Tuesday, October 28, 2008


hi everyone

here's a much delayed Lyla update! sorry, just haven't gotten around to it!!

well, Lyla would seem very much ready for October 31!! a very smart pumpkin outfit!

nice one to Colin, Angela, Christoper and Andrew for sending it over! James also received an outfit for Halloween too! what is it? well, we will see if we can persuade him to wear it, and if so, will do my best to put some pictures up!

when not dressed as a pumpkin, Lyla it would appear has taken up a new hobby....

i bet you she is already a better driver than i am!!

i hope Lyla's been enjoying the ace Strawberry Shortcake magazines and toys we have been sending through for her! i suspect Richard has been playing with the pink tea set, but i would imagine he lets Lyla have the odd go with it!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!

new vibes

nice one!

i am delighted to report that my latest stash of vinyl (and a couple of digital thingies) has arrived!

the exchange rate went a bit wild so i ended up paying slightly more than i intended for them, but never mind, they are all ace!

the pick of the bunch would of course be the best song of the year, Another Way To Die. it's on an ace, shiny gold slab of vinyl, and well worth checking out (see previous posts!). best of all is the artists list on the back of the single - it seems that Ms Alicia Keys did not play the piano on the song, no matter what the video for it suggests. this means that one can listen to the b-side, an instrumental version of it, safe in the knowledge that she probably wasn't even in the studio when it was recorded.

also in the pack was the CD & 7" of The Shock Of The Lightning by Oasis. this is a bit of a disappointment. Oasis singles were known and loved for being 4 track affairs, with either 3 extra, killer tunes or 2 new ones and a live classic. sadly, this one in both formats is just coupled with a remix of another album track. oh dear, when bands start doing that, it's normally a sign of them about to split.

and, for good measure, there's some sort of Stereophonics DVD single. i think it's called Superman. not sure really, only paid 25p for it!

get yourself some bangin' vibes and be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Andrew Sachs

it would be all but impossible for most of us to look at this picture and not smile

Andrew Sachs is one of the most fondly thought of actors in history, and it's all because of his six hours of work as the much maligned Manuel in Fawlty Towers. everyone who has seen the show has a soft spot for him. he would be an unusual choice, then, to play a bad, unfunny joke on.

this waste of space that goes by the name of Russel Brand (don't really care if that's the correct spelling, in fact i hope it isn't) apparently called up Mr Sachs and left all sorts of messages concerning what he claims to have done with his granddaughter. and for claims you can probably take it as a given that he made it all up.

a few years ago, this bland Brand decided to make up some stories about "having a go" with Rod Stewart's daughter. Rodders was having none of it, made the fool make a very public and rather humiliating confession to that extent, and we all hoped that Brand would have faded away after it. sadly not.

i have no problem with "offensive" humour, so long as the emphasis is on humour. the late, great George Carlin was a prime example of just this. what i don't understand, and what no one can explain, is exactly what the joke is supposed to be behind calling a 78 year old respected gentleman up and leaving obscene messages?

it seems that bland Brand relies on conjuring up stories of fabricated romantic interludes to draw attention to himself. oh dear me, if one has to kiss and tell, one really hasn't done much of the right kissing, have they?

bland Brand seems to have come to fame thanks to this insipid Big Brother show, a concept that has yet to produce any form of talent or worthwhile being. South African readers only need consider the bemusing "i'm an intellectual, innit?" ramblings of Leigh 'la-dee-daah' Benning (or whatever her name is) to get what i am talking about.

Brand's "autobiography" (he can't even fabricate interesting stories for it) is called My Booky Wook. i would suggest this waste of space needs some sort of professional attention, not a broadcasting platform. let's hope he's off the air forever.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

more tiger time......

hey everyone

well, perhaps to give over the obvious opening, i was somewhat more concerned with James being safe than i was taking too many pictures as he mucked around with the baby tigers, but there's one or two more pictures from his adventure today!

first off, here he is with what i can only presume to remember as being one of the "nice" baby tigers. he or she certainly appreciated the unusually delicate attention from James!

now, you will have noted in the above pic that there's a tray of water available for the tigers. another great passion for James is making a mess in or with water. wouldn't it just be simply awesome, he probably thought, to encourage that nice baby tiger to jump into it and splash around a bit?

in the earlier post i alluded to the fact that James did try and pick one of the baby tigers up to carry around a bit. here's when he tried that, and well done to the lady zookeeper for trying the subtle yet successful approach to stopping him from doing it!

and finally, baby tiger wanted a bit of a snooze in the shade, so here's James make sure that she (or he) is OK!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sherlock Holmes is 66% promising.....

