I am the Doctor and this is my spoon!


It’s an inescapable fact that when a new Doctor comes along people immediately compare him to the previous ones, and there’s always those who (in spite of doing the same with the previous incarnation) state that the new Dr is not as good as the previous one and the franchise is doomed.

When Peter Capaldi was announced as the replacement for Matt Smith, many “new who” fans cried out in outrage that an old(er) man was being given the job – after all where was the love interest going to be, and who were the teeny girls going to drool over. (OK – that’s an unfair comment as both male and female latecomers were objecting, but the arguments often referenced the age of Capaldi and the dyanmic changes that would bring about)

Personally I was both pleased and intrigued by his appointment – he’s a genuine whovian and hearkens back to the first heyday of who with Pertwee, Baker (Tom of course) and even Davidson with a respectful nod to Harkness and Troughton.

Three episodes in to the new Doctors tenure in the TARDIS and I’m still intrigued. This Doctor has a mystique about him, an uncertainty about both his identity and his motivations. There’s a battle going on inside his two hearts that is trying to determine his morality.

And you know what – it’s fantastic! (Ecclestone nod there)

The Doctor has gone back to being this mysterious traveller who sweeps in with the delicacy of a bull in a china shop and then sweeps out again leaving as many questions as answers.

Don’t get me wrong – I thought both Tennant and Smith were brilliant, and Tennant sits joint favourite for me with Tom Baker. But there was something about their versions of the Doctor that lacked that question mark. Doctor Who became a statement more than a question (for most of the time – there were some excellent occassions where the question mark was most definitely present!)

So back to Capaldi – we’ve had 3 very different episodes. We’ve had the “I’m in a new body and am rather addled by the change”, we’ve had the “Dalek moral soul-searching” and we’ve now had the “Tongue-in-cheek Romp” and that gives us a good feel for the direction of the new Doctor.

When I look at his performance there’s a darker edge, similar but edgier than Ecclestone. There’s also that sense of a timelord who is ageing so much slower than the rest of us – and he is not backwards in coming forwards with that, or anything for that matter.

One other thing that seems to be recurring is a real embracing of all the Doctors. We’ve seen mentions, character traits, and even images of past incarnations and this is a Doctor who is the sum of all his pasts – but at the same time strangely lessened by them. He’s in conflict with all his characters and as a result we are catching glimpses of them all – just peeking out through the almost tortured veneer that Capaldi is wearing.

It’s too early to say for definite – but I really do feel that this Doctor has the potential to be amongst the best of the best.

Oh, and SPOON!

Life in the fast lane

 Life In The Fast Lane

It’s been quite a while since I posted here – not for lack of wanting to, nor for any lack of ideas, but purely because life is one wild maelstrom since we’ve moved. Don’t get me wrong that’s not an excuse, a complaint or a moan, it’s just the way it is.

And that’s the sort of thing we wanted when we moved, although we didn’t anticipate it to this extent.

So what’s been happening since I last posted (which was a bit of a downer of a post I know but it was a fair reflection of how life was that week)? Well, things have got busier and busier.

The kids all have their own lives, both within the church and outside of it. The boys are now members of the local cub/scout troops, our daughter is extremely busy with college work and they all have their own things going on within the church.

The church. What can I say about that? We’ve been so blessed in finding a great community to be a part of and at a really exciting time as well. We’ve all found our own niches and have our own activities and involvements, and we’re all loving life there. Me, well I’ve gone full circle really and I’m back doing both PA and playing in the worship team – it feels so good and it has been a huge answer to prayer.

Of course, the side effect of having such an active life is that we barely have an evening without something going on and our weekends rapidly fill up. It’s meant that all of a sudden we find ourselves with the realisation that we moved home nearly 8 months ago. It’s such a crazy thought as on the one hand it feels like 5 minutes ago, and on the other hand we feeld so well established and settled that it feels as though we’ve lived here for much longer.

So whilst it may seem like I last blogged and ice-age ago, to me it feels like yesterday. Life in the fast lane… gotta love it!

Never been a fan of rollercoasters

Life Is A Rollercoaster

I’ve been on a few – nothing as extreme as the ones you get nowadays at Alton Towers etc but I have done some pretty big ones… but I don’t actually *like* rollercoasters. The constant ups and downs and loops and turns, well, it turns my stomach just thinking about it.

Ronan Keating sang a song “Life is a rollercoaster” – and yes, I’m fully aware how sad it is that I know this and I can even sing bits of the chorus. This week has been one of those weeks when that song has been so true.

There’s been some great highs – work in particular has been good and actually fairly exciting and productive in the most part. There’s also been some lows – parenting “challenges” and problems with my back, neck and arms.

In all honesty it’s one of those kinds of weeks where I could shout “I’m King of the World” one minute, and take a long drive off a short cliff the next.

It’s all part of “the journey”, and it’s life. But sometimes….

