It’s been a while – the times they are a changing

What a start to the year. My daughter delivered us a second grandchild in early February. Since our abortive attempt to sell the house back in the summer (post-BREXIT poll), we have had a lot of work done on the house. We’ve decided to take a break for a couple of months to get our second wind, then start round 2.

The winter weather hasn’t been particularly condusive to going out for rides (I learnt my lesson last year when I came off on black ice – very painful). Now the weather is improving, I have been able to get out and test my new toys for this year, a helmet cam and mic – essential with the quality/attitude of road users here in the UK. I had a very enjoyable outing to a biker cafe in Hampshire, called Loomies – here’s a short video for anyone that’s interested – Ride down to Loomies

Nothing really to report on the Coeliac front. The availability of products (at a price) in the mainstream supermarkets continues and since legislation in the UK Parliament, eating out is a lot easier. I do wish that restaurants wouldn’t drop a 3 inch thick ring-binder in front of me for ME to check what I can eat. The more forward thinking restaurants either flag options on their menu, or even better have a completely separate menu – YAY.

Hope you’re having a good start to the year. Thanks for reading

Well into Year 2 PI

No not the mathematical PI, the PI here means Post-IBM (sorry!). I parted company with IBM UK on January 6th 2015. Its been an interesting 20 months. When I left, I was still very focused on continuing to work. I did a small amount of work as an independent, but actually came to the conclusion i enjoyed NOT working more. So I guess I have moved from semi-retired to COMPLETELY retired.

One of the non-technology options I did a lot of research on was setting up a Gluten Free shop in my local town. I spent a lot of time researching what the major supermarkets offer to see where a niche could be. As it turns out, the supermarkets have broadened their ranges greatly, leaving little space for a small independent shop. Add to that the initial set up costs and it rapidly became non-viable.

I did (earlier this year) pass my motorbike tests and gained my licence. I subsequently  bought a new bike and have been having a lot of fun – earlier in the year I made a ‘road-trip’ to visit a friend on the Dingle Peninsula in SouthWest Ireland, which was fabulous and documented in an earlier post.

I became a grandparent last year and early next year will become a grandparent x 2!  Its a strange feeling.

BREXIT seems to have scuppered our plans to downsize, so we have parked the idea for now and are upgrading our existing house. I did vote to stay, but have to say that given the way the EU seems to be going, I think BREXIT may be the right choice. Nuff said.

So, Summer is definitely over, at least in my part of the UK. Christmas is 3 months away. Where has the year gone? Thanks for reading this short update.

Dingle, Southwest Ireland, July 2016

I have a friend who moved out to Dingle to look after his parents who have now sadly died. I had promised to go over and visit him. When I retired from IBM last year, one of my bucket list items was to get a motorbike licence, which I achieved in February 2016. I decided to take the bike over on the ferry to have my first overseas biking experience.

I decided to go from Fishguard to Rosslare(using Stena Line) as the closest (and easiest) route. So my route was pretty much straight down the M4 and keep going to Fishguard, a distance of about 230 miles. My sailing was at 2:30am, so left around 8pm and had a steady drive. The journey to Fishguard was mostly ok (I did have a 45 minute detour as the westbound M4 was closed near Newport), but thankfully I arrived in plenty of time. Their was a spectacular thunderstorm just as I arrived in Fishguard.

I paid for Stena Plus, which is a bit like an airline executive lounge. It was a pleasant discovery that they had some Ilumi Gluten Free options. They did a good job of securing my bike and I was pretty much the first off the ferry in Rosslare. We arrived at 6:30 to a thich sea fog over the port. I had to keep stopping to clear my visor and glasses! Once I was a little way away from the port the fog cleared.

At my first break, the cloud cleared and I had my first good view of the Irish Countyside

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I refuelled (both machine and body) and headed pretty much West through some lovely villages and towns. The fact that I could switch the GPS and the Bike Dash to Km made things much easier. The countryside was breathtaking in places, just beautiful in others.

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I arrived at my friends house (about 6Km from  Dingle) around 12:30pm, having travelled 322 Km .  Here’s the view from his front garden…

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The hills on the other side of Dingle Bay in the distance are part of the ‘Ring of Kerry’. Very close to my friends house is a bridge reputed to be the oldest bridge in Ireland…Garfinny Bridge(although their seem to be several such claims in different parts of the country).

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Their were a number of things on my things to do list during my visit. Travel a section of the Wild Atlantic Way . Visit the Conor Pass as well as some of the small towns and villages in the area. For the first few days the Conor pass was cloud bound (its 410m high), but late one afternoon, the cloud cleared so we hightailed it to the summit. Here’s the view looking toward Dingle (middle of the picture).

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Here’s the view looking the other way, toward Mount Brandon/CastleGregory..

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Absolutely stunning… We also had a drive around Slea Head, a small section of the Wild Atlantic Way. Again the weather was kind and the views were stunning…looking toward the Ring of Kerry across Dingle Bay..

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We stopped at a small cafe at Coumeenole in the sunshine and had a great view of the Blasket Islands.

