Way Past 40.

Way Past 40.

What's it about?

Just a load of old rambling about me and the different things I end up doing...normally projects and builds of some description!

I have also published a book called "The Project Has Landed..." about the Land Rover Series 3 rebuild I did and it can be bought from any amazon website so please feel free to go and get yourself a copy!

If you feel the need or just want to talk feel free to contact me via Nick@nickysmith.me and I will get back to you asap :)

Thanks for reading.

A Mini to Spain Part 4.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, March 04, 2018 08:36:57

It was a dull grey late winter morning when the tyres started turning on the tarmac heading towards Portsmouth from Northamptonshire. The engine was ticking over nicely as we hummed along the A roads towards the motorway. I was feeling happy at the adventure about to unfold and wondered if anyone else had been stupid enough to drive the horrific mileage from the UK and across the whole of Spain.

The mileage ticked by in the relaxing uneventful way that a good long distance drive tends to do leaving your mind to ponder on other issues you have in this short existence of ours while the window screen wipers thump rhythmically clearing the light rain that was slowly but continually falling. I was quite content watching the trees and fields pass by whilst being overtaken by just about everything else on the road. No rush though I just wanted to enjoy the drive.

Up ahead the gantry signs flashing warning of a road closure that would affect my planned route but even as I was leaning forward to see exactly what the problem was through the mist I had planned an alternative way in my mind. It was about twenty miles longer but motorway miles are easy miles and the ferry wasn't sailing for a long time. I am a bit of a stickler for being anywhere I am going to early. I hate being late with a vengeance. Yes yes it's a very British thing but if you can't make the effort to be on time I think it says a lot about the sort of person you are.

So I diverted onto a different motorway clocking up more relaxed mileage when I noticed a two mile marker sign for a service station. 'A coffee maybe?' I thought to myself while thinking about how badly a stop this far away on a diversion would effect my arrival time.

Turns out a coffee stop and the time it would take to queue up to buy it and have a quick trip to the loo were the least of my worries as about ten seconds later there was an almighty explosion of red hot coolant and steam coming out of the front and sides of bonnet!

It covered the windscreen as instantly as it exploded making me jump out of my skin and having me pull onto the hard shoulder braking sharply.

What went through my mind at this point? You may think it was 'What the hell happened there?' or 'Was there anything else on the hard shoulder where I am pulling up blind?' but no that wasn't what went through my mind.

What I was thinking was 'Shit that's a fresh respray now covered in boiling coolant!!!!!! Got to wipe it off got to wipe it off as quickly as possible!!!'

Literally as soon as I stopped I was out of the mini pulling my shirt off and wiping the bodywork down trying to get the awful coolant off of that fresh paintwork. Thankfully it was still raining so that was helping. Only once this was done did I realise that I probably needed a change of underwear from the bang and panicked blind emergency stop of the side of the motorway.

'Best see the damage then' I said to myself whilst opening the bonnet and looking into the tiny engine bay through squinted eyes not wanting to actually see how bad it was under there.

Surprisingly only the radiator cap was missing which was nice but what the hell had caused the extremely quick overheating? I had been keeping an eye on the temperature gauge for most of the journey seeing as the old girl had been parked up for a good while before I bought it and nothing had seemed amiss, so whatever had caused this now was fast, I mean really fast and it was clear that I was not going to source the problem standing on the side of a motorway in the rain.

A quick call to the breakdown service and within the hour I was on the back of a flatbed heading back to the mini hospital to get Dr Bob's help on this one because I had called the ferry company explaining the problem and they agreed reluctantly to move my booking to the next boat out in two days time. I then spoke to my friend who was going to be expecting me at the south side of Spain in a few days to say it would be a few days longer.

He seemed to have a lot more confidence in me than I had in myself to sort the problem quickly and get Spain side still in time for his Wife's fortieth birthday, the day after I was now going to arrive.

No pressure then.

It was early evening when I got to Dr Bobs so we decided to meet back up first thing in the morning to get the little mini back in order.

At first light Dr Bob said to me 'You didn't run it around for the couple of weeks before you took it on this expedition of yours did you'

'No Bob, sorry' I replied whilst looking at the floor feeling like my Dad had caught me up to no good. Again.

'Idiot' he said with a smile 'Best get it sorted then eh' and with that we dived into finding the problem.

The problem turned out to be one of those 'What the Hell I have never seen this before' kind of moments. You see what had caused the rapid overheating was the heater matrix. It had collapsed and I mean completely collapsed internally. Classic mini's heater matrix's have over the years got blocked up causing you to have no heating then needing either a really good back flush or replacing but this little heater had just bypassed that stage completely and disintegrated internally chucking bits of rust metal and crap throughout the cooling system.

It was a nightmare cleaning it all out. The matrix was replaced after back flushing the engine time after time ensuring the crap was cleared. We then ran it up to temp, drained it all off and did the whole thing over again. Finally later that afternoon the plucky little mini was sat there ticking over sweetly once more acting as if nothing had ever been wrong with it.

'Now go and run it. Run it hard and run it far. Make sure it's OK before you head off tomorrow Nick' Bob said looking at me like he was my Dad again.

'Yes Bob' I replied sullenly feeling chastised again.

I did run it though. I ran up nearly eighty miles on the longest drive home I have ever done because I knew what was at stake now. I had no more breathing room I had to get this little mini to southern Spain or the surprise would be ruined. So I headed home and crashed out into an exhausted sleep rising to the sound of my early alarm which felt like it was going off about five minutes after I had got into bed.

I washed got dressed and grabbed my holdall. It got thrown into the passenger foot well and I fired up the little burgundy mini took a deep breath thinking 'At least the suns out now' while looking at the wall to wall deep clear blue skies.

With that I stuck it into first gear and headed of on the long drive to the port for the second time.



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A Mini to Spain Part.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, February 25, 2018 07:15:09

With the challenge accepted the hunt was on for a decent little mini that would be taken to southern Spain as a surprise 40th Birthday present for my friends wife. Luckily I knew a few folks that liked to dabble in mini's. They killed them, fixed them, modded them and generally lived an obsessive mini lifestyle so where better to start the hunt?

I made some calls and knocked on doors ending up drinking lots tea with mini mad friends. This was not a quick process because once you start talking to anyone about their passion it is never a quick conversation, after all this is their life their love their everything in most cases! It's never a simple 'Do you know of any decent mini's for sale?' conversation because the reply would be along the lines of 'Define decent and the type of mini you are looking for. Have you considered the year? Engine size? Do you want a particular special edition?' so you can see what the problem was going to be here.

To cut a long story short all roads led me back to a fellow I knew in Northampton called Dr Bob. He ran a company called The Mini Hospital that specialised in looking after....mini's! This was the chap who actually taught me to weld and he was a straight honest chap that would tell you exactly what he thought and the truth whether you wanted him to or not. I understand that he retired a few years ago from the mini repair world which is a great loss to that community because he was a living Google of mini information and an absolute whiz on the spanners.

Because of the nature of his work Bob always seemed to now of a few mini's for sale and this time was no exception. Sat in his workshop tucked away at the back was a little burgundy ancient mini that had been locked away in a little old ladies garage for donkeys years. It had just been through a light restoration bodywork wise and serviced by Bob himself too. It was a lovely looking little thing and a deal was soon struck with a warning from Bobs lips...

'It's been parked up for years Nick you need to run it around for a bit to see if anything else needs sorting on it. I have literally driven from here to the MOT station and back so run it around a bit before heading off for Spain. Polish the new paintwork again too as it's still quite fresh and with a long drive you want to give it a good start.'

'Yep I will do that Bob without fail chap so we can sort any issues before the long drive' I replied.

With that I hopped into the driving seat and drove the little mini the 20 miles home with a big grin on my face and without a care in the world.

With the mini sourced I had to make lots of other arrangements to get it over to Spain. Time off of work had to be sorted along with European breakdown cover and the ferry bookings of course. The price of transport was soon creeping up so I looked to see if it would be cheaper and easier to send it over by transporter but nope that was twice the price of driving there so I figured 'ROAD TRIP!!”

Before I knew it two weeks had passed and the birthday deadline was looming fast so I pulled the mini out of the garage I had stored it in and had not really had much of a chance to play with it since I brought it back. It fired first turn of the key and was soon parked up outside of my house with spare parts loaded into every available space so my friend had them Spain side and I had them for the journey.

I kissed my wife and kids goodbye, threw my holdall full of clothes onto the passenger seat and with a sense of adventure fired it up and set off. The journey had begun.



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Dear Janice.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Thu, February 15, 2018 08:32:44

Dear Janice,

It would appear you would like to play online games especially Bingo. Now I understand we all need a hobby in life to while away the lonely hours of these dark evenings and a little gambling across many sites is yours.
Indeed if this is your vice I agree you should take advantage of all of the joining up offers that these types of sites give you. There's nothing wrong with 50 free spins, or £30 added to your account with "No restrictions on the amount you can win!!!"
Chase your dreams Janice, you just never know when lady luck will cast her loving favor towards you. You may be able to buy a new car, finally take that holiday to white sandy sunny shores afar or even pay off your mortgage.

My dreams though Janice are far simpler. I am not a complicated man. I like to come home from work and relax. When I go to sleep at night I like to get the three or four hours of unbroken rest my body allows me with no disturbances from modern technology.
So with that in mind Janice will you please please bloody stop putting my mobile phone number into the online registration forms. It seems you prefer a full nights sleep too without the hassle of text messages from FreeBingo and it's rather shady associates that have now started offering me services in the early hours that I have never needed before and don't need now. I have not led a sheltered life but some of the options that are listed amaze me that there is demand enough to advertise about it!
Janice you play your bingo and your slot machines. I hope they make you happy but for the love of God go and buy a disposable phone (seriously you get them for a tenner from anywhere now) and put that number in your freebie forms.
How do I know it's you Janice? Well that's easy. They are texting you by name to my phone.

Best regards

Ineedtosleeptonight



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A Mini To SPain Part 2

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Thu, February 15, 2018 07:42:12

For a short while I worked in Southern Spain on the Ports as a Shipping agent. I loved the job but like all good things it came to an end entering the memory banks as one of those good chapters. I remember my first day on the job standing there with my manager, who was English but had lived in Spain for over fifteen years and had a Spanish Wife, and the foreman of the Stevedore's who loaded and unloaded the ships.

The foreman was talking to me through my manager who was translating and the conversation went along these lines.

“Do you speak Spanish?” said the foreman.

“Not yet” I replied “But I have lessons booked everyday for a month so give me that long”

“You NEED to speak Spanish or the men will not respect you”

“Yep, I agree. That's why I am going back to school. Give me a month”

He sort of then made a hmmpth noise, said something very fast and loud in Spanish to my manager who then laughed and walked away shaking his head.

I worked my ass off over that month studying Spanish. I was immersed in the language and culture and this helped no end. By the end of that month I could get by just fine when I was sober and thought I was fluent when I had had a drink.

A rather large coal ship was in port and nearly unloaded about a month later when the foreman shouted from across the deck on Spanish “How long until this is supposed to sail?”

“You have three hours” I shouted back “If you need more tell me now so we can rearrange the pilot” (A pilot is a local sailor that knows the port inside out and backwards that navigate the ships in and out of harbour).

“Three hours should do fine” he said followed by “Wait there a minute”

At that he and the crew of stevedore's headed for me from all over the ships deck. Now I have to admit I wondered what was about to happen at this point but I stood there hoping I wasn't about to be tied up and dropped into a hold in some sort of backwater initiation ceremony.