well, it seems that the proposed Sherlock Holmes film is something that Guy Richie feels we need to see sooner rather than later!

in theory, the ex-Mr Madonna should be hawking around the world (or the parts of the world with a big enough film market) flogging his new one, RockNRolla. instead it seems he is busy filming away with his version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's celebrated intellectual detective.

there is, as the title of this post suggests, reason to be optimistic about this film. firstly, Guy Richie is surely too talented a storyteller to make any more bad films? Swept Away was a monumental act of folly, and Revolver was a good idea gone bad. very bad. by all accounts RockNRolla is a smart film; let's hope his groove is back for this one.

oh, and the biggest motivation to remain optimistic about this would be the choice of actor for the title character.

sadly the intwerwebnet has been lazy of large, crying about the fact that Robert Downey jnr thus far looks very much like he's dressed in cast-offs from the set of Chaplin to play the part of Sherlock. well, exactly how else would he dress? these are rather Victorian clothes, he could hardly be expected to play the part in jeans and a shirt, could he?

that said, it might be wise to ensure that the takeaway coffee cup is not visible in the actual film.

it's unlikely that Robert will be playing Sherlock in the same way as he played the detective type in the brilliant Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but there's no reason to think that the performance won't be as good here as it was there. as Robert is our greatest living actor with nothing close to a peer in this world, how can anything go wrong?

well, whereas nothing will go wrong with Robert's performance, one cannot help but have a healthy sense of doubt and caution about this whole Sherlock Holmes film business when you clock who it is that they have deemed wise to cast as Dr Watson....

oh dear, it's Jude Law. just how does he keep getting decent film parts? i cannot think of anything he's done that's been even bearable to watch, let alone approaching decent. his voice makes Pierce Brosnan, or even my mate Spiros, sound butch, and the bland delivery of lines he condescends to give makes you forget whatever he's uttering as he says it. there is, quite frankly, no reason to hire Jude Law to be in any film. ever. rather hire a decent actor like Clive Owen, or just postpone the project until such time as someone like Clive Owen is available.

it shall be tricky seeing this film yet just not paying attention when Mr Law does his thing in it, but i will be giving it a try!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!! and being excellent to Jude Law would to discreetly mention to him that perhaps he's in the wrong art form.

send away the tigers? not likely.....

hey everyone

well, with James feeling better (tonsillitis had laid him out for the past week or so), Sunday morning seemed like the ideal time to go out for a special treat, especially as Johannesburg's afternoons would appear to have welcomed back thunderstorms. and what a treat we went off to see!

James loves going for walks (runs) around the magnificent Lory Park near us, and so we went there. what he didn't know, and i did, was that he would be able to get a little bit closer to some of his favourites than usual...............

Lory Park is now home to three gorgeous baby Siberian Tigers, or pups or kittens or whatever the correct term is. as long as you promised to be very careful with the tigers, well, as you can see, you were allowed to go in and see them up close! James did indeed promise to be nice with them, and more or less held up that promise; by James standards at least. i am somewhat at fault for any terms of the promise not being obliged, as in fairness i did not specify "do not try to pick them up like the catties at home".

the pictures here are of James with one of the two "nice ones". of the three, in the words of James, one was a naughty one, which had to go and sit in the corner as it would not behave nicely. if you want a definition or some means of clarification on what a "naughty" baby tiger does, well, i have class paw prints all over the back of my shirt. and James has little nibble marks on his t-shirt......

...no harm done, mind! as you can see, this nice baby tiger was very friendly with James, and James took quite a shine to him or her! he didn't specifically ask if we could take one of them home with us, perhaps he is now of a wisdom that lets him know what the answer would be and thus avoided the topic to prevent disappointment. besides, i think his failed attempts to pick up one of the tigers and carry it about may well have led to him appreciating the cats at home all the more who, when they are not as astute or aware as they could be in paying attention to their surroundings, kind of tolerate James hauling them around!

well, if you are in the area, i suggest you get to Lory Park as soon as possible. soon, and it could be weeks rather than months, they will be a bit too big (and have even more teeth) to let people in to see them, sit with them, stroke with them and get the odd light-hearted mauling off them. it is, as you can see, splendid fun!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Did you never consider the possibility that the whole thing might have been nothing more than a charade?"

up until about 4am on Wednesday, 15 October 2008, the best theory i had heard of the great Stanley J Kubrick was that he had in fact anonymously directed Star Wars Episode V : The Empire Strikes Back. that theory developed from the fact that Kubrick was making The Shining on the same sets, that Empire had "Kubrickian" elements (good guys lose, no moral redemption to be found), and the fact that Empire is easily the best of the whole Star Wars series, rather too good to be the work of the one off director named on the credits.

the best theory i have now heard of, however, is that Stanley Kubrick created and directed the fake moon landing footage and photographs as part of some side project whilst making 2001. i say "best" here in the same sense that Billy Connolly used the word "best" in his line "it was the best thing i'd seen since i saw a kid wearing platform boots and a kilt.".

some parts of this theory are plausible and others, well, if not preposterous, then dubious. up front, i am inclined not to believe that Kubrick participated in making films of fake moon landings, but it's such interesting reading i thought i would put the best (and worst) parts of the theory up here for you to have a gander at.......

