Archive for Friends


Last night I headed out to meet my friend James and got to meet a couple of old friends into the bargain. Adam James I hadn’t seen in a number of years but Graham Free I hadn’t seen literally since the day I walked out of the school gates. It was nice to catch up with both of them and find that they were both doing well in their respective study and career exploits.

I was also pleased to make the acquaintance of John Hargreaves, a good friend of James’, with whom I found I had a number of hobbies in common. Sailing, real ale and 80s music to name a few.

I hope to be able to stay in touch with these people and hopefully meet up again upon my next return to St. Albans which is unlikely to be too far into the future.

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Ski Trip to Austria

Two weeks ago I enjoyed a week long break from work and headed out to Austria for a skiing break with a couple of old friends from my school days, Matt Kirk and Ed McIllwraith. Despite not having been skiing abroad for a number of years I got in practice before hand by visiting the xscape snow dome in Milton Keynes and was fully ready for the trip by the time I boarded the plane.

The trip was better than I could imagine and while my intense skiing activity left considerably less time for photos I still managed to make the most of the resort and the activities on offer.

I succeeded in completing all the black runs in the resort and got a fair chunk of off-piste skiing done, including what Ed described as a spectacular stack after hitting a tree stump submerged by snow that saw me go head over heels 3 times. I was OK though and in a strange kind of way it made the trip even better. The holiday reminded me how much I enjoy skiing and the winter scenary and I definitely think I’ll be trying to get a trip organised again next year. If you’ve never tried skiing you should definitely get some lessons and give a trip a go – you won’t regret it.

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Leaving Leeds

I’m now on the train heading away from Leeds and back to St. Albans. Its been a really nice few days, seeing friends and relaxing in a different environment. As I’m sure you’ve seen from the photos, new years eve was a blast and I’ve been able to enjoy a great start to the new year what with several social evenings and of course no work to speak of.

In the course of my stay in Leeds it dawned on me that this is the first Christmas holiday I’ve had in as long as I can remember that hasn’t been overshadowed by coursework and January exams! It was nice to be able to share this time with those in exactly the same situation. Many thanks to Chris, Sarann, Michelle, Norm and Liz for letting me stay with them, as ever it was most enjoyable. All I need to do now is arrange a weekend when they can come and stay in Swindon!

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Yesterday, after a lengthy lie in and a quick lunch, Michelle and I borrowed Sarann’s kite and went into Roundhay park to attempt to harness the forecast 7mph wind and get the kite into the air. Taking advantage of a large hill and a favorable wind direction relative to it we nearly succeeded but the wind strength wasn’t quite enough and after a brief 20 seconds or so of success on my part the kite came crashing to the ground and showed little signs afterwards of getting into the air again.

Lack of success aside it was an enjoyable end to the afternoon and it was nice to get out of the house in the fresh air and have a bit of a walk/run around. I’m really feeling the effects of Christmas indulgence! Still, I’ll be back in Swindon tomorrow and with that will resume regular visits to the gym so I won’t be idle for long. While I’m not pleased my holiday is nearly over I can certainly look back on it and say I’ve had a good time.

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New Years Eve 2008 Photos

Thumbnail image of new years eve festivitiesMy new years eve 2008 was spent at Chris’ house party in Leeds. Seeing as Chris had a decent digital camera and was getting snap happy I decided to forgo taking my own shots and used a collection of the photos he took to form a new years 2008 album over in my gallery.

Best wishes for 2009 everybody :)

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Twilight Golf

Traditionally James and myself play golf on boxing day but this year due to family commitments we postponed it until today. Due to it being after Christmas there was a lot of demand for tee times so we elected to play in the twilight tranche which essentially means you get a cheaper round but if you don’t play fast enough you don’t finish the course before it gets dark.

After the usual first couple of holes of mediocre warm up golf we settled into a good rhythm and began to hit some spectacular shots. I was noticeably improved since our last round, I think largely due to my recent few visits to Swindon driving range where I have been able to refine my swing and work on shot consistency.

On the back 9 we were dogged by slow players which caused us to come off the boil somewhat in shot consistency and ultimately not complete all 18 holes of the course. Still, we had a thoroughly enjoyable time and it has encouraged me not only to continue my practice sessions on the driving range but to augment them more often with a full round – I think I have the potential to improve my game significantly this way.

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Halifax 5th Anniversary Ball Photos

After a thoroughly successful Halifax College 5th Anniversary ball the photos from the disposable cameras distributed at the event have now been developed and have found their way onto the web. Interested parties can view and pass comment on them over on my photo gallery

Sadly my knowledge of old students is not what it once was so I invite all those who recognise people in the photos to contact me and let me know who and where in a given photo so that I can update the captions accordingly.