They all came up close to me and stopped dead in a semi circle around me looking dead serious when the foreman said in Spanish “Have you been taking Spanish lessons everyday?”

I replied in Spanish “I must have because I couldn't say a word a few weeks ago could I”

“We agree” he boomed smiling “We were all just saying how well you were doing with the language. We have all asked questions lately and you have been talking very well in Spanish even if you do need that silly little book every now and then that is in your pocket for a word you don't know.”

“Thanks” I replied.

Then he said to me in English with a twinkle in his eye and a grin on his face “Yes yes you have. You have have earned our respect with your efforts”

My chin hit the floor. They all started laughing as if on cue. “You speak English!? All of you?”

With laughter booming the foreman replied “ Yes we do Nico and now you can help us practice it as we have helped you practice Spanish!”

“You bastards! Do you know what a struggle this last month has been?”

“Yes we do Nico. You have pulled that little book out of your pocket so many times looking for the right words that you have still managed to get wrong sometimes” There were nodding heads and chuckling all round now. “But would you have tried so hard if you knew we spoke some of your language?”

He was right of course. He was also a big fat git for doing it but I understood why. The laughter between him and my manager on my first day was after he said that they would not speak English for a few weeks then to me. After that I was accepted with the guys I worked with. I ate with them, drank with them and met all of their families as they met mine. It was a fantastic time and I look back at it all very fondly.

So what does this have to do with driving a mini across Spain? Well that would be my managers fault. We became very good friends over my time in Spain and after we had been back in the UK for a few months or so I got a phone call from him early one morning telling me that it was his wife's fortieth birthday in a few weeks and he had transferred £2000 into my bank account.

I said that I was happy for his wife but why was he giving me a two grand present instead of her?

“I want you to find her a mini!” he proclaimed. “You know what you are looking at and I wanted you to bring it over and have a long weekend too. Take what ever it costs you for your time out of the money and I will top it up if I need to”

I should point out here that this was back at the turn of the century so everything was a bit cheaper then....Jeez I sound old.

“Err OK then. Three weeks to find one, fix it and get it to southern Spain. Should be a piece of cake chap”

He laughed, I wondered how the hell I was going to manage this but I didn't need much of an excuse for a boozy weekend away so the hunt for a decent mini was about to begin.



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A Mini To Spain Part 1.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Tue, February 13, 2018 08:19:37

A Mini To Spain.

For those of you that may not have noticed I like to rebuild things. I am not saying I do it particularly well but I do enjoy the pleasure of taking something that most other people would think is beyond repair and bringing it back to life while it kicks and screams in protest as it is brought back to live just a little bit longer. Anyone that has worked on old motors knows that they do like to fight back most of the way, its almost like they begrudge being made to do more work to cover more miles when everyone else including themselves thought that it was all over.

My passions for what I rebuild come and go. It can get boring doing the same type of vehicle over and over again. I mean where is the challenge in that? As the years have flown by I have rebuilt everything from motorbikes to Land Rovers and everything size wise in-between.

What I started with though was the classic mini. Like thousands of other young men my age at the time these little treasures where cheap, cheerful and plentiful. You could pick them up for as little as £20 but they had one inherent problem that was common to all cars from this era....rust.

Once they came into contact with a bit of rain and salty winter roads the steel would just chuck in the towel to the tin worm and rot as quickly as you could patch them up. I don't think that any classic mini actually ended its days wearing the same metal it was built with.

You had to learn to weld quickly to even attempt to keep them in one piece and the engines though reliable had to be maintained on a regular basis, every tow or three days, just to keep them running.

This was something I got quite good at over time even if I do say so myself. I ran a mini, my Wife ran a mini and my friends had minis so there was plenty of practice to be had keeping my skills honed.

They were a passion. The parts were cheap and you could do any number of things to make these little treasures your own. Surprisingly they were not classed as “a girls car” due to their size. Nope everyone owned one of these things and they were as close to driving a road legal go cart you could get at the time. You rallied them, raced them, customised them, fixed them and loved them. They had a character all of their own and were plucky little buggers to boot.

It's important to set the scene on the popularity of these cars because otherwise you would be wondering “Why the hell would anyone drive one of these to Spain?” Don't get me wrong looking back I still wonder why I did drive one of these to Spain but it was an adventure and when you are young adventures are the best thing in the world to do!

So, how did it all start....



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Puppy Perspective

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Tue, February 06, 2018 07:42:58

I think we should live life like a puppy. Seriously everything from a puppies perspective is fantastic. Have you ever seen anything else that is just so happy with everything that it comes across?

When you walk in a room it looks at you and thinks whilst instantly bounding around:

“OH MY GOD IT'S YOU! I LOVE YOU, YOU ARE GREAT. I HAVEN'T SEEN YOU IN LIKE TEN SECONDS! WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING? WHERE YA BEEN? OH MY GOD THIS IS GREAT!!!!! I LOVE YOU, I TOLD YOU THAT RIGHT? I CANT REMEMBER TELLING YOU THAT BUT INCASE I DIDN'T I WILL TELL YOU AGAIN ANYWAY...I LOVE YOU! I LOVE MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD. I LOVE YOU MORE THAN MY CHEWS, MY TOYS AND MY BED. MAYBE NOT AS MUCH AS WHEN YOU PICK ME AND SCRATCH MY EARS BUT THATS YOU ISNT IT? SO I SUPPOSE I DO LOVE YOU MORE THAN EVEN THAT!!!

THIS IS GREAT YOU ARE BACK AND LOOKING DOWN AT ME!! I AM JUST SOOO HAPPY I HAVE TO BOUNCE AROUND IN CIRCLES AND JUMP ABOUT BECAUSE I JUST CANT CONTAIN THE EXCITEMENT! OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU!!!

DID YOU SEE MY TOYS OVER HERE ARE THEY NOT THE BEST THINGS YOU HAVE EVER SEEN? LOOK LOOK HEY LOOK. WHY ARE YOU NOT LOOKING FOR THE HUNDRETH TIME AT THESE? OK OK YOU DONT WANT TO COME A=OVER AND LOOK AT THEM IN MY BED BUT THAT'S OK BECAUSE I WILL HAIR ARSE BETWEEN YOU AND MY BED OVER TEH NEXT FIVE SECONDS AND BRING EACH AND EVERYONE TO YOU WHILST SIMULTAENEOUSLY SCATTERING THEM AROUND THE HOUSE FLOOR FOR YOU TO STAND ON LATER THEN YOU WILL SEE HOW HOW GREAT THEY ARE! YOU KNOW I AM THE BEST BABY YOU HAVE EVER HAD. DID I TELL YOU I LOVE YOU?”

Can you imagine have that simplicity in life? Everything you see and come across is a new wonderful discovery. The only things you want to achieve happiness is a bed, a full belly and someone to pay you some attention every now and then. You don't even care where you go to the toilet. Garden, driveway, living room doorway...there's no preference!

My puppy broke her leg last week jumping off of the sofa and landing badly. She has been through two vets, two lots of sedation and a major operation. You would think in the grand scheme of things this would slow her down and make her a little miffed with life but no. It has not tarnished her puppy delight of existence in fact she is a bit miffed with me trying to keep her calm and not bouncing off of the walls so her leg heals and doesn't break again. She seems quite content in trying to give me a nervous breakdown.

When I collected her from the ridiculously expensive vet specialist hospital part of the debrief from her operation by a young intern vet was as follows:

“The operation went very well. Lots of technical terms over five minutes to justify the three thousand pound bill to the insurance company. So the post op care is as follows Mr Smith. Use this medication every morning with food for five days. Three weeks strict cage rest with six or so trips outside on the lead to toilet Clara.”

“Sorry? I will stop you there. Did you say to cage Clara for three weeks?”

“Yes Mr Smith. Three weeks strict cage rest before she comes back for further x-rays”

“I presume you have met a puppy that's not sedated before.” I said.

“Sorry Mr Smith?” he replied.

“I presume, being a vet, you have met a puppy that is not under sedation before?”

“Of course I have Mr Smith”

“Have you ever managed to cage rest one for three weeks?”
“Not personally, no”

“Didn't think so.”

He looked a bit miffed and confused at this point but then again he only looked like he was about twelve years old.

So maybe we should live life like a puppy. It doesn't matter what happens, if you get pushed from pillar to post from one disaster to another. It is what it is is, you are still here and life is still full of simple wonders. Sorry I going to have to run. Apparently the floor in front of the cooker looks like a great place to take a dump...and why not eh, have you ever done it there?





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Puppy Performance.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Fri, January 19, 2018 08:37:43
A couple of weeks into the whole "Stupidly broken my foot" thing now and I can honestly say I am going a little stir crazy. I don't do sitting around staring at a variety of different electronic screens all day very well. I am definitely a potterer by nature so this imposed rest for most of the day is sheer torture.
Shouldn't complain really because it could always be worse. They could of put my foot in a pot cast and that would have been an absolute nightmare! No baths or showers without lots of fannying about with plastic bags and tape. That I have been spared so no it could always be worse and to all those people out there in pot casts I salute you!

But I have had a large amount of, a little bit painful, time on my hands. What could I have done with that? Turns out that puppy training seemed like a good idea...

Before we get to that let me give you a bit of the backstory. We are a dog family and it has always been that way. For me a dog is an integral part of that family make up and for ten years or so we had possibly the best dog that has ever walked this earth spend her days with us. Molly was a cracking pup. She wasn't little by any means being a Boxer Rottweiler crossbreed but she was as clever as any dog I have met in all of my days and I am pretty sure she knew it.
Molly was the family dog for my children as they grew up and left one by one. She was that canine constant also my faithful companion. For most of her ten years she did not leave my side. When I was outside she was outside. If I was sat on the floor she was laying next to me. If I was sad she would turn herself inside out with worry and try to cheer me up. She doted on all of us but seemed to literally be in love with me.
In short she was fantastic.
When we moved house I literally walked her to the top of the driveway and told her that the kerb was her line and she was not allowed to cross it. She never did without an invite.
She got poorly last year though with Cancer and Arthritis and as soon as she was in serious pain, howling one night did it for me, I took her to the vets and said goodbye. There was no way I was going to have her treated extending the suffering, she was far too good for that.


I thought it would be a fair while before another pup would come along. We were going to get Molly to train one for us but we left it a bit too late really. She would of been a bit jealous we think in her later years so we left her her pack in the shape it had always been.

Then I broke my foot.

I sat playing on the tinterweb and just glanced through the puppy section on a website. Then I started thinking about what I would want the next dog to do with us because we are entering a new chapter in our lives the Wife and I. The kids are all but gone and we have started planning on what we want to do next and this involves a lot more being out and about.
I have built a campervan and intend to use it so I didn't want a dog that would be too big. I needed whatever comes along to be able to go where we go. It needs to be able to sit under a dinner table in a pub as well as keep up with us walking over them there hills.

"Having this broken foot will give me the time to train it" I thought to myself quietly talking myself into it. I asked the Wife if she was ok with this and she just grinned from ear to ear and said "Of course". After a couple of months without a dog teh house seemed just too empty.
I felt a bit guilty like I was cheating on Molly but life goes on. I knew that a pup would also fill my days and help to keep me sane so the hunt was on.

After much looking with dogs that had all sorts of strange names that made no sense to me, Google was my friend at this point because I literally had no idea what was going on, a pup popped up I liked the look of.
So we made a phone call and set off to see if we liked her.
Just a quick note on these "Designer" dog breeds. Who are folks kidding here? They are mongrels! Don't get me wrong there are some lovely looking pups out there but by giving them a daft breed made up name surely cannot justify the crazy expensive price tags they command?? Is it me or has the world gone mad?

