Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas In Lochgoilhead

I've had a fantastic week in Lochgoilhead with Jim and Ayden. Sunday, after walking the Wolf Pack with Mum and Stuart in New Romney, we drove up to Doncaster and broke our journey there with a stop in a Travelodge. The journey wasn't so bad and Ayden was amazing, we didn't need to stop for him once!

Monday we did the second half of our journey north, encountering our first snow (Whoop!) and getting to Paisley around mid-afternoon. We spent a couple of hours with Jim's parents and their dog Harry who did not like Ayden one bit. I met Jim's dad for the first time.

And then, as the dusk began to set in, we set off for Lochgoilhead. The journey was, as always, full of beautiful scenery along Loch Lomond, with the snow topped mountains in the background. But we knew that snow capped mountains meant a snowy Rest and Be Thankful pass down into Lochgoilhead. The road from the A83 down into Lochgoilhead is hair-raising at the best of times with blind summits and turns. But with added snow on the upper levels of the road it was interesting. But we managed to get along it okay and found ourselves at the Drimsynie House estate and found ourselves pleasantly surprised with how fantastic their updating of the lodges were. We stayed in an Osprey Comfort Plus lodge and it was fabulous, so warm and the Christmas tree just made it so homely!

On the Tuesday we headed to Paisley again to do our Christmas food shopping and spend some more time with Jim's parents.

Wednesday was Christmas! Jim cooked a delicious Christmas dinner and we relaxed whilst the weather outside was frightful!

Thursday. We lucked out with a break in the storms and took the opportunity to go for a proper walk (much to Ayden's absolute delight). We went up the Glen Donich walk which was absolutely beautiful (we only went that way to avoid a confrontation with some cautious looking Highland Cows). It was a lovely day ended with a cold meat Boxing Day dinner.

Friday we drove up to Glencoe, through the some of the most fantastic scenery you'll find anywhere in the United Kingdom. Huge mountains, fast flowing waterfalls, streams and the River Coe. We did a very short walk during a break in the near endless rain around the An Tor wood and then had lunch (lovely soup followed by haggis, neeps and tatties) in the Clachaig Inn.

Saturday... the saddest day. We headed home. We nearly hit a Highland Cow standing in the middle of the road as we left Lochgoilhead, stopped off for breakfast in Paisley, 8 hours later we stopped off for tea and biscuits at my Mum's house and then we were home. A very long day but Ayden was, always, absolutely fantastic.

A good holiday indeed.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Romney Romps

Yesterday we took Ayden down to New Romney for the next outing of the Wolf Pack. It is so cute how much he and Finn love each other. As soon as he realised where we were, and could see my Mum in the distance, Ayden was OFF and bounding towards Finn. Bless him. 

Meanwhile I made friends with Logan who discussed I was carrying a bag of chicken pieces. He became my shadow. ;) 

Had a lovely lunch at the Coach House cafe in New Romney where Stuart, Mum, Jim and I were joined by Nat.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Il Bordello And A Treat

So yesterday. We had planned to go to Belgium (even the ferry was booked) and enjoy a day in Veurne (a beautiful town, like Bruges but smaller and no tourists). However because we had a police officer coming round to take a statement over Ian's stolen bike we felt we should skip leaving the country and do something we could get back from quickly.

So that is how we found ourselves heading to London. There was a huge queue for tickets at both the window and the machine when we arrived (we later discovered it was because someone was trying to get a refund on a future dated ticket and book another future dated ticket!) but we managed to be the last people to get a ticket in time for the train. Phew! Got to London and negotiated the tube from St Pancras to Wapping (I really hate the tube these days but it was my first time on the old East London line since it became London Overground and I was impressed with the new trains!).

Why Wapping? Well, as any Dear Constant Reader should know, Wapping is the location of Il Bordello, my favourite restaurant. We arrived at the start of the lunch service and had bruschetta and calamari as starters. Absolutely gorgeous, of course. I then followed up with my usual, spaghetti carbonara. Washed down with an absolutely delightful pinot grigio. Staff were, as always, attentive but not intrusive. I love that place. Couldn't finish the main, their portion sizes are so awesome.

We then headed back to the tube and made our way to Stratford. We headed to Westfield in search of, and I kid you not, pralines. We did not find any but on the way Jim got himself a lovely watch, bought me some Invictus from the Perfume Shop (whose staff seemed somewhat disappointed to have to sell something to us) and then we wandered passed the Apple Store. Jim foolishly asked "Do you want an iPad?" and, not one to pass up such an open offer, I immediately agreed and thus I found myself the owner of 16gb iPad with Retina Display (i.e. 4th gen). Thanks hun! It is my first Apple device since the iPod video (just checked and found that was 8 years ago!) but I'm loving it already. My beloved Google Nexus is probably going to go the way of my Kindle Fire...

