Saturday, 27 December 2008


My father and I had a most enjoyable short break of five days in Hong Kong just prior to Christmas. The weather was perfect, with blue cloudless sky throughout and a very comfortable 21 to 23 degrees centigrade each day. As this was my father's first trip to the former colony, we did the usual tourist things - firstly a ride on the Peak Tramway up to Victoria Peak to see the view over the harbour, by day:-

and also by night (although this time we cheated, beating the queues for the Tramway by taking a taxi both ways):-
(Picture since removed)
One day we did a full day excursion onto Lantau Island to visit the largest Buddha in the world. This involved a quite spectacular 4.7km cablecar ride:-

The monastery was surrounded by a very colourful display of flowers. It was easy to forget with the colours and the weather that this was the week before Christmas.
(Picture since removed)
The Buddha itself is set on the top of a small hill giving a excellent viewpoint over the island. It is one big buddha (to paraphrase my father).

We had another full day out at Ocean Park. This amusement park combines fun rides, excellent aquariums and shows. My 78 year old father went on the triple looping roller coaster. He was easy to pick out on the ride as everyone else had dark hair and they were at least half his age! He's on the back row of the third car.

We spent a pleasant hour or more, every morning sitting by the hotel swimming pool getting a bit of winter sun and having a daily swim. My aim was to combine the sightseeing with a bit of rest and relaxation each day. This is a view of the pool from the hotel bedroom window.
(Picture since removed)
The next photo shows my father relaxing by the harbourside near the Exhibition Centre that was used in the 1997 Handover Ceremony. The office buildings of Central are in the background. The tallest tower is "IFC Two" which at 1,350feet tall and 88storeys dwarves the other buildings.

The view of the Hong Kong Island skyline at night from Kowloon is quite unique. We sailed over on the Star Ferry but we also used the MTR underground system extensively to get around. The MTR is cheap, efficient and air-conditioned. If only London's was half as good.

Overall we had a most enjoyable and relaxing break whilst fitting in an active daily amount of sightseeing. Despite the eight hour time difference we had minimal jet-lag thanks to Virgin's flatbed seats. We can thoroughly recommend Hong Kong as long-distance city break destination or, perhaps more sensibly, as a stop-over to break one's journey on the way to the Antipodes.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008


According to the song then all Troy Junior should want for Christmas is his two front teeth. However he also appears to have a rather long list of material things he'd like for Christmas. We have been trying to manage his expectation levels and, in part at least, have succeeded. One of the pleasures of Christmas is filming him on the camcorder whilst he is opening his presents.

Meanwhile, here is proof that Troy Junior is challenged in the tooth department at present.

The Troy Family send everyone their sincere best wishes for the Christmas Season and for 2009.


Saturday, 13 December 2008


Having ducked out last week from writing about the “7 things I find attractive in the opposite sex” I’ve found inspiration this week. The reason for this inspiration will become apparent soon – be patient, first here is the list:-

1. Intelligence

2. Sense of Humour

3. Long hair

4. Eyes with a twinkle in them

5. Slim but curvy figure

6. Shapely legs

7. Not too tall

I haven’t put explanations against these attributes as I feel they are all self-explanatory and as well as being predictable.

What inspired me this week was someone in the news that VERY nicely combined all these lovely attributes into one glorious whole.

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you………

…the hostess of TV programme “Countdown” for the last 26 years, the gorgeous….


I was hoping to get a photograph of her that also had the 9 letters ILOVETROY on the board - but the odds on that are 26x26x26x26x26x26x26x26x26 or 208,827,060,000 to 1.

I must point out to all my readers that Mrs Troy is also extremely nice and of course caught my eye as a 21 year old with many of these attributes. However, if she has ever had a £1million a year TV contract she has kept it very well hidden. (Oh dear, I just realised that there are in fact EIGHT things I find attractive in a woman - aren't I shallow?).