Anyway we went to see these puppies and I am not going to sit here and write that I liked the look of them and after careful consideration chose the best of the bunch. Nope what happened was we turned up and a puppy chose me. I picked her up and she just snuggled straight up and in under my neck. I was hooked. Then another family walked in behind us and my first thought was "You cant have her. She's mine"

So a crazy amount of money changed hands and I ended up with a "designer" dog that cost far too much money...a Cockerpoo. Seriously that's not even a good breed name it sounds like someone is taking the mick. WHo the hell would fall for that??
Anyway we brought her home with the faint nervous aroma of rotten eggs permienting the car, I blamed the dog, and brought "Clara" into her new home.

She seemed to like her new home and she soon settled in. The chaos of a puppy in the house started a couple of days later. Ten years is a long time to forget how much goes into that initial training and with that I have that broken foot.

"Get a puppy" I thought. "It'll be fun" I thought.

There are more toys on the floor than an army of toddlers could leave when passing through. There's squeaking from toys and baby talking voices coming from the females of the house that made me think I had missed the birth of my first grandchild. The pup wakes up when it's time to sleep and sleeps when it's time to get up. It pee's where it feels like it and the smell of it's poo is like nothing I have ever experienced. I should give the military a call so they can weaponize it!
She has started to bark at the ghosts in the house because there's nothing there that I can see and she is stuck by my side for the best part of the day demanding play and dropping her guts at regular intervals making me gag.

I think I may be just a little bit in love.









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A Hell of a Way to Start!

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, January 07, 2018 09:33:47
Well folks, we are at the end of the first week into 2018 and to say the last twelve months have been a challenge would be an understatement. Myself and my family have been through hell, literally. I am not going to go into details as I am not looking for sympathy here but I would like to say that when times are tough, when you are on your knees thinking that you cannot go on one more step and another disaster arrives to test your metal, to push down on your shoulders just a little harder adding to the weight you are already carrying. You may well be surprised at how you manage to accept that challenge. To take yet another deep breath. To come up off of one knee, then the other and continue to take yet another step forwards.

I have seen each and every person I truly love do this over this last year. They all have coped differently, taken those burdens and dealt with them in each their own ways. The strength, love and support that has bounded among them all has known no bounds. When one needed propping up the others lent a shoulder to do so.
I am humbled by what truly is the definition of family.

We are all very different people now than we were last January. The shape of our family pack is different and it will still take time to accept that but as long as we all keep taking that step forwards, one at a time, we will be ok.

Personally I couldn't write at all. There was nothing inside me wanting to come out and that was a bit odd as I use writing to escape the world, kick back and relax but there was no point in trying to force it. That though, unfortunately for you poor buggers, seems to have passed. I have a list of ideas things to chuck down onto paper and I will be making this part of my everyday life once again.

My plan for this year is a positive and busy one, in fact I was going to hit the ground running this week with a change in job roles and finishing up lots of odd jobs that needed sorting throughout the house using up some annual leave.

Instead I hit the ground literally, from a few steps up the staircase whilst carrying a basket of washing and broke my foot...


Yea it's a little bit funny. Ah well it's just a bone that'll heal soon enough but I expect I will have gone stir crazy by the time it does from being housebound!

Breathe deep folks, square those shoulders and lets see what the year brings...

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In Remembrance

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sat, November 11, 2017 07:31:30

The soldier stood and faced his God, which must always come to pass. He hoped his shoes were shining, just as brightly as his brass.

"Step forward now you soldier, how shall I deal with you? Have you always turned the other cheek? To my church have you been true?"

The soldier squared his shoulders, said "No Lord, guess I ain't. Cos those of us who carry guns, can't always be a saint. I've had to work most Sundays, at times my talk was tough. And sometimes I've been violent, the world is really quite rough. But I never took a penny, that wasn't mine to keep. Though I worked a lot of overtime, when the bills got just too steep. I never passed a cry for help, though at times I shook with fear. And sometimes God forgive me, I have wept many a tear. If you have a place for me Lord, it needn't be so grand. I don't expect or want too much, but if you don't I'll understand.

There was silence all around the throne, where the saints had often trod. As the soldier waited quietly, for the judgement of his God. "Step forward now you soldier, you've borne your burdens well. Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets, you've done your time in Hell

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WEEK 15 & I am stupid.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Mon, July 10, 2017 20:12:47
Honestly why do I do these things to myself? I think that deep down somewhere in there I am some sort of sycophant.
Oh I am not talking about the hair, well that is looking stupid but not what my thoughts are here, nope I am talking about the brave way I have volunteered myself to walk up yet another mountain on the 9th October 2017. It is a different mountain this time, I shall try to top out Scafell Pike.
The mountain will be hard enough but the more immediate problem is my current fitness levels. Especially my rather portly stomach. I look like a Vicar who is at the age of retirement and lost the battle with the belly many years before giving in to the resignation that it is now rather a large part of life.

So the training started today in earnest for this mere little bimble up the mountain side. I arrived home from work and quickly donned my 1987 pair of dayglo shorts along with t-shirt that has somehow been shrunk in the wash (must be the tumble dryer again. Wifey seems to have been shrinking a lot of my clothes that way recently) and a rather fetching pair of running trainers given to me by my Dad and guaranteed by all sorts of clever scientisty type people to make me run like the wind from my first day.

Knowing it has been some time (years) since my last attempt at running, managed to get up to ten minutes constant running or maybe fast walking depending on how you look at it covering at least a mile, I decided that a quick run around the block would be a good first day back on it.
I warmed up on the driveway feeling good about myself and what would undoubtedly get rid of my extra stomach on the first outing. The jogging commenced on a slight uphill gradient along our little cul-de-sac that is about 200 metres long and by the time I got to the top of it I had decided that "Interval"running would be best for me so I could actually just walk for a thirty seconds.

Soon I was off once more full of grit and determination for at least 45 seconds before the walking interval had to kick in. This seemed quite a pertinent idea seeing as I was more or less unable to breathe. I felt as out of breath as an overweight ex smoker in his early forties that had done bugger all strenuous physical activity for most of this year. Oh hang on a minute....yea, that would be me.

Not to worry just a bit longer would see the ticker kicking in properly and the muscles catching up with the brain I was sure. Nope. It did get a little easier but my legs were screaming, I could not expand my chest enough to get the required amount of oxygen in and there was enough sweat pouring off of me to fill a childs paddling pool.
But the gods seemed to be on my side because the sky grew very dark and the heavens opened! I have never enjoyed being in the rain that much!
As I turned into our little cul-de-sac I decided that it would not be very good to let the neighbours see me walking back home and seeing as it was down hill I just kind of lolloped back towards my driveway letting the curtain twitchers think I had been all so very good and healthy. When I pulled under my car port and out of the sight of prying eyes I bent over double to try and ease my screaming lungs which only took about five minutes....not too bad at all for a first time out I would say.

I am sure it will get easier when I try to do it again next month.






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WEEK 13

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Thu, June 29, 2017 20:34:46
We are already well into week 13 of the hair growing now and I am beginning to look like a yeti!

As always please drop the odd pound or two onto the following link please if you can!
It's all in a good cause!

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Kazziesdaysout




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#yetismith Week 2 & Week 3

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Thu, April 13, 2017 11:48:17
Well good morning to you all!
We fast heading towards the end of the first month of me not cutting the hair on my head for a year.
Progress is being made (albeit slowly) on setting up a charity but the good news is that my hair is now long enough to have that much sought after "Just got out of bed look".

For many many years I have literally just got up, had a wash then headed out of the door without a thought of what my hair was doing. Those days it seems are now a thing of the past for the foreseeable future as I learnt to my detriment on Monday morning.
I just did the usual wash and off to work routine only to be asked as soon as I stepped through the office door "Sleep in?"

Seemed a bit of an odd comment to me that, that still had me slightly confused when I replied "No, am I late?"
The person who asked, who shall remain nameless for now as they have pledged a large sum of money to "make sure you look stupid for a year", then said "Forgot to brush your hair then?"

"Brush it? I mean brush it? Why would I need to Brush, oh of course." I replied and went to find a mirror that soon showed me that one side was stuck excitedly upright whilst the other side was flattened and pushed backwards.
Not to worry it was only an eleven hour day to look stupid in so I dunked my head in a sink full of water and sort of pushed it all around to look like a more general scruffy mess.
I doubt this will be the last time it happens but I just have to say again the way it's starting to move depending on the heat is freaking me out a little... #yetismith






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Week 1

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Mon, April 03, 2017 18:51:08
Well I have made it to the end of week one of "growing my hair for a year".
It's already itching and a mate has pledged to give me a tenner per inch it grows. I thought he was being a tight git until he asked "How long do you think your hairs going to get Nick?"
"I don't know" I replied "A couple of inches?"
"Best google that mate" he said as he walked away.

So I did Google it...hmm just a tad more than I thought it would be! Around five to six inches apparently!

Oh well in for a penny in for a pound eh.

Here's this weeks mug shot.




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Hair Growing...

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Wed, March 29, 2017 09:57:25
I have sat here for the last ten minutes trying to figure out how to write this and I am still none the wiser so I shall just get on with it.

You may have noticed that I have been a little quiet of late and that is because my little sister passed away quite unexpectedly and suddenly a few weeks ago.
We as a family are still grieving, and will be for who knows how long there is no set time limit for these things, but the time has come to do something to help channel that pain. We wanted to do something positive.

Let me give you a little about my sister because she was an exceptional young lady. She was 39 years old and had a condition called Williams Syndrome. This is a missing chromosome disorder that affects each person with it in similar but also drastically differently severity ways.
This made Karan more than special to everyone she met. There was only love to give from her perspective and once you met her you were a friend for life. She never moaned about the hand she had been dealt in life and took pleasure from the simplest of things like just sitting and watching the world go by.
Karan was one in a million and as our Dad has said "If everyone looked at the world and loved the way Karan did, it would be a much better place"

Nothing will replace her loss nor take away the pain of losing her but that does not mean we cannot do something positive from this.

We are going to set up a charity in her honor. This will focus on taking her friends from the day work place she attended, all of which have their own special needs or learning difficulties, out regularly for different events. It could be a trip to the seaside or an outing to the panto at Christmas.
The reason for doing this is quite simple. Karan had a better social life than most of us and loved nothing more than to be out and about in this big wide world with either family or friends....sometimes both. It brought a huge smile to her face and those that were with her so we want to carry on handing those smiles and that happiness out.

There are lots of different fundraising activities in the pipeline but the first and foremost is the fact that I will be growing my hair.

"Why is that a special event?" you may be thinking. Well I hate to have long hair. By long I mean anything more than a few millimeters because it literally drives me mad.
So what better way to begin and set things off than pledge that I will grow my hair for exactly one year starting from Sunday 26th March 2017.

There were suggestions of growing out the beard at the same time but I think I can only push my luck so far at work! Instead I will become a long haired silver fox with a weekly Sunday photo taken for you all to poke fun at!

Now feel free to make some pledges of money to this, in fact I actively want you to do this publicly until the charity is up and running properly with the correct donation pages set in place.

Seeing me turn into a long grey haired uglier bugger than I am now must be worth the price of a chocolate bar or two from you good people!

I thank you in advance for all of the help that I will be continually bullying you into on a regular basis!