Got home but I had such a horrendous headache that I failed to objectify the police officer when he arrived. I'm losing my touch.

Today I had breakfast at Googies. Work tomorrow. Sigh.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Wolf Pack

On Thursday last week I visited Mum's house (whilst she was out, though Stuart and Nat were in) to get introduced to Logan (and see the ever rambunctious Finn). Logan is a foster dog Mum is looking after and it looks ever more likely he'll be becoming a permanent edition to what shall from now on be known as "The Wolf Pack". 

Logan and Finn

Friday was a day of work, there's something pretty annoying about going to work for one day only. Didn't feel like I achieved anything. No more work now until... next Friday!

Saturday I went up to Greenwich with Jim and Ayden to see Denis and have a few drinks in the local. Though I'm pleased to be living in Folkestone I do miss Denis and the Ash. It was lovely being there and Ayden was so well behaved! He did experience a minor problem when he went out into the pub garden. He went down the stairs fine but when he turned to go back up he realised he could see through the gaps in the back of the stairs and this revealed his latest phobia: steps with gaps at the back. He thus sat at the bottom sulking in the rain. We eventually realised he'd been gone some time and rescued him by opening the other door to the outside.

Sunday morning we took Ayden to a huge dog walking area between the sea wall and the golf course at New Romney. Mum and Stuart were already in there with Finn and Logan. When Finn realised we had arrived he shot over to the fence and Ayden and he ran up and down excitedly until we finally coaxed Ayden to the gate. After he and Finn had done their obligatory chasing games, he finally was introduced to Logan and they seemed to get along fine. The Wolf Pack became a reality.

Ayden, Logan and Finn Await Some Treats From Mum

They then proceeded to terrorise the other dog walkers in the walking area by appearing from behind large mounds and racing towards them as a group. Given their size and speed there were a few worried looks!! Of course they are as soft as anything (all Ayden ever wants to do is say hello to every dog he meets) but there were a few frowny faces. One lady, walking her dog, informed us she actually had a phobia of dogs to which Jim replied that coming to a dog walking area was probably not the best thing for her to do then. People are silly!

We also met a huge Afghan Hound who soon put The Wolf Pack in their place. Cowed and in awe they followed said Afghan Hound on yet another tour of the dog walking area to terrorise the dog walkers again (including the phobic woman!). Ayden spent pretty much all of the rest of the day sleeping, totally exhausted.

Jim attempted a rather wonderful cheesecake with a cookie dough centre. Whilst tasty I feel we are going to be have a Cookie Dough Cheesecake 2.0 *rubs hands in glee*

Friday, August 23, 2013

Happy 12th Blogaversary

12 years, oh Dear Constant Reader, is how long you have put up with my yammerings. 12 years. Thank you.

I have neglected you for the last few years, but be aware that this is a good thing. Less personal blog means Jae is relatively content. Here is my 2000 posts post from 2009 (ignore the sadness as the sad times are over!) which really gives a good run down of my blog life before my return to Folkestone!

Gosh how my life has changed since that return. In some ways it is a little surreal to be back working in the same office I worked in before I moved to London to be with Jim in 2005. But that is also quite comforting. And Jim, Mr Gibbs and I have been joined by some new additions. Ian was certainly a surprising addition. Hard to imagine that he has been here for a year already! And, of course, Ayden the Tamaskan who has brightened up our lives. Somedays, when waiting for him to get home from his exciting adventures with Doggy Nanny (which may soon end), it feels quite empty in the house without him. He is quite the character and we all love him dearly.

Thanks again, Dear Constant Reader, for always being here when I need you and for coming along on this journey with me.

I will, I double promise with cherries on top, try my best to keep you a bit more up to date with the happenings of my life. Yeah... you've heard that before... *thinks a distraction is needed* LOOK! A new Charles Dera picture!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Well Hello Friend!

It has been too long since I last wrote you, Dear Constant Reader. Life is pottering along quite nicely. My travels to Hatfield are, thankfully, over although I remain seconded from my job. Last week I had my first ride in an ambulance, Ian had collapsed and smashed up his face. He is alright thankfully and was out of hospital within hours.

Had lunch in Rocksalt yesterday. It was okay. They don't accept Amex, they seated us right next to a door they'd opened to the outside so we had to sit in a weird "9 o'clock" arrangement rather than directly opposite each other, and the the main course was not really to my liking. Alas.

Ayden is doing well too. Although thanks to Jim's latest interest, astro-photography, we have discovered he does not like telescopes. I'm sure this won't hold him back in life that much.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

OH GOD. It is THAT birthday today

So it finally happened. I'm 30 years old. 16 years ago today I last saw the Sixth Former. 12 years ago I first met Laura. 10 years ago I was sat in the Leas Club and Gareth turned up with a huge bag of goodies for me. It doesn't seem that long ago! Yet it is forever ago isn't it?

