Thursday, December 31, 2009


New toy and cross-dressing

(backposting) Toshiba NB200 12B arrived this morning. Very nice. Tried Ubuntu lucid on it, but it was just too alpha, so I went for karmic in the end, which is gonig fine. I was very proud of myself for not even turning it on until I'd made the (albion) chocolate elk. And then the pannecotta bread and butter pudding which I needed to create when I realised that I'd seriously under-whipped the first batch of eggs for the first pudding.

Party at Si and D's in the evening, and they'd arranged for baby-sitters for all of the kids at the other end of the house, so our two wandered through from time to time until they both fell asleep. We had a good time, and all of the men who'd cross-dressed (as per instructions - I got a new outfit, of course) looked rather unconvincing. Apart from Pete. Hmm.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Off to another show

Kirsty, Miri's godmother, got us tickets for Gomito Production's "A Merry Little Christmas" at The Junction in Cambridge. It was lovely, and the girls really, really enjoyed it. It was as Junction 2, which is a little theatre, really intimate, and we were only on the 3rd row. Miri and Jo lapped it up, and, to be honest, I was in tears as I cuddled the two of them up and shared the experience with them. Yes, I'm soft, and no, I don't care.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009



Moo's preparing Jojo's bedroom for the arrival of the bunkbed we've ordered for the two of them, and today was floor-painting day. I made some potato stamps and the girls started on thankyou cards, and then we went off to Colchester to get some bits and pieces for the room when it's ready. Failed to get served in any sort of useful time at Pizza Hut, but got the things we needed from Dunelm.

Also failed to buy something I was looking for, but I've ordered it online. You'll have to wait...


Monday, December 28, 2009


Oh no we didn't!

(backposting) Oh yes, we did: go to the pantomime, that is. It was Beauty and the Beast, at Loughborough Town Hall, and was quite a hoot. All the standard lines, well-acted, and with people who could sing, which is an improvement on many that you go to. It really was fun, and the girls both loved it.

Afterwards, we packed, had supper and headed home. Tears from Jo, of course, but we got her to sleep pretty quickly, and I drove home through the fog. In the end, there wasn't too much of it, but there were a few sections where I wasn't going to make anything near 40mph, let alone the national speed limit.

And then home.


Sunday, December 27, 2009


A quieter day

(backposting) Well, we went out for coffee and cake at Wheatcrofts, a local garden/whatever else store, and we had a quiet day. Moo got better slowly.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009


Off to the in-laws

(backposting) Moo woke up not at _all_ well, poor thing. Not a hang-over (she definitely didn't drink enough), but really suffering. Mum, Dad and Leo got off OK and we headed off to Kate and Mac's around 0930. I drove, Moo dozed. Jo didn't sleep: but on the other hand she announced about halfway through the drive that she could count in 2s. And she could. It's something that Simon, her god-father, spent time with Jo on the other day. And, it turns out, she can count in 3s, 4s and 5s, too. Quite a bright cookie.

Jo and Miri were so pleased to see their cousins when we got there, and everyone enjoyed the present-opening. Well, Moo generally just tried to stay upright, and she left to lie in bed once we were done, servicing only after the children had gone to bed.

Hopefully she'll be better soon.

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Friday, December 25, 2009


Merry Christmas!

(backposting) Yes, the girls were very excited. We let them open their stocking presents when we got up, and then, after breakfast, headed off to the 1000 at Halstead, where I was deaconing. I hadn't deaconed for a while, and it was good to get my hand back in. We only had around 57 - though no choir - the service seems to have lost out to the crib service on the night before, and we need to find a way to get more families to it, I think. Clergy I've spoken to seem to have churches that split into two camps - those who have large congregations at the main Christmas morning service, and those who have been losing numbers recently.

After the service, we did presents and then had lunch - nibbles and salmon. The afternoon was chilling, playing with presents, and a Leo, a good friend from King's, joined us in around 1600. Lovely, lovely turkey, and a stuffing that really worked beautifully. Good wine, good food, good company, and a good evening. And noone got murdered in an in-law-fuelled killing spree. A near-perfect Christmas. Oh - forgot to mention: Moo did a great ham with black treacle last night. Should have mentioned it.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009


My first Midnight Mass

(backposting) Lunchtime with Si, D, Morgs, Boo and Simon, Jo's godfather. Good to see everyone: we need to find a time to get together for some child-free time to chat, eat and drink with Si and D. Simon spent some great quality time with Jo: I suspect he's a very good teacher.

