Sunday evening rambling (not outdoors)

I am drinking decaf tea.

Please don’t judge me.

I was introduced to decaf tea by a friend. Apparently drinking decaf tea aids sleep.

I don’t drink much ordinary tea (what’s the antethesis of decaf tea – caf tea?), but I do have a sleep pattern that comes and goes at will.

So I’m giving it a go.

In other news, it has been raining. All day.

I’ve avoided getting wet through my cunning plan of staying indoors. All day.

Except for the going out bits, obv.

I schooled Vin this morning.


I did a little shopping.


I’ve done a lot of video editing.


And all my travelling about the place – and there has been quite a bit of travelling about the place today – has all been undertaken…. indoors.

What I’m trying to say here is, despite the need to be out and about several times today, the Bandit has stayed firmly under wraps.

There has been no travelling on two wheels.

The car has been deployed.

Hence travelling…. indoors.

*Shuffles newspaper and looks brightly at the camera*

I was going to a gig tomorrow evening, but the main reason for going in to London on a schoolnight is no longer compelling.

The band I was really interested in seeing live has, unfortunately, cancelled.

Bit of a shame really; that was a paying journo gig.

In other news, the Sunday evening appetite is upon me.

It is approaching 6pm.

It would be totes wrong for me to ring Dominos Pizza and ask them to deliver some doughy, tomatoey (it’s a real word, chill), pizza-toppingesque (it’s another word, just relax, OK?) goodness, wouldn’t it?

Totes wrong?

Or just a bit wrong?

Wishing the early morning away

It is 2am and I am awake.

I used to be a regular visitor to the shores of the all-too discovered country known as ‘insomnia’.

But, in the last six months, as my life has calmed from various troubled events, my sleeping pattern has returned to normal.

In fact, this is the first time, since late last year, that I’ve found myself wide awake after just a few hours’ sleep.

There I was, an hour ago, happily fast asleep dreaming of whatever, when my head woke me, to serve up a list of things I have to do in the office later this morning.

That’s nice.


There are three branches of Zara in Rome.

That’s the kind of observed fact that my head throws out when I’m awake and don’t want to be.

I’ve been downstairs, made tea and toast, brought it back to bed and consumed it.

I’ve checked email.

I’ve bothered Twitter (and discussed ‘The Real Housewives of Orange County’ with Andy, who is currently exchanging Liverpool for Florida).

Real housewives of OC, or real ladyboys of Bangkok?












I’ve read the Guardian and Daily Telegraph websites.

I’m still awake.

*drums fingers*

I did, briefly, switch the television on, but all there was to choose from were various gambling programmes and the BBC News channel.

The former are rubbish, the output of the latter is a heady mix of dull and embarrassing.

*pauses for a second mug of tea*

There is no chocolate in the house.

I guess I should be thankful that episodes of insomnia are now so infrequent that they could be classed as ‘rare’.

There’s a ‘bizarre sex’ documentary on PickTV.

I’m going to chuck it in and try for sleep again.



Not much mentile here!

It is perfectly acceptable to be vacuuming the upstairs of the house at 1am, isn’t it?

And equally normal that, once the vacuuming has been finished, the layout of the studio should be modified? And then recable it, too?

Yes, I thought so too. Thanks for that.

I plan on hitting the nice, new, shiny (and very clean) studio with a vengeance today.

This weekend’s show has to be recorded and produced, as a matter of urgency.

As well as making the physical alterations and improvements to the studio, I have made a config change to the audio software. It will be interesting (for geeky little me, at least) to check for differences. There shouldn’t actually be any audio difference, but the config change will enable me to monitor elapsed time much more accurately.

After the show has been produced, I’m going to crack on with guitar practice in there. I’ve been a bit lax, in recent weeks, at keeping up with this and although I am improving at a moderate pace, I need to get much better, much quicker.

I am also going to use the newly-shifted-about studio as a place to write. This change has been in my head for *ages*, but I couldn’t figure out how to come up with a layout, in what is quite a small space, that would suit show production, rehearsal room and writing place, all in one package.

I  think I’ve finally come up with the right layout; I’m keen to put that to the test today.

Outside of the studio, I need to buy an ironing board and crack on with some ironing.

Maybe I’ll save that for 1am tomorrow morning?