30 years Dear Constant Reader. Can't really believe it. Hadn't planned for this eventuality. What does one do? Who knows, but sheesh it is weird.

Hope you are well... you'll notice that for my birthday I managed to get out of going to Hatfield. WIN!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Some Homosexual Apologetics

"I ne’er was struck before that hour
  With love so sudden and so sweet"

Out of a sense of modesty (Me? Modest? Some mistake...) I often shy away from defending my sexuality in the stringent way that I want to. But the attacks I read on a daily basis during my marriage for all crusade so often present a picture so different to the reality I perceive as to be almost certainly lies. What I say below in no way suggests I view different-sex relationships as inferior, I'm not crazy like the homophobes, and I can only speak from my experiences as a gay man (rather than a gay woman or a bisexual).

I've said before that there is nothing wrong with being gay. Nothing. 

I cannot imagine how flesh on flesh contact between two members of the same-sex, in a sexual way obviously, can be considered "sinful". It is total nonsense to suggest that something as simple as consensual sexual contact could be sinful. It is, surely, the motives behind such contact that give it it's moral character not the physicality of it. 

Some like to say that sexuality outside of the heterosexual marriage bed (and thus "ordered" for procreation) is simply selfish and by having sex with someone of the same-sex you are using them for your pleasure. This is what comes from spending too much time thinking about subjects academically and philosophically. Humans have a variety of motives for doing allsorts of things. I've no doubt some people use others for sex (and a great deal more). But I also believe in human kindness, selflessness and love. Certainly the pleasure motive is there when it comes to sex, but there is also the pleasure of giving someone else pleasure. And there is companionship, human contact and a whole range of other good things that motivate people to have sex. And get this... homosexuality isn't just about "eros". It also has a healthy dose of philia. 

There is something wonderful about the love two men can share. Something beyond words. A mixture of deep romantic love, friendship and like-mindedness that is utterly fulfilling. The beauty, strength and intellect of a man is something I can't imagine not finding attractive nor inspiring. I will never understand the idea that homosexual relationships are in some way inferior to heterosexual ones nor will I accept they are ultimately empty and unfulfilling. Take the following quote from this article:

Here’s a very sad fact of life that never gets portrayed on Glee or Modern Family: I find that men I know who have left their wives as they’ve come out of the closet often lead diminished, and in some cases nearly bankrupt, lives—socially, familially, emotionally, and intellectually. They adjust their entire view of the world and their role within it in order to accommodate what has become the dominant aspect of their lives: their homosexuality. In doing so, they trade rich lives for one-dimensional lives. Yet this is what our post-modern world has taught us to do. I went along with it for a long while, but slowly turned back when I witnessed my life shrinking and not growing.

This is the sort of thing you see a lot. A cross between pity and a warning to others. There are depressed gay people. There are deeply lonely gay people. But there are deeply lonely straight people too. It is not a "gay" condition. I do not recognise it as a part of my life. In the most depressed moments of my life (usually over money issues) I've taken solace in my love of men (And I don't mean I went out a shagged every man I can find before some "Christian" comes along to pass judgement, philia not eros). It has been a bright, positive aspect of myself that has seen me through some dark times. Those dark times are many years behind me now and as I approach ten years with Jim they couldn't feel more distant and I can't believe how happy I remain.

Homosexuality is not a curse. I don't need your pity nor your acceptance. I put this out there only to counter the constant negativity from those who seek to shame us. I'm without shame, without fear and without a desire to change. I'm a happy gay man. And that is a great thing to be. 

"Perish miserably they who think that these men did or suffered aught disgraceful."

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Eurovision 2013: Austria

Natália Kelly is doing the honours for Austria this year with "Shine"

A good song, a great voice but seems to lack the sort of "hook" that I tend to like. I'm a man of very simple tastes. Doesn't feel like a winner to me.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dear Diary...

Guess who I saw today? In "the larder", no less. 

That is pretty much all. Still working Mondays and Tuesday in Hatfield although now staying in a gym. Seriously. It's a hotel IN A gym. Nice for oogling bad for a good nights sleep. Work is all a bit odd right now as I seem to be doing a lot of new things and I'm just finding my feet. 

Jim's finally been to the doctor about his arm. We'll find out what the problem is later on today. 

Ayden is still being gorgeous. 