Well, the afternoon brought us the Halstead crib service, which I was attending with the girls. The church was pretty full, and the girls were sheep, which was very sweet. Got them to bed afterwards - as before, took rather a while to get them to sleep. Mum, Dad and Moo went to bed, and I headed off to the Midnight service at St Andrew's, Halstead, where I was to preside at the altar.

We had about 138 people, including choir and clergy, and it was one of the most joyous experiences of my life. Sharing the great gift, as He was shared for the first time with us, was just so special. I just can't begin to explain the emotion, I really can't.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009



(backposting) I am, in fact, making a major contribution to the Christmas preparations today: I am looking after the children. This might seem like a simple task, but in fact, it is not. This is for three main reasons:
  1. they are very excited
  2. they are very tired
  3. Moo keeps discovering that we've forgotten things that we need
In fact, this last is quite helpful at one level, because it means we had to make a big trip out to Sainsbury's (which was hellish - nearly 10 minutes to park), and this got the girls to sleep.

The girls stayed up until my parents arrived around 1900, and then failed (in Jo's case) to get to sleep for approximately an hour.

The season is upon us!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009


At home with the girls

Jojo's not great when she's not got things to occupy her mind. We were at Sainsbury's by 0815 and had a cooked breakfast there before doing rather more shopping than I'd expected. Then back home, and we tried to keep the girls busy. Making sausage rolls, using my computer (starting to teach Jo how to touchtype), making plaster moulds, all that sort of thing. It's hard on Miri, because Jo needs time on her own - or doing stuff with adults - and Miri really wants to be with her sister.

Oh, and we wrapped all the presents tonight. Oh, the excitement, again.


Monday, December 21, 2009


Snow, more snow

(backposting) Mel really doesn't like driving in snow, so I drove the girls over to her house. I then went and bought my very first yarn. Very exciting, and you can find all the details over at my account on Ravelry (I'm MikeCamel there, as everywhere else).

Back home, and spent 90 minutes on the bathroom, then did the kitchen, too. Even wiped around. Astonishing. And got the new work email account working on my phone.

I went to pick up the girls in the late afternoon, and the weather got rather interesting on the way back. Not fun, and I was aware that Moo was driving home at the same time, but we all got home safely in the end.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009


Casting off

Yes, I've completed my first garment! Well, I _say_ garment, but it's a short scarf: there wasn't enough yarn. Oh, and it's got _lots_ of errors in it. But I'm enjoying it.

Wondering whether I should only be knitting in the current liturgical colour, but Moo says that only counts if I'm knitting _during_ a service, so I'm probably OK.

I was planning to take the girls to the 10am service at St Andrew's Halstead, but we set off, and the roads were just too bad: I headed back within half a mile. So, we went to the Great Yeldham lessons and carols service, and the girls did OK (apart from 3 wee trips between them).

They're both so, so tired, and Jojo really needs adult time, but Miri keeps wanting to know where she is, so it requires some careful juggling.

Before lunch, I had an Armagnac (Moo was on her 2nd cherry brandy...), and then we had bacon butties for lunch. A snowball fight finished off the afternoon.

I went to the Halstead lessons and carols in evening, and read the 8th lesson (the Magi). As well as the choir (who did well), we had a group called the Cavendish Consort, who were very comp. I really enjoyed hearing some good music (at Baroque pitch, on proper instruments).

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Saturday, December 19, 2009


Being in charge

(backposting) We took Jo to ballet, and after that I took the girls out to a restaurant (well, I say that, it was a Frankie and Benny's), and then to Haverhill Cineworld to see Planet 51. They did very well (and no loo-breaks during the film, which is a minor miracle), though with about 30 minutes to go, I suddenly discovered that my lap was not my own. The film falls into the "mildly diverting" category, but I think they enjoyed it.

When we got back (and after a cup of tea), I foolishly agreed to take Jo around the village to drop off some cards that she'd refused to write before school finished yesterday. 2 were fine, but we discoverd that despite her protestations, she really had no idea where her friend Ellie lives. Didn't stop us driving around several times, and the tears, but I did my best.

Watched the first 3 episodes of the excellent Generation Kill. Really into it, I have to say.

Moo spent much of the day working, poor thing. But some big bids have come up, and she wants to have a good clear run over Christmas.

Very snowy here, and around -5 Celsius. It turns out that negative numbers aren't a big thing to Jo when explained with regard to temperatures. Worth remembering.