A weekend planned – and unplanned

Yesterday, while I was driving back to the yard from Highclere Horse Trials, I had one of those ‘I’m going to fall asleep any minute now’ moments. I think it was the combination of not enough sleep last week and being out all day at Highclere. So I took a breather and tried to snap out of it but the tiredness only receded, it didn’t vanish. I diverted home, deciding that I was too tired to ride. I haven’t seen enough of the horses this week, it wasn’t an easy choice, but it was the sensible one.

Neighbours can be weird things. Last night ours were setting off fireworks – very loud ‘whooshing’ rockets. They sounded like teenagers – the neighbours, not the rockets. I’m beginning to wonder if the house is occupied by a bunch of students. I’ve tried to work out what they could be up to, setting off rockets, but can’t come up with any sensible answers. Apart from the fact that they’re selfish twats who don’t care about disturbing the peace and quiet that other people might be enjoying.

Daughter sent me an email yesterday afternoon; she asked if any schools near where I live specialise in drama and acting. She’s always been keen on following acting as a career. Evidently the schools in Spain don’t tick the right boxes any longer and she is now setting her sights further afield. I feel sorry for the rest of the world.


Sophie’s laptop is throwing out WiFi connectivity drops. Yesterday evening I planned that I would go to Maplin to pick up a new PCI WiFi card on Sunday afternoon, and then go up to the yard to ride. And then we went to bed and eventually slept.

Insomnia landed at 1.20am. My throat was incredibly dry and I felt dehydrated; I’d love to know what I was up to for the first five hours of sleep. I went downstairs, drank two pints of water, did a little internetting for a couple of hours and went back to bed.

Waking at 9.15am feels just a little bit… sinful. 9.15 is so late to be waking up! I made us breakfast in bed, then I showered, shaved, teethed and then… went back to bed. We read, we did stuff, we fell asleep and I woke up at 2pm. So much for my going in to Maplin and riding plans! I tottered downstairs and started on some overdue webdesign and email stuff. About an hour later those same pesky neighbours started letting off fireworks again – another clutch of loudly ‘whooshing’ rockets. I hate people, sometimes. Soph tottered downstairs and we agreed that people are generally thoughtless twunts, and if they really needed to let off rockets they should do so in the privacy of their own home. And then I realised I was hungry, so second breakfast was had.

Beans on toast x4 and a cheese & onion roll

During the early morning awakenings I had an idea for a video promo for the podcast. I’ve started jotting down the ideas in a kind of ‘shooting script’ sort of way.  There are six scenes to be filmed, here are the first five:

  1. Shot of inside of empty pub
  2. Shot of inside of empty restaurant
  3. Shot of inside of empty library
  4. Shot of inside of empty car park
  5. Shot of inside of empty church

Ideally, I wanted a shot of an empty street scene for shot 5, but I’m not sure that’s achievable.

Advertising people talk shit. There was just an advert on the television that included the words, ‘Timotei searches the world for precious natural ingredients…’ – which, presumably, extends to ‘Timotei are going to rape the planet for, rip these precious natural ingredients out of their natural environment and cram these precious natural ingredients in to their distinctly average hair products’.  Because why else would Timotei include precisely that wordage in their advert? Really, is there any other conclusion to be reached? So here’s a message: Hey people, don’t buy Timotei products, they’re environmental rapists. Or perhaps no-one actually listens to the distinctly mediocre advertising wordage that is rammed down our televisions these days. Except me, obv. But if no-one listens, why are Timotei paying their advertising agency squillions of $s?

Exclusive! Daily Mail staff in sex horror!

So I was just in the kitchen cooking one of my speciality snacks (you will notice I didn’t say ‘meals’), when I started wondering about cheese-graters.

If someone could please invent a cheese-grater that didn’t remove the skin from my fingertips, I’d buy it.


We were show-jumping this evening, a session with Owen.  At one stage Owen said, ‘What are you feeding Tom, Bren?’

Rocket fuel, obv.

Tom showed no sign that he had been out on Saturday (you’ve read the result, already, yes?) as he towed me all over the show-jumping course.

I honestly expected him to be a little laid back.


I was back in control for our second lap and after the third, faultless journey over the course, we called it a day.