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Grieving.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Wed, March 15, 2017 21:26:12
I have a tale to tell but I don't know the best way to put into words that would do it justice. To start with I want to say that this is not me looking for sympathy from the anonymity of the internet, it is far from that. I have probably taken as much sympathy as I can directly, not that it is not appreciated because it has been but there is a message in what happened to myself and my wife a few days ago that has also indirectly brought a great deal of comfort since.

There is an expected order within life, we do not always acknowledge it but its there nonetheless. Generations come and go, time after time. The oldest leave first to be followed by the new generation that arrives, this is the way of things.
We never expect to lose one of our own generation whilst the older is still present but that is what has happened to our family over these last few weeks.
My sister sadly passed away quite suddenly at 39 years old. The hole that she leaves behind in our family is beyond measure for each and every one of us and the only saving grace for us all is the love that is shared by each of us unconditionally that has provided support. When one of us could not walk the rest of us have carried...that's as it should be.

I am the big brother of six and if I am honest here it's all I know how to be. I don't just love my brothers and sisters, I would do anything for them if they needed me to. Growing up with such an age gap from the first to the last even installed into me the beginning of who I was to be as a parent. Family is everything.
So to lose one of them, the one that was most special to all of us due to her nature and the uniqueness that Williams Syndrome gave her was something I was not prepared for.
God only knows what Mum & Dad are going through because at times it takes all that I am to just get up out of bed in the morning. Their strength and love continually amazes me.

Grieving is hard. It's weird in a way that there is no right or wrong way of doing it. It's like after having found your way into Hell on Earth, then there is the worst rollercoaster ever conceived and you have to ride it until some point way way off in the future whether you want to or not.
Sometimes you can function pretty normally throughout the day only to be sideswiped by a song on the radio or a random memory that literally brings you to your knees. You can laugh at the memories that have passed either with yourself or when sharing others. You can be crying every morning when you wake up because the dreams are just too much to cope with and yet another day has begun in which your sister will not be a physical part of.

Sometimes it seems that every single moment is heartbreaking.

I see my siblings suffering, I see my parents suffering more and all I want to do is take the burden of their pain from them but to do so, even if I could, would take away the love of who we have lost. The love we have is what causes us the pain.

So I have to admit I have been quite angry inside of late. This has been a large part of my continued grieving process. I have been angry with "Them" for taking my sister away. My sister who had nothing but innocence and love in her heart. My sister who literally lit up each room she entered with her laughter and smile.
I have no idea who the "Them" are that I am so angry with but I managed to talk to my wife about it a few days ago as we sat on the riverside in Bakewell.
The sun was shining and we had had a nice morning being out and about. Things almost felt normal for just a while in the spring air until I remembered this was one of the places I wanted to bring my sister to.
I had wanted to sit here next to the river with her this summer eating fish and chips whilst throwing the odd bit out to all of the geese and ducks that fight for every scrap.
A shadow passed over me as I realised that this would never now be.

I have always had Faith inside of me and even practised it with the Church of England as it suited the way I like to live my life but truth be told I think that there really is more when we are done here but as for anyone particular all almighty being... who knows. I could not give a monkeys which god anyone prays to as I think when all is said and done we will become something more than we are where none of the definitions matter, but that's just me.

Wifey and I started to talk as she saw the shadow pass through me at the riverside. I explained that I had not lost my faith as such as it is but I was not convinced of anything now because who on Earth would take someone so damned special with so very little warning.
I was saying that nothing could convince me at the moment that there was some grand scheme that involved taking my little sister, a constant light and love in so many lives, away from us. I admitted I was more than a little angry about it all.

At this point a very golden bubble about the size of a baby's hand floated down in front of us to which I said "I suppose that's a sign that everything is alright really is it" (I was still pretty damned upset at this point) "There's bound to be a kid blowing bubbles somewhere here"
So we both looked in both directions. Then we looked a bit harder. Nope nothing. Wifey stood up and looked further afield but no there was nobody blowing bubbles kid or otherwise.

Thing is it was quite busy with folk coming and going along the footpath but not crowded, the views in every direction were clear. The bubble just floated there in front of us moving gently from left to right before pausing from time to time. Then it headed for the ground where we expected it to pop as it touched the pavement.
It just gently landed in the middle of the pavement and sat there. It didn't move again but it did not pop. It's golden colour shone brightly even as other people walked headlong towards it but nobody stood on it. Not one footfall got anywhere near it and there were quite enough people to make this an odd occurrence.
The birds never bothered it either. These birds are normally greedily eating anything that touches the ground whether it's edible or not but not this.
We sat mesmerised looking at it for a couple of minutes as it spread out a touch wider.
I looked at my Wife stating "That's just impossible" and decided to see if I could get a picture of it.

This was not a problem because it was not going anywhere. I took the picture and it stayed with us for a few more minutes. Then it just started to go down. It did not pop as you would expect but just very slowly deflated as all of the passing people seemed to subconsciously avoid it.
It's golden glow never faded, even when it finally went flat.

But does this mean something? Anything?
Honestly I don't know. But what I do know is as I headed into what was one of the fastest plunges into the dark I have experienced so far, this tiny bubble of light seemed to appear as if on cue.
When I thought that all the wonder of the world was lost forever and whatever sort of faith I have was beyond being tested I felt something very comforting out of the blue.
I am not going to say that this was a profoundly religious moment but it was a very poignant one that seemed to bring me back into a place that was a peaceful harbour from the storm.
That storm still rages on and on some days it's worse than others, as it is for all of us, but I know now deep down in the depths of my soul that part of my little sister is always with us.












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Kazzie

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Fri, March 03, 2017 09:01:00
I took a walk today, wondering how to say goodbye.
Through the fields in the rain and across muddy styles as I walked I thought about your special smile.
The way the room lit up with your very presence in it, about the way your innocence constantly stayed throughout your life.
Your laughter, your love. None of these ever faded. The spark within your eyes of pleasure just to sit and look around at other people passing by.
Your playful banter along with the things you would say, I don't know how to live without these things for another long day.
I trudged heavy footed through soaking wet fields with my head hung low, not caring in which direction I go, with images and memories of you so real in front of me I feel like I could reach out and touch you, but no this can never be.
So how can I ever say goodbye Kazzie? It took some time to realise the truth.
I never will say goodbye my little sister, you will always be in me x





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Just Bugger.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Tue, January 31, 2017 12:56:20
That horrifying moment that you realise the file containing the book you have been writing for 18 months has disappeared from every electronic gizmo you have...

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Richards Stag Do Part 2.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Fri, January 20, 2017 19:33:06
We last left the opposing teams all set at their respective bases counting down the time until the shout of "GO" was shouted out. The with hearts pounding we all started running at each other through the trees diving for the cover of any obstacles we could find to get away from the hail of paint balls that seemed to be coming from all directions both high and low.

For some stupid reason I first tried to hide behind a tree that saw me taking a paint ball to the stomach. Obviously the tree was not quite as wide as I expected it to be nor my stomach which must have been protruding from the very thin trunk (yes I am going with it being the trees fault) making a rather easy to hit target. Thankfully I had lots of padding (a few extra layers not just my stomach)so it didn't really hurt. Having been hit I had to put my hand into the air and walk the fifteen feet back to base to "Respawn". That walk though had me taking a couple of shots to the back as I wandered away from some overly keen enemy...
If I am honest the first game was a disaster for me getting hit from all sides and spending most of the time walking back to base getting shot on route. This was confirmed at the end of it by the large amount of paint balls I still had left in the gun.
Still not to worry the stag had been hit a fair few times and so had just about everyone else.
As gung ho as we all were deciding we were the best thing since sliced bread with guns we were outshone by a trio of lads that had come by themselves all kitted in in their own paintball gear. Now these folks obviously liked to do this sort of thing regularly but when surrounded by twenty "normal" people over two stag parties and a couples day out I am not quite sure why they seemed surprised when they got some responses from things they tried to command others to do.
To one guy they told him to "Give us covering fire!!" to which he replied "Waste your own paintballs"
Another one was "YOU run left and draw their fire!" to which the response was "YOU bloody run left and get shot"
By far my favourite one though was an action. Two of these guys commanded "We all run left...GO!"
Off they ran all by themselves into a hail storm of gunfire and to quick deaths. There was a quick look of smugness between the rest of us through our steamed up visors (I had abandoned the use of my specs inside them after the first game as it was like trying to see through blown double glazing) as these "Professionals" sulkily walked back to the base to respawn to the sounds of sniggers and "well done fellas" from the group.
Seriously, why would you try to tell a group of complete strangers who are on stag do's how to play this sort of game. There is strategy for the stag do boys and that is the desire to shoot the hell out of anything that moves from the opposite direction whilst manically laughing your head off.

There were several different settings mostly the longer firing range but one setting involved storming a castle. This was close quarters fighting and quite painful if you were unlucky enough to take a hit.
Thinking "Buggered if I want to get shot that much" I decided to chase the flank around to the opposite teams side to catch them off guard. I need to take a moment here to tell you about a young couple that were also playing the games. He got shot as much as the rest of us but she was brilliant! Any gun she used she seemed to be able to snipe you from a long distance with very little effort using only one or two paintballs.

Well, my sneaking was going well. I had used the trees as cover and worked my way around to the opposite teams base without getting wiped out. That done, my bravery started growing so I headed towards one of the entrance tunnels to the castle. I stood listening but could hear no sounds coming from the entrance. Full of bravado I walked around the side in a slight crouch and much to my surprise I found the young couple standing there. He was facing me with a hell of a surprised look in his eyes and she was bent over at the waist looking around a right hand corner completely oblivious to my presence.
I didn't think I just reacted. My gun was already up in the horizontal position and firstly it flicked to him as a few shots were fired. A yellow explosion of paint took him in the chest. The gun then flicked to my right where his girlfriend was still bent over looking around the corner leaving a more than ample rounded target swaying slightly from side to side.
Before I knew what I was doing I had fired off two more rounds which headed off on a direct trajectory to the twin moons that faced me. The shots were true and could not resist what must have been a slight gravitational pull hitting their target as if they were guided. As they exploded with a "whump, whump" she jumped up high enough to nearly bang her head off of the ceiling whilst emitting a high pitched squeal.
The evil side of me was delighted that I had managed to take two of the enemy out and another big part of me thought that the last shots I had taken and the outcome were hilarious!
This was very quickly followed by me feeling a bit guilty that I had shot her right up the arse. But if I am honest that last feeling did not last long. She had after all been sniping my team out all day long!

It also turned out I was not the only person trying to shoot the stag at every opportunity that arose but he seemed to have a hell of a knock of not getting wasted!

The day was a good one and the meal later on was superb! But I realise now that I am no longer 25 years old. I am not even 35 years old anymore. I ached from head to toe the following day...well days.
My friend is getting married in a couple of months or so...his wife to be set his stag do way way ahead of the big day. I don't think she trusts us enough to take him out the night before I mean he could end up on a train anywhere...or a plane.












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Richards Stag Do...Part 1

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, January 15, 2017 20:05:11
My legs ache. I don't think deciding that it was time to start swimming a few times a week to get back into shape just before heading out on a friends "Paintball" stag do was the best decision I have ever made.
But it was a decision that, quite stupidly, was made so here I sit because it is all I can really do today and tell you all the tale.