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Yesterday I took a trip out to Swindon Karting centre with Matt and Ed to enjoy a few laps round the track. Some might find it incredible but I hadn’t actually been go-karting before so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’m glad we made the effort though as it was a thoroughly enjoyable hour or so. We had time both on and off the track and were able to spend time observing others to improve technique.

Watching others whiz round the track makes you think it is an easy pass time but I can assure you its no where near as easy as it looks. Corners approach suddenly and the rear end of the cart swings out quite wildly if you brake too hard on the approach or accelerate too much on the exit.

Sadly victory wasn’t to be mine on any of the sessions we had on the track, but as my print out showed, I at least improved lap on lap against my previous efforts. We all definitely want to go again at some point though and I don’t think it will be long before I find myself in a go-kart once more.

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House Warming

On Thursday night last week I went to Amrita’s house warming party. I was impressed with how quickly she had obtained a flat and had it furnished such that she felt able to receive guests although that being said she did rent a furnished flat which might explain the differences in readiness when compared to my house!

It was a pleasant evening and a good chance to get to know my fellow ex. students outside of work. Invariably we did talk about work to some extent but we also covered a wide range of other interesting topics about our past and the world at large which I felt allowed us to get to know each other much better.

With the success of that evening we are all planning on meeting up again outside of work at some point next week which I am looking forward to. Hopefully my house too will soon be able to play host to such evenings :)

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A week ago on Saturday I took a trip up to York for the first ever Halifax College reunion ball at the University of York. I must confess that before I departed from Swindon on the long 200 mile journey Northwards I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. In some cases I hadn’t even spoken to some of the people who were going to be there since I left the college and guess there was a small part of me that thought we wouldn’t have all that much to talk about. Thankfully my doubts were completely unfounded and I ended up having a most enjoyable weekend.

I drove up to York on the Friday night and stayed in the Monkbar Best Western hotel which was a very pleasant experience. While I was rather tired when I arrived I had an opportunity to chat with Heather on the phone and then I was already in York on the Saturday morning which meant I was able to enjoy the whole day. I met my family for lunch in Bettys as coincidentally they had come up to the city to drop Hannah off for her final year at the university. As ever lunch at this practically world renowned tea room was thoroughly enjoyable and while my parents had to dash off home I had a chance to wander around the city a little more and get a present for Heather before going back to the hotel to get changed for the evening.

The evening its self was held in a collection of function rooms upstairs at Kings Manor. Despite having dated an archeology student for some time while at York I never knew there was so much space in their departmental buildings! I met up initially with Helen who was waiting near the entrance for people to arrive. We then went upstairs where I met with Noel and James. Despite not having seen Helen & Noel since leaving the last college committee meeting back in 2005 it very quickly felt like we hadn’t been apart which was great. I managed to speak briefly with Mark Evans (old college provost) and Sally Brabyn (current Dean of the college) both of whom I had liased with regularly while on college business. Already it was beginning to feel like the good old days!

The meal had been chosen superbly by the organisers and there were no complaints with respect to the food provision or table service. Wine was reasonably priced given the setting and we were very quickly taking pictures of groups of attendees with the disposable cameras provided and laughing and chatting about the “good old college days”. Shortly into the meal we were happily joined by Katy who I had gotten along with very well while at Halifax. We’d meant to keep in touch but despite both still retaining each others phone numbers had neglected to do so. We vowed to do much better after the evening was though and spent a good while filling each other in on what we’d been up to.

Towards the end of the meal Mark got up and made a speech which really brought back some of the best and brightest moments of my time at the college. After the speeches a jazz band struck up and after a few more wine related purchases most people were up and dancing. At the end of the dancing I suddenly felt myself being transported back in time and as the band finished their last number I found myself at the microphone thanking the band and reminding people to leave their cameras at the front before leaving because I’d be putting the photos on the website – some things never change!

A select group of us decided to continue the evening on in town which was great fun. We had film left to use up in the cameras and with the formal wear we had donned for the occasion were also some of the smartest dressed in town! After a bar or two we parted ways and vowed to do a better job of keeping in touch. Those attending will be able to find the photos on this website soon and of course the official ball website.

I’d like to thank those old friends of mine for attending and really making remembering my old college days a fantastic experience. The time I spent in the college and the people I met there really were and always will be some of the greatest moments in my life and I hope to enjoy attending the reunions and other such events for many years to come.

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