Owen had a good time at Broadway this weekend; 2nd, 7th and 8th, but even these results must be no consolation for his Badminton disappointment, one of his four-star horses being unwell, whilst the other didn’t make it off the wait list.

Meanwhile, in other news…

I’m at home tomorrow, but on Wednesday I’m off up to Worcester. It’s a work thing, not a pleasure thing. I have decided to be radical and let the train take the strain; Charlbury to Worcester Foregate Street and return. I’ve got a four-minute walk from the station in Worcester.

I had a really bad night’s sleep last night; less than two hours, and then I was up for five hours, then back to sleep for three more.

It’s safe to describe my state right now as ‘knackered’.

I’m going to use tomorrow to have a burst of activity on ‘Shelved’. I have done no work on the Sitcom for a couple of weeks, but I have done a massive amount of thinking about it.

The bottom line is that I want to rethink the first and last episodes. I think there is a way to make a visual gag in episode one, dovetail in to the last episode of season one, in such a way that the comedy ending of the season becomes lastingly bitter-sweet.

And the headline above?

Well, can you imagine having sex with Jan Moir?


Wide awake at 2am is not helpful, but…

Last night’s vegetarian food-fest (prepared, cooked, eaten – half of it anyway – and washed-up afterwards by me, lest there be any misunderstandings) was a little overplanned.

Overplanned to the point that I couldn’t get the final constituent on my plate.

I should add that we rarely use ‘proper’ plates, instead we use kind of shallow, flatish, wideish breakfast bowl things. They look like this:

Anyway, the thing is with eating from bowls like this instead of proper plates, is that they fill up with food quickly.

This is a win because it means we eat less. It can also be a loss though, because last night it meant I couldn’t add the baked beans to my ‘plate’.

But only to my ‘plate’ because Soph isn’t a fan of the ‘Shepherd’s Pie, mange tout, broccoli, baked potato, gravy *and* baked beans’ treatment.

Which is weird, obv, because who wouldn’t want a topping of baked beans on a combo like that?

So I left the baked beans in the sospan (look, it’s a Welsh word and I say it the Welsh way. Humour me) and we cracked on with our food-and-Buffy fest.

Having tottered downstairs at 1.30am, just half an hour ago, I put the kettle on and looked at the poor, sad, dejected and lonely-looking baked beans.

Then my eyes fell upon one of the familiar, pink-coloured tubes that often sits nearby.

Let me tell you about a food-match made in Heaven, my friend.

Cold baked beans, scooped out of the sospan by, and devoured with, Prawn Cocktail-flavoured Pringles.

And washed down with a mug of hot tea.

So it might be 2am and I might be grumpily awake but I am, nevertheless, feeling very satisfied, in a foodie kind of way.

Man, I am so tired and I almost wrecked the lorry yesterday…

A mere two-and-a-half hours sleep last night, on top of the general stress, activity and rushing around of the weekend, all compound together to make me extremely worn out today

Yesterday’s one-day event at Larkhill was a bust.

Despite symptoms of misbehaviour going on underneath me, we somehow achieved a vastly improved dressage score of 39.5 penalties.

As we hacked back to the lorry to change the saddle and bridle I was starting to get very optimistic about the show-jumping.

Unfortunately there was a bit of a balls-up when a critical part of Tom’s jumping tack – the Cheltenham Gag Bit – fell apart in the groom’s hands. So to retaliate she dismantled Tom’s flatwork bridle.

Erm, umm. I may have been a little short – but I maintain that I didn’t shout at anyone or anything – and, anyway, I did manage to rescue victory from the jaws of defeat by finding the two, tiny, popper-like fastenings in the lorry, and the buckle that was hidden on the grass outside the door to the lorry living.

Anyway, with tack duly changed we hacked down to the show-jumping working-in.

Jess – my groom for the day – did a grand job. She set practice fences that were, to start, generous and welcoming, but within ten minutes we were coming in to obstacles that were slightly over-height and over-spread for our class.

But it was all good. Tom and I felt joined. We were together, we were calm, I sat quietly and waited for the fence to come to us and kept my hands down and relaxed (my failing is not doing these things!) and *gave* him stretch room as he basculed through the air.

We were good to go.

Or so I thought.

