Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fireworks!

Another day of our holidays, nothing too exciting, just some painting, and other jobs around the house. In the evening we went to Coleraine where there was a fireworks display on, and it was pretty good. Sometimes these things can be pretty lame, but this one was actually very enjoyable. It was well co-ordinated, and they'd obviously put some serious cash behind it. Taxpayers money well spent :)

Monday, October 30, 2006

More destruction

What better way to start the week than helping out with a little more of the aforementioned destruction. Dad needed some help (although he wouldn't admit that), and so I decided to stay for the day to help.

Through the day there was much kangoing, and after grappling all day with the time change we had the steels in and the wall down. A good day's work.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Things are heating up

As anyone who knows me knows, I can be a bit of a nerd. As such it will come as no surprise that I am in the process of computerising our home central heating system.

At the start of last year I bought a VIOM, which is a computer based relay controller - basically automates the flicking of switches. With that I can write software to control the switching of the heating in the house.

The main goal of the project is a finer resolution of control over the heating, with a view to using less oil. Secondary benefits will be that it would be possible to control the heating from any PC in the house, and hopefully via SMS and IM too.

I bought the VIOM at the start of 2005, and managed to get round to starting the software in October 2005. Well, sometimes these projects need to rest for some time, and so it lay dormant until this week.

I began testing again, and have now got the basic software completed. Just needs some polishing. A lot of polishing.

Destuction!

Mum and Dad have started major work at the house, converting a less than hospitable utility room into part of their new kitchen.

The initial steps in this involve breaking down some of the current walls, to be replaced with new ones.

As it turns out our kids seem to have an apetite for destruction, and they wholeheartedly embraced the demolition of part of the wall.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Church Dinner

This year our church family has been celebrating the 350th anniversary of its life in Dunboe. There have been many, and varied events, such as the Flower Festival and our week of mission. Tonight was the final event, which took the form of a Church Dinner, where we as members of the Church could enjoy a meal together. We held it in our hall, bringing in outside caterers to prepare the meal, and they did a spectacular job. We had about 100 people who attended, and all I heard was praise for the meal. The Bible often talks of feasting and celebration, and that's something I think we don't do enough!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Shopping in Belfast

A relatively uneventful Saturday, we started with our customary late brekkie, and then headed off to Benone to see if the Kiters were having any luck generating pull with no wind, but they weren't.

After that we set out towards Belfast, where we had half a day's shopping (enough said).

See, told you it was uneventful.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A midweek day off!

Yesterday I decided to take today off. So I spoke to the boss and he said it was ok!

So the day starts with getting the kids ready for school, and then onto the bus. After that the day is mine :) .

I spent a while in the "garden" or mud as it actually is, removing stones from the topsoil at the top of the drive. This means it is now ready to be cultivated.

After that I took at trip to Portstewart beach, which is something I had been meaning to do for a long time. I parked up, and set off for a walk, and walked to the end of the pier, which gives a nice perspective on Castlerock, my more familiar walking place.

It was peaceful watching the waves travel and break along the pier, a perfect way to spend the morning. The weather was overcast, but mild, it was just perfect for walking, with an offshore breeze.

Afterwards I took a drive on out round the coast, first stopping at the viewpoint called "Atlantic Circle" in Portstewart. The view over the town was great with the wet roads sparkling in the sunlight which was now breaking through the mist.

As I drove on around the coast, I stopped off briefly at several points, but decided to make Dunluce Castle my final port of call. Seeing the £2 entrance fee, I thought I'd skip the Castle experience, and come back with the family another day. I did however walk down round the path to the cave below the castle, another local attraction that I wasn't even aware of.

Got home in time to meet the chimney sweep, who quickly earned his £25 before we had to go get the kids from school. They were both out at 2pm today, as the parent-teacher interviews were on.

I didn't think we'd get a chance to work at the garden again so soon, but it turned out William had borrowed a power harrow, and so we decided it would be worth a go. Turned out we were wrong, made a mess, but I'm glad we gave it a try. That'll wait to Spring then :)

Parent-teacher interviews were great, both teachers were pleased with the little people's progress, with no faults to report.

