About Me

I was born in Luton, known for hat making, Vauxhall cars, London Luton Airport and a great football team who once beat Arsenal at Wembley in a Cup Final, currently languishing in non-league football for the 4th season. I moved to Edinburgh in 1990 and now live in Leith, Edinburgh's 'waterfront'.

Married for 24 years to Louise (who is on day release from Fife), I have 4 children: Holly (aged 28) who's studying medicine at Dundee University, William (aged 26) at the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, Alice (aged 23) and Maddie (aged 16).

We live in a 226 year old Georgian house which we are slowly renovating. We once had a note from an artist posted through the letterbox asking if our semi-derelict house was available to rent as studio space. Things have improved lately; the stonework has been repaired and we have shiny new railings. Just the inside to do now then.

Current CNPS score: 999

Header Image: Richard Bloomfield

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    “Come on, get to sleep now, you’ve got school in the morning and it’s very late”.  Maddie is offering her usual resistance to the bed time routine.  A movement catches my eye.  I turn towards the door and there is Guy, trying to sneak in so he can sleep in the girls room.  He stands motionless,   knowing he’s been spotted but still waiting for the confrontation.  “Out!”,  I shout, pointing back towards the landing.  He miaows defiantly and stares at me, standing his ground.  “Out!!”, I repeat, and this time he turns and walks slowly back out of the room, turning his head to briefly give me that ‘look’.

    I sit to watch some TV, attempting to eat a stir fry with a tongue and lip still numb from the dentist’s anaesthetic.  Thankfully Guy isn’t in the room or he’d be trying to climb all over me for attention and I’m just not in the mood.  The football ends and I watch some news but the anaesthetic has made me sleepy so I head off for an early night.

    Now, where’s that damn cat.  He’s not in his bed.  I check the girls room and disturb Alice but he’s not in there.  I check our room, he’s not in there.  I check the sitting room windowsill to see if he managed to sneak outside and is waiting to be let in but he’s not there either.  I feel uneasy not finding him but I go to bed;  serves him right if he has to stay out all night, he shouldn’t have gone out this late.

    I wake with a start.  A bleary eye tries to focus on the clock. 12.45, who the hell is that at the door?  I decide to ignore it but as my brain slowly rises from sleep I begin to wonder if it might be Roland on his way in from the pub, knocking to let us know that Guy is outside.  I wander down the hall and peer through to spy hole.  Nobody there.  Into the sitting room to check the windowsill again, see if Guy is there.  Nothing.  I go back to bed.

    Moments later, my mobile rings.  Robin.  What does he want at this hour, come to think of it wasn’t that Robin wandering across the road back towards the pub as I looked out of the window just now?  I answer the call.  “Tony. I’m sorry mate, I think I’ve got some bad news… ”   I dress quickly.

    Walking slowly towards the three figures standing over the dark shape lying in the gutter I pray it isn’t Guy, that he will come bounding over to me any moment.  As I get closer, the reality sinks in, with each step I can see more clearly.  My heart lets go of hope and crashes to the ground.

    Rest in peace, Guy.  You were truly special.


    12 Month Cycle

    Yesterday marked 1 year since I dusted down the bike and started cycling to work. I didn’t manage to commute on the bike for all 12 months; for 11 weeks at the start of the year it was too icy.

    The statistics are:

    Total Workout Days: 197
    Distance Travelled: 3,371.73 mi.
    Total Maps: 87
    Total Workouts: 389
    Total Burned: 131,982 calories
    Petrol Saved: 112 gallons
    Money Saved: £562
    Carbon Offset: 3,626.5 lbs. of CO2
    Fell Off: Once

    2000 Miles

    Last Thursday saw the passing of the 2000 mile mark since I started cycling to work in April. It would have been good to have been out on a nice ride but the event passed quietly somewhere along the North Edinburgh Cycle Path on the way to the office.

    Instead, I clocked up a few extra miles on Saturday morning, having dragged Maddie and Alice reluctantly out of the house on the promise of breakfast at McDonald’s. We headed off along my usual work route, Maddie on the tag-along and Alice on her own bike, stopping at McDonald’s in Corstorphine. From there we headed out to South Gyle and up to Cammo Estate near Barnton where we locked up the bikes and went for a walk around.

    The grounds of Cammo House were laid out in the early 1700’s and there are some lovely trees (including Edinburgh’s oldest Ash Tree). Everywhere you go there are interesting features like the former horse stables, walled gardens and a water tower/folly. The girls had a lovely afternoon in the sunshine; Maddie now knows where conkers and acorns come from.

