Archive for Friends

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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Solfest 2008

Fire JugglersOver the August bank holiday weekend I went to Solfest with Sarann and stayed at her house with some of her family. It was a great festival with some enjoyable musical acts and a great atmosphere. I was thoroughly impressed with the organisation and the wide range of bands and activities on offer. As an added bonus we experienced fine weather for the most part as well which is always nice. I feel sure I will return to the festival next year.

As ever with my trips away I took a number of photos, just click the thumbnail to view them in my gallery.

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Golf Lessons

So I’ve been bought golf lessons for 4 people at a charity auction and I need to find 3 other people from in and around Leeds to join me in taking them. It will just be one lesson, on some weekend in the not too distant future although obviously a date wouldn’t be set without either having the right number of people or ensuring that all of said people could make it.

Back in St. Albans there are a number of people who I would have asked directly, but here in Leeds things are a little different and I’m not so aware of the golfing landscape amongst friends so I figured posting here was easiest.

Essentially all that is required is an interest. Having played before would help significantly, but you certainly don’t have to be any good. Nor do you need your own clubs although you would be welcome to use them. If you know me (no random blog readers please) and are interested then please get in touch. If you need a clincher, remember, its FREE 🙂

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Easter Holiday

Easter came early this year, more so in fact than in the 90 odd years easter that preceded it. Still it was the end of term and for that a short break was called for.

At the start of the vacation period I spent a few days in Middlesbrough with Heather where we spent time chilling out, going on day visits to local areas, practicing our cooking skills in the evening and solving a murder mystery puzzle (its amazing how engrossing they can be once you get started!). It was nice to really chill out for once and also properly enjoy days out and relaxed evenings which although we very much enjoy we hadn’t been able to do for quite a while due to work commitments.

Another thing that occupied some of our time while away was Heather’s Victorian dolls house that she is building from scratch. I spent a few hours with her helping to get the painting right, fix some of the hinges and ensure the house all fitted together. This is a really special project as it isn’t just a normal dolls house but one of considerable size. It has 10 rooms with an attic, basement and traditional frontage. It’s going to be fantastic when its finished. I don’t have a picture of it but I found one on the web to give you an idea of the kind of thing I’m talking about.

During the holiday I also got a chance to get my camera out and take a few shots of the places we visited. Most of these involved boats of some description but there were a few others, in particular some spectacular shots of stormy weather at Whitby. We climbed a lighthouse to get a better view and were nearly blown off. It was one of our best days out for a while.

After my break with Heather I spent some time with my family over the Easter weekend. I got to see my sister which, now she is at university, is a rare occurrence. We all went out for a meal together on Easter day which was a very nice affair. During the rest of my stay with my family I spent time fixing things around the house, relaxing, having the odd drink, and meeting up with James to catch up. When I wasn’t doing all that I chilled out on the computer throwing radiators at people.

Sadly all good things must come to an end and I had to return to Leeds to continue work on my project which is pretty much all I have been doing since. Still as I keep reassuring myself it will all be over soon and hopefully the standard will be good enough to clinch the mark I want.

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Bonfire Night

BonfireOn 5th November I headed out to the Hyde Park public bonfire and firework display with Heather. It was a really enjoyable evening and the heat from the fire made it almost feel like it was a summer day – I certainly didn’t need my full winter coat! It seems amazing that over a year has gone by since I was last at the display, but its still as good as I remember.

The smell of bonfires and the thick air that comes with firework smoke always remind me of growing up in St. Albans and the huge firework display laid on in Verulamium park every year. Its amazing how vivid a memory such smells can conjure up.

I decided to take my camera along and setting the ISO up high I tried to take some night time shots of the bonfire and the fireworks afterwards. I was rather impressed with the results considering I wasn’t taking all that much care with my photography (I was too busy watching things with the naked eye!) and have thusly shared them with the world in my gallery.

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Facebook, what have you done?

Around 4 years ago I created a fully featured content management system for Halifax College to ensure it had an online presence to be reakoned with. This system included a forum to enable past, present and future students at the college to communicate with each other, and in paticular for freshers to ask questions about the college and its accomodation before they arrived so they knew what to expect.

Year on year the site has seen over 1000 posts from eager and nervous students alike in the run up to freshers week asking many questions and conversing with people before they got to meet in person. This year this traffic has gone. Students start arriving tomorrow and while in previous years we would see over 1000 posts on the freshers sections of the forums we see a mere 81. Who do I blame for this decline? Facebook.

All of Halifax Online’s wonderful freshers traffic is now locked up behind the closed doors of facebook, offering insight only to those that wish to part with personal information and get in there quick enough to find their answer in the first 10 posts (after that the lack of message board search function renders posts and content impossible to find). Is this the future of our forums? Why do students settle for an inferior product, even when they don’t yet know anyone? (facebook may hold your friends but when you’ve yet to arrive in a new real location mirrored as a network on facebook, what can it’s inferior facilities possibly offer you? You don’t know anyone there yet!)

