Saturday, December 06, 2008

Saturday night in

Going to have a completely chilled out Saturday night on the sofa, with lovely company and a bottle of wine, watching top quality tv.   Ok, actually I'll be watching the X Factor, but the company and the wine are great.

Continuing to enjoy playing poker again.   Playing at micro-limits, but enjoying the challenge of building a bankroll in the face of dreadful suckouts by players who don't know where the fold button is!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Moving On

I spent a grand total of one day unemployed.  Didn't get the job in Chester I previously wrote about, but am now working in Workington, in north-west Cumbria.  Had a meeting there on Monday 3rd November, and was asked to start the following day!  Only got a 6 month contract initially, but if all goes well it will be permanent.

Have started playing poker again recently.  Played in Pauly's Omaha tourney last weekend, and, whilst I wasn't first out, I wasn't much better!  Think I will stick to Hold'em for now.  I am sticking to cash games, and trying to build a bank-roll from basically nothing.  Generally am winning more than I am losing.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

How quickly everything changes

Well this is my first post for over two months.  I don't think I've read any blogs since mid July.  Rather a lot has happened since then, so here's the summary:

In July, I split up with my wife, after 14 years of marriage, and 18 years together.  At pretty much the same time, I found out that I was likely to be made redundant.

Lets start with the marriage.  

For a while now I have felt that things have been going wrong.  Arguments over stupid things, not being able to talk about stuff, just a general distance between us.  In the end I decided that things couldn't carry on like this.  She thinks it is all because I can't cope with her being disabled.  This isn't true.  That is just a tiny part of the whole thing.  Talking to some of our friends, they have expressed surprise that it didn't happen ages ago.  Did everyone see this coming apart from us?   I tried to stick it out at home for the sake of the kids, but it just wasn't practical.  So I am now living with my parents, which has some difficulties, but is generally ok for now.

My daughter in particular is finding things difficult.  I see the kids every weekend, and twice during the week at athletics training, but she is very upset at us all not doing things together anymore.  My wife and I are trying to keep things civil, but things have been done and said during the split that make it difficult.  I am sure that over time that will improve, but for now the thought of spending a day together is not good.

There is a lot of bitterness at the moment.  I handled things badly (is there a good way to leave your wife?) and upset her a lot.  She lashed out and someone I was briefly involved with (and who had no part in the marriage breakup) got hurt, which I am angry about.

Since then I have met a wonderful woman (via the internet of course!), who is also separated, and also has kids.  She is someone I can talk to about anything, including things I have never told anyone else.  We meet up whenever we can, but neither of us want our kids to meet the other, because we don't want them to have a succession of "aunties" and "uncles" if things don't work out.  We have taken a punt on us still being together in three months, and have bought tickets to see a band at the end of November.  Fingers crossed!

At work, since the Company got taken over in January 07, I have felt increasingly vulnerable.  As an independent company, I was involved in all aspects of the business - purchasing, sales, service, quality, production, transport, and doing projects for the MD.  As part of a national company, they have centralised purchasing and sales, a group quality manager etc.  Much of what is done centrally I think is pretty poor, but no one seemed interested in listening to any ideas from us.    On 18th August it was confirmed that I was being made redundant, and was given 12 weeks notice.  After 17 years working there it isn't nice, but it isn't the same place anymore after the takeover.

Next Wednesday I've got the third in a series of meetings with a company in Chester, in the same industry.  They are independently owned, and are growing fast.  I sent them my CV speculatively, they didn't actually have any vacancies, but, it looks promising that they are going to create a position for me (which is nice!).  So hopefully, by the end of next week I will have a job, and can chill out.

Have just re-read all that, and it isn't terribly well written or coherent, but, maybe in time, I can get my head straighter, and look at things less emotionally.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


The sharp eyed amongst you will have noticed the new add over to the left, promoting my gallery at Imagekind. You can pop over there and buy fabulous framed photos of this beautiful country. You can also get the images made into greetings cards.

Commercial over. Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


It was my Uncle´s funeral today. He was 63, and has three sons aged 17, 18 and 23.