The 'Plausible' Elements

* Kubrick was a genius with images, either motion or still. if they were faked, no one at the time, perhaps no one now, could have done a better job.

* NASA "assisted" the production of 2001, under the title of "technical advice".

* what little dialog there is in 2001 revolves around a "cover story" for events on the moon - Kubrick's sense of humour hiding something in plain sight?

* Kubrick knew how to keep a secret, and he did have unprecedented power for a talented film director who didn't get around to directing too many films.

* 2001 proved that the technology existed to deliver a fake moon landing film, in particular if it was distorted and presented in black and white.

The 'Dubious' Elements

* Kubrick agreed to do it in exchange for a particular kind of lens that only NASA had; a lens he wanted to make Barry Lyndon with. nonsense, at the time Kubrick didn't even know he was going to make A Clockwork Orange next, let alone the details of the film after. although he could have wanted the lens for his intended Napoleon film. besides, Stanley had abandoned films for a lot less reason than a lens being unavailable.

* the whole thing was exposed in the film Wag The Dog, in which a film director called Stanley is hired to make a secret film for the government.

* Eyes Wide Shut, with apparent tell-tale evidence such as lines like "Did you never consider the possibility that the whole thing might have been nothing more than a charade?", was released on the 30th Anniversary of the first "moon landing".

* Danny, the child in The Shining, wears an Apollo logo on his jumper.

well, make up your own minds, really. i do not understand all the science behind the theories that show that the moon landings were faked; equally i do not understand the science behind the theories that prove the moon landings really happened.

personally, and this may surprise some of you who have followed my unusual theories on The King, i would rather live in a world where we did put a man on the moon, thank you. do all great achievements, do all dreams really have to be taken apart by conspiracy theorists?

for further reading, well, i suggest for the most part you hit your favourite search engine on the interwebnetthingie, type in "Kubrick fake moon landing film footage" and off you go. i will, however, give you one special link - click here to go and read the review of someone who has got it into their head that not only did Kubrick do all of this, but that it was also his best ever work. see just one of the films that he without doubt made and i would assume you disagree with at least the latter part of that view.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

lambs, be silent.....

hey everyone

a rather curious, if not somewhat brave, batch of pictures has arrived from New Zealand this fine Sunday.

it seems that our dear family over there went off to the Ambury Regional Park Annual Farm Day today. whilst it looks like a most splendid and enjoyable event, i was rather concerned to see that there were no pictures of Grant included, what with there being a veritable treasure trove of sheep on display.

increasing my concern, if not a simple doubling of it, was this picture of Katie.

now, why exactly would Katie be telling the lambs, or anyone else for that matter, to be quiet? does she not want Daddy to find the sheep, or does she not want anyone to find out that Daddy has very much found the sheep?

and so the hunt for Grant begins. now, where would you start looking for Grant? yes, that's right......

Gillian assures me that there was some sort of sheep shearing competition going on. a likely story, ladies and gentleman. although i am not very good at lip reading, and i would suspect that one could not lip read a picture anyway, don't you just get the feeling that Gillian is saying "it's OK Katie, Daddy is just mending the battery that makes the sheepies go baa baa baa" to Katie?

i am certain that Grant has a perfectly reasonable, legally sound explanation as to where he was at the times these pictures were taken, but the concerned for his father look on young Daniel's face won't help very much when the law (or possibly an irate shepherd or two) comes looking for him.

i do hope to visit this New Zealand place one of these days, but i presume that the second Sunday in October would be bad timing for me. i will plan any trip there rather carefully so as not to interfere with Grant's curious hobbies. well, one hobby.

hope you all had as good a weekend as Grant apparently did, along with the rest of the gang in New Zealand, and us here!!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

the Spiros in Uganda adventure continues....

hi there

thanks to the joys of modern technology, my chum Spiros is keeping me fully updated with his exciting adventures in Uganda. it all sounds like rather jolly good fun thus far!