Facebook, you’ve stolen the traffic that belongs on the Halifax College forums and reduced the potential for a great college spirit to exist even before students arrive. I’m very proud of my old college and today facebook has not made me a happy ex-student.

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Back on the blog

Well, this is a turn out for the books. I’m blogging again! I never thought I’d be away from the blog for this long since I first started it, but somehow I got side-tracked on so many other things that I just didn’t realise how long it was since I’d posted something, then when I did realise I wasn’t really in the blogging frame of mind. Still, I’m here now and I intend to get back to proper regular posting as that’s what goes down the best.

So what have I been doing to keep me from my blog? Quite a lot actually so I’ll give a quick run down.

  • X-Lab LogoLarge amounts of work at X-Lab

    My lack of blogging started with a lot of pressure at work to get the first version of the X-Lab lab to lab messaging system finished and presented to a group of people who could help us to take the project forward and get interfaces with existing lab systems written for it.

    To cut a long story short, 12 hour days, numerous late nights and a lot of coffee and pizza deliveries saw us through and we got the system completed on time and suitably impressed those at the demo to allow us to take the project forward and (hopefully) get it deployed in labs when we have finished version 2

    This, for me, feels like such a great achievement as I’ve never worked with Microsoft technologies quite so much as this before and to get a success like this felt really great. I hope that I will be able to see the project fully succeed in the future as its one of those things that has the potential to positively impact thousands of people.

    Watch this space!

  • Heather & Kieran in WalesHoliday with Heather

    At the end of July I went on a long weekend break with Heather. We stayed in North Wales and did a little sight-seeing and plenty of relaxing on the beach in the surprisingly abundant sunshine which bathed the region. It was our first chance to have a holiday away together and we both really enjoyed it, not to mention the fact that it was some good quality “together time” before Heather headed off to Middlesborough to stay with her family for the rest of the university vacation. Feel free to check out some of our holiday photos in my gallery.

  • Kieran in JerseyHoliday in Jersey

    Last year I went to stay with Michelle in Jersey and this year I went back to stay with her again. Its a great place to go away on holiday and its always nice to go and stay with friends.

    I was fortunate enough to be able to get out on Michelle’s Dad’s boat and take some pictures from off the coast of Jersey and my trip also coincided with the annual battle of flowers parade which was as spectacular as it had been the year before and with a whole new set of wonderfully decorated floats to enjoy.

    One of the highlights of the trip was going to Jersey Zoo, founded by Gerard Durrell and having read Durrell’s books on animal collecting it was fascinating to see what his trips and writings from around the world had created.

    The weather throughout the week was excellent and when I wasn’t socialising or on sight-seeing excursions I spent most of my time walking along beaches or lying in the sun reading books. It was a well needed rest and lots of fun to boot. Michelle has some great friends and it was really nice to see them again. Thanks to Michelle for letting me stay!

  • Catch up on work and student society planning

    Since return from my various holidays I have been playing catch-up trying to get a mountain of work done. There is not much to report here except that I hate paperwork and I never realised that agreeing to do so many student run websites was going to cause this much work to be thrust upon me in August. Ok, thats a bit of lie, I did know but took them on anyway as I know I can do a good job and it will be nice to have my name on a load more student sites and to see them used and enjoyed by new students and committee members alike. Getting these things done will also get more things on my portfolio which is always good for business.

    One of the really good things which has come out of this surge of work is the opportunity to work with Christina Fowler, a recent graduate and expect in graphic design, she is assisting me by completing the design work for the new Leeds RAG website. Its nice to be able to spread work in this way and also share ideas. If all goes well I look forward to working more with Christina in the future, her work is certainly very impressive.

  • Claire's Otley Run random pictureSocialising

    Seeing as its the summer holidays I have been taking every available opportunity to attend parties and go out for meals and drinks with friends. Drunken arrivals back home have been one of my main reasons for not keeping this site as up to date as it otherwise might be! There are some great pictures floating around facebook of some of these evenings and there are also some really good ones of Claire’s birthday Otley run in my gallery.

As you can see I’ve all round been pretty darn busy. Still I’m not going to avoid blogging for that length of time again, in fact I hope to go back to writing here on a regular basis along with other blogs and forums that I have been neglecting lately.

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Wedding Congratulations

Many congratulations to Simon and Ester who got married yesterday at St. Georges church, Leeds. I wish them all the best for their future together.

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43 Things

I was speaking to Heather last night and she told me that she’d found a really cool website called 43 Things. I was amazed because I discovered 43 Things ages ago and just figured that everyone knew about it by now but actually it turns out very few people do.

For those not in the know, 43 Things is a site that allows you to set goals to achieve in your life, comment on them, share them with other people, find out who else has the same goal and get support from people who have acheived it. In the past I have found it to be a big inspiration and confidence boost. The funny thing was I hadn’t registered on the site myself and last night I realised I didn’t know why so this morning I remedied that and set up my account.

For those interested, here is a link to my profile on 43 Things. There’s not much on it yet but I’ve added a few things I saw on the site that I’d like to do and will add more soon. If you have a 43 Things profile, why not share it in comments.

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