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We went out with the local hill walking group and did a short (4 hour!) walk along the Dingle Way up to Coumeenole, starting from the Stonehouse carpark. Beautiful scenery, an elevated position meant a different viewpoint…A nice elevated view of Slea Head and the Blasket Islands

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This was the view as we returned to the start…

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We also had a trip down to Inch for a walk along the beach. The sand is very soft, very flat and very white…the sky reflecting off the water caught my eye..

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And looking back toward Dingle

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As you can hopefully see, Dingle and the South West of Ireland is fabulous. Dingle is a pretty,  small town which does get inundated with tourists.. their are lots of bars, most with live music most evenings.As a destination for my first trip it was a great success. The bike performed well, no major problems and the weather in general was kind (well apart from the trip home from Fishguard, where I had torrential rain and high winds pretty much all the way home). I will be going back to explore more the Wild Atlantic Way… Thanks for reading.

 

A long ovedue update on Life, The Universe and Everything!

No not 42 (as per The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams). Hard to believe that my last post was in April – I have NO idea where the time has gone. Their have been lots of changes in the Armitage-verse over the last 3 months, with more on the horizon.

We had a lovely couple of weeks of early summer sunshine in Nerja on the Costa Del Sol in mid-may. We were JUST ahead of the season, so everything was still being painted, made ready for the new season and the numbers of tourists were low. The weather I am happy to say was fabulous. Here’s a coastal view taken from the Balcon de Europe…

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As you can see, the beach at Torre Del Mar was heaving (not)…

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Anyway, we had a great couple of weeks. Nerja is about 55Km east of Malaga. Now sadly a dim and distant memory.

We had decided that once we got back from our holiday, we would put Armitage Towers up for sale. We have a large house and now their is mostly just the 2 of us rattling around in it, so we decided to downsize and use some of the proceeds for some travel.  We’ve been living in our current house for 14 years and in the area for 34 years, so definitely time for a change. At the time of  writing, we have found a couple of possibles, but are waiting to sell ours. I’ll keep you posted.

Finally, my only comment about BREXIT.  It has been interesting to see how the promises made by the LEAVE campaign have unravelled and been shown to be less than 100% truthful. However, I do believe in democracy and will accept the vote. Its been very revealing to see how people that didn’t get the result they wanted want to change the rules until they get the result they want. I personally think that we have a very interesting 2 or 3 years ahead of us. Oh and of course, the least said about the England Football team and Euro2016 the better. Come on Wales!

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

2 Years a Coeliac

Time for an update on my Gluten Free journey. I was diagnosed as a Coeliac on December 6th, 2013. My previous update can be read here(Earlier Coeliac Article). I am in the process of having a 2 year review (Endoscopy done, blood test and session with consultant due in early 2016). It’s looking good, it seems that the damage done has healed well.

I have to say I feel the best I have EVER felt. So much so, that my lifelong Asthma has disappeared – which I can only attribute to becoming Gluten Free. When I realised what had happened and polled a couple of Facebook groups I belonged to, others seem to have seen positive benefits to their overall health. Admittedly, some had seen the development of some issues also, but it has been a great experience for me.

It was a shock at first when I considered all the things I could no longer eat or drink– the most disappointing was the removal of real ale! But, overall, things have never been better (mostly). More and more Gluten Free products are becoming available(including Beer/Lager – YAY), although the prices are still high. Restaurants are now legally obliged to indicate GF offerings on their menus.

I do occasionally get ‘Glutened’, i.e. eat something containing Gluten, but thankfully it’s happening less and less. I am finding that now I am Gluten Free, being ‘Glutened’ is not something I want to happen as its impact is more severe now than it used to be.

Coeliac UK (UK Coeliac Charity) are doing a great job of raising awareness as well as alerting when products have challenges. One of the mainstream supermarkets in the UK actually included Gluten Free offerings in their Christmas advertising.

I have finally mastered the art of Gluten Free Yorkshire Puddings, Stuffing and Dumplings… now if I could just come up with a foolproof recipe for bread, I’d make a fortune.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy the break over the festive season and a happy new year.

X marks the spot….

Ok, so here’s the picture to support the title 🙂 This was taken around 7am (I think).

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Haven’t been here much lately – since I left my erstwhile employer of getting on for 16 years (IBM) I’ve been a tad busy one way and another. Mysteriously, my wife has a HUGE list of jobs that have suddenly become urgent, plus I have been spending a lot of time thinking about what I want to do in the next phase of my ‘career’. Ok, I’ve boiled it down to 3 things..

  1. Keep my technical hands in by doing the occasional piece of freelance technology consultancy… lots to do here with creating a company, setting up accounts etc, Different and something I have never done before.
  2. FINALLY learn to ride a motorbike. Like many when I was young I spent time flying around a field on a bike that was most likely a deathtrap but we didnt care… (thats in the schedule for February).
  3. Something completely outside my comfort zone. I am exploring the possibility of opening a shop to focus on selling Gluten Free produce. (The Norfolk Gluten Free Company have been amazingly helpful.. if you live in or near Norwich and need to buy GF products you should look them up http://norfolkglutenfree.co.uk/ ).

I now feel fit enough to tackle the Lyke Wake Walk again(see a previous post), so thats in the schedule for mid-summer and then as next years birthday  is a major milestone – I am planning on doing a hike to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya.

Lots to look foward to (and corresponding posts for anyone that wants to follow). Thanks for reading.