sadly, his hosts were having none of taking him to Club Knight Rider, instead taking him to something called the Kampala Casino. the "playa" skills of Spiros, alas, are somewhat lacking, and by all accounts a game of chance called Lucky Leprechaun or something got the better of him.

two other things got the better of him too, it would seem. one would be some sort of French security guard wearing shorts, the other being the rather splendid sounding Nile Lager. it does look like a splendid drop of ale, even though it is not a proper drink. however, as Spiros apparently passed out twice after a couple of sips, it is clearly not intended for those who live The Spiros Life, a lifestyle more commonly full of elegant cocktails, Pimms and other rather more, shall we say, fruity delights.

the mind boggles as to what would have happened to Spiros had he passed out in Club Knight Rider; one can only speculate that the DJ chap there would have at least helped to "take care of him"......

more from the adventures of Spiros when he updates me!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Man Of Steel : Dubai Airport

Dubai, strictly speaking, is not a natural stop off point on the way from here to Great Ayton. via Dubai the folks went, however, and it is rather fortunate that they did!

oh, go on then - is it a bird? is it a plane? no, it's.................

...........Superman! taking a presumably well deserved break. now why Superman, with his class gravity defying skills, would need either an aeroplane or luggage is a bit beyond me, quite frankly. i shall get James to explain it to me in the morning.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i probably shouldn't post this picture, but......

....it really makes me smile! if you know and love my dear Auntie Susan the way we all do, it should make you smile too!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!! and remember, love Susan - love Slade.


hello Natalie, pleased to see you for what i believe is only your second appearance on my site!! that's more than your cousin Finley, since Robert and Debbie have never sent pictures (hint, hint).

born a few days before young Daniel in New Zealand, Natalie looks like an adorable princess! Great Auntie certainly would appear to have taken a shine to you!!!!

wow, walking and eating already!!! soon you will be talking too, and off to the shops and out on the town with your Mum!!

speaking of Mum, here's the only picture of Elizabeth that seems to have come back with Mum & Dad! much like Angela in the last post, i suspect that Elizabeth would prefer not to appear all over the world wide interwebnetthingie, but here she is!

yes, as an added bonus, there's another glimpse of my dear Uncle Peter!! looks like he has just had a rather strong hit of tea!!!

hope you have enjoyed all the pictures as much as i have!!!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Clan Harland........luvvly jubbly

well, you have already seen a glimpse of the Harland family kitchen (see the "chef" post!), but here's some full shots of the family that, wisely or otherwise, put Mum & Dad up for a week or so!

first up, here's Andrew. Andrew's looking might fine, tall and handsome these days. i believe the purpose of being in the car was for an excursion to the outer reaches of the land they call Hull; one can imagine that he broke a number of hearts there!

and the of course there is Christopher, looking equally fine and handsome; in particular as he is wearing a shirt celebrating the little-known, minor event we are holding down here in about two years time!

and here's Colin, in a restaurant and looking mighty fine in a class 80's style get up. it's the kind of thing that Crockett would wear around town, which means it is quality fashion. the lady behind him certainly seems to agree!

now i know that modesty will have Angela hoping that i did not include a picture of her, but here she is with, well, you know the names of everyone else by now!!

now here's an interesting picture. i would assume that it is Dad and Colin under these masks, but who exactly are are masks of? to tell the truth, when i first saw this pic, i was trying to work out why on earth they had masks of Ronald Reagan and Roger Daltrey.....

i am however assured that they are masks of Del Boy and Rodney from the much celebrated, much loved Only Fools And Horses! well, when you know that it's supposed to be those two, you can see the resemblance!!

thank you Colin, Angela, Christopher and Andrew for putting up (with?) Mum and Dad for a few days! Gillian and i constantly debate which retirement home we should ship them off to one day, with me firmly believing they would be happy with a nice bungalow-like shed in Auckland, and Gillian begging to differ. perhaps we should bravely compromise and dump them on the Harland family on a permanent basis? no, James would miss them. as would we all!

i think there's another batch of pics left in me, then that should do it!!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

the loose-clothed chef

hey everyone

those of you who know him hardly need me to tell you this, but my Dad is one of life's eccentrics. it is not everyone who travels thousands of miles to see places and people, after all. it is also not everyone that does this and considers one of the highlights to be bothering the kitchens of friends and family with some extravagant cooking. before six in the morning. in their pj's.

believe it or not, this is a sight that is welcomed, in fact embraced, around the world. there are houses in Denver, Ohio, Melbourne, New Zealand and beyond that would welcome being woken up and discovering this display in the house!! in this instance, it is the fine Harland home in Coulby Newham being treated to this display.