He was diagnosed with cancer 18 years ago. In that time he has also had 3 hip replacements. All of this he regarded as a nuisance which got in the way of him running his farm. When it was first diagnosed, he would get up in the morning, milk the cows, have a 160 mile round trip to Christies for radiotherapy, then milk the cows again. Later on there was chemotherapy. Again he just carried on as normal. He became so well known at the hospital that at one stage, when he felt he was too busy to go in, a nurse turned up in the farmyard to take blood for testing. In amongst all of this, he, along with his sons, built a new milking parlour. His hip was so bad at this point he had to be lifted into the seat of the digger in the morning, would work all day, then would be lifted out in the evening.

A less stuborn man would have been dead five years ago just from the treatment, never mind the illness.

At the end of last year, finally being persuaded that his sons could manage the farm, he had some drastic treatment which involved wiping out his immune system, which as a result, lead to him developing numerous other problems, but, he fought them off, and the treatment was expected to give him 5 years without other treatment. However, fate had other ideas, and one of the potential side effects, that had a 5% chance of occuring was found 6 weeks ago. Leukemia. 6 weeks later we are standing around a grave. The mind can only drag a reluctant, pain ravaged body so far. In the end his strength finally ran out. However, he has seen his three sons grow into men to be proud of, and maybe he finally let go knowing that they were ready to go it alone.

Looking back, I remember the man who wouldn´t let me call him Uncle, because it made him feel old, who stopped all work on the farm to make me a sledge when I saw my first heavy snowfall, and who had to be the first to use it. Who, when I was aged 7, saw how upset I was at the death of a lamb I had been bottle feeding on the farm, turned up at our house that evening with a lamb of my own (which we took for walks round the village on a lead!). I remember sitting on his knee steering the tractor, and rolling bales of hay across the field towards the trailer when I wasn´t big enough to lift them.

The village church was full. In fact there were people standing because there was nowhere to sit. The collection plate couldn´t be seen under the pile of notes placed upon it. The money is being split between the hospital where he had been treated for the last 10 years, and the village charity fund, which had previously given £2000 to the hospital.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I had a reasonable night at the Bloggerment last night, finishing in the money in third place, for my second ever cash in the tournament. I also managed to drop the hammer twice!

I had some good fortune just before the break, when Spid went all in and I called with 66. Spid showed 77, but a 6 on the turn doubled me up, and left Spid down on 775 in chips. However, only two hands later he saw 77 again, and doubled up with a full house.

Down to the last three, and I went to war with AJo, against simonjjj's TT. A Jack on the flop and an Ace on the turn were great for me, but the Ten on the river certainly wasn't, and my stack was decimated. 5 hands later and I was out.

Spid recovered in fine style to win the whole thing, with Simon taking second.

It was a good night, with some good natured banter in the chat box, and some familiar names playing. A turnout of 13 isn't great, but I quite like a short-handed table to start. Hope to make it again next week.

Iggy´s Satellite Success

Iggy is in the main event.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Tonight I played in the inaugural Euroblogger tourney on Pokerstars. Unfortunately there was only five of us!

Along with the familiar names of Zagga, Cloud and Hammerheid was Copa1982 from Darmstadt.

It all went horribly wrong for me when very early on I was dealt AK. With only 5 of us I went all-in. Unfortunately I ran straight into AA!

The final two were Zagga and Cloud. There was talk of a chop, but I urged Cloud to take it down for England, which he duly did, taking down the massive first prize of $25.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Blog Roll Update

Just done a little tidying up of my blog roll. Taken off a few blogs that either don´t interest me any more, or just aren´t being updated. One new one to point out to you - Dudley has moved his blog over to Raise the River - check out it out here.

Also, for great coverage of the WSOP, head over to Tao of Poker.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Young Carers

Someone from the local Young Carers support group is coming to see my kids this evening.

Over the last twelve months they have had to do far more than most kids would have to do in helping out around the house, and in particular helping their mother, who is in almost constant pain and has great difficulty in carrying out many normal, straight forward activities.

My daughter in particular is quite sensitive, and feels "different". My son mostly just notices that his activities are somewhat curtailed from what he used to be able to do. Sometimes it is just that if I'm late home from work, he can't go and do whatever activity was planned, because Mum can no longer drive.

Typical of the things they help out with is putting the washing on, fetching and carrying, and helping mum with socks and shoes. Some of it is fun (my son enjoys whizzing round the block on the electric scooter as he brings it from the garage to the front door); other stuff, such as cleaning the rabbit's house out, is not. Sometimes they'll answer the phone, because mum is in too much pain to talk to anyone (my daughter says she hates sales calls - don't we all?) Very occasionally they have to get themselves something to eat to put them on until I get home from work.

