Sunday, 1 January 2012

At home with the Amarally's. A New Year Message.

Well it has been a year since I last put fingers to a keyboard for a Christmas / New Year message and last year was no exception.

Since the USA dream trip last year plus all the mountaineering trip 2010 was a busy one but the start of 2011 brought a different beginning with Louise being made redundant from Jacob's Bakery which resulted in a significant drop in income for us, the best part of a 3rd which did hurt at first but then the accounts were looked at it was easy to see where some of the money was going unnecessarily going so it was a case of tighten up the belts and be cautious.

An easy task for me as I am Mr Cautious. Probably too much for some people.

Typical of Louise, she was able to keep herself busy and like most men it was easy to say your not working now so you have plenty of time on your hands. Finding a job for me after redundancy was easy as I have lots of options but for Louise and the kids to contend finding one with hours to suit was very difficult. So with this in mind a change in career was decided from Accountancy to Teaching Assistant involving attending a course which is currently on going. Mrs Organised as usual finds a way to make it happen, so here's to 2012, who knows what it will bring for us all.

As for me, well another year has passed working for Santander and they have been putting me through various courses to become qualified as a Data Centre Manager, the final set are in the new year. Data Centres is big business these days. In the past I was used to warehouses with broom cupboards for a computer room scattered across the country, now I deal with computer rooms the size of warehouses. Its great but can be quite a challenge with the Spanish and their micro management style approach. It is very demanding and if an english approach could be embraced more, I feel it would be good for the bank.

Well this year I turned 40 but for me it is just a number, the important thing was to celebrate it with 2 agenda's, the ones I love and the great outdoors. So I organised a camping weekend and it turned out to be exactly as I imagined it would be. Cycle rides, bbq's camping, I think there may have been some drink too. But most of all, time to actually enjoy the company.

Love my new event shelter.

All the tents you see are mainly ours.

There may have been some drinking...

Midnight BBQ Anyone?

Thank you to all who helped me to bring in the new decade.

Amarally 40th Birthday Crew

This year was also an education, the family holiday, finance were a bit tight so nothing abroard was planned, instead it was a trip to Butlins Minehead instead. My last experience was Clackton when I was just a child so I did have my reservation. My concerns did not last very long as the evening entertainment, lots of comfort food and plenty to keep the kids occupied were welcomed. As they say, if the kids can be kept busy and out of mischief, well then that is a break for parents too.

We even made it to the beach

A contender for Baywatch perhaps?!

Louise and Leonie having a go at Kyacking

Joshua Kyacking

Anybody remember Hawaii Five O?

Whilst we were there we met an amazing family who we got on really well with. Addresses etc were exchanged but as usual the busy lives of us all always seem to get the better. But we still try and keep in touch and perhaps a new years resolution is to make more of an effort to meet friends and family in person. Lets try hey?

Leonie & Annie May new found friends.

Amarally's with Myn, Jo & Annie-May.

I enjoyed Butlins that much we even made it back for the Autumn half term break. Now that's dedication. But whilst we were there and thanks to Facebook we found out that Kirsty, our niece only blooming works there. Have not seen her in so long, but now all grown up and gorgeous as ever. So proud of you standing on your own two feed and working a honest living.

Me with our niece Kirsty.

As always the outdoors was an adventure but the lads camp was a bit of a disaster this year. The calanders just clashed all over the place, but it was good to see the pics from Andy and Rich on their Scotland adventure in the Autumn. Shame they had all the rain whilst the rest of the country had that fluke heatwave.

As for me well, I did my very first outdoor lead along with Joshua and 2 HMC buddies Mike and Dave. This was at Cleeve Hill and Castle Rock near Tewkesbury. On the forum various climber friends was discussing the goals for climbs to be achieved by the end of the 2011. For me with the busy family calendar my goal was to do my first ever lead in my life. Dave our HMC Chair was quick to pick up on this and so one day in August the scene was set.