I shall start the tale with our dashing groom who decided that the best way to spend the daylight hours on a Saturday was to run around the woods shooting the hell out of anything that has a heartbeat to celebrate the upcoming nuptials with his beautiful Bride to be. I should also point out here he is full of life, fit as a fiddle and doesn't seem to ache after strenuous activity. The way none of us did in our mid twenties.
I was cordially invited along with half a dozen or so other mugs I mean friends to join in the fun and I genuinely thought "Yep, I have done that before and it's great fun so Hell yea I am in!"
What I failed to remind myself of is that the last time I partook in this sort of adventure would have been over eighteen years ago. When I was in my mid twenties. A minor point if I had had the sense to give it a fleeting thought but it may have planted a slow down seed for the day somewhere in my mind.

So the day arrived brisk but dry with wall to wall blue sky! We all arrived on time, apart from our groom who somehow managed to get lost on route to the venue even though he was the one who had booked it! We were soon donned with a set of comfy overalls that fit easily over all of our clothing. It was now I noticed that everyone else had also donned up in lots of extra layers.
"Have you all done this before?" I asked
"Yep, not getting caught out again" was the basis of all replies.
You see if you have ever been paintballing you know that it can smart more than a touch when you get shot and the best bet is to layer up increasing your padding whilst dropping
down on the sting effect of taking a hit.
This is a lesson that only needs to learnt once. The large round bruising itself from where each paintball has exploded on your skin is like a lesson to your youth that you are not as big and strong as you think you are when you are young.

Luckily for us today though it was pretty much on the cooler side of things then add to that the shade of the woods and us older folk had to give no reasons as to why we were wrapped up ready for a polar expedition.
So we were all stood in our camouflage overalls lined up ready to get issued masks and weapons when the organiser, who was stood at the front of all of the groups who decided that today was a good day to pay to suffer, asked "Who's the groom?"
With big grins we all with raised pointed fingers picked out Richard who was given a rather limited choice of onsie's that he would have to wear.
He chose a Superman one.
Hmm still seemed a bit manly that so thanks to some foresight by one of our group we soon had him donned in a more appropriate attire of Fairy's wand, wings, pink hat and a rather fetching sash that on the front said "Stud Muffin" and on more importantly on the rear said "Shoot Me"
How lovely he looked! A princess get up that any five year old girl would have been happy with.


So with our stag suitably attired along with a stag from another group dressed up as Duff man we all funneled through a small walkway with full face masks on to be issued with our weapons.
A quick tutorial on how not to shoot each other within the compound, I mean where's the sport in that? It's much fairer to pop us all into a slightly larger compound before we got around to that sort of behaviour. We stood all macho laughing at how easy it was going to be to see the stag in the woods and how we were going to obliterate our opposing teams! It was then we recalled we had been split up onto opposing teams but that would just add to the fun wouldn't it.

A short march onto our first site that would have us fighting for control of a bridge. We were instructed that we could not shoot each other at point blank range, "Thank God" I thought at that point as well as not to pummel each other with the butt ends of our rifles. Then off we were sent to our "bases" at each end of the fenced off area to wait for the shout to begin.
The wait was not a long one before the marshall hollered out "GAME ON" and we all started to run towards what was now the enemy....




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Merry Christmas

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sat, December 24, 2016 23:26:26
Merry Christmas Folks.



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BUTTS ROAD

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, December 11, 2016 19:28:24
Made me giggle...



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Rails & Roofs.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, December 04, 2016 15:28:24
As most of you already know we bought a house in the spring of this year, lets say it needs a little work. Not to worry because the price we paid for it was more than fair but lately most of what I have been doing is just getting it to stay warm once the heating goes off.
This entailed mainly putting more of that itchy loft insulation down along with fitting floor boards so Wifey has all of the storage her heart requires because "this house has no storage" I am told regularly.
Lots of sweaty hard itchy work that cost enough and literally leaves me walking away looking like nothing has really been done! Still has to be done and I wont have to do it again for a long long time after the stud walls have been insulated.

Enough of the house though because there was a much more pressing construction issue on the house...my garage roof.
The garage roof leaked like a sieve through old asbestos/cement roofing sheets, this was so bad when raining I had to put down eight different buckets and pots to catch the worst of the water coming in. They did not catch everything just stopped the place flooding.
Seeing as my tools, motorbike and electrical's are kept in there I was more than a little concerned with the worst of the winter yet to come with cold rain and probably snow.

I managed to source some reasonably priced roof sheets and seeing as the day was forecast wall to wall sunshine it seemed like a good time to get stuck in.
I had soon dug out a set of ladders and a pair of old scaffold boards so I could climb onto the old roof and see what I was up against getting that awful sheeting off without falling through on top of everything I wanted to protect.

Luckily all of the old bolts came out easily enough and before I knew it the sunshine was covering the inside of the garage for the first time in forty odd years.



These old concrete sectionals are not designed to last for ever but I need a few more years out of this one yet before I can afford a newer larger purpose built garage for my toys.
The old sheets were brittle and heavy but happily they all came away without breaking and I was soon putting the new metal sheeting up there, then using the boards screwing them all into place without falling through the roof or damaging the sheets.

There is a decent overlap on each one along with more than liberal doses of silicone sealant along the joins...I used just about every tube of this I had in the place!

The result though is much better.


I now have a water tight garage that kit will actually stay dry in! Now you may think that that would come as standard with a garage but I can assure you from bitter experience it does not!
I'm off for a lie down now though, this physical exercise stuff is exhausting!

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Teabag Mountain Result.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, December 04, 2016 15:13:55
I lost.



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Teabag Mountain.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, December 04, 2016 08:35:32
There is a Teabag Mountain challenge in my house at the moment. When the lid falls off the loser has to take it all out to the compost bin...



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First Pics.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Wed, October 19, 2016 13:11:04
I have always enjoyed taking photos. It helps to focus the mind as well as en-capture the wonders of the world we live in. There is great beauty all around us to be found in the smallest of things. Most of us do not take time to just stop and notice these things, myself included a great deal of the time but to try and capture this essence of nature and the world around us has always been a goal of mine. To look back upon photos taken that boost the memories of enjoyable days past.
This has always been done with my phone camera and not too shabbily if I am honest but I have always hankered after a nice piece of equipment to play with funds though along with a growing family had always put pay to that idea.

Now though, well I came into a bit of an unexpected windfall so I have treated myself to a Nikon D3300 AF-P. That's a fancy way of saying "A nice camera" that has more buttons and information on screen than I have a clue what to do with yet. So I charged up the battery, confused myself a great deal with the instructions and took it out with myself and the dog this morning to have a play with it.
My main aim is to get up into Derbyshire on a regular basis taking the camera along on our hikes to get some interesting pictures from up there then starting to get into night shoots as well as daytime ones.
But firstly I shall learn to crawl with it. I can't say that I can even walk yet as I wander around randomly changing buttons around but I shall read up some more and get talking to like minded folks seeing where this new hobby will take me.

I need to shrink the size of the pictures before I can get them uploaded on here but I will try to figure out how to do that later today!


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Puppy's

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sat, October 01, 2016 09:53:11

I put this up on my facebook page and now for some reason my daughters are not talking to me?



So my daughter Jade keeps asking for a puppy for Christmas. Then my daughter Bethany started asking as well.
So my girls...


I have come to a decision...


Seeing as its Christmas...


And I love you both dearly...







No.



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Photography.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Fri, September 16, 2016 14:18:18
I do enjoy a bimble around the countryside but by far my most favourite place to be is in the Peak District of Derbyshire. Now there have been many many pictures taken during my wanderings always on my mobile phone.
Don't get me wrong they are ok...ish but the photography bug has bitten quite deeply and after some consideration over many many months I will be buying myself a basic camera to get going in a month or so trying my hand at giving this picture taking malarkey a proper go.
But until then here are a couple from my meander around Mam Tor yesterday morning.









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The Bucket List. Mount Snowdon Pt 6

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Fri, September 16, 2016 12:53:01
It has been a long long time since I have pushed my body way past it's comfort zone. I walk a great deal and like to ride my mountain bike a bit and these things are all good and well for raising the heart rate a touch but I only just get to break a sweat.
With the last quarter now ahead of us I will readily admit that my knees were screaming at me in a way that I have never felt them like before. The back of my thighs were threatening to cramp up and I was just generally shattered. The grimy sweat was drying in just about every crevice and my feet were aching in a bone deep sort of way.

Still there was no other choice but to keep putting one foot on front of the other pushing onwards back down to sea level. Wifey was walking a fair bit slower than me which gave me a few cheeky opportunities to rest up a little waiting for her to catch up. No I didn't go too far ahead I just seemed to be making a little quicker progress down a few of the larger steps when we came across them than she did.
As we passed around each now familiar bend the realisation that the end was getting closer spurred our weary legs on another few steps. I would like to say that at this point the job got a little easier but it didn't!
Soon enough though we were back at the gate that had marked the start of our true climb up the mountainside and there was a bit of a memory that the walk up the tarmac road was a bit of a pig but hell that was on the way up and now we were nearly at the finish line.
That tarmac road was steep indeed, in fact we ended up walking backwards down large parts of it much to the delight of a young family that were heading back as well who were happily doing the same. The sound of those young children's laughter brought grins to our faces because if they could still be giggling after going up and down that bloody big hill, well, so could we!

Now we could see the train station from which we had started out from in the morning and even joked at least we had done it properly and not cheated by hopping on a train to come back down again. With the finally level ground under foot we seemed to be literally skipping along back to the car where the pleasure of taking off that back pack letting the fresh air start to dry out my now sweaty back was one of the most simplistically enjoyable things I have ever felt.
Apart from the shower when we got to the bed and breakfast. That was just divine! Feeling the days grime just washing away down the plughole did not take away the aches of the but I would not of wanted it to. They were like badges of honour that proved I had done what I had set out to do.

As we sat down to a very pleasant evening meal we realised very happily that we had achieved a big tick off of our bucket list.
We had climbed a mountain...us, we could barely believe it!
You may when you were reading all of this think that is was a bit on the moaning side of things. That was not my intention. What I did want to do was portray it as it was and that is one of the most physically demanding things I have ever done. I don't think I have pushed myself that hard in a great many years and no doubt I would of skipped up Snowdon in my twenties or thirties but now these sorts of challenges are, well they are more challenging.
I tell you what though I am more up for them now than I have ever been before and I swore I would never climb another mountain again when we had finished Snowdon, right up until my Dad asked me if I would climb Scafell Pike with him...





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The Bucket List. Mt Snowdon Pt 5

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sat, September 10, 2016 08:31:14
When you are walking up a steep hill or mountain you do tend to just keep looking down towards your feet. The main reasons for this are the fact that depending on the incline the ground might not be too far away from your face add to that you really need to look where you are stepping so you don't end up on your face, but mostly when you start to get tired you get into "The zone" just to keep moving forwards.
The biggest problem with this is you have to keep reminding yourself to look up and appreciate the view. Standing now as we were looking out across the landscape that included clear blue skies a swell as astounding mountain ranges I figured that we would be seeing a damned sight more of this as we descended.

The hard bit was done and now it was time for a gentle stroll back down to the car which would whisk us off to our bed and breakfast for a long cleansing shower before a good meal. Easy eh. Nope, it didn't quite work out like that.

The particular pathway we were using had recently been resurfaced with a crushed stone affair that was a tad loose underfoot. I thought the sticks we had bought before we started the climb upwards were a God send before to help me achieve my goal but going back down they were proving invaluable digging into the stony ground in front of us so e had a little more grounding as we started downhill. As mush as our muscles had hurt on the way up it was now time for a completely different set of muscles to take the strain on the way back down again, for me it was my knees that seemed to take the brunt.
The scenery was fantastic though even with having to glance down to see where we were putting our feet each time that was over you were rewarded with that never ending vista of greens and browns. It is almost barren up there of anything but a scrub type grass. There are no trees or bushes really but this does come with it's own type of simplistic beauty, with barely anything else to break up the rolling land but rocky outcrops jutting from different places at unexpected angles.
I stood at one point wondering how many millions of years it has taken to make such a place, what glaciers passed through carving out this landscape at ridiculously slow speeds leaving us stood here forever and a day later taking in this creation. It still leaves me in awe of the world that sort of thing.