Tidying their rooms is of course a dreadful thing to ask them to do, but that just makes them the same as any other kids!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


We had a family day out yesterday; me wife, two kids and dog.

We started the day in Crosby, just north of Liverpool, to take a look at the sculptures by Anthony Gormley, standing in the sea. The dog had a nice walk, kids got to run about on the beach, and we had our picnic looking out to sea towards the offshore wind farm.

After that we moved on to Liverpool. My daughter wanted to go to the Tate Modern, and my son went along with that idea when he found out they had a den-making exhibit.

The drive to the Albert dock was a nightmare. It took three quarters of an hour to travel about 5 miles. The waterfront seems to be one huge building site, and the traffic lights seem to be doing everything they can to hold you up.

Once we got on to the dock we discovered that it had just six disabled parking spaces. Six! And there are no concessions for the disabled. I ended up dropping the family off whilst Woody and I went to find somewhere to park up and wait. I came back an hour later and found a space, and decided to let Woody stretch his legs whilst we waited. Guess what? No dogs allowed on the Albert Dock. So, back in the car to wait for the others. At least they had a good time at the Tate, where the staff were very helpful, and the den-making was great fun.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Return to the Bloggerment

Last night was the 53rd Britbloggerment on Pokerstars. So these have been running over a year now? Still lots of the same names there that were there at the start - BurnleyMik and Acorn of course, Rosie, AlEleven and Quixote8. Oh, and me too, but playing much less regularly than I was.

Congratulations to Acorn for taking it down; I came 5th, outside the money again, as my AJ went down to Cell's AK, as neither of us improved.

Things had started really well as, early on my pair of sixes met a flop of 633, and then, to my delight, two players went all in before me! That gave me the chip lead for quite a while, but it dribbled away over the next two hours.

I did manage one success last night, as I BurnleyMik put a $5 bounty on AlEleven. I took that as I rivered a straight to beat Al's pair. So I can afford to play again next week, as long as I don't donk it off at the cash tables before then!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

So what time does the tide usually come in?

Originally uploaded by Rambling0n

Had a lovely family day out in Southport today, where I took this photo of a sculpture at the end of the pier.

Whilst we were on the pier, I was approached by an American couple who asked, "Is the tide coming in or going out?" If you've been to Southport, you'll know that when the tide is out it is virtually over the horizon. It was like that then, and I replied "I think it is about low tide now." "So what time does it usually come in then?" they asked, "Morning or afternoon?"

I suppose living on an island you forget that some people can live a thousand miles from the coast, but it was all I could do to politely reply "It's a different time every day." From the look on their faces I don't think they believed me!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

More pics

Been out and about with the camera again today. I've uploaded a load of pictures to Flickr.

One photo I think has come out quite well is this one.

Maybe it's a bit corny having a black and white photo of a black and white bird, but I like it.

Where eagles dare

Went to Haweswater yesterday, looking for golden eagles. What we actually saw was 1 crow, 1 chaffinch and 2 geese!

We set off to climb up to High Street, but at 2200 feet the wind was so strong that the kids couldn't stay on their feet.

Here's a few photos of the day.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Moving On

I've had enough. I want to do something constructive at work, not just plod along. There are so many things wrong in this Company, but nobody seems interested in fixing them, or in letting me fix them.

Last Friday I started phoning contacts I have made in the industry over the last few years. It's amazing who one knows when one sits down and thinks about it. I'm on first name terms with a director of the largest company in the industry. I know the owners of several of the smaller businesses well.

Of course none of these contacts matter if there are no vacancies. In these times no one can afford to create a position for someone; but, the word is out there that I am looking for a job. Hopefully if someone is considering expanding their team, they'll think of me. My CV has been polished 'til it gleams.

Speaking of CVs, a little addition to my interests is Athletics Coach. Turning up twice a week to watch my kids train is now expanding into helping with the coaching. Last Monday I was helping one of the top under 20 800m runners in the country. Of course he knows far more about it than me! I've sent off all the forms for the enhanced disclosure, to make sure I'm safe to work with kids, and I'm hopefully going on a coaching course with UK Athletics. Level 1 is just for assistant coach, but, who knows, maybe you'll see me at the Olympics with my proteges in 2020 ;)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Britbloggerment 48

Played tonight, and things were going pretty well. Down to the last 6, and getting a bit low on chips. I limped with A9c, and, with a flop of Ad 3h Kh, I pushed. After some thought the big stack, PhillyStein, called, and showed A6s. The inevitable 6 on the river sent me to the rail.

