Friday, July 28, 2006

Holiday : Phase 1

Today I finished work for a 2 week break. Out the door shortly after mid day, picked up by my wife, as my car is in the garage.

We took the kids to see "Cars" this afternoon, turned out to be a fairly good movie, the animation is fantastic. It won't be long before we see a film which is totally animated....

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A day of firsts

Today, as you may know is a public holiday here in NI. We spent the day as a family, doing a few things we have done before, but a few we haven't.

1) Watching Chicken Little. The first time we watched this film, and hopefully, for me anyhow, the last! Very poor.

2) Walking round the resovoir. We live down the road from the local resovoir, and I have been aware that there is a nice walk around it, but have never done it. So today we decided to try it, and it was great! A lovely country walk, through a forest / hilltop setting.

3) Castlerock beach at low tide. Normally we walk on the East side of the beach, as the West side is water and cliffs, but today the tide was completely out, the lowest tide I remember, so we walked on the sand round the foot of the cliffs. This was amazing, to get right out round to a place normally well covered in dangerous waters.

4) Downhill beach at low tide. Having noticed Castlerocks low tide we decided to do the same at Downhill. When we arrived we got to walk away out round the cliffs there too, far further than is normally possible due to the water.

5) Trim Trail, and "The Cutts." By this time it was late afternoon, and we had not yet eaten. We popped into "Gareths" and picked up some suitably unhealthy chips and burgers which we decided to take to the Trim Trail to eat. After the kids had spent an age playing at the token park we walked across the road to "The Cutts," which is where the famous salmon leap is. This is a place where the Bann river drops about 10 feet in a short distance, regulated by a series of sluce gates. We had a walk around the lock gates, but we all felt uneasy because of the kids and the deep water :(. Anyway, that was another first for today.

6) I managed to trick SWMBO into visiting the 12th Day parades. We managed to get parked close to the end of the parade route, and so we got to see the tired Orangemen make their last few steps towards their buses. I think its fair to say we had a fine experience, and will certainly be going back next year for more ;)

7) Almost got drowned. Well, not me but Billy, a friend of the family from way back. The Story from the beginning : So we headed to the beach with the kayaks as is usual, and Dad told me that Billy may be there. When we arrived we saw that the placid, gentle waves we saw eariler had been replaced by huge monster waves, the like of which I believe have never before been seen (by mankind). We got unloaded, and down to the water, and sure enough Billy was there, raring to go. Out Billy and I headed, he was determined to go out far, I was determined not to fall in. He was getting on well, going out, coming in, and with a bit of swapping boats, I ended up in the water with my camera, with Billy and Dad in the boats. I popped out of the water, and the next thing I saw was an upside down kayak near the rocks, Dad paddling into the shore, and Billy nowhere to be seen. So I parked my camera on the rocks, and ran to see what was going on, but having no lifejacket I was very reluctant to get involved. I got the abandoned boats up onto the rocks, and went to see what was happening. By this time a crowd had gathered on the rocks, and by the time I arrived Billy had made it out of the water. Apparently he had been pulled by the current out round the rocks, and wasnt making any headway swimming ashore. He quickly disgarded his paddle, and used the waves to swim to the rocks, where he grabbed hold and climbed out. Shortly after this we gathered up, and packed the boats away for home. Thankfully Billy is safe and sound, and unbelievably interested to know when we're going again! See pictures at

An exciting, and interesting day.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Hills Have Eyes [2006]

This was a welcome relief after the disappointment of Room 6, another one for the Horror category, I would say quite similar in premise to Wolf Creek.

It is all about a family who take a cross country trip, and run into some trouble after taking a shortcut. Quite a good story, and worth a watch if you're into that sort of thing. Some fairly gruesome moments, and I would say fairly unpredictable, as nowadays directors aren't afraid to ditch the hollywood ending for a real tradegy...

Room 6 [2006]

What an excellent title. You can automatically tell that it fits into that "Horror, Thriller" category. However, that is where the greateness ends. There are a few good scary moments, and the ending is satisfactory but it does go an awefully long way round getting there.

So I'm afraid its a thumbs down from me :(

Saturday, July 01, 2006

End over end

The waves we saw last night looked like the best I had seen, so I thought I'd better call Dad, and give him the chance to have a go. He had been delayed, and was not home from work, but eventually he arrived at my house just before 10pm.

So, back we went to the beach, I wasn't sure how wise the whole escapade was, as the Sun was about to set. When we approached the waves looked even bigger than earlier, even a bit scary!

Out we went, and we had a fantastic time. However the waves were so big that on three occasions I managed to get the boat to go end-over-end. When the wave was breaking and I was paddling in with it, because of the height of the waves the boat had a tendancy to sink the nose. Apparently this can be compensated by leaning backwards, but these waves were just too big, and the nose went down, the back came up, and over we went. This is a thouroughly disorientating affair, as you are catapulted into the water on your front, below the boat, just before a breaking wave hits you. You just have to wait for the lifejacket to float you round, so you know which way is up, and then try to breath again.

After that it is a matter of removing water from your eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Then begins the fun of trying to get back in the boat with subsequent similar waves.

All-in-all a great evening, but it beat me in the end, and I just let the waves bring me in, and I think Dad was ready for out about the same time. He fell out for the first time just at that time, which left him really dissappointed. I told him the sea was just reminding him who was boss.

Raise your glasses

Yesterday was another glorious day, with temperatures in the low twenties, and so we decided that a trip to the beach was in order. SWMBO had been joking about how all the boating had been centered around me, so I decided she would get a chance last night.

We hitched up the trailer and headed over to Dads for the kayak. We arrived at the beach around 7pm got all suited and lifejacked up, got the kids into the water on their new bodyboards, and I pulled SWMBO around in the kayak to get her familiar with the waves. Like a duck to water she was quicky going on her own, paddling out through the waves, and surfing them in. She was very fortunate because it was another of those "perfect" wave night, where the waves bring you in nicely, but don't throw you out of the boat.

It was all I could do to persuade her to let me have a turn, so I had a short stint, and afterwards we let the kids have a short, and controlled go.

After that SWMBO headed out again, and I stayed, and played with the kids. Every once in a while I would turn to see SWMBO successfully surfing another wave, bot this time I turned to see her out of the boat and shouting. I began to run towards her (running in the water is never very successful, and I'm sure it doesn't look too graceful to the onlooker either) thinking she was in trouble, but as I approached I discovered the trouble was less serious. She had lost her glasses. We spent about 10 minutes in the waves looking for them, the waves were so big that visibility into the water was impaired by sand, and froth (and for SWMBO by eyesight ;). I managed to spot them once on the seabed, but that was just before a huge wave came. So unfortunately the glasses sunk, never to be raised again.

Thankfully this incident hasn't put SWMBO off kayaking, and she still had a fantastic time, and now she has an excuse to go shopping for a new pair of specs!