Thursday, 11 December 2008


It is now over six months since I started blogging and it has become a way of life. What has kept me going has been the kind feedback I've received through your comments. Although I look enviously upon those bloggers with their regular 30+ comments against their postings I am proud to have a "gang" of small but loyal commenters. It somehow seems more exclusive. I'm using this posting to say a BIG THANK-YOU to my "Special Gang Of Eight".

Having time on my hands I compiled a little chart a couple of weeks ago with names down the side and ticks across the columns for each comment I've received. How sad is that? (Or perhaps not!). Now as I regularly update this list, my loyal band shine clearly through and I find myself thinking "oh, so-and-so hasn't commented yet"...but then a few hours later - there you are!

So the "SPECIAL GANG OF EIGHT" roll of honour, in order of first arrival on my blog is:

Crystal Jigsaw - you encouraged me from the very start - thank you! - I'm looking forward to meeting you next Summer in your beautiful part of the world

Hadriana - also a stalwart from virtually Day One. If its not the full B&B when you've set yourself up, then hopefully we'll have a nice cream tea together one day.

Denyse Kirkby - my Wednesdays wouldn't be the same without the challenge of your WW caption competition. What I lack in quality I make up for in quantity and I'm proud of my winner badges. I'm looking forward to meeting you and Chopper at your book launch - not long now.

Debs - I've never been to Jersey (although have visited both Guernsey and the lovely Alderney) but one day I'll get my family over to "Bergerac Island" and then hopefully will get the chance to talk in Real Life.

Trixie - I've very much enjoyed our "virtual acquaintance" and hope we meet up at DJ's book launch.

Carol & Chris - I was well chuffed when I saw that someone in Thailand was reading my blog. I felt I'd gone truly "global". I've just seen on DJ's blog that you too will be at the book launch. Great news!

Brit Gal Sarah - you've become a recent stalwart - and all the way from remote Okieland! I can't see me ever getting so far "up country" but I appreciate our virtual acquaintance - and long may it continue.

Ladybird World Mum - last but certainly not least in this roll of honour. I love your blog and our mutual feedbacks. Again I hope that at some stage the virtual will change to reality.

Gosh, all ladies too! If only I was that popular with the ladies in real life. No I'm only joking, I've got Mrs Troy in Real Life and I couldn't wish for better. But I do appreciate my "Special Gang Of Eight" out there in blogland.

Here's a special badge I've made exclusively for you all:-

After this weekend I'm away for nine days doing my Hong Kong trip with my father. After quitting work, I no longer have a laptop and, after much consideration, I've decided not to buy one now. So I will be out of virtual contact from the 14th to the 23rd....and then it will be Christmas! So let me take this opportunity to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Finally to my other readers who may feel excluded by not being in the Special Gang Of Eight. You too are truly much appreciated - all comments are welcomed here. There are lots of other blogs, besides those linked above, I call by on a regular basis. Next year you know what to do to become a member of my gang - let me know each time you call by.

I may get one more post in before I fly out - most likely another in the "7 things" series - if I can find the time with all my packing etc.

Monday, 8 December 2008


I’m going out of turn with this list in the “7 things” tag. On the “normal” running order as per all the tags I’ve seen so far, the next up in this series should be “7 things I admire in the opposite sex”. However I’m struggling to write this, not I hasten to add because I don’t find many things to admire in the opposite sex, but because most ideas either seem shallow and unworthy, or pretentious and cringe-worthy.

So rather than grind to an abrupt halt this week I’m jumping forward to the “7 celebrities I admire the most”. Even here I’m going to change it to include famous people from the past and the present rather the modern concept of “celebrity”. So here’s my list, set out in order of date of birth.

Sir Isaac Newton (b. 1643)
Newton was a brilliant scientist and mathematician. In 1687 he published what is considered to be the most influential book in the history of science. His work covered a wide range of scientific matters - astronomy, gravity, mechanics, momentum, optics and calculus, which together set out a framework for the next 300 years of study.

Sir Winston Churchill (b 1874)
Although he made a great contribution throughout his political life, Churchill gets into this listing through his leadership during World War II. His oratory of defiance when Britain and its Empire stood alone against the Nazi tyranny inspired his people to carry on in their darkest hour. Who can fail to marvel at both his word craft and power of speech?