We cantered in to the main ring and although I rode him forward and kept off his mouth Tom stopped at fence 1.

I re-presented and he flew over it, and two, three, four and five.

At fence six we had issues and another stop and after that everything fell apart (almost literally) because we started hitting them down.

So we were eliminated from the one-day event in the show-jumping phase, because we were over the limit of jumping penalties.

A hack back to the lorry and a feeling of gloom, doom, despondency, disappointment and (even more) despondency invaded my head for the rest of the day.

Not even hot chocolate and home-made brownies managed to lift my spirits.

On the way home we had a horrendous moment as we were driving down the hill in to Marlborough.

A Honda Civic whipped out of a side-road in front of me and then just stopped in the road and indicated to turn across the opposite carriageway – but it couldn’t turn because there was oncoming traffic.

The trouble is, because the driver had just whipped out and, with no warning, come to a halt in front of me, we had to apply the brakes *very* fiercely and a) in a 10-ton lorry and b) carrying two horses, our stopping distance is nothing like that of a car!

Although we were slowing fast, the distance was closing too quickly so I had a choice: smack the Honda Civic up the arse fairly hard or aim for the gap between it and the hedge.

I chose the latter. Although it was very tight, it gave me the 12-feet I needed to stop the lorry.

We were actually three-quarters off the road, the hedge was overgrown and untended and the nearside of the cab was in it.

I signalled to the driver of the Civic to pull forward to a layby and, very carefully drove the lorry out of the hedge and went to join him.

We got out and looked at the car and the lorry.

The car was untouched. You wouldn’t have been able to pass a sheet of paper between the side of the lorry and the side of the civic, but somehow I’d managed to avoid making contact.

The lorry had a few paint scrapes down the side from the branches of the hedge, but other than that was similarly unscathed.

A very lucky escape for both of us, but I wonder if the driver of the Civic understands things like braking distances of *other* types of vehicles? Don’t they set questions on that in the driving test these days?

By the time I made it back to the yard, unloaded Tom, groomed him, rugged him up, fed him, unloaded all of the tack, put things away, tidied the lorry, put that away, switched off the lights and had driven home it was very late.

I don’t know how late because I was too worn out to care. And in the night, as I’ve said, I had far too little sleep.

Oh well, maybe I’ll catch up tonight/tomorrow.


The plan for the week is that Tom is going to have his big brown bottom jumped off him until he’s being straightforward and honest once again.

He’s entered in an unaffiliated one-day event next Saturday, but Sammi is going to take him around because she’s more, ahem, more assertive.

And maybe I could pick up some sleep, here and there?

In other news, I see from our Google Feedburner stats that the podcast has picked up 480 new listeners in the last two days.

*big smile*

Meanwhile, on the other side of the coin: Stalker alert!

I had a bad night last night due to *ahem* environmental difficulties

So as I was awake at 3am and, prodded by a podcast listener’s email asking about something I mentioned on last week’s show, I spent the early hours of the day in the company of google, facebook and linkedin, trying to answer the question ‘Whatever happened to…?’

John Deloach. Or is that John De Loach? Who knows.

John was a presenter on the radio station AFN SHAPE.

I used to listen to AFN SHAPE, and John in particular, whenever I was recalled ‘home’ to NATO’s No 4 Wing, 2nd Allied Tactical Air Force permanent base, from wherever in the world we’d been sent to, on yet another detachment.

I liked his microphone style and his personality.

I would have described John as an American version of Kenny Everett. Not as madcap as Kenny, John was still a long step away from his more mainstream colleagues.

And I’m not naive, I know that he had a set-list and an A and a B playlist, but it was obvious, from listening to his colleagues, that John mixed it up as best he could.

And the music was good; AFN SHAPE played more diverse music than any of the German or Benelux stations we could get on FM.

Anyway, my googling, facebooking and linkedining were mostly fruitless, but I did come across a four-year-old discussion, on Craigslist, that offered up an email address of someone who used to work with John when he moved from SHAPE to USAF Ramstein.

So maybe there’s a chance.

And what happens if that chance bears fruit?

I’m going to drop the guy a line and say ‘Hi John, you don’t know me but 250 years ago I used to listen to you on AFN Shape and…’?


Lame, lame, lame, lame.