Routes as follows:
Beginners Chimney (DIFF) - Lead
Right Crack (V Diff *) - Seconded

Both routes Joshua also seconded and well done to him. These routes were difficult as the rock was very crumbly and as Dave's says required a cool head. It was was quite an interesting as Mike first led this to show me how but when I got to it, some had crumbled away so I led it differently. A great conquest, I don't anybody will ever forget their first lead climb. I know I wont.

Me negoiating the route on my first lead.

Summit complete, goal achieved.

Move over Bear Grylls, here comes action man.

Joshua in his element.

December this year saw another attempt with Joshua along with Mark and Morgan trying to find snow but it was to be a shortfall as the weekend was very mild to say the least. Previous two trips were very wet so clearly winter is the best time to enjoy the great outdoors. What is our climate coming to.

Whilst on the trip to Malham - North Yorkshire, we all booked a trip to go caving at Longchurn which was a first for Joshua and myself. This was very enjoyable but a challenge for my build especially the cheese press section which called that for nothing.

Some pics from Malham.

Mark and Morgan trying not to get too friendly with the bulls.

Me at the Limestone Pavement

Love this pic of Joshua and me with the rainbow.

Joshua in the cheese press

Me just about managing to get through the cheese press

That's my boy!

Mark, Morgan, Joshua and Me at the end of our caving experience.
Brilliant experience with great company.

Well Christmas has now been and gone, and 2012 is now here.

It has been a great year with my family and friends but for 2012 who knows what is ahead of us. I look forward to enjoying time will all of you, take care and I hope and wish you all the very best for this year.

Love - Colin, Louise, Joshua and Leonie.


Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Amarally Christmas Message 2008.

After many years of friends and relatives sending their own Christmas messages about their adventures of the last 12 months I have finally decided to complete a similar exercise.

Jan 2008 saw myself joining the Hinckley Mountaineering Club [] in an effort to meet up with local people and try to do some regular exercise. I wouldn't exactly say I was unhealthy although my love for chocolate is still at an all time high, but I found myself whilst on the meets I have with Andy and Rich being limited in my capacity to enjoy our hikes whilst on our now legendary lads camps, that lads who enjoy the great outdoors and nothing else. ;-)

Patterdale, The Lakes May 2008

Rich taking in the views whilst on one of our hikes this year

The three of us at the end of our trip to the Lakes.

Andy on the M6 having a spot of desert whist on our way back from the Lakes.

I found that climbing has now taken over much of my life with the lads camps and regular swimming whilst Joshua and Leonie are at their swimming lessons at our local leisure centre, 8am Sat. You may think I am mad but any exercise I can do to aid my climbing is always welcomed. Climbing I enjoy intensely and this sport sees a community where people from all walks of life will just get along and exchange experiences as well as useful tips.

The club I am a member of is child friendly which is great news as opportunities to climb outdoors for me are usually only at the weekend. Of course it would be great to have more me time but leaving both my two with Louise would be a tall order on a regular basis. So Joshua comes with me for day trips and weekends away with the club. The offer to take Joshua away is always welcomed by Louise, as it gives her and Leonie quality girlie time together which usually involves some form of shopping so no real surprises there.

Joshua on his very first out door climb whilst in the Peak District

This year for our summer hols we [me] decided we should save the pennies and stay in the UK with a camping trip. Mixed reviews by Louise to be fair, what was I thinking with our British weather whilst we camped in Cornwall. All was not lost though as for the second year running we were able to visit Diggerland in Devon []. There is always a great pleasure received from digging holes in the ground.

Joshua and I on a JCB

We managed to pitch up ok in the dry had about 2 days of sunshine, but then concluded our holiday with Louise and I pitching down the tent etc in the rain. Still we saved the pennies which allowed us to complete the redecoration of our living room and kids play area which used to be our dining room.