    Creative Commons License photo credit: kyzCammo Tower

    Back on the bikes, we headed over to The Cramond Brig then down the River Almond into Cramond village for a drinks stop at The Cramond Inn where, incidentally, a pint is still under £2! We then followed the promenade to Granton, onto the Trinity Path and back to Leith along The Water of Leith walkway.

    A nice ride, almost exactly 20 miles, nearly all of which was off road. If you want to try it yourself, you can see the detail here.

    100 Days

    Today is the 100th day of cycling since I dusted down my bike and started riding to work.  Here are my stats from my profile on mapmyride.com where I’ve faithfully logged every ride:

    Total Workout Days: 100
    Distance Traveled: 1,676.09 mi.
    Total Maps: 48
    Total Workouts: 202
    Total Burned: 61,272 (kcal)
    Petrol Saved: 48 gallons
    Money Saved: £240
    Carbon Offset: 1,802.7 lbs. of CO2

    One of the main benefits has been the weight loss, 61,000 calories burnt has to have some effect!

    Weight March - September 2009

    I can’t imagine going back to commuting on a bus, cycling to work has become a real pleasure come rain or shine (but not wind, that’s a bitch!).  You get to work feeling alert and with a sense of achievement.  It’s my 50th birthday on Monday and I’m fitter than I’ve been for many years :-)

    Back on the DIY

    OK, time to resurrect this blog! It’s going to get a new title and a redesign to use a lot more Wordpress plugins and widgets. I want to use Wordpress for a number of upcoming projects and I need to get up to speed with it so this is the place.

    Alice is one week away from the summer holidays and in August she joins Holly at George Watson’s so I’m making a concerted effort to get this flat finished and sold so we can pay the school fees and still eat, get a holiday somewhere and get the house in Constitution Street finished.

    Right now it’s time for lunch and Joseph Pearce’s beckons. I’m taking the laptop to do some research into how to fix this bloody leaking drainage pipe. I need to find a supplier of 60mm/50mm rubber couplers with big jubilee clips.

    Sore finger

    Sore fingerMaddie came over to show me her sore finger and couldn’t work out why Alice and I were rolling about laughing!

    BBC NEWS | Scotland | Man fined for taking photograph

    BBC NEWS | Scotland | Man fined for taking photograph

    Being the world’s greatest cynic nothing much surprises me any more but I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I read this. Can you imagine what it actually cost in police and court time to prosecute this man? For taking a photograph!

    If you were faced with a girl puking all over the pavement and a man taking a photograph of it, which would you choose to prosecute? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think anybody should actually be charged, but if someone had to get it I would choose the vomit spreader any day. If you’re going to throw up, go to the bloody toilet.

    Yesterday, Alice and I witnessed a cyclist getting knocked off his bike. Luckily he wasn’t too badly hurt but we dialled 999 as we was clearly in a lot of pain. When the ambulance arrived I asked the paramedic if the police would be coming too and he told me that the police rarely attend accidents when there aren’t serious injuries. I’ve heard they don’t always attend burglaries any more either, they send round the Community Officer the next day. They just don’t have the resources apparently. They’re all far too busy protecting the dignity of nice young ladies from ruthless Polish photographers.

    “The lady concerned was entitled to her privacy and not to have a passing stranger take a photograph,” said the sheriff.

    “I’m going to impose a fine to remind him chivalry is not dead and when somebody is in distress you leave them to it.”

    Wow, so they’re going to start prosecuting all those celebrity chasing paparazzi then are they? This I can’t wait to see.

    Middle Age

    I’m not sure whether to be pleased or depressed.

    It’s car insurance renewal time so I just wentcompared.com and got a quote from Admiralty for a touch over £200 for our Nissan Micra.  That’s fully comp, no claims protection, Louise & me driving, courtesy car, windscreen cover and £150 excess.  For £200.

    I was pleased, then I realised why it’s getting so cheap; I’m old. No longer a Lewis Hamilton rival, I’m now considered a sensible, middle-aged, lower risk driver.

    I might break the speed limit going home.  Just to show them.

    One consequence of getting older is that your possessions also get older.  So, unfortunately, any joy at the saving in insurance premium was also short lived for another reason.  Our faithful Zafira 7 seater family wagon decided to expire on us and I’ve just been told that we’re probably looking at £1000 to fix it.  I’ve always believed that every silver lining has a cloud.