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Friday, December 18, 2009


A busy day

Well, a fair amount of snow, but not enough to keep Jojo from school, which is a good thing. A hard day of work, but it's my last one (officially, at least) until after the New Year, so I didn't feel too bad about it. Part of my working day was to do my expenses, which came out around £3800 for the past month. This is quite a lot, however you look at it, and I'm rather looking forward to the money coming back!

One of the accounts I have with a hosting company has started going over with lots of files, and all of a sudden, too. I worked with the company to clear things out a bit, but got another automated warning this evening, which is concerning.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009


Jo's school Nativity

She was a lamb (_not_ a sheep). It was very sweet.

I may be heading to Reston early next month. And maybe Dallas.

The girls are so tired, particularly Jojo, poor little mite. Sleep's what she needs. And lots of it.

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Business lounge

(backposting) So, we checked in after a short meeting and an early start (I was up at 0545 local, 0345 GMT), and I had some good news and some bad news. The bad news was that I only had _one_ guest pass to the business lounge. Well, bad news for Phil. Good news for Ryan, what with his being my boss and paying my expenses.

Got back in time for the girls' bedtime, which was a huge bonus.

Knitting on the plane again.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009


A seriously good day's work

(backposting) It all came together, I'm very pleased to say. We had a good supper to finish off the evening, but had one of those English moments where things really weren't perfect, but we clearly weren't going to complain. Oh, no.


Monday, December 14, 2009


And off to Finland

(backposting) The big thing was trying to get my knitting on the plane. The evidence via Ravelry was inconclusive - well, mixed - so I followed the advice of the person at check-in. I hadn't realised that I was allowed one piece of carry-on _plus_ my laptop bag, so I put the needles (bamboo, 5mm) in my other bag, with my clothes. This meant that if it was turned back, I could go back and check it in.

However, it went through first time, with no problem, so I was able to knit on the plane.

I'm getting better, but I'm still making some pretty egregious mistakes, and although I'm getting better at unknitting, I still have problems when I have to go over a row boundary. I made the decision to create a pattern, which was pretty complicated, but kept me nice and interested.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009


A day at home

(backposting) There are times when you need to observe your canonical duty, and there are days when you need to stay at home with your two young and not very well daughters, having some down-time, making cookies, that sort of thing. I figure that's praising the Lord and celebrating his Love as well.


Saturday, December 12, 2009


Tea-lights and knitting

In order to make Archdruid Eileen happier, I've decided to mention tea-lights.

Well, that's that done. So, the other news is that I decided to try knitting today. I've spent quite a lot of time on this today, and it's not going well. I can knit just fine, but I average somewhere between 0.5 and 1.5 extra stitches per row. And I'm only knitting 10 stitch rows, so this isn't good. It seems that I'm forgetting to take the stitches off one needle and put them onto the next one, and this isn't entirely postive as an approved knitting technique.


Friday, December 11, 2009


1710 posts

And is anyone reading this anymore? Unclear.


Thursday, December 10, 2009


Bishops and primary schools

Now, I'm sure that there are lots of bishops who visit primary schools, but that's not what I'm talking about. It was Jo's first school play today - not a Nativity, which is next week - but a drama about a man with a family which he was neglecting, but with which he was reconciled following help from the school, the church and the community. Deep stuff. But with 15 different songs for them to dance to, which was fun.

And now to the important bit: Jo was one of the "vicarettes", who supported the priest character in the play (yes, it's a CofE school). They danced around, and their costumes included sparkly purple bibs with clerical collars. It's the purple that I'm particularly happy with. On the girls. Go primary school!


Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Nokia N910

Rather liking the look of the Nokia N900, but what about the upcoming Nokia N910? Well, it's got its own website, which is just a page, at the moment, saying "Maemo 6: Nokia connecting people". Well, so obviously that's the OS that's going to be on the N910, but what more information is there? I had a quick look at the page source, and though I can't find any suggestion that anyone else has noticed it, there's a description:
"Nokia N910 running Maemo 6 with a high performance 900mhz processor, 8MP Carl Zeiss camera and 48GB storage. Coming 2010"

Nice, yes?

And has noone else noticed this? Surely I'm not breaking this story, am I?