We managed to get an afternoon at the beach

My car after a weeks camping

We now have laminated flooring just like the Rugby days which the kids seem to have great pleasure in making a mess on with their food. Thanks heavens for an easy to clean surface.

I love camping, when the weather is great it is the best holiday in the world, but when the weather is poor, so is the holiday.

This year completing the downstairs area also saw a new and welcomed addition to the Amarally household in the form of a 50" plasma TV. A bargain as a manager’s special from our local Dixons, and looks great on the wall. Call it an investment for when Louise and I are old with poor eyesight.

This year the green bus that was my Galaxy was finally traded in. At 170,000 miles on the clock it was declining fast, and with a diesel bill of £85 per week it was an overhead we could do with out. So after much thought, I decided to get Louise a new Renault Meganne, and take on her Ford Fusion. I wondered how I would feel at taking on what many might perceive to be a backward step, but I have to admit I love the Fusion. Its like two 4x4's mated with this off spring being the result. Every thing is so much cheaper than the Galaxy, plus with it being a petrol engine I decided to get it converted to LPG since my mileage is very high.

I now pay 44p per litre of gas, it costs me more to run my kids on milk for crying out loud.

October saw Rich / Andy and I meeting up in Wales for the Second of our two lads camp trips and ascending up the summit of Mt Snowdon which is the 3rd highest mountain in the British Isles. To be fair this was quite commercialised as there is a train that goes to the top with a cafe at the end. Both of which were shut I hasten to add so we did it the old fashioned way and hiked to the top - 1085 metres. But to make the hike more challenging Andy planned our route via Crib Goch []. I wish I had brought my climbing gear as the views were quite frankly spectacular. Basically you walk across a ridge that is about 1ft wide, 100 metres long with a sheer drop either side of you. Not for the faint hearted, and a fantastic memory I will remember for a very long time.

This year Louise and Leonie have been heavily involved with their dancing at the Shelby Academy [] and for the first time I saw the two of them on the stage at our local theatre the Concordia. Anybody who has the courage to perform in front of an audience gets my appreciation as I am sure you will agree this is not normal for most.

I was recently appointed as a school governor for Joshua's school - St Peters, Hinckley as well as taking up my first term as PTA Chairman for the school. I can't even manage the females in my own home so what chance to I have with a PTA which is predominantly female? Well actually I have a great time and it makes me proud to have a team that is as enthusiastic as I have been fortunate enough to experience.

Joshua and Leonie not arguing for a change

December Joshua and I went on our first weekend away with the Hinckley Mountaineering Club and spent this in the Yorkshire Dales at a Youth Hostel []. Very basic and functional but then at £55 in total for the two of us for two nights what do you expect. We stayed in Malham and completed a recommended hike in Ingleton. This was Joshua's first time at a half decent hike totaling 4.5 miles 3,5 hours in the snow with the route being around Ingleton Waterfalls []. This he completed with no problem and I was very proud of him to say the least. I look forward to more of the same next year with Joshua and the club. If you have not tried hiking in the snow I recommend you give it a go. The first thing I did when I came back was to look for some crampons, which are metal spikes that you can attach to the bottom of your hiking boots. I am still looking.

It has certainly been a great year when I look back, but as I rapidly finish off the year I approach 2009 with a great deal of uncertainty. After 11.5 years with my current employer, my role is at risk of redundancy. Quite a daunting prospect as it is not great out there. I am in the process of exploring alternative opportunities both internal and external and have to say the outlook is not all doom and gloom. But as a married man with two kids and a mortgage the word redundancy will always take you away from your comfort zone.

I am fortunate that I at least have skill sets that will hopefully help my career path for the future.

We are still planning to enjoy Christmas with Louise being my rock in a time that is quite difficult. I hope 2009 brings you everything that you want or at least kind to you as much of 2008 has done for me.

I look forward to reading your messages via this blog.

All the best.

Colin, Louise, Joshua and Leonie.