The lack of snow whereever I am is getting to me. Can we have a proper blizzard over the Easter weekend please? Thank you. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Eurovision 2013: Finland

Krista Siegfrids is representing Finland with Marry Me. I'm not ashamed to say that I am absolutely loving this one. Upbeat, very early Noughties vibe (a bit Avril Lavigne meets Katy Perry) and it is the sort of song that I pretend I don't like normally.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Eurovision 2013: United Kingdom

Bonnie Tyler is supposedly best known for "Total Eclipse of the Heart" but personally I remember her best for "Holding Out For A Hero". This probably goes a long way towards showing the sort of rubbish I enjoy. But pretty soon she will be best known to us all as the 2013 UK entry for the Eurovision Song Contest!!

The song she will be performing is "Believe In Me", and it is actually pretty good.

It is the first UK entry in a long time that I actually enjoy listening to. It's got a nice "long drive accompaniment" vibe to it that is right up my alley when it comes to music. Does it have a chance? I'd like to think it has a shot, but then again I was scandalised at the low placing of Scooch so I'm really not someone who can judge!

The real issue is how the performance will go. I'll be very interested to see how Bonnie manages to sing this live and not look as awkward as she does at some points in the video. But I have faith! I Believe In Bonnie. Onwards to Malmo!

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Work. Work. Work. WORK.

So there have been a few changes at work of late and this means I spend Mondays and Tuesdays at Head Office in Hertfordshire testing a new website and the rest of the week in Folkestone being a call centre agent extraordinaire (as if I needed to tell you that).

This means there have been a few changes. One: I travel up and back by HS1 meaning I am once again a commuting bod. Two: I'm staying over on a Monday night in a hotel. The commuting has not been half as bad as I imagined (which means it'll be awful on Monday now!) but the hotel is dull, dull, dull. Premier Inn with Table Table for dinner. It has meant I've been getting through the books I'm trying to read though!

Amy, Zoe's baby girl, had her naming day on Sunday where I discovered two pints of lager is enough to get me pissed. I've become a terrible light weight. :(

Ayden continues to be cute. Mr Gibbs continues to plot the overthrow of the human race. All is well.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Eurovision 2013: Lithuania

Andrius Pojavis' Something is Lithuania's entry into the Eurovision Song Contest 2013

It's not just me is it? He can't sing, right? Good, glad it wasn't just me...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ben Ivory: The Righteous Ones From Germany's "Song For Malmo"

As I begin to pay more attention to Eurovision (just 4 months to go people!) I tend to pick up on a few good songs from the national selections. But this one is something special. Ben Ivory is in the running for Germany's nomination to go to Malmo in May and his entry "The Righteous Ones" is truly awesome. Very 80s.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Eurovision 2013: Ukraine

Zlata Ognevich's "Gravity" is the Ukrainian entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2013.

The land of Ruslana, Verka and Svetlana has given us some absolutely fantastic Eurovision tunes in the past. This is absolutely not one of them. I hate this song. I was already politically against the Ukraine after their moves to copy St. Petersburg's anti-gay laws, but with this song I don't even need to vote politically. BORING.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Eurovision 2013: Belgium

Roberto Bellarosa's Love Kills is Belgium's Eurovision Song Contest 2013 entry.

Cute but I really don't like this one. It is just a bit nothingy. Poor show Belgium

Monday, January 07, 2013

Eurovision 2013: Belarus

Alyona Lanskaya's Rhythm Of Love is the Belarussian entry for Eurovision Song Contest 2013

Plus points: I love what the male dancers are wearing. A nice poppy tune.

Negative points: She has a terrible voice. Belarus is not free! Check our Liberal Youth's Bears for Belarus.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Eurovision 2013: Switzerland

Heilsarmee - You and Me is Switzerland's entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2013

In the interest of being fair, and in the spirit of Eurovision, I shall put aside my reservations about the Salvation Army and give this due consideration.

I'll admit I've always had a weakness for Swiss entries, and this one is pretty good (for a Eurovision song). However it seems to lack a hook and I can't quite help thinking it comes over a little flat. They might put on a good show in the semi-finals. You never know!

Friday, January 04, 2013

The Office Crush: How I Miss It

Until a few years ago I always had an office crush. Whether I'm in or out of a relationship, I've always thought of crushes as a relatively benign form of amusement. 

There was Ben, Dutch Boy, Italian Boy, Spotty Boy, Big Arms Guy, Preppy American, Tube Boi, Rugby Boy. These people, often unknowingly although sometimes very knowingly, have helped me get through the working day with a smile. Unobtainable heterosexual male fantasy figures... it is all good clean fun. 

But now I have none. My entire office is women. There are some vaguely appealing men I occasionally interact with. However I'm still looking for that mix of physical attractiveness and attitude that really just makes the day a lot easier. Sigh. Is eye candy too much to ask? I miss it so. 

Talking of men at work. 

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A New Beginning

Hello, Dear Constant Reader, it has been a while hasn't it?

Happy New Year! Just to let you know, I'm coming back (to what I know) and will be posting here once again.

But firstly, have you met Patrick Schwarzenegger?