Congratulations to the winner, jjay2005. The final table finished like this:

1: jjay2005 (watford), $47.50 (50%)
2: Oenone (Scotland), $28.50 (30%)
3: Cell 1919 (Leeds), $19.00 (20%)
4: PhillyStein (Elkins Park),
5: simonjjj (watford),
6: stephenrhall (Blackburn),
7: jd8119 (Bristol),
8: zagga (East Kilbride),
9: lisam8319 (Bristol)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Pimpage (better late than never)

Come and play pot limit omaha with the good doctor, tonight at 9:20 GMT. If you've never played PLO before, all the better, I need someone worse than me!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Meet Woody

Against my better judgement, We've adopted a 14 month old labrador. As you can see, he is absolutely adorable.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Training with Kelly Holmes

Last September my 8 year old daughter joined Ribble Valley Athletics Club, inspired by a week of free athletics activities over the summer holidays.

The club is particularly strong in middle distance running, with the head coach Don having previously been a middle distance runner.

His daughter Leigh, only sixteen, a few weeks ago won gold in both 400 and 800 metre events at the north of England under 20s championships. As a result of that she has been selected to represent England at U20 level. On top of that she has now been given a place on a training camp with Kelly Holmes.

My little girl has been so inspired by all this - she trains twice a week, in all weathers, indoors, on the outdoor track, and cross-country. Last week she dragged me out for a 2km run in the snow. What I think is great about her joining the club is not whether she wins anything or not, but the fabulous supportive atmosphere at the club, where you will find 13,14,15 year old kids looking out for all the younger ones, 16,17,18 year olds coaching younger athletes, and a great turn out from club members to support their team mates even when they are not taking part in an event.

A few weeks ago my daughter took part in an indoor sports hall games event, setting 3 personal bests and scoring points for the club. She was so chuffed!

If you live in the Ribble Valley/Blackburn area, and you've got kids who like sport, get them along to RVAC. Just turn up on a Monday, 6pm at Witton Park, Blackburn, or Oakhill Academy, Whalley, on Wednesdays at 7pm. Just look out for the large group of polite, healthy looking kids and introduce yourself.

Saturday with Dr Pauly

Pauly has restarted his Saturday tourneys on Pokerstars, and the name of the game is Pot Limit Omaha.

Now I have a big problem with Omaha; intellectually I know only two out of the four hole cards count, but, emotionally, I see all those cards and get over-excited, leading to big mistakes.

Last night things were going pretty well, I was well up with the leaders in chips, not making too many donkey calls, and had outlasted a few players I know, such as ResdentEvil and Katitude. Then this hand comes along -

I am dealt:

Qh 8c 8s Qd. 

I raise pre-flop and get one caller.

Flop is

Qc 9s Jd

The internal donkey shouts "Full House" and I push all in.

One caller.

Of course I haven't got a boat, because I can only use two hole cards. In fact I only had a set of queens.

The villain shows

Kh Kc 2c Th

I am ahead. He has a pair and is drawing to a straight.

Turn is 4h. No help for him.

River is Ac and he hits his straight, and I bust out.


I might try again next time. Note to self - count to 5 before shoving!

Whoops, that was a long time between posts!

Hello once again loyal reader. After a gap of 6 weeks I've summoned up the energy for a post.

In the news -

1. I didn't get the job. In fact, no one was appointed, and the position has been re-advertised. I am officially not better than nothing.

2. Christmas was a nice, calm family affair. Excessive quantities of alcohol were not consumed.

3. Poker playing is, as usual, up and down. My attempt to build my bankroll from almost nothing on Mansion is stalled. I've been as high as $120, and back down to $70.

4. My wife has been back to the consultant neurosurgeon, who is the most obnoxious, arrogant member of the medical profession it has ever been my misfortune to meet. As far as he is concerned because he has fixed the slipped disc, there can't be anything wrong with her. Obviously she is just using that wheelchair for fun..... Back to the GP if I can ever persuade her to visit a doctor again after this experience.