Sir Frank Whittle (b.1907)
Whittle was the inventor of the jet turbine that transformed aviation. Without his pioneering invention, which he stubbornly worked on for years with little official support, we would not live in the small world of today. Next week I’m flying off to Hong Kong, travelling nearly 8,000 miles non-stop in 12 ½ hours. Without the jet engine this journey would still be a slow, tedious and uncomfortable.

Benny Hill (b.1924)
In these politically correct times I know I’m going out on a limb here! From the late 1960’s to the late 1980’s Benny’s show brought tears of laughter to my eyes. From the start of the “Yackety Sax” theme tune I knew there would be an hour of clever plays on words, delicious double entendres, attractive young ladies and brilliantly constructed songs. Hill wanted us to laugh at lechery not condone it and the hapless men usually came to a sticky end. His shows were sold to 140 countries and attracted audiences of billions. Yet he died alone and disowned by the new alternative comedians with their socialist pretensions.

Margaret Thatcher (b.1925)
Well you either love her or hate her – I know there is no middle ground. Well I think she has made the greatest contribution to Britain in the last fifty years. She got a nation laid waste by Labour and the Unions in 1979 firmly back on its feet, although the medicine at times was painful. We need to see the likes of her again after another bad spell of Labour mismanagement!

Sir Richard Branson (b.1950)
A serial entrepreneur, a marketing guru, and a person with the common touch. I flew on one of the very first Virgin Atlantic flights from Heathrow to Newark, NJ. A breath of fresh air with so many innovative ideas compared to staid old British Airways. I’m looking forward to renewing my aquaintance with a Virgin flat bed next week and know that without the likes of Richard Branson the travel experience would be still stuck in the 1970’s. He may get some stick over Virgin Trains but in everything he does he tries to put the customer first.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee (b.1955)
Berners-Lee is a computer pioneer who invented the World Wide Web. It is difficult to imagine the world today without the internet. He took out no patents and receives no royalties. He has made it his mission to keep the internet free of outside interference and the technology available to all. A modern British hero.

So that’s my list. Not without contention for sure but all in their various fields are worthy of being “famous people I admire” for the reasons I set out above. I’m sure you have your own opinions of these people and look forward to hearing them.

Friday, 5 December 2008


When we moved over here to East Anglia two years ago, we bought a house that had been repossessed. As you can imagine, the garden had not had a lot of t.l.c. Once we had settled in over the winter, I did some garden design sketches and then through the following two summers we set about improving things.

Part of the garden looked like this when we moved in:

First I got in some professionals to build a nice decking area in front of our french windows. They did a good job so I phoned them to see if they would like to dig up some grass and lay some slate. They didn't seem so keen on doing this manual work. So instead I set about digging out the grass in front of the kitchen myself and with the aid of a neighbour's wheelbarrow I moved tons of soil. Over the internet I then ordered 2 tonnes of blue/grey slate and this was delivered in two giant bags onto my driveway. This we then moved over the space of two back-breaking days, using shovel and wheelbarrow, onto the area I had cleared. We also had a flat pack shed delivered and we built it and painted it white to match the house. The grass-banked area was then finished with wooden edging and some hebe type plants. The end result is:

At the top corner of the garden the previous owners had started digging out a deep hole for a garden pond. However rather than finish the project they instead used it to just dump a chest of drawers (as you do?). When we moved in it looked like this:

I removed the drawers and filled the hole using the soil and grass removed from the area by the kitchen. I then needed to turf this area. On the internet I found a supplier of good turf about 20 minutes drive away. I called by to see it and tried lifting one of their rolls - it wasn't too heavy. So I ordered the amount I needed having worked out it would just fit in Mrs Troy's 4x4. The day I picked up the turf it had been raining heavily, doubling the weight of the turf. I drove back home with the turf VERY gently using the gears to assist braking. Then we laid the turf (more back-breaking work). Spare wood from the decking was used to make another small decking platform in the corner and we put a double seat/table combination on it. This area of garden was transformed as follows:

I think you will agree that the back-breaking work over two summers was worth the effort. We are now looking forward to an nice easy summer in 2009 just enjoying our revised garden. And when it comes to sell the house in years to come we should get back our investment of time and money.

