 1st, when I hope to also publish the first sighting of my rather grey coloured full-set beard for the unwary.  Both the gnomes and my emergent beard are pretty horrific looking so you can’t say you haven’t been warned!  🙂

In recompense we are shortly to light our shared birthday cake and for the patient of you I shall shortly update this post with a picture of the illuminated gateaux…

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The tall slim candle on the right played a happy birthday tune!

Another Year Older…

A Good Read

One of the things I’ve rediscovered since moving to Wales is my love of reading.  For many years all I’ve done is revisit old friends to read in fits & starts such as JRR Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings or Herge‘s Tintin comic book adventures!  I first read Tintin while attending a school in Lille while living with a French family on a foreign exchange programme aged ten, I couldn’t speak much French so they gave me a copy of “Le Crabe Aux Pinces D’Or” (The Crab With The Golden Claws) to read in French at the back of the class to read to keep me amused.

I did experiment with reading on the Kindle in the last decade and downloaded a large number of novels written by MC Beaton about two of my favourite characters of hers, namely policeman Hamish MacBeth of the Scottish Highlands and Agatha Raison, a private detective living in the Cotswolds.  I also purchased on e-book the Famous Five & Mystery series of adventures again by Enid Blyton in happy remembrance of an even younger reader, although I have to say the Kindle never gave me as much pleasure reading as a physical book.

Sadly, while working flat out I had very little time to read outside these favourites, the possible exception being those written by Karen Wheeler who wrote the “Tout Sweet, Tout Allure and Tout Soul” trilogy of eBooks about her life escaping to France away from the rat race in London.  I guess these appealed to my sense of adventure and what really struck me was the sheer numbers of ups and downs in her writing as she struggles to find her soul mate in France.

Fast forward to arriving in Llanfoist in my own “escape” but with Debbie in close proximity, I resolved to buy these books second hand via Amazon Prime and reread them which I enjoyed even more second time around.  So much so that it got me wondering if there was anything in the same genre about escaping to  a Greek isle after our Pefkos holiday last year and so there was.  This time written by Jennifer Barclay who “escaped” to Tilos a small island west of Rhodes in her novels “Falling in Honey and An Octopus in my Ouzo”.

These two books are just as good as Karen’s and although I’ve always been a Francophile, I think I’m also a Philhellenist too!  These stories are all pure escapism while their love & respect of the local culture and cuisine shines through too.  Alas in both cases love tends to be a rocky road for both authors and it makes me appreciate what I have with Debbie even more.  Still both highly recommended if you like that kind of thing!

So what else have I sourced from Amazon Prime to keep me reading in my retirement when not listening to Alexa?  Here are my top ten with many more in the pipeline!

  1. Colin Dexter Inspector Morse
  2. John Mortimer Rumpole of the Bailey
  3. Dan Brown Robert Langdon
  4. Shane Spall Voyages of the Princess Matilda
  5. Alistair MacLean Where Eagles Dare
  6. Peter Mayle A Year in Provence
  7. John Mills Up in the Clouds Gentlemen Please
  8. John Grogan Marley & Me
  9. Jack Warner Jack of all Trades
  10. Norman Wisdom My Turn
A Good Read