Insidious Mobile Directory Enquiries Service

A new directory enquiries service has recently launched here in the UK called 118 800. It will allow you to ask for someone’s mobile number.

Most people, I suspect, feel that their mobile is their very private domain and don’t want it invaded by cold callers. It’s bad enough when that happens on one’s home telephone.

I’d heard about this service before but thanks to the weekly email I receive from Money Saving Expert (an excellent service for finding the best deals on insurance, utilities), I learnt just how insidious this service is. If you’ve ever forgotten to opt out when signing up for an online service (or offline come to that) and provided your mobile number, the chances are that this service will have bought your details and added you to their database.

But all is not lost! You can opt out! Don’t forget to do your partner’s phone and particularly those of any children you might have as many (most?) kids phones are registered to a parent and so outside the rules governing contacting minors. 118 800 have a removal page here.

I strongly recommend that you take action now!

Watching cricket under floodlights

Last night I took my wife and our 2 small boys to Lord’s to watch Middlesex play Kent in a Twenty20 Cup thrash – and Middlesex did indeed get thrashed by 60 odd runs.

But the floodlights, being used for the first time if I heard the announcer correctly, were fantastic and watching them rise slowly before play kept my boys amused for ages.

Great work MCC – now I can’t wait for the Twenty20 World Cup to begin in a few weeks time!

Achieving a Life’s Ambition

I finally achieved an ambition I have had for a very long time. And it’s all thanks to my family who gave me a very special birthday present while we were on holiday in the Isle of Wight (in the UK).

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved birds of prey. We have some beautiful 19th century prints hanging on our kitchen wall so that I can look at them while eating breakfast.

So it was with mounting excitement that we arrived at Robin Hill so that I could fly a bird, in this case an Harris Hawk, belonging to my instructor Steve of White Falconry. It was a beautiful, bright and very hot day and I was in heaven.

Image of Philip de Lisle holding an Harris Hawk Image of an Harris Hawk

Pure magic!

And We Didn’t Drown!

Well we’re back from our long weekend break at Center Parcs at Elevedon Forest, Suffolk. We’re tired but very happy. I can’t believe how hard bicycling has become over the last 4 years since we were there before. I guess as I near the big five oh, I’m slowing down! I do not enjoy getting old!

What was amazing was that we departed on what will possibly become known as Monsoon Friday with torrential rain falling. The car was very heavy with 2 roof boxes , 4 bikes on the back plus family and more “stuff” inside. This was the first time that I’d had 4 bikes on the back as our youngest son’s normal goes inside our Fiat Multipla MPV. I was very surprised at what a difference the extra kid’s bike made to the balance of the car, but it still drove well even if we were forced to keep our speed well below the limits due to the appalling weather.

But after we had unloaded our stuff into the villa and I was riding back from depositing the car in the car park, the sun came out. And stayed out for most of the weekend. We never got wet once, but looking at the TV news each night we were amazed at how bad the south west of England was – it looked like the Indian subcontinent after one of their big storms with flotsam and jetsam everywhere.

We had a fantastic time with lots of swimming. The boys discovered the joys of water slides and were so tired when they fell into bed that they were asleep within 5 minutes and stayed that way for over 12 hours each night.

A brilliant break. And we didn’t drown!

The Joy of a Child

My four year old has been through the mill since he was born. Chronic eczema as a baby, glue ear requiring grommets at 2 and he’s so long sighted he’s off the chart. As a consequence he’s never been confident riding his bike even with stabiliser wheels.

(Un)fortunately we’ve booked a family holiday at Center Parcs where a bike is an essential not a luxury. So what to do? A friend offered us a “tag along” (a single, rear wheel contraption which links to the back of an adult bike) but when we got it home, we discovered that he couldn’t touch the ground which made him even more nervous than before.

So I hit Google. And discovered something called a Trailgator which turns an ordinary bike into a tag-along.

This thing is brilliant. So much so that said son is now seriously keen to go for bike rides. Loud cries of “faster Daddy, faster” accompanied by peels of laughter.

Seeing and hearing him be so happy makes me almost cry. Fantastic!

Learning a Hard Lesson Young

My 7 year old learnt a hard lesson today in the school playground.

Recently 2 events have occurred which lead up to this hurt:

  1. He was given an XBox for Christmas. This is something which I personally hate with a vengeance – kids are meant to use their imagination to play in my opinion as there is plenty of time for them to become coach potatoes in their adult lives
  2. He discovered, and got heavily into, collectable sports cards

These 2 things have definitely had an effect on his social skills. He pores over the collectable cards and has got into the habit of taking them to school where he becomes mobbed as he gives away his duplicates. I think he thinks that this will make him popular but doesn’t realise, not surprisingly aged just 7, that he is actually being taken advantage of. And when he isn’t doing that he is desperate to be on the XBox.

Today we said “no cards”. He was a bit sheepish in the playground but was encouraged by his mother to go and play with some friends. He was belittled which made him very sad as he is a sensitive soul. I suspect that his recent behaviour at school has isolated him from his friends who are not so enamoured of these cards.

He needs to reconnect with them. We need to help him do so without embarrassing him or making him feel even worse than he clearly does now.

This is a hard lesson learnt young.

Why Would You Not Make A Will?

This has been a really traumatic week for my wife and therefore, by extension, for me. Her father left no will!

Fortunately there are only 3 possible beneficiaries – my wife and her sisters – so it won’t be difficult  to distribute the proceeds of his life (what a horrible phrase – makes me sound like a lawyer from Dickens’ Bleak House).  But the problem of no will means that they have to apply for Letters of Administration before probate can be granted. I hope they agree to appoint a lawyer to do this as Dawn has had the horrible task of phoning all sorts of people to try and sort this out. And as I’m not a surviving relative, I can’t help her to do this as I have no authority.

When my father died, I knew exactly what to do and who to contact because his will was so precise.  An added advantage was that I helped him to draft it so I knew exactly what he wanted when the executors were unsure (for very good reasons I wasn’t an executor).

Wills make sense. If you haven’t written one, please do so as soon as possible. The stress and distress that the lack of a will causes surviving relatives is awful and not something, I am sure, you would want to cause.

Don’t think about this, just do it!

A Roller Coaster Week

This has been a weird week.

First up my eldest son’s 7th birthday. I couldn’t be around when he got back from school as I had a meeting in London I couldn’t miss, nor could I get the other participants to rearrange. Which was sad as my wife created a fabulous panda birthday cake (my son is crazy about pandas).

Then exactly a week later I’m in London for an evening networking meeting when I get a telephone call telling me that my father-in-law died earlier that day. My wife, naturally enough, is very upset. So now we have the fun task of sorting out his affairs as his other family is scattered far and wide.

I guess this is what the Circle of Life is all about, but it sure feels weird at the moment!

Worst Fears of a Parent

Our 4 year old son decided to upset his 6 year old brother yesterday and ended up flat on his back on the floor. Unfortunately on concrete. And split his head open.

A parent’s worst nightmare!

But A&E at Hemel Hempstead were brilliant. He was seen inside 10 minutes for a quick appraisal and we were back home within 3 hours which wasn’t bad considering that we had to wait for a doctor and then a nurse to close up the wound with medical superglue which was astonishing.

A few hours later he was full of life and today you would not know anything had happened. His mum and I though wince every time his head comes anywhere near the chairs, table, kitchen worktops …

He’s not known as Danger Mouse for nothing!