About a quarter of the way down we came across a group of folks surrounding a chap who had slipped on the rough strewn surface promptly breaking his leg in the process. That gave me leave to carry on descending with the ridiculous caution I was using without feeling a bit like a girl! I wondered how this fella was going to get down the rest of the mountain with that rather nasty injury when I heard the familiar whumph whumph of helicopter rota blades that any ten year old bot would recognise and I knew his taxi down had arrived. The sea king helicopter did not have a level place to land but this wasn't a problem for the pilot as he tentatively bounced the front wheel off of a slope checking to see if the ground would hold it's weight then when he realised it would he set down a side wheel on one side (uphill) leaving a mere six foot jump for the mountain rescue crew to jump down out of the helicopter in. The whole exercise was performed with his winch man hanging out of the open side door upside down relaying instructions...the skill of such things just amazes me!

I managed to catch the whole thing on camera, which in itself a rarity for me but I noticed that the battery was getting rather low so being on a mountainside and all that I shut down the phone in case I needed it later.
With the excitement over we set back on our downward trek leaning heavily on the poles trying to ignore the fact that our knees were starting to ask if this was such a good idea as we had done enough already today.
As we were very steadily making our way down the giants stairway there was a rather sudden temperature drop. We first looked skywards noticing only a few clouds building up in the sky but when we turned around to look upon the mountain top we were really surprised to see at least the top quarter covered in cloud. Where only a few minutes before there had been clear views for as far as the eye could see, the poor folks that were still climbing to reach the summit would now have only a very limited view of the fog around them.
I also wondered about how cool the people would be that we had seen climbing in nothing but shorts and a t-shirt carrying only a single water bottle. Had it been tough carrying the rucksack up and down with the extra clothing/kit, yes it had but if we had started an hour later than we did we would have happily been rummaging around in it to get the extra dry/warm clothing to put on.

Although we felt for the people still up there we were also thankful for the temperature drop as we carried on downwards passing the "Halfway house" again. The numbers of people coming up the hill had now dwindled to next to nothing as they would have run out of daylight before they made it back down again and I am pretty damned sure you would not want to try and navigate this walk in the darkness unable to see where you were placing your footing.
We were genuinely getting really tired now stopping more an more often using the "That's a nice view"excuse more and more often to take the opportunity to catch a breather.

There was still a good walk to go yet though...















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The Bucket List. Mount Snowdon Pt.4

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Fri, September 02, 2016 04:27:07

As we started out on the final section of our climb we thought that our limbs were already aching from our sea level climb, we were unaware of what lay ahead. I mean we could see that it was a ridiculously steep climb but the effort we were soon putting in made the rest of the walk so far seem like a gentle stroll. We lent in heavily on our canes every few steps forcing one foot in front of the other willing ourselves along, digging deep into a determination we didn't realise we had.

It was now the pain in my stomach began.

I suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) but this is now mostly under control after a painful couple of years finding out what I could eat without having to run to the toilet five minutes later and regular exercise keeping it in check these days. I had been to the loo that morning so there was no real concern on my part about any unwanted needs on this my mountain climb, but it turns out that lots of leaning forwards and pushing upwards and forwards has a rather unwanted effect of any contents that are in my stomach. I pushed the feelings to the back of my mind but another twenty hard won steps later saw me having to stop time and time again to try not to literally soil myself.

I was getting beside myself now. When I stopped it started to ease off but as soon as I headed uphill again that awful "I am going to mess myself" feeling came back in force and it took my all keeping it all in its correct place for the time being. Now I am not a proud man but I prefer not to do my toilet business in public but I was fast approaching the point of no return here a little over two hours up a mountain. Frantically I surveyed the landscape for something I could hide behind with a bag but if you have ever been up a bloody big rock there is a distinct lack of places that you can hide from the masses of tourists that frequent it. I was going to have to turn around then head back down but we were so close to the top and I didn't want to. I stood looking again but no comfy woodland or even a nice sized bush had appeared magically out of no where so I asked a passing family how long it was now to the top of this hill and whether there was a toilet up there?

"Oh you are only fifteen to twenty minutes away" the Mum said "Yes there are toilets and a café" then off she bounded happily back down the mountain light in step only those who have already achieved the goal you had set yourself. This information though gave me a new found determination to get up to the toilet, I mean mountain top. So much so that I looked at Wifey who just grinned at me and the look on my face saying "Off you go I will see you up there, it's better than going back again"

Going back again...I don't think I would of made it down clean if I am honest I was just kidding myself there.

I was really hurting now but somehow found the strength to continually keep putting one foot in front of the other. My leg muscles were screaming just not quite as load as my stomach ones but the incline seemed to level off a touch as I rounded the left hand corner. Here I expected to see the end in sight but no it was more of a climb so with head down along with a now wet t-shirt between my rucksack and back I tramped onwards climbing, climbing, climbing.

The pathway bared to the left some more then snaked to the right. The sun was beating down on my from a cloudless sky and I was vaguely aware of the fact that the views were even more stunning now than they were before, but with near on agony from what felt like my entire lower body I raced up the final straight zooming past other exhausted walkers showing an energy that can only be given to the desperate.

There was the café, train station and toilet sign. Barging my way past whoever was in my way be it the elderly, young lovers and I am sure I trod on the small odd child I stomped my way into the toilets not caring if they were the Ladies, Gents or Disabled. For one horrifying moment I wouldn't fit into the cubicle until I realised I still had my rucksack on my back. With relief so close but still so far away I threw myself into some frantic activity dumping hats bags and walking sticks not caring where they fell (luckily the floor of this public toilet had just been cleaned or there would have been an interesting odour following mw back down the mountain again) and I will leave it there. You really don't want to know the full on details of what happened next but it is safe to say it was one of the most relieving moments of my life.

Thankfully I had not embarrassed myself or my long suffering Wife who I found stood waiting outside of the building for me with a grin on her face.

"Feel better now?" she asked "Oh yes" I replied and that's how IBS is for me, lots of agony that can soon be cured most of the time. Thankfully this was not a big attack and the pain subsided easily enough over the thirty minutes or so.

Now I could see the frankly fantastic views in clear skies. You can see so far that you find yourself wondering "Is that my house over there?" looking through squinted eyes. The horse flies were a nightmare and swarmed around you at the top constantly so the idea of a nice lunch at the top went out of the window and we headed down for about ten minutes finding somewhere nicer to sit and eat.

Refuelled we were looking downhill at the route back thinking to ourselves that this next bit would be so very much easier. We were wrong...








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The Bucket List. Mount Snowdon Pt 3

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Mon, August 29, 2016 09:06:38
The sun was reaching towards its peak now in the cloudless blue skies. It felt like the higher we climbed the stronger it got and seeing as we had not considered any sort of sun tan lotion we were thankful we had our hats on even if it made us feel hotter.
We rounded the next left hand bend and from this point onward's we could forever see our ultimate destination of the peak.
It seemed like it was an awful long way away considering we had passed the halfway mark.
The best bit of advice we had been given before taking on this climb was that "It's not a race, everyone does it in their own time" and this was on the money.

I am not going to lie here my legs were already tiring, that along with the mixture of constant sweat mixed with the pathway dust being kicked up from all of the other folks walking the route combined to make a nice gritty paste where ever the dust could get into but I was determined to keep going forward's only worrying a touch about the amount of water we were carrying and whether we had brought enough.
Our pace on this rough but nice incline surface was good until we rounded another bend to the left only to come face to face with what I would describe as the steps from hell itself.
There stood in front of us an uneven stone staircase approximately five feet wide with the steps themselves made out of any type of boulder that could be put int position regardless of size or step height making it both very steep and treacherous underfoot. I do not doubt for one moment that these have been the cause of many a broken bone in their time!

The walking sticks we had bought came into their own from this point forwards in the climb and I cannot say enough to anyone reading this how handy they really are. When I first started walking for fun and saw folks with these sticks I thought it was more for the "look" of being a hiker rather than any sort of real use. Quite honestly I used to scoff inside at what I perceived as the pretentiousness of the things but I take it all back now.
I really don't think I would have made it safely up those steps that ran on until forever without that stick to guide me on!
Its ok there are other people who can now look at me thinking I am showing off when i use it instead, their time will come...

The uneven steps felt endless, but with each few new rows climbed the scenery that opened up was both spectacular and breathtaking! I could of done without the breathtaking bit really as I was struggling already but every which way you looked the vistas were clear and you could see forever in all directions.
It was on this section that a sort of cat and mouse game began with other walkers. We would walk past someone who had stopped to gather their breath back or just to take a rest, then sometime later when we had stopped they would walk past us with a grin on their faces until the whole process repeated again.
After the first few passes with the odd smile and a "good morning again" to boot the encouragement began. You see the people you kept passing were working on the same level of fitness (or lack of it) as you so you ended up seeing them all the way to the top.
A strange camaraderie sprung up which found you routing for these people to make it to the top! and it helped out because you started to use each other as a sort of pace marker. Now again there is no rush but seeing as you kept seeing each other you were all singing off of the same hymn sheet so the pace was set.

As we headed to the top of this staircase our hearts were pounding very hard along with the now constant sucking in of deep breathes of air it felt like we had been running up this hill rather than walking. Believe it or not there were some people running up the mountainside and not because there was a bloody great bear or tiger chasing them down to be a spot of lunch but because they wanted to! Now that is a level of fitness that I will never ever reach but hats off to those that do, it is seriously impressive! or they might just be mad, who knows?
I may as well take a minute to tell you about the other types of folks walking up this mountain while we are here because the list is quite varied. There were young families so you had Mum or Dad with a toddler strapped to their backs walking upwards (show offs) while the older children ranging from say 4 to 10 years old happily skipped along next to them...yes you read that right they were skipping up a bloody mountainside! I could barely catch my breath going up this staircase and these kids were skipping by me swinging their arms then taking to the time as they passed to mock I mean smile at me and wave without breaking their pace!
I saw a couple of older couples in their mid to late seventies having a go (they all made it to the top!) plenty of overweight mid life crisis folks who were heart attacks walking (made me feel a lot better about myself I have to admit), fed up teenagers that had been dragged out of the darkness of their rooms into the bright mountainside sunlight for some enforced physical activity. The list just goes on and on!

Now we are the prepared type of walkers. We like to go out with rucksacks on carrying what we could need such as wet weather gear etc, so even though the forecast was mostly sunshine with a bit of odd cloud thrown in for good measure (the standard weather forecasters way of saying "We are not sure which way it will go") we came prepared because the temperature drop can be huge in Peak District when the sun goes in let alone on the side of a mountain!
But other people it would seem are not so bothered about this and that is of course their choice. Some carried much more than us others nothing at all. The best one I saw, and she made it to the top, was a women in her early twenties in a pair of short shorts and tank top carrying a single small water bottle wearing a pair of very worn out sandle's!
Like I have already said each to their own this was a hot summers day at this point but folk could easily get caught out in the colder months. I prefer to carry a little more and be warmer on the way back!