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Carols by torchlight

Tonight was Halstead's town carol service. We started at the top of town, and were marched down the town by the Salvation Army Band. We formed up at the park, and sang carols by torchlight in the park. It was great, and felt really Christmasy, so the the season's really started for me now.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Changing Attitude

Maggi Dawn noted on Twitter a blog entry by Colin Coward at Changing Attitude entitled Betrayed by the Church's stance on gays. From time to time, you need to stand up, and so I posted a comment. For the record, I believe that LGBT people, just like women, are as ontologically capable of filling any place within God's church - and God's kingdom - as any straight man. And as likely to be called.


Monday, December 07, 2009


Sleeping in

(backposting) Not me, of course. Moo and Jojo. And only because Jo was up in the middle of the night. So, till 0730. Again, not me. But it meant that I was a little late into London for work. We had a good day in the office, though, and it was good to get out for a drink afterwards, too.


Sunday, December 06, 2009



Moo says that my eating of hot buttered toast for lunch was a sign that I might be hung-over. I have no comment.

Unluckily, there was a clash between the Halstead Christingle and the Great Yeldham one, to which Jojo, quite fairly, wanted to go to be with her schoolfriends, so I wasn't able to be with the girls. The Halstead one went well, though.

. We currently have a problem getting Jo to sleep. Miri's being a little star, but Jojo just won't go to sleep properly. She's coughing, which isn't helping, but even once she's over that, she's being a right pain. Grrr.


Saturday, December 05, 2009


A late night

(backposting) And our own fault, for a change, too. We had Victoria, Charles, Sennen and Jack around for supper and videos. The kids (Jojo, Miri and Sennen) watched videos and then failed miserably to go to bed properly for hours (well, Miri was fine...). And the adults had a beef stew (lovely stewing steak which I cooked for about 6 hours), and then watched Shaun of the Dead. Victoria just didn't get it at all. So we tried some Alan Partridge. Ditto. At least she enjoyed Green Wing. But honestly, you think you know someone...

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Friday, December 04, 2009



Oh, and possibly the best Buffy episode ever: The Wish. Just _loving_ the whole Willow thing, in a slightly unhealthy way.



A new machine

Well, it looked like that was what I'd need to do: build a new machine. Spent more time - in between doing rather pressing work - trying to get the old machine back and working, including recycling an old disk as a new OS disk. All to no avail, and other things seemed to be failing, so I decided that wouldn't work. Thought about getting a cheap replacement machine, but a quick trawl yielded nothing, so I decided to use my main desktop machine, and turn it into a server. It's powerful enough, and although it took some doing, it's (mostly) up and running. The main issue is email - the old machine provided mail for both me and Moo, and it all now seems to be doing the right things.

On a rather more pertinent note, I managed to get a major piece of work done, and sent out, a day early. I'm also quite pleased with it, and it bodes well for the future. All good stuff.

Oh, and we're planning a video extravaganza tomorrow night. Children and their friend Sennen first, then put them to bed. After that, Victoria, Jack and Charles (Victoria's other son) for supper and more video time. And, I rather suspect, some drinky-poos. No services in the morning...

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Thursday, December 03, 2009


CME time

(backposting) We had a CME evening tonight, on diversity. It's very easy to make these sort of sessions very white, middle-class, and that's always a danger. I think we avoided that - it was helpful to have at least one non-white face in the room (!) - but also the person talking to us was very aware of their position. She talked about her parish - East Ham - which has an extremely diverse nature, and also about what it means to be Christian, Anglican and CofE in such a context.

It was interesting, and thought-provoking, and also great to see a few friends who I've not seen for a while.

The other major news? Server died. For real, this time, I think. Big hard disk issue, and I had real problems rebuilding it. We'll see what tomorrow looks like.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009


Jojo ill again

As she was better this morning, Jo got to go to school, but by the time she got home, she was coughing badly again, and was running a temperature. Poor little thing: I think she did the classic thing of keeping herself well enough to be able to do school, but the effort really took it out of her. Poor little thing: took her nearly 2 and a half hours to get to sleep.

Oh, and ordered Moo's Christmas presents.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Poorly Jo and Service of Light

(backposting) Jo woke up with a very nasty cough and we took her out of school for the day. She seemed quite a lot better by the end of the day.

In the evening, we had a Service of Light, organised by St Helena Hospice, where I did a placement a couple of years ago. It was aimed at people who'd be unlikely to come to church otherwise, and we sang to carols, had the St Andrew's School choir/band/recorder consort, and then got everyone who wished to light a tea-light and put it on one of the altars. It was a good service, and we had a nearly full church, which was excellent. One of the local funeral directors had invited all the people who'd been their clients over the past year (the families of those they'd buried or cremated, that is), and this meant that we had lots of people.


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