POSTSCRIPT : It was remiss of me not to acknowledge all the hard work Mrs Troy did in digging out the borders and planting them.

Monday, 1 December 2008


Here’s the third instalment of the “7 Things” meme I’ve been tagged to do. I’ve got to think of 7 things which I can’t do – so here goes:-

1 Sing and play a musical instrument : I can’t do either, I’d like to be able to do both. Of course I can “sing”. Yet not like I’d like to – in tune. I had a few piano lessons when I was a child and learnt to play a few hits of the day - badly. What is frustrating is that I love rock and pop music. I love to sing along in the privacy of my own home or in the car. And at home I can dig out my trusty old folding air guitar, quickly tune it up, and feel like one of the great rock stars. I try to imagine what it must be like, performing in front of thousands of adoring fans. Perhaps a bit like blogging (tongue in cheek!).

2. Go back in time : I’m interested in history. Not just the key dates they teach you at school but rather what it must have been really like in Roman times, Tudor Times, Victorian times. Also, I’ve done quite a lot of work on my family history but what I’d really like to do is have a time machine and go back and see it for real. I’d love to see my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents when they were kids and when they were setting out as adults. What were their dreams, their fears and their attitudes? One of the drivers behind my Book Project (see earlier post if you’re new here) was a desire to leave something of my real life to my future generations. And perhaps now through blogs we can do what few people did in earlier generations – leave a diary of ourselves to the future. Yet I suspect that ink on paper is the only safe way to preserve things.

3. Grow my hair back : If I had just three wishes one of them would definitely be to still have a full head of hair. Mentally I still have. My image of myself is still as a 30 year old with youthful looks and a full head of hair. The mirrors in my house unfortunately are more up to date. Having a full head of hair would get me at least halfway back there.

4. Get in the Christmas spirit : It’s the same every year – this time of year depresses me. So many people getting into the festive mood but neither Mrs Troy nor I ever catch it. I’m just waiting for the Spring, the warmer days, then long sunny evenings, lightweight summer clothes, going out on my boat or for long walks through the fields or along the beach. When I was working and the end of December marked our financial year end and pending audit I used to think that was the reason I didn’t enjoy Christmas – that it was always casting a shadow over it. But since I’ve left work my feelings haven’t changed. Fact is I’m just a summer person.

5. Buy bargain holidays : Since Troy Junior started school we’ve been stuck with taking family holidays during the school holidays. As a School Governor I feel obliged to set a good example and not take my child out of school. Yet the change in holiday prices between term time and school holiday time is sickening. I do like a bargain. We used to book late holidays, take a cruise round the Caribbean and then come home before it was time to pay the credit card bill. Now we need to plan months in advance and we choose to stay in the UK in the summer. Those Caribbean beaches are but a faded memory. When Troy Junior goes to University (2019) we are going on a world cruise. The next eleven years will fly by!

6 Get a job : But wait a minute you are thinking, Troy is happily retired? Well yes I am, but in a perfect world I would still like to work from mid October until Easter. It’s the winter/summer thing again. I registered with an agency and I do look for suitable jobs on the internet. There was one perfect job last year – but they didn’t want me! Suitable, well paid temporary jobs seem few and far between out here in Suffolk – and I suspect the situation will get worse rather than better. Still as I type this, its 12.45, lunchtime, and the morning has flown by. I’m happy, life’s okay, mustn’t grumble.

7. Be bothered thinking of a 7th thing : I’ve already written a lot about myself in the six things above. A psychoanalyst would have a field day. And you are probably bored already (oh, you’re still here, thanks!).

Back next week with “7 things that I find attractive in the opposite sex”. A whole week to do some fieldwork!