Happy 12th Birthday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, my old blog/website reaches the grand old age of 12. It seems weird to me that my website will become a teenager before my daughter does!

The last time I posted on here I commented that 2012 hadn’t been an easy year. Looking back now, it seems that I was past the worst, and things were on the up at last. I got myself a permanent job in January 2013 working in St Helens, and Joanne managed to get some extra hours at work in September 2013. That all means that our financial situation has improved, and whilst we’re still not exactly flush with cash, we can at least feel like we’re going in the right direction at last!

Matthew is now the proud owner of 2 GCSEs, including an A in Science – he must take after his Dad ;-)   He has the bulk of his GCSEs this Summer, so I imagine that’s going to be a stressful time, but hopefully his hard work will pay off. Heather started at the same secondary school as Matthew in September 2013, and she is looking more grown up every day.

We went to Butlins Minehead in Summer 2012 for our holiday. We couldn’t really afford to go, but I decided to take a ‘what the hell’ attitude, as the kids are going to be old enough to want to do their own thing when it comes to holidays before too long. It was a much needed break, and we had a great time. I think Butlins is probably too young for our family these days, but we certainly enjoyed ourselves, whether it was watching a fantastic Madness tribute act, or exploring the area around Minehead and being given a personal tour of a beautiful old church.

Overall, it feels like 2013 was the year that things started to turn round after several years of sliding down a slippery slope. As well as our finances improving, I’ve come to a new appreciation of what is really important in life, and what things just aren’t worth worrying about. It’s not always easy, but we’re getting there – together, as a family. Thanks for stopping by for another annual update, and here’s to 12 years of SimeWorld.

Happy 11th Birthday

happy_birthday_circleWell, it’s that time of year again folks, where I can’t resist popping a little birthday message to mark the passing of another 12 months in the life of SimeWorld and all the people associated with it.

I will start by saying that 2012 hasn’t been an easy year by any means. I was made redundant in January, and had to venture into the world of contracting to try and pay the bills. I managed to get a 3-month contract with a great team at the Co-Operative HQ in Manchester, and this was extended by another 3 months. I’ve since got myself another 3-month contract in Skelmersdale which has recently been extended by 6 months, so things could be looking up!

Due to the massive hit we’ve taken financially, we weren’t able to afford a proper family holiday for the first time since Matthew was a baby. We did manage to squeeze in a long weekend in Wales though, so we made the most of our time there and had a lovely break together.

Speaking of Matthew, he has finally outgrown me! He is 15 next month and has started the 2-year syllabus which will lead him into his GCSE exams. Scary how quick time goes. Heather is in her last year at primary school, and we are hoping that we can get her into the same secondary school as Matthew next year. It’s a great school in a lot of ways, and it would also make things easier logistically.

Joanne is still working for Knowsley Education, and has started learning Braille this year. A very generous lady donated a braille-ing machine so that has been getting some use at home whilst Joanne learns how to string letters and words together. She is also working with LearnDirect to improve her Maths skills, as she sometimes has to support kids in secondary schools, so it’s all about self-improvement this year!

So as 2012 enters it’s final phase, I look back and try to remember that although it’s been a difficult year, it could have been a thousand times worse. What’s imporant to remember is what I DO havem which most importantly is a wonderful wife and two fantastic children, with a roof over our head and food in the cupboards. With any luck I may be able to secure a better paying job before too long which might mean we can afford a holiday in Summer 2013.

Thank you to any of you who stopped by during 2012, and here’s to 11 years of SimeWorld.

Surprise Surprise

Given that I’ve been updating the website recently, I thought I’d take the opportunity for a quick update on a few things. Not that anybody will read this, I know, but it keeps me happy anyway :-)

I’m now working on a 3-month contract in Central Manchester, as I was made redundant from my previous role in St Helens in January 2012. Setting up as a contractor for the first time has been a bit painful, and the travelling to and from Manchester isn’t ideal, but at least I have a job which is more than a lot of people have.

We finally decided to let our rabbits go to another loving home. As their hutch was in the garden, we didn’t get to see them much, so they were always too timid to handle. The final push to let them go was the introduction of the newest member of our family – Crackers. He is an English Springer Spaniel that we rescued from a local animal centre, and he’s a big softy. He hasn’t even barked yet, and he’s more likely to roll on his back and let you tickle his belly when you first meet him. The kids love him and he’s already coming out of his shell, and since we need to walk him several times a day, the extra exercise won’t do us any harm either!