No, I’m not going to do that.

But, you know, I just want to *know* that he’s still around somewhere.

Still OK.

Still using that sense of humour of his.

That’s all.

And on this week’s podcast I’m going to play a snippet (maybe more) of the first track I heard John Deloach (John De Loach?) play on AFN SHAPE, all those centuries ago.

Oh yes.

And the music is still excellent, even after all these years.

What the…?

As I’m WIDE AWAKE at 03.15 for the second morning on the trot, and I’m fast losing the enthusiasm for editing audio at this time of the day… here’s a bunch of random things from my head. I don’t know if these thoughts will turn out to be ranty or not.

Tom’s made-to-measure saddle is ready and should, hopefully, be delivered this weekend. It should have come down last weekend but we were hosting a riding club dressage competition at the yard, and that’s not an ideal environment to be testing new bits of tack.

I was very surprised, given the substantial size difference between them, that Vin’s dressage and show-jumping saddles were both such a good fit for Tom. But naturally I’ll be much happier when the perfect tool for the job arrives.

Tom’s ‘filled’ leg returned to normal within 24 hours and he’s been back in work since. He’s a lovely boy, has a great attitude to work and is fast winning many friends around te yard. Tom’s flatwork is now showing signs of improving – his ‘free walk’ is up in the ‘7’ area of dressage scores, whereas it used to be down in the ‘5’ zone – and overall he’s more balanced and happier on the flat.

His show-jumping is tightening up too. Over the last two weeks Owen has given us some ‘control and precision’ exercises to slow things down yet keep the forward-going nature. Last night we popped round a 1m track in the indoor school, coming back to halt after every fence (except the double and treble, obv), and it not only felt comfortable and calm, it looked good in those massive mirrors too.

Our cross-country work is still in the ‘could do better’ category. Tom’s an excitable chap and he’s still only going out in a snaffle Bit, but on Friday when we were hacking around the cross-country track and I popped him over a 1.10m ditch/wall combination. The approach and take-off were very good, but on landing Tom picked himself up and hurled himself forward in to an all-out gallop.

I don’t really want to change the Bit from a snaffle. I’d prefer to try education as a way of saying ‘you can only do that when I say so, not when you say so’, so I guess we’ll be spending quite a bit of time up on the cross-country track, training ourselves in when, and where, such behaviour is acceptable.

I took Tom up the gallops last week. I’m guessing by his behaviour that he has never seen anything quite like a 2-mile, all-weather, go-like-greased-weasel-shit track before. It’s a safe guess – especially as he was deeply suspicious about the white post-and-rail fencing! – but within 30-metres of starting our run uphill, he had quickly settled in to the comfortable cross-country-paced gallop that I’d asked for.

After about a half-mile I asked for a slower, show-jumping-canter pace and Tom obliged without any issues; we kept this pace until the last quarter-mile when I asked him to quicken again, just to see what was left in the tank. ‘Lots!’ was the answer. Tom is feeling very fit and well.

But the responsiveness that he showed on the gallops is why I don’t want to muck around and change his Bit. He’s got such a soft mouth and a willing attitude that I want to keep the contact light.

Vin continues to be Vin. He has his good days and his less-good days. Like Tom he’s getting worked five or six days a week, and he’s looking very good on it. But there are some days when the racehorse-logic in his head takes over and we have to confine ourselves to an hour of medium-level work in Walk and Trot, and leave the faster work alone, because it’s obvious that he would go mental if asked to canter.

Even K, who is an exceptionally talented rider, has days when she can do very little with Vin. It’s as though there are parts of his brain that say ‘I can’t do that’, yet the previous day he *had* ‘done that’ and he’ll probably ‘do that’ again tomorrow.

It’s very frustrating and it makes him an unpredictable ride, and that’s really not very good. Or pleasant.

They are both lovely chaps to have around the place, their attitudes in the stable are exceptional – they are both such nice people to work around and with.

I was going to section this post up in to the different areas of ‘Life’ but I’ve probably written enough for now.

So a bunch of words on Cars, Cameras, Music, Writing (freelance and authoring) and Degree-work, Accuracy in the Media and thoughts on Other Things will all have to wait for another time.

I’m off upstairs to see if my head will let me sleep for another couple of hours.