Month: October 2014

All sorts.

Me exhausted on a mountain top

Well, a bit of a hotch potch of things this time.

Update aren’t as regular as I’d have liked, but that’s mainly due to starting a new job and literally loads of weekends away and mountain adventures.

I’m not going to write about the mountain stuff, that’s the subject of another post, but suffice to say, I’m well ahead of schedule for this year’s mind map.

Which reminds me.

If like me, you regularly set goals, September is an interesting month. September is the month where the 2nd 3rd of the year, becomes the 3rd quarter of the year, quite a psychological leap.

So, if you haven’t reviewed your goals for the year recently, its time to get cracking. There’s still 3 months to go, but dont wast them.

I’m having some building work done later in the week (I’m told my house will be taken over for more than a week). I’m going to try and get next weeks post out on time, but it will probably be published from the Mill Hotel bar.

My full suspension bike

Its Christmas eve 1999.

I’m getting married a few months later and I know that once married, we’ll have a shared bank account, and my reckless spending will come with accountability.

So, I open my payslip and realise that those slave-drivers at Andersen, have made me do so much overtime, that my take home pay for the month has doubled !.

Wandering around on Saturday morning, I notice a new bike shop has opened on Oldham Road. I pop in, and instinctively buy a bike within 6 minutes of entering the shop.

£800. At the time, a fortune, but I thought I’d treat myself one last time.

I’d later realise the bike was full suspension. The back suspension uses up 30% of the effort of riding the bike, so unless your going downhill over uneven terrain, it rides like a lame donkey.

For that reason, I very rarely rode it (probably 10 times in 14 years).

I have another bike now, and since I’m trying to clear clutter out of my house, I decided to get rid of it. I mentioned it to Debbie at work.

To my shock and surprise, she said it was probably worth £50 (which in reality it was).

That evening Tony came around. I told him about it, he gave me the cash, and the bike and I have parted company.

Against some pretty stiff competition, it remains the worst financial investment I’ve ever made 🙂

Out with friends from Moneypenny

Chester pride last Saturday.

I scoffed when I first heard about it. Some of my friends took minor offence and thought I was being uncharacteristically homophobic.

Nothing of the kind. Its just that I’m from Manchester. At the Mardi Gras, I stood by the canal and watched 40,000 people dancing in the street. I hardly thought that was going to happen in Chester.

I’m proud of Chester, but lets get realistic. Their curry festival, was a well intentioned joke, compared to some I’ve attended in Rusholme’s curry mile.

Still, it was a nice day, and went along anyway.

I met up with some friends from work (I dont know quite why the backdrop of this picture is a van, there must have been better things to be photographed next too, but the smiling faces capture the festive mood).

Chester Pride

But there’s a serious side to this as well.

As a youth, I loved listening to the song Smalltown boy by Bronski beat. A line from the song goes: “alone on a platform, a sad and lonely place”.

Years later I’d see the video of that song for the first time. It told the true story of Jimmy Sommerville.

He was outed as gay and victimised by a local gang. The bullying led to intimidation of his family. In the end the police told his family they couldn’t protect either him or them.

He was told he had to go away so that his family would be safe. As he leaves his home for the final time, his mum hugs him, his father refuses to shake his hand, and hands him some money.

And there he is, standing on the platform all alone, waiting to go to London to start a new life.

It picks up later when you see him chatting to some other young men on the train, and you feel like the story will have a happy ending (which it did), but it makes my blood boil to think of that kind of prejudice and too see someone deserted and let down like that.

So, was Chester pride a bit of a white elephant. Probably, but what’s wrong with being proud ?.

My £100 charity contribution

I said this was a mixed bag, so here’s something that happened recently, and is either hilarious or spiritually balanced, depending on your perspective.

We have a chat forum at work, and the PA’s and other staff post things. One of the PA’s posted that her boyfriend was going to India to do some charity work in a hostel, and was trying to raise badly needed funds for the hostel.

It seemed like a good cause, and I always think, if I can’t find a fiver for charity on payday, then I’ll just get my coat, go home and join the benefit queue.

So, I went on the website, and decided to contribute.

At that moment, the phone on my desk rang. As I’m handling the call, I fail to realise the the webite advises a default amount of £100. Without thinking, I put in my card details and select agree.

And with that, I’ve just parted with £100. I realise that its passed to a charity in San Francisco, and there’s nothing I can do to get it back (things have improved a lot for me lately, but £100 is seriously useful money, and I’m in mental disarray).