I think that should do for now. All this updating has tired me out ;-)

Blimey – that looks different !

As the more eagle eyed of you may have spotted, I have made some fundamental changes to SimeWorld.

In short, I’ve moved the website onto a totally different hosting package (Linux instead of Windows) which effectively meant starting from scratch. I still have all the posts from my original website stored in a database, but I doubt I will bother re-uploading them all. I’ve also got details of my old links to fellow bloggers, so I will update that at some point as well.

Not sure if I’ve settled on a theme and logo yet, but this will do for now. At least when people see the slug at the top of the page, they know they’ve got the right website :-)

Happy 10th Birthday

As you’ve already gathered some time ago, I gave up updating SimeWorld regularly a long time ago, but I can never quite seem to find it in me to let it go. So, here’s my annual ‘State of the Nation’ address from the world of Sime.

Since my last update, my world has changed considerably. I was eventually made redundant from the job which I had been in since Heather was born. Luckily I was only out of work for a month or so, and I’ve found myself a new role within IT Support for a local firm.

Joanne’s job has stabilised over the last 12 months, although you can’t take anything for granted these days – even with local government roles. Fingers crossed that things will start to pick up for her soon though, but in the current climate we’re both just grateful that we have jobs.

We got to France for the first time in Summer 2011, and we stayed at a KeyCamp near Paris. Managed to get us all up the Eiffel Tower, and had a great day at Euro Disney. Who knew that the so-called ‘kids rides’ could scramble your brains quite so effectively!

We’ve still got 2 rabbits as our family pets, but they don’t like being picked up (or even stroked) so that has become a bit of a problem. We’re spending our time and money to keep pets that we get nothing back from, so we may take the difficult choice to let them go this year. The kids want a dog, and I would love one too, but I’m not convinced that our house and lifestyle would be suitable.

Last, but not least, 2011 was the year I finally found fame on BBC1, as I appeared on Pointless with my brother. I was just made up to get an expenses-paid trip to the BBC Television Centre, never mind get on TV! Anyway, check out this link to see my cool calculated TV appearance in action!

If you would join me once again in raising your glasses, I propose a toast to the website that has taught me so much, put me in touch with so many people, and has become a popular stopping point for fans of my famous jockey Great Uncle Joe Sime!

Joe Sime

My great uncle, on my Dad’s side, was a man called Joe Sime. He was a jockey in the 50s and 60s, but I hadn’t realised just how good he actualy was.

There is some footage here of him winning a race, and I have quoted below some more information I was able to find.

Joe Sime Memorial Handicap, Doncaster

Traditionally run over one mile and six furlongs at Doncaster’s May Bank Holiday meeting, the Joe Sime Memorial Handicap is staged this season on 1 May at Windsor, while Town Moor is undergoing major refurbishment. Last year the race was won by Mark Johnston’s Hiddensee, ridden by Kevin Darley.

In his day, Joe Sime was one of the leading Flat jockeys in the north. Born in Liverpool in 1923, he was apprenticed to Dawson Waugh and rode his first winner on Firle at Newmarket in 1941. He was champion apprentice in 1943, ’44 and ’46, when his 40 winners included the Portland Handicap on The Shah.

Sime was always able to ride at around 7st 8lb and was noted as an excellent judge of pace. He became something of a big handicap specialist, teaming up on many occasions with Sam Hall, Yorkshire’s shrewdest trainer of good handicappers.

For Hall, he won the 1950 Manchester November Handicap on Coltbridge, the 1957 Ebor Handicap and the following year’s Cesarewitch Handicap on Morecambe, and the 1960 Wokingham Stakes aboard Silver King.

He also landed the Ebor on Procne (1947), Donino (1948) and Partholon (1963), the Wokingham on Light Harvest (1956) and the Cesarewitch on both Utrillo (1963) and Mintmaster (1965). He won three Lincolns and a Royal Hunt Cup, but his career highlight came with success in the 1964 Great Metropolitan Handicap, aboard Her Majesty The Queen’s Gold Aura.

One of the few jockeys to smoke a pipe, the highly popular Sime enjoyed his best season when registering a total of 108 winners. He retired at the end of the 1968 campaign and the first running of the race that honours him took place in May 1999.