Finally the end of the giants stairway came into view along with a little bridge and tunnel underneath for the railway so we dug deep pushed on and then as we walked through the tunnel yet another stunning view was offered up to us!
Time to stop for a little rest and water up replacing just some of the copious amounts we had already lost by sweating!

After spending a few minutes laying back on my back pack like a tortoise stuck upside down just soaking up the scenery I looked to my right to see what we had ahead of us next and my heart sank.
It got steeper, I mean it really got a great deal steeper so this was to be the most challenging section of all. I thought it had been hard so far but my word looking at the next and final stage I just wanted to turn around and head back downwards towards the car! The sun was really getting hot now and there was a hovering dust about six inches off of the ground from the number of pounding feet sticking to anything in came into contact with.

Wifey looked at me then the hill ahead of us and just said "Best get on with it then"
With that we started walking upwards once again.





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The Bucket List. Mount Snowdon Pt 2.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sat, August 27, 2016 08:52:39
The first quarter of a mile along the flat and level tarmac road went well enough with us starting to find our walking rhythm right up until we came to the first gate. There was a large cattle grid across the road so thinking safety first and not wanting to break an ankle yet we went through the gate on the left hand side of it instead. The road now bared to the right and it was now that we saw the incline that it was going to take. Our nice easy start had turned into what felt like a vertical climb for as far as we could see before it turned off sharply to the left hiding from view what was about to come. Not to be defeated so quickly into our walk we lent forwards into the hill, taking the strain of our back packs using our newly purchased walking sticks and soldiered on to the first bend in the road.
Now I am assuming that they put this first bend in the road so you could not see that the hill got steeper and longer causing an already heightened heart rate to increase some more to heart attack level as you pushed forwards towards your goal of the "gate on the left" that marks the beginning of the off road climb.

Legs now burning a touch along with breathing becoming heavy, not in a fun way, this has to be the most intense warm up I have ever done at the start of any sort of work out ever but we were thinking that it had to get easier so onwards we pushed. After about what felt like ten miles (it was one) we made it to the gateway which showed us a well worn pathway made from rubble that headed up this rather large hill we had come to conquer.
We stopped to take in the view of the surrounding valleys realising that already we had climbed a considerable distance and take a swig of water each. The sun was still climbing in the sky so that with our enforced warm up we were already a tad on the hot side. Not to matter though the pathway did not look too bad from this point and we set off again taking in the large boulder steps one at a time that seemed easy enough for the first few minutes.
I am sure that who ever set these stones in place was a little sadistic because without a doubt on that first section of steps as you got higher and further along, the steps themselves got higher and steeper forcing and even longer stride to get up each one. I guess those guys thought it was a little bit funny...in all fairness I would have done the same!
Now at this point I should let you all know now that Wifey does not like hills she finds them extremely hard work. So why was she climbing a mountain then? Because she wanted to be able to say she had done it. Because life is about challenging ourselves and filling it to the brim staving off the mundane and repetition that we all find ourselves in from time to time. The bonus for me was every five minutes or so I found us separating away from each other so I would stop and wait for her to catch up giving myself a much needed mini break.

Anyway with the quarter mile of giant steps done with along with the broken glass noise from both of my knees now subsiding we found ourselves on a nice flat pathway that extended for a good mile or so off into the distance. When I say flat I don't mean flat as in level, nope it was still climbing quite nicely what I mean is that there were no steps for a good while so you can once again get into a steady walking rhythm.
The sun was now really warming up and it was at this point a little sweaty and hot we realised we had not packed any sunscreen. Hats on it was then to give ourselves some sort of protection from the rays on this rather exposed mountain side.
The scenery was fantastic though all throughout the climb when you were not busy looking down at where to put your feet. With each curve of the pathway a new vista presented itself resplendent in all manner of greens and blue waters ranging from small pools to the ocean itself. It was breathtaking.
So was the climb.

It was getting hot now. I mean hot. The sun was beating down and the temptation was to drink all of the water in one hit but that would just of made you ill. We had brought enough to get us both up and down the mountain again if we were sensible so even though the heart rate was up and the sweat was running down between us and our back packs we soldiered on. The pathway kept climbing some sections steeper than others past crystal clear streams of ice cols water.
That's when the penny dropped.
When we lived in Spain and I was working outside I used to dip my hat into a cold bucket of water then place it on my noggin to cool down as I worked. So at the next stream I stopped and dunked my hat deep into the cool tumbling waters. After I held it there for a few seconds I unceremoniously plonked it onto my head letting that fresh cool water run just about anywhere it wanted to! Wifey grinned at me and did the same and when we stood up looking at the other people walking past us they were all smiling as well. This was a great idea that made a huge difference to our temperature and our state of mind because we were both already tired.

With legs aching and lungs burning we rounded a corner and saw in the distance our first proper stopping point, the half way house. This is in fact a little cafe and how they get the food and drinks there I have no idea but it is used a a marker for those people climbing up this particular path.
We found ourselves some shade dropping down into a heap taking off our back packs as we went. A deep pull on our water bottles later we looked upwards at what we still had left to do and it felt like even though we had been walking for a good long while there was still the whole climb to do.

We sat and talked for a while discussing the usual things that life throws your way but we ended up on the subject of climbing Ben Nevis next time which just then seemed like a good idea.

Legs aching a touch and the sweat cooling on our backs we decided that after a little food it was time to push onwards towards the peak, I brushed off the pathway dust from my trousers took a deep breath and we stared upwards once more. How much harder could it be compared to what we had already climbed?






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The Bucket List. Mt Snowdon Pt 1.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sat, August 27, 2016 08:00:06
The bucket list phrase is bounced around a great deal these days and mostly folks say what they would like to do before their number is up but then do nothing about it having regrets when the end of days comes arrives.
Wifey and I on the other hand have been trying to get around to the things we talk about doing one at a time and my biggest "want" on that list is to see the Aurora Borealis before I leave this mortal coil.

We didn't get quite that far north this week though but rather headed west into North Wales to cross off something a bit closer to home. We wanted to "Climb a Mountain". Seeing as Mount Snowdon was closest we decided that we should start with that.
Now we thought we were walkers and that we were fit but last Sunday we met up with a couple of friends, who really are proper hikers, and went for a twelve mile stroll around the peak district mainly in the area by Ladybower reservoir. This had up hill sections along with down hill sections then mix into it boggy flat sections, one bit saw my friends wife up to her hips sunk into the wet ground!, all added up to weary feet and legs at the end of the day. They were accompanied by tired smiling faces, on our parts as we realised there was still the odd bit of kit to pick up here and there to make such things a more enjoyable and dryer experience.
All round though a great day that we thought gave us a better insight into what was to come on Tuesday when climbing Snowdon....we were very very wrong.

Our "Climb a Mountain" day started early with a 05:30 alarm call which had us jumping into the car quickly setting off on the three hour drive to get there. A coffee stop on route saw us parked up at sea level in Llanberis supposedly the easiest way up the mountain at about half past nine in the morning. I had checked the weather forecast over the last few days and today was supposed to be the best day with mostly sunshine all day with the odd cloud thrown into the mix for good measure. Even so we decided that in good scout fashion we should be prepared with wet weather gear etc in our packs "just in case".

Now we are not stupid people and even though we thought we were reasonably fit there is a train that runs up and down the side of this mountain on a regular basis so sticking our heads into the ticket office "Just to check" if there was any availability for the downward ride seemed like a good idea. Nope, we were soon told they were fully booked and at £22 each for a one way ticket the price seemed a little steep so we decided in a positive nature that it did not matter because we would just walk back down the mountain to do it properly like you are supposed to.
The sun was climbing nicely in a bright blue sky now and the town itself was quite picturesque as we walked around past a rather large hotel turning into the road that marked the beginning of our climb up.

One piece of equipment our friends had the Sunday before that seemed like a must have was a walking stick each. Not the old person lean on it not to fall over wooden type but a carbon fibre sprung to help you not to fall over type one and this was something we had forgotten to buy before coming here. But as luck would have it there was a conveniently placed outdoor shop at the very beginning of the hike that sold just the type we were looking for and some gut instinct said to pay the extra "You forgot it so give me a bit more for it" price before we set off. I can honestly say that stick was the best thing I have ever bought in my entire life and we have become close lifelong companions since.

That done we stood outside of the shop looking up at what we had come to conquer, the weather was dry and warm and the tarmac roadway lay out in a straight line before us enticing us along, so with a quick look and a smile at each other we took the first step forwards...







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Fixing something different.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Mon, August 08, 2016 10:22:37
The toilet has been leaking on and off for a couple of weeks now but it really has got worse over the last few days. So with a sense of dread I set off to buy the bits I needed (two trips in the end!) to fix the constant dribble of water that ran into the toilet pan.

Much to my surprise it was quite a straight forward job. I did a quick internet search to watch someone else do it then pretended to myself that it was just like the cooling system of a Land Rover. Other than having to nip out again to buy a seal the job was soon finished leaving me with a water tight toilet once again :) saving me a small fortune on plumber call out fee's.

Total cost £24.98.
I surprise myself sometimes!

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I'm Done.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Fri, August 05, 2016 18:37:23
Mobile phones, love em or hate em it would look like they are here to stay whether we like it or not, but where would you draw the line of when to use them?
At the dinner table?
Whilst driving?
Christmas morning?

Personally I would draw the line at using one whilst stood in the Gents toilet, at a urinal, whilst using the said urinal whilst simultaneously pokemon hunting or texting your friends on instaface or whatever it is you you folks are using days?
Well it seems that was not the line in the sand for the fellow in the toilet today, oh no he was happily tapping away whilst peeing somewhere towards the urinal he was supposed to be using. Now I bet in your minds eye you are seeing some hooded youngster arent you...well you are wrong this chap was easily in his late forties to early fifties, what does it say about the world we live in now though that you cannot be out of contact with the outside world even for the time it takes to have a pee?

I have to say that you can count me out on that one I will carry on being an old fart that likes to potter around disconnected from everyone else's drama.

Well it's over, I am done with it all. I have tried and tried to get on with it once again but it would appear all of the fun has drained from it for me. I am talking about the motorbike. It's back and looking good not to mention riding better than it ever has done but the thrill has gone. I no longer seem to enjoy the feel of the speed after the accident along with the loss of that feeling of freedom when you hop on and ride off in any direction.
Nope it's over for now and certainly on this bike as I just feel plain exposed when riding. I thought it would pass over but I have run up more than a few miles now and the love has gone.

The bike is up for sale because I am walking away for a while now. I don't doubt I will have another one one day but after much thinking I will be sorting out a reliable motor to commute to work and back in for now. By that I mean I will buy the wife something she always wanted, a Fiat 500, then I will use our little Dacia Sandero to commute in.

So if anyone wants to buy a nice touring/adventure bike give me a shout unless you have a nice Fiat 500 to swap for...




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Not Built For Boozing.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, July 24, 2016 08:00:18
I recall the care free summer days of my youth just sitting back enjoying the company of good friends sat by the water side drinking as much alcohol that could be brought to me whilst relaxing in the summers warmth.
Now I still enjoy the company of friends but the boozing element has well and truly gone, don't get me wrong I still love a drink really enjoy it in fact but it is just the odd one or two.

We were at a friends house yesterday evening enjoying good food, even better company and of course a sherbert or two. No one was drunk and copious amounts of alcohol were not consumed in fact I had the sum total of 5 small bottle of beers over about five hours with food so you would think that my body would be ok with that...nope.
There is no hangover but my stomach this morning has decided that it's entire contents need to be disposed of before I can get on with today's tasks, it would seem boozing does not agree with me anymore!
Sleeping after booze seems to be an optional extra I have not paid for as well leaving me time to get intimate with my bedroom ceiling learning every bump and brushstroke.