I decide that I liked the people I met in India, and I will write it off as a good cause (and hope the people who see the contribution, just think I’m generous, rather than a dozy mare).

Cheque for PPI

A day later a get my usual email (along with 8 million other people) from the money saving expert. I was quite busy, and considered deleting it without reading. For reasons I dont fully know, I didn’t.

I notice it says you have 1 week to apply, if you think you’ve been wrongly sold insurance under the PPI scheme.

Vaguely remembering something like that, I pick up the phone. They have me down on their list and send the forms over right way.

I fill them in, explaining that they refused to activate my card, unless I took out card protection (which I later found out was completely unneeded).

And 10 days later I have a cheque for £118.

Makes you think doesn’t it (but for gods sake, dont give all your money to charity and say John told me to do it 🙂

The dray delivery every Friday at 7:30am

Things are going quite well at work, I’ve been working on some really clever technology like Exchange 2010 and an exchange hybrid cloud (half the mailboxes on prem, other half in a data centre in California, managed as 1).

Stuff I’m learning about phones is interesting, and its certainly tested under fire (we received 6 million calls last year, and that’s growing all the time).

I don’t work the early shift anymore, and as I get an hour for lunch, I normally go for a walk each day. Along with the Salad I eat in the canteen, I’ve lost 3 quarters of a stone.

So I dont have to get up really early now either.

Every Friday morning, the pub near my house, takes deliveries from the brewery (called the Dray).

Years ago, I used to wake on Friday morning, with the weekend just a few hours away, and hear the sound of barrels being rolled up the street.

The 2 became linked in my mind. Last Friday, I woke up smiling, as I heard the Dray for almost the first time in 4 years (I even took a photo of the wagon).

A funny picture I was sent on facebook

You may know that recently, I cancelled my account with Linked In. I also considered cancelling my account with facebook.

I’ve always felt that it just encouraged soundbite posts. Carrol is: Just got back from the gym now getting in the shower.

So what, I always think. Wouldn’t Carrol be better carrying around a notebook and pen all week, and making notes and observations, then spending an hour or two writing something that actually has some meaning.

But I’ve noticed recently, that most of my friends do post interesting and meaningful things.

A few notably mentions are Frank’s day to day life in Thailand, Lee Sawbridge who posts current affairs stuff I love contributing to, and Steve Price who’s daily blog (mainly about him, crap drivers and the sh!ting machine dog he owns) is hilarious.

It also gives me a connection to some of my mum’s old friends, who I’d otherwise have lost touch with (it was 4 years last Sunday that mum passed. I still mis her, and it was nice to read touching things from Auntie Margaret, one of mums oldest friends).

So, I’ve decided to keep my facebook account open. One other thing are the hilarious comedy pictures I sometimes see.

I’ve put this one up to show the kind of thing I’m talking about.

A 2nd funny picture I was sent on facebook

And here’s another one.

Nikki's new car

Its said that god grew angry with the Israelites and they wandered the wilderness for 40 years.

Well, that must have felt like nipping out for an ice cream, compared to the time it took Nikki to choose her new car.

I spent 3 Sundays drinking car showroom coffee as a contribution to this motoring pilgrimage.

In the end Nikki chose this GTC.

I can’t believe the value for money you now get on modern cars.

At one point we test drove a 2nd hand car that could park itself and cost £8000 !. Interesting that as a young lad I watched Tomorrows world and saw a car that could park itself and cost of £80,000,000 !.

Nikki saved hard to buy this car and is very happy with it. I absolutely love it.

As usual, although I’m happy to put my entire life all over the internet, Nikki is a bit more private and discerning.

She agreed I could put a picture of the car up, but only if I blocked out the number plate, which I have.

A real chocolate tea pot

One final thing.

Among some phrases I use, like:

all the success of the bay of pigs


go for the throat, never show any sign of weakness and fear, that’s the other guys problem

There’s one I picked up in Newton Heath from my old friend Nick Barker. He used to describe useless things as “As much use as a chocolate teapot !“.

I couldn’t believe it the other day, when BBC News had some people who’d actually made a teapot from chocolate, that you could make tea in.

You can read more about it here.

Summer has just finished (its been the most active one I can remember in about 7 years).

The temptation now will be to stay in doors and not go adventuring until next year when its “nice” again.

In the words of Billy Connolly, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing. Like Nike say. Just do it.

Near and far, thanks for reading and the search for adventure continues…