The Nuances of Pain


Pain. It comes in varying degrees and the severity is very much a subjective thing. It always makes me laugh when doctors ask for you to quantify pain levels on a 1 to 10 level as the results will differ for each person and can depend on a huge number of variables (and yes, I appreciate that they are trying to guage how the pain is affecting *you* at the time rather than comparing it to other people)

As I’ve written here just once or twice, I have fairly major issues with my spine. So much so that in 2010 I underwent major surgery on my cervical spine (the neck) and now have a neck that is made from titanium and polymer. As the surgery took place several years too late I live with daily pain, a high dosage medication regime, and a constant mental excercise to “manage the pain”

It’s that last phrase that people often can’t wrap their heads around. You can manage people, situations, finances (well some people can anyway!), physical objects – but how can you manage pain? The hardest part is that you can’t explain it easily – managing pain is a mental process for keeping pain compartmentalised and locking it away in a part of the brain. Doing something mental with something physical is a strange concept. But it works.

Well, to a degree.

Over a period of time it is possible to manage regular pain levels, the day to day pain, to an extent that you are in constant pain but you aren’t as aware of it. By that I mean that it’s not that I don’t feel it it’s just that I put my focus on everything apart from that.

This is constant. It’s something that I do subconciously, but all the time. And it’s tiring. It takes effort, energy and focus that drains you.

Day to day it’s manageable. Where it has a bigger effect is in those times when the pain is greater than normal, or when there is more pain through a different injury. More pain requires more mental effort, which increases the levels of tiredness. This then leads to the other “side-effect” of putting in more mental effort in that I am more irritable, I can snap at people without meaning to and my interactions with folks are more tense.

I try not to snap at people, but I can’t switch off the pain management – if I did, I’d be crying on the floor. So the alternative is trying to keep the pain isolated whilst being normal. And all the while this is making me more and more tired.

As I get more tired, the pain management becomes harder to do because I’m mentally shattered.

Can you see the vicious loop?

It’s only once the pain has levelled off again that I can start to become more rested and can begin to become human again – but, depending how long the peak of pain lasts, that can take a good week or two to fully get back to normal levels.

I’m not writing this to get sympathy or to ilicit any sort of response really – to be honest this is mostly my way of documenting for myself what I go through. For the past 6 days my lower back has been playing up, nearly crippling me with the pain at times and, although the pain is easing off a bit, I’m now getting to that latter part. I know that some people won’t fully understand that, even though the pain is lessened, there is still a long process that is likely to kick me for at least a week now.

Chronic pain isn’t just about the physical, there’s much more to it. And sometimes it can really stink.

Boxes and Brushes

boxes & brushes

It’s finally happened! On the 12th of July we actually moved from Stamford to Rugby – and the process that was kicked off 5 years ago reached its culmination. With delays occurring even up to the day of the move it proved to be a stressful and nerve-wracking time and not an experience I plan on tackling again anytime soon.

Before I go any further I have got to give a huge shout out of THANKS to everyone who helped us in getting the house in Stamford sorted, packing done, vans loaded, moving in, unloading, unpacking, cleaning, tidying, sorting out DIY etc and anything and everything else. We have managed to achieve a huge amount in the last month and a bit and it couldn’t have been done without the help of family and friends.

Since we moved in we’ve done a lot of work in getting things done – particularly focussing on the kids bedrooms which are now both decorated, unpacked and looking remarkably good. Of course, we did all the sorting out and now the rooms are looking very typical of a boys room and a teenagers room (no visible floor space and you wouldn’t believe that we’d done any tidying up or sorting out!)

Being a techie I have, of course, got some priorities right in sorting out the networking, tv’s, sky, internet and general connectivity 😀 A key focus of all my latest tech setups has been working to try and improve overall functionality whilst reducing the overall impact on our electricity bills – not always the easiest thing to balance out but I’ve at least now started a process that will hopefully allow me to meet the demands of a modern household without fattening the wallets of the power companies too much (boy do I wish there were more eco grants available for solar and wind generation as I’d willingly pop some panels on our roof and a couple of micro turbines)

I had a chat with Mrs H just before we moved and explained that it wasn’t the house I was going to miss in Stamford as it was, put bluntly, an ex-council mid-terrace house with 4 walls and an a-frame roof – what I was going to miss was the people and the places. That’s proven to be true – I really miss some of the people there even though it’s only been a month and a bit. Thankfully we’ve managed to catch up with some folks and even had the weather for a barbeque.

The new house, in contrast to our old one, is one I can see me falling in love with. The house is quirky and full of character, we’ve never seen another house like it. There’s room galore in it so that we can each have our own space and don’t get under each others feet. Everyone who’s seen it has been shocked when they see just how much room it does have as, from the front, it doesn’t look like it’s a big house at all. Quite the opposite in fact as it looks really small from the front aspect. I find myself regularly looking at different areas of the house, garden or workshop (yes, there’s a man cave at the bottom of the garden) and smiling when I realise just how good the house is – and always sending another “thank you” upstairs as there’s no way we’d have got this house without some divine nudging along the way.

The other big thing about the move has been the whole process of trying to get settled in to the area and making new friends. Thankfully God has been ahead of us all the way and there’s a family in the church who live just at the bottom of the hill and we’ve clicked quite well with them. Everyone has been really welcoming and friendly and things will get a bit easier once the kids start at school/college and make more friends and get settled in to a routine a bit more. It’s not the easiest of things for me as I’m not particularly comfortable in new groups and can easily shy away from people – once I get to know folks and get settled it, well that’s a different story… but getting to that stage is a major challenge for me and is something I’m having to try and face head on.

So now it’s time to put down some roots, get settled in, and get ready for whatever we’re called to do. Rugby – you’ve been warned, the Hartleys have arrived! 🙂