he once famously did something similar to this in Sun City, when he lost patience with the kitchen's abilities (or lack thereof) in the world of poached eggs. yes, the patience was of a span of no more than four minutes. but at least he had some shorts and a shirt on that time.

nice one Dad, keep it up!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and, if you find my Dad in your kitchen a good while before the sun blesses the sky, just have a seat and let him get on with it.

out here in the fields.....

hey everyone

more pics from the tour!!!

the next two are a bit blurry, but they are unmistakable. in regards of them being blurry, as he reads this my Dad is saying "your Mum must have took them ones then". as far as unmistakable goes, well, they are landmarks from the place that i shall forever call home.

first up, the unmistakable site of Roseberry Topping, followed by a shot of Captain Cook's monument.

many are the times i have walked up and along both. well, with exams falling in the summer, what would you do - study, or take a walkman loaded with Bowie and head through the trees and fields, upwards to see all that you would want to see? i passed the exams anyway. in some instances "kind of", but passed all the same.

yes, i do dearly miss home. the people and the places are forever etched in my heart and mind. but, then again, home is very much here, with the beautiful family i have been blessed with, and i would exchange them for nothing.

i'm not the only nostalgic one, since Mum & Dad took a walk around the old village, and happened to go back to their first home. i wouldn't wish to say how long ago that was, but a hint would be that The Beatles remained a going concern then!

a few more memories - the area in which they stand is surrounded by conker trees. i recall many a gray, Autumn afternoon spent walking upon the dried brown leaves of the ground, feeling the sound of the crackle beneath every step, picking up dozens of conkers. Richard, Gillian and i probably would have been conker kings at our schools had we been patient enough to let them soak in vinegar as we were supposed to!

onwards, and out there into the fields! a rather clear sky for an October, but it looks like the wind decided to kick up a bit! never mind, Mum and Dad are still crazy enough to shield one another from it!

and here's Mum with Uncle Colin!

Colin shall, of course, forever be referred to as "dude who to me to see Frankie Goes To Hollywood, G-Mex arena, January 10 1988"!!

yes, more pics to follow!!!!!!!!!!!!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!! and, if you are in Ayton, take a walk through the fields, and have a Suggits ice cream!

our dear friend in the North

besides the unbridled joy of being there for Gran & Gramps' special day, and of course seeing all the family in and around Great Ayton, i dare say that a big part of the brief trip for Mum and Dad was being able to see our dear friend Bobby.

they went out and about, ending up with an obligatory visit to the pub, but also visiting a place where my Dad (and Gramps) could feast upon what they consider to be some of the finest foods known to man, smoked kippers!

Bobby seems rather happy to have gone there too!

it's great to see Bobby smiling and looking like age has not quite got the better of his health just yet. we all look forward to seeing Bobby, and hope to do so for many more years to come.

now, about that pub i mentioned.....

good to see Mum having a proper pint whilst over there!!

Dad has an uncanny knack of catching people not posing for great pictures. what on earth are the three of them seeking out???

right, a few more pics to post yet! will get to them as soon as i can!!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and, if you actually like smoked kippers, please bear in mind that not all around you appreciate the scent of them!

more diamond pictures

hi there

dear me, selecting some shots from 300 or so sent is proving to be quite a bit of work! i think i have done OK, although i have pretty much limited the selections to family pictures!

if you went to wish my Gran & Gramps a happy anniversary, thank you very much indeed, and my apologies if you are not featured here!

first up, here's Uncle Peter!

now, at a glance you may well have mistaken him for Jack Nicholson. whereas Jack would have been very welcome indeed to call in at the Grandparents, or at any of our homes, for a pint of John Smiths and a cup of tea, Uncle Peter is certainly the more welcome guest!

and here's young Robert, having a chat with Gran!

i say "young" Robert, as he is the youngest of the five grandchildren, but he got married before the rest of us and was responsible for the first great-grandchild! good to see Robert looking good and healthy, i miss him, dear Elizabeth and, well, all of them!

and speaking of people i miss, dear Uncle Travelling Trevor!

i am not sure that Trevor does all that much travelling across the world these days, but if he decides to dust down the passport once more i am sure he would find himself a most welcome guest at ours or anywhere he chose to go!

here's a good one of the elders of the family together! From left (i think, depending at which angle you look at the picture), here's Auntie Susan, Gran, Great Auntie Norma, The Legendary Stormin' Norman Gramps and Dad!

i know in the picture that looks like a class summer day in England, but i assure you the dark cloud brewing over the skies of Ayton is indeed October!

and finally, another picture of the fine card from Her Majesty. it's included here for the picture that is behind it.....

righty-ho, more pictures as soon as i get the chance to do them!!!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!