Record Store Day 2014

I took the girls to Berwick Street in Soho yesterday, for Record Store Day 2014.

20140419_132742Without a record player and not being a “collector” the numerous limited edition releases available were of no use to me, but I thought it would be a “Cool Dad” thing to take the girls up there and see lots of people dancing and enjoying music.

We got there just in time to see Edwyn Collins playing (you can probably not quite see him in the background of this pic), which was nice.  Good to hear that he’s got his voice back after the horribly tragic stroke of a few years back.

The queues for all the record shops were massive, however, so we didn’t even try to get in there.  I was half seeking a CD copy of Dylan’s Gospel by The Brothers & Sisters, but it looked easier to get it online, frankly.

And the music at Sounds Of The Universe was pretty damn good (and I was hoping to see some of Illum Sphere‘s 3pm set…), but the girls weren’t really into it so we bought cakes from Berwick Street Market instead. :-)

We did manage to visit nearby GOSH Comics, where Amber chose a Frozen storybook (of course!) and Millie – more interestingly – opted for a Spiderman All-Ages comic.  I was pleased she chose something I enjoyed at her age, and my fairly up-to-date Marvel knowledge came in useful in identifying all the characters!

Monsters University!

It’s the current catchphrase in our house at the moment, said in a silly Japanese-American (I think) accent – “Monsters University Toy Surprise”

It’s all thanks to this video, which Amber discovered while scraping the YouTube barrel for anything with the word “Frozen” in the title or keywords.

What is it?  A lady unwrapping a shedload of Kinder Surprise eggs and listing the toys inside, all in a silly Japanese-American (I think) accent.

A certain level of deranged comedy genius becomes apparent if you watch it for more than five minutes (I don’t recommend the full 13 – even Amber hasn’t managed that yet!)

To save you the trouble, Monsters University comes in at about 9 minutes 40 seconds.

Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark, GreenwichIt still being the Easter Holidays (still!) the girls and I visited the Cutty Sark in Greenwich on Wednesday.

I’ve been to Greenwich often enough and seen most of the cool stuff there (museums, foot tunnel under the Thames, the market, the park, the Royal Observatory, etc.) but never the Cutty Sark.

Sadly we missed our intended train because we were all playing Titanfall and got a bit carried away, but we still arrived just in time for lunch.  And lunch, of course, was at the girls’ favourite London restaurant (because it’s one of the few they know) San Miguel on Greenwich Church Street.  They’d been there with the Lovely Melanie just 48 hours earlier, when they came to see the brilliant Signor Baffo at the theatre in Greenwich; but despite the amazing choice of restaurants in Greenwich decided that San Miguel was the only possible choice.

The waiter even recognised them!  They are officially “regulars”!

Beneath the Cutty SarkAfter lunch (I recommend the calamari), we joined the Cutty Sark queue inside the entrance – not realising the queue began outside and you had to queue outside to join the queue inside!

As an Englishman with a genetic-level respect for queuing and proper queue etiquette, I was mortified when this was pointed out to me, and hung my head in shame in the outside queue. :-(

Despite this embarrassing social gaffe, the Cutty Sark was really rather good.  It’s not a terribly old ship (nothing like as old as, say, HMS Victory or the Mary Rose) but looks very impressive – an immense shape simply floating in the air above you, and is fascinating to explore, too.  It’s all very well done for adults and children.

It being the Easter Holidays (still!) there were arts and crafts activities going on beneath this 963 tonnes of wood and iron, so while the girls made kites and windmills I stared up at this floating mass (963 tonnes of wood and iron!!) wondering what on earth was holding it up.  I asked Amber at one point, she shrugged and replied “string?”

Tangled up on the Cutty SarkThe only small downer on the day (queuing mistake aside) were Millie’s endless requests to go to the bloody gift shop.  Every two minutes, “Can we go to the gift shop?  When can we go to the gift shop?  Are we going to the gift shop now?”

I can count the number of times I’ve actually told my children to “shut up” on the fingers of one hand, but this added another finger to the count. :-(

We got home, exhausted, but just in time for tea and had hot cross buns for tea.  Yum.

And Millie, inspired by the Cutty Sark and the ship in a bottle from the gift shop, has been inspired to write a story on her blog called The Ship In A Bottle.

Extreme Easter Holidays

It’s the Easter holidays and everyone’s busy!  Well, last week less so because the girls were away with their grandparents in Hatfield.

But now they’re BACK and things is CRAZY!

To be fair, it’s not just them.  I’ve had a sudden flurry of “going out” – three nights in a row out with friends, for gigs, birthdays, and lectures by SELFS (the South East London Folklore Society).