Friday, October 13, 2006

8 Mile


Today my life started again. It had been suspended for various reasons - lots of things to do at work, busy at church, lots to do in general, no 'leisure' time. Well today was the first day I actually got a chance to enjoy. It was the harvest thanksgiving service at the kid's school, and so I walked part of the way there.

The service was great, everyone did very well and it was very enjoyable. After the service I began to walk down the road. I hadn't really decided where to go, so I just walked. I ended up in Downhill Forest, near downhill.

It was beautiful in all its early-autumn glory. I really enjoyed the forest walk, again surprised that I havn'e been around it before, and I only live a few miles away.

After this I walked home. And for that I now suffer. I have sore feet, knees, and hips. I hope not to move for the rest of the evening. It was around 8 miles in all, the 7 miles after the school can be seen here : http://routebuilder.org/ph

After the walk it was time to start the school runs. After picking up Kate we took the van over to Dads and picked up the boats. When Matthew eventually arrived home we headed to the beach at Downhill. Again this was great, I found I could operate the kayak with a completely different set of muscles, apart from when I fell out. The waves were fantastic, even a bit big for me!

A great time was had by all, and we have now returned home for a quiet night in :)

More pics at : http://picasaweb.google.com/simonmcc/20061013FridayFun

Monday, October 09, 2006

999


This morning started out pretty much like any other, except an hour earlier due to my current overtime arrangements. However shortly after the start of my journey I could see something burning, and as I approached the car park for the Balinrees Reservoir I could see it was a car. It was in full flame when I pulled into the car park, and had clearly been burning long enough for the fire to catch a firm hold. I could see that a rear wheel had been jacked, and so assumed it was a stolen car, burned to destroy any evidence. It was quite close to the trees on the edge of the forest, and so I decided to do the socially responsible thing and call 999. I asked for the fire brigade, and probably gave them relatively poor directions, but I was relatively sure that if they were on the road they would soon spot the huge fire.

We called back past this evening, and it seems to have been brought successfully under control without any damage to the surroundings. A little bit of extra excitement for a Monday morning!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Lost Season 3

Lost season 3 started in the US* last night. After the horribly disappointing Season 1 finale, the writers took stock in Season 2, and left us set up for a good 3x01, and we got it!

Standard bizarre season start, seemingly somewhere unrelated to the losties, but soon all is revealed. Here's hoping for a continued good season!

*NOTE Although I don't actually reside in the US, I get to watch this US show. Here's how I figure it (convoluted explanation coming up, you may wish to stop reading now). If I had more money, I would buy a house in the US. On a weekly basis I would travel there for a Wednesday evening, and watch Lost, and then pop back home (private jet, and private airport 2 miles from my house). Perhaps on one of my visits I would pop to my local electrical store and buy a slingbox. I would sign up for broadband in my US house, and use the slingbox to control my TiVo in my house in the US. Slingbox would stream lost to me at home, where I could watch it on my TV in the living room, meaning I could dispose of my private jet, and bulldose my private airport. However, because I am poor I use tvrss.net

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Fun in the sun

This afternoon we spent a short time at Downhill beach, kiting, bodyboarding, and generally having fun in the sun! After fairly unsettled weather at lunchtime, the afternoon turned out to be glorious with hardly a cloud in the sky.

Communion Sunday

Today our Church family celebrated the sacrament of Communion. In our denomination we arbitrarily celebrate this sacrament twice a year. I felt it was a particularly enjoyable Communion - sometimes when you're not in the correct frame of mind, or feeling a little off the spirit of the celebration is spoiled.

The minister took a look at the historical institution of the Passover, and how that changed into communion at the last supper, it was a very informative and challenging look at what we were doing.

With my continued wonder at the world around us, and the surrounding universe, I felt freshly challenged by two lines of our final hymn :

'Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;'

Now, there's a thought!

In the evening the text was "What should it profit a man if he would gain the whole world yet lose his soul." (Mark 8:36) outlining the relative importance of looking after your eternal destiny compared with any temporal activities.