Monday, 2 June 2008

A wind swept camping weekend...

The Amarally's went away recently (second bank holiday weekend in May) on a camping break in Burnham-on-Sea. Arrived Friday night and pitched up in good weather conditions, even Louise commented on how mild it was.

Woke up Sat and after a hearty breakfast cooked by yours truelly, went off Cheddar Gorge taking in great views including the caves and the Gorge carved naturally in the mountain side. Weather was still good that we even took a open top tour bus back to the car park.

Arrived back at the campsite to a rather windy area which was enough to open up one of the tent doors.

By the time bed time came for us we were battening down the hatches in preparation. Joshua & Leonie had no problems with the wind and took it in their stride and dropped off to sleep very quickly indeed.

Louise and I on the other hand had a restless sleep to say in the least with me poping out every hour or so to anchor down the tent which included securing it to my car.

By 4am it started to rain so gave up, crawled into my sleeping bag and hoped for the best.

6am Sunday woke up to find the tent was almost flat and so we decided to cut our break short by a day and pack up.

Joshua woke up beaming, whilst Leonie was still asleep. Louise had to wake her up and was the last item infact packed into the car. That girl loves her sleep!

My tent, a Tesco's special is now in a skip, oh dear I will not be buying one those again. I now have my eye on a 5 person Coleman.

Still, all was not lost, as after a warm shower and another hearty breakfast, we spent the day Wooky Hole exploring the caves which are more spectacular than those at Cheddar. Again weather was not too bad.

So in all a fairly eventful weekend, and a good practice run for our camping week in Cornwall in the summer.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Lads Camp - Lake District - May 2008

This weekend was spent with Andy and Rich some old Uni chums camping in the Lake District.
On Sat we completed a circular route via Helvellyn Feeling a little sore but please with myself that this was another hike completed successfully. Including lunch on top of England's third highest peak.
I was the onsite chef, and decided to push the boat out and cooked us a curry for the Friday night and spagbol for the Sat evening.
This was washed down well with some cider [thanks Rich] then followed with a small walk to the 'Travellers Rest' pub on Fri and 'Glenrriding Hotel' on Sat, both very close to our campsite
Sunday after some breakie comprising of bacon and french toast we packed up and payed a visit to Ullswater [again very near to the camp site] where Donald Campbell did his water run back in 1955.
The weekend was almost perfect apart from a 1.5 hr wait on the M6 due to a lorry fire. Everybody was out of their cars, we decided to have a small picnic and when the North side of the carriage way was closed off also with no traffic in sight, some bright spark [not us] decided to have a game of football.
Thanks lads, I look forward to Snowdon in the Autumn.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Speaking of gross....

Thurs evening as I arrived home from work my daughter Leonie has great pride in telling me she had just done a curly poo! Can't wait to take her out in public this weekend.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Marriage, Errr thats Gross!

This week whilst watching the tv with my son, Joshua observed that I was wearing a wedding ring. I had not worn this for a while since it was away being resized. He asked me what this was for, to which I said "It tells everybody I am married to your mum!" His response?

Errr, Thats Gross! Kids hey!

Friday, 14 March 2008

A night at the Oscar's.

I recently attended an event held at our local golf club in Hinckley called a night at the Oscar's. It had been a while but still [only just] managed to get into my tux I am pleased to say. The Mrs had decided to invest in a new outfit which cost more than my first car. Mind you, the end result was well worth it, Louise looked great.

Now to the event itself. Titled 'A night at the Oscar's' the theme was for everybody to either dress in formal code or a famous actor/actress.

Turns out the evening was hosted by a group called the Roundtable. Not really heard much about them but by the end of the evening it left me wanting to find out more. Basically it is a group professional men from all walks of life who meet up regularly, have a great time with all sorts of adventures. Plus in the process raise money for charity.
The evening in question was dedicated to all the ladies who help support their men folk in their journey's.

Will keep you posted as my own adventure develops....