Having some time to just sit around this morning to contemplate this issue whilst the rest of the house sleeps on I have come to the conclusion that we are all born with a finite amount of boozing built into us and I have used most of mine up already. I don't have an issue with that as alcohol is not a big part of my life anymore and the reason is most definitely not the fact I am getting older with my body dictating what I will or will not do going forward because you see I am still only twenty six (even if that's only in my head).

Am I fussed about this new development of sticking heavy boozing onto the back boiler? Not really, it's just a chapter in the rich tapestry of life that has now come to it's conclusion but this leaves me with the next chapter starting and that is a blank canvas...apart from having to build the large outdoor wooden dining set the Wife has bought, there's the rest of my day planned already!



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Weddings, Christenings & Funerals

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, July 10, 2016 18:41:15
Weddings, Christening and Funerals are really the only time that any extended family actually gets together. Now this is down to a number of reasons like spreading out around the country as well as the world but the biggest is plainly that life just tends to get in the way. The children come along demanding our attention for 18 years or so as well as all of our money then what is left is set to keeping a home in good order for the little plumbers to grow up in, then of you are lucky enough to have any sort of time left you get to spend that on what ever it is you like doing...normally at this point that means sleep.

So my Uncles kicking the bucket party was unusual from the offset because everyone actually got together before any of the normal three life events came into play. We all came in from the far corners of the country and further beyond to see him and gather in one place to celebrate life with all that that means.
It was really like walking through your own memories in real time and what an experience that was indeed. Now I am not a big fan of heading out to large gatherings I do prefer the intimacy of smaller groups but yesterday was a fantastic experience full of laughter and life.

I saw friends and family that although all at some point have been a large part of my life had fallen into the fringes living their own stories which is as it should be. Every last one had a grin the size of a Cheshire cats when eyes were met across rooms soon filled by a swift walk over to give a hug that only family can give each other closely followed by an abbreviated catch up of the last twenty years or so.

Much to my own amazement I actually remembered most peoples names! I am not good with names and often stand talking to someone racking my brains trying to recall what I am supposed to call them as Wifey or a daughter they have never met are walking swiftly towards me.

There were young and old, folks that you always expect to see as the last memory you have of them at 12 years old but somehow have grown up got married and had children. They then look at you with the same amazement as you introduce them to your late teen children wondering how on earth so much time could have passed so quickly without them realising.

At one point I found myself walking up and down with my youngest nephew in my arms (a year and some old) just chilling out as you do after lots of running around in a room of people you do not know but that are willing to give you lots of attention literally until you are ready to drop but like all toddlers dropping was not going to be an option if he had anything to do with it. So we were just pacing chatting nonsense about balls (all he seems to like to say at the moment) as he put his head into to my chest from time to time taking just the mini breaks he would allow himself when it all of a sudden occurred to me that it didn't seem all that long ago when I was doing the exact same thing with my baby sister his Mum. As this memory hit home bringing a gentle smile to my face I looked up to see my baby sister sat not to far away looking at the pair of us with the exact same smile on her face and it hit home once again that this is exactly as life should be.
We work hard trying our best no doubt making mistakes along the way that we try to pass to our children that do not really want to listen until they make the same mistakes with us keeping over watch trying to limit the damage.
Life moves on and it is our actions that define us not how good we look or what we wear, nope it is the memories we leave behind along with the lessons we pass onward throughout the generations even after we have long since moved onto what ever lies next.

My Uncle was tired but enjoyed the day surrounded by family and friends, he entered the building to a rapturous round of applause from those there showing that yes they had turned up now instead of later to show that he was loved and to share in the stories of his life. But I have no doubt that a big part of this party for him was to show us all that we are all loved, that it does not matter how long the passage of time has passed since we all last met family is family no matter how estranged we all become.

Is this sort of party for everyone? I have no idea. We are all different and cope with such challenges in many many different ways but what I do know is that for the way our family works this really did work we all got together to celebrate a life that has been and still is being lived. We talked we laughed some even cried quietly and that is all good.
I am proud to be just one small part of that.



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Dancing, Disco's and Dog Collars.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, June 26, 2016 21:35:01
What a weekend! Talk about busy!!
Where to start then...Saturday was our first real proper day off with nothing to do that could not wait so Wifey and I decided that enough was enough and we were going to head up into Derbyshire to have a gentle walk breaking me back into the exercise front slowly.

You know what I am exhausted so if you are reading this I will finish off the write up tomorrow evening as I can barely keep my eyes open! Enough is enough and I am off for a shower then bed...night all :)

Right I am back nicely rested before I hit the wonders of work of course but that for us all is a necessary evil. So where were we? Oh yes heading up into Derbyshire for a gentle walk along the Monsal Trail. We drove up to Millers something parked the car and started the gentle walk along the pretty flat pathway. I do love walking through the old train tunnels and apart from a 10 minute shower the weather was superb.
Now the old body has taken a hit but I took it steady and it didn't seem too sore so happy days (I was quite wrong because when I woke up on Sunday I knew I had been out walking in a big way). At the end of the trail we headed down to the riverside to admire the view and what a view it was!


As we were enjoying the view so much I dug out the map to find there was a pathway that ran all the way back along the riverside more or less to where the car was parked so we thought hey we will head back that way. What a walk it was! The path was well travelled enough to see where you were going but not travelled enough to meet too many other folks on a Saturday morning.
The valley was just astoundingly beautiful with the sunlight reflecting off of the slow moving water that cascaded over the occasional stone drop to keep the water gently flowing away through the valley. I don't recall the last time I had had a walk in such beautiful unspoilt surroundings.




We meandered along the riverside in no rush with time passing both too quickly and slowly at the same time. Soon enough though we were back at the car heading back into Bakewell to catch a cheeky lunch only to find there was some sort of dance fete type festival going on with all sorts of styles merrily prancing away in whatever direction you took!


It was rather good though watching those folks whacking sodding great sticks at each other always missing the other persons fingers even though the crowd were secretly hoping they would misjudge it at one point sending the receiver of the blunt end onto their knees in agony...maybe that was just me...well maybe I am the only one that is going to admit it.

We somehow managed to kill a few more hours without realising and decided that seeing as I was yawning like mad it was best to head back homeward.

Once we got back and after a refreshing cup of tea I got stuck into the front passenger side wheel arch on the Disco. I had stripped it all out the evening before so it was a case of grind cut weld for a couple of hours that saw that wheel arch completed. Now that sounds easy but it was not as it seemed every time I set to with the welder the old metal was so thin it just kept blowing hole after hole in what I was supposed to be fixing. I have to admit I will be happy to see the other side of the MOT on this one!
Enough was enough for one day though and I packed the tools away as we had yet another busy day in the morning coming up.

Sunday arrived to the sound of heavy rain pounding off of the rooftop which saddened me a touch because today was the day that one of my little brothers was to become a fully blown Deacon with the service being held over at Peterborough Cathedral. This is something he has been working extremely hard towards for a number of years so I am happier than words can say that he achieved what his heart so much desired.

So we set off in heavy rain towards Peterborough and thankfully the further away from home we went the better the weather got and by the time we arrived there the sun was beating down in a bright blue cloudless sky. After managing to back a cheeky parking space literally outside the front of the Cathedral we headed in to watch both the culmination and the beginning of my brothers hard work.

In short time he was ordained in front of his friends and family, his smile just said it all.


I did have to ask him what his dress size was though I mean he is my brother, who will soon become a Vicar, that wears a dress a great deal...who hasn't wanted to ask?
Seriously though Danny if you are reading this I could be no prouder if I tried, your hard work, dedication to your beliefs and general all round niceness are an example to all.
Still not sure about wearing a dress in public though.

The whole family headed off to the Cathedral gardens for a large summer picnic along with those others that had been ordained and their families. I can think of no better way to pass an afternoon than in the company of those you love sat outside enjoying the warmth of an early summers sun. It was a very good day all round.

All good things though must come to pass and we were heading back home once more, the Disco sat there taunting me upon arrival though so I decided to give it a couple more hours to finish up what I could.
Much to my surprise I finished the lot off! With one final hiss of the jack lowering the the old motor back down onto it's wheels the job was done, there were no more holes to weld up at least for now.

What a feeling of relief washed over me as I stood there looking at the old boy with all of his rubber touching the ground once again knowing that I could put the welder away for at least a week until something else fell off!
I did get around to fitting a light bar I had bought for it this evening though and after wiring it up then wondering why they did not work my daughter pointed to two wires coming directly out of the bar itself, you know the ones that actually make them work, and said "Are they supposed to be connected to something?"
Felling somewhat foolish (I blame the fact I am rather sore and tired, yes yes I am getting far too much mileage out of that excuse) I connected them up and then there was light abound!!!!! Far more than I will ever need no doubt but it looks good.



With the Disco finally driven out from under the car port I can get the 110 in and start to make some serious headway upon it. Within the next month my shift pattern is changing to 4 on 4 off so more time to tinker there no doubt. I will start with the simple things though like tidying up my garage (looks like a bomb has hit it) and put the engine crane together in anticipation of the upcoming heart transplant.

Looks like I am going to be busy...





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Bugger.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Fri, June 24, 2016 21:48:06
That moment when you finish welding up your Land Rover pack it away all of the gear then as you walk past the rear wheel arch notice two more holes that need patching because you had it in your head you were on the last corner all day...

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Plates, Welding, Plates, Welding.

MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Wed, June 22, 2016 21:30:40
I make up a plate weld it into place, find another hole then start the process all over again. Seriously I have no idea how on Gods green earth this old Discovery of mine has managed to stay in one piece for the time I have owned it!
I remember checking it out when I bought it noting that it was a bit crusty in the usual areas and that there was some seriously bad welding on the chassis but it definitely was not as bad as is it now. Do you recall the picture of the nice inner wing panel I had fabricated on the last post? Well I put it up into place and was using my body hammer to shape it for a tight fit when the hammer slipped a bit to the left and promptly went through the rest of the inner wing...time for another panel to be made up then.

Honestly yesterday when I got home from work I took one look at it sitting lopsided on an axle stand under the car port and thought "Bugger that I am having an evening off of it". And what a relaxing Land Rover free evening I did have! I kicked back pottering with several other of the chores off of my ever increasing list and it made for a really pleasant change. But the rusty nail needs to be sorted out as I will not have the hire car for ever so this evening when I got home to find no one in soon recalling that Wifey had told me they would be back a little later tonight I decided to suck it up and have a stab at finishing up the off side front inner wheel arch.
After a visit yesterday afternoon to the sadistic short physio I am more than a little tender today all down my right hand side (who ever said that physio is a good thing i do not know because I hurt far more afterwards than before it) so getting comfy whilst working along with not overdoing it was on the cards.

Some serious grinding off of old underseal took place then out came the welder to get the job done which promptly ran out of wire. That changed over I started welding away to then have a bit drop back down onto my inner wrist making me jump cracking my knuckles off of the wheel arch. A few deep breathes later after the red mist had subsided from my eyes I carried on welding the inner arch up struggling initially to get a decent weld to the most unrusty bits that were left but after a little perseverance I got there.

After remembering I needed to weld up the battery tray the underseal came out for a liberal dosing so to hopefully hold off any more rot at least for a little while. The end result was pretty good though and now folks there is only one corner left to do and the old Disco should be good to party on for another winter...





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