Three nights on the trot is a lot at my age though.  And there was no let up on Sunday, when I took the girls to the library, to the shops, and then they helped me sort out the front garden in the afternoon.  I dug up weeds and put them in the compost bin; they dug up weeds and put them in pots.  The back garden is now awash with potted daisies, buttercups, and other such things.

Bexleyheath Library, Sunday morning

At the library – very quiet!

“What will a daisy turn into if you pot it?” asked Millie.

“More daisies?” I replied, more than a little perplexed.

We also planted more raspberries out the front on the grass verge that doesn’t technically belong to us, but which we’re slowly annexing.  I’m rather hoping some obscure bye-law will make it our property if we cultivate it for a certain amount of time. ;-)

And there was no let-up yesterday.  I had the day off to take care of the girls, although never has the phrase “day off” been less accurate!

In the morning we tried to get Amber back on her bike.  She learned to ride last year but has since lost her confidence and apparently forgotten (giving lie to the old saw that “it’s just like riding a bike…”)  So, when it came time to go to the doctor’s and the shops, she ended up running behind Millie and myself.

To be fair, she did well at keeping up.  But Millie and I were exasperated at having to ride so slowly.  Amber eventually got a stitch on the way back, so I put her on my handlebars and rode slowly and carefully home.  “Don’t tell your mother,” I told them.  And they haven’t.  But I just did.  Bugger.

In the afternoon we went to the Post Office in Sidcup , then down Station Road to go swimming.

Going down the Station Road hill was oddly nostalgic, since Millie and I used to go that way three times a week after dropping Amber at nursery.  It was a gorgeous sunny day and the girls climbed on anything climbable and pretended to be butterflies.

Amber invented a genuinely new stroke when we eventually got to the swimming pool: a rotating combination of front crawl and backstroke.  Is it practical?  Maybe.  Is it novel?  Yes, very!  I’ve christened it “The Corkscrew”.

Swimming with the girls is so much easier now they can both swim even when well out of their depth, and neither of them has the slightest fear of the water.  You can throw them in the air, flip them off floats, and dive down to the bottom – nothing phases them.  They were like a pair of little fishes.

Glad to see all that money spent on swimming lessons hasn’t been wasted!

Today, I’m home alone, working; the girls have gone to visit our friends Ben and Sharon in Lewisham – although, Amber found time for a bit of hair plaiting before they left.

Tomorrow, we’re visiting the Cutty Sark

Phablet fan club

The trees are bright with blossoms, the birds are singing, the sun is shining – it can only mean one thing: new ‘phone time here in Bexley!

I’ve had my brilliant, trusty Samsung Galaxy Note 2 for almost two years now – the best phone I’ve ever had, bar none.  Sadly, the screen recently cracked and it just wasn’t as fast as it once was.  Much as it pained me (because I love that phone) I began to think about maybe, possibly, eventually, at some point upgrading.

When the HTC M8 came out I began to seriously wonder if it wasn’t time for an upgrade (something I’d considered when the Note 3 came out, but for the money it wasn’t significantly better than the Note 2).  I even went so far as to visit a mobile shop and ask to have a play with an M8.

Make no mistake, the M8 is a smart, fast and beautiful phone, but the lack of a removable battery put me off.  If I can’t swap the battery out and add extra memory with a microSD card that’s a deal-breaker for me.  I like to carry a lot of music with me, and if my battery dies I want to fix it by sticking a spare in.  Call me Mr Demanding… :-P

While looking at the M8 and thinking hard I noticed another brand-new phone called the LG G Pro 2.

It’s a direct competitor with Samsung’s Note line of “phablets” (phone-tablet hybrids), and bigger than your average phone.  But it’s also thin, lightning-fast and 4G-enabled with an even bigger screen on an almost identically-sized chassis.


Not one, but two LG G Pro 2s

And it looks nice, too (as did the removable battery and microSD!)

Now, people always said to me about my Note 2, “Oh, it’s much too big,” or “It won’t fit in my pocket,” but I use my phone a lot, and do a lot of reading on it – I want a big screen.  Squinting at a small screen is only going to give me a headache (the Pro 2 screen is a frankly incredible 5.9″!)

That’s very large, no question; but since I gave up wearing hotpants it fits in my pocket just fine.  And once you’ve had a phablet for just a few days it’s impossible to go back to a “standard” size phone – it just isn’t big enough.  Even the relatively large Samsung S5 or HTC M8 seem barely adequate, and the 4″ iPhone just looks ridiculous.

I’ve had my LG G Pro 2 for just 48 hours now and am yet to find a single thing I don’t like.  The only problems are as a result of it being so brand-new – there’s no root access yet and no spare batteries available on eBay).  But those will come. :-)

And for those wondering How does he afford all these new phones?  The answer is, by selling the last of my Sarah Records 7″ singles on eBay.  For £350. :-)