Archive for My life

Car Aerial Stolen

Normally when I journey to St. Albans I have no fear about leaving my car outside my parents house. After all, I’ve driven all round the country and of all the places I’ve been I’ve always considered St. Albans to be one of the safest places to leave a car.

How shocked was I then to find that in the early evening on Saturday before I left for the cinema with Hannah but after it got dark, that some cretin had stolen the aerial from the roof of my car! I know it wasn’t vandalism as they had actually got a little spanner and purposefully unscrewed it, leaving the base intact.

Thankfully a replacement was easy to come by on eBay for a tenner or so (it’s being delivered later this week) but the fact that the item is available for such a price beggars belief as to why anyone would bother to steal one. I guess it’s the annoyance rather than anything else – I’ve gotten so used to driving with some radio station or other on in the background that doing so with just the traffic noise for company was a little strange to say the least.

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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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London Boat Show

After a hectic week at work I headed to the London boat show on Sunday with my family to have a look round at all the new vessels for sale, not the mention the myriad of equipment one can buy for an existing yacht.

There were a few things at the event that gave us food for thought in terms of new equipment for Burnaby but in the end we just ended up wandering around, taking in the sights and buying a few books from the various stands. Of course one can’t miss out the fact that there was a Guinness stall so we stopped there for a pint and a bite to eat over lunch.

The three main things of interest at the show for us were a company that built boats entirely from wood using traditional methods, a fully operational lifeboat that we got to have a tour of and to top it all off, the opportunity to walk around the HMS Westminster which was moored in the Thames outside the show.

You could tell this was a genuine warship by the positioning of various warning signs around the ship pertaining to missiles and guns. My favourite sign read Danger! When warning rattler sounds, missile about to fire. I guess that also amounts to “Please don’t touch” 😉

All in all it was a good day out. I’d recommend you catch it while you can but unfortunately it’s all over until next year – the show ended on the day we went!

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Back in Swindon

As the title suggests I arrived back in Swindon today. I drove back just before lunch so I would have plenty of time to get my house sorted and prepare for my return to work tomorrow but thankfully I’d left my house in a pretty tidy state so I didn’t have much to sort out, just a little bit of washing and a trip to the supermarket.

Initially I was going to remove the wreath from my front door and take down the Christmas lights but then I though I may as well enjoy them for one more day, after all I don’t need to take them down until the 6th January and they won’t be up again until next year!

As if in acknowledgement of the fact the festive season isn’t quite over we had a brief snowfall earlier on in the evening which temporarily left a light coating on the cars and pavements, even exhibiting that satisfying crunching sound when walked upon – most pleasant. It makes me look forward to my ski trip in the planning all the more.

Hopefully I won’t have too many e-mails waiting for me when I get into work tomorrow although I don’t hold out much hope. Its not all bad though. Apart from catching up on missed project progress during my absence from the office I’ll be using some spare time tomorrow to ping an e-mail round a few colleagues encouraging them to come out to the pub on Friday for a few birthday drinks with me. If I can get a good crowd together it should be a nice night.

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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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Christmas Update

It can’t have escaped the attention of many of my readers that I haven’t posted on my blog in some considerable time. I’ve been really rather busy at work and have let attention to my online presence slide somewhat; no doubt those at RouterTech have noticed this, not to mention those forums on which I am usually a regular contributor. Having received a number of letters from people detailing everything they have been up to in the past year and in times they haven’t been in the closest of contact, I decided I’d do something similar on my blog.

I’ve been settling in well in my job and have become well and truly engrossed in the project. As my fellow tech gurus will be able to relate to, the longer you work on a project, the deeper you get into its nuances and quirks and this is most certainly happening to me. Its a good thing though as each new turn I take on the project is an opportunity to learn.

The social life at work is good, despite the small size of the office and I’ve become good friends with both those on my project team and the graduates who started in the building at the same time as or a number of months before me. While nothing can compare to the computing nights out which so quickly became a way of life, I have still managed to enjoy a number of memorable evenings on the town, most notably the office Christmas party which took place after my last day at work before I was on holiday for Christmas. Drinking a lot and saying things you later don’t remember saying seemed to figure heavily.

Work aside I’ve joined a local gym which means I’m now getting my fair share of exercise which is most welcome after months of doing nothing but sit in front of a computer working on my final year project. I’ve also taken the opportunity to visit my parents a lot more now that I’m that bit closer than I was in Leeds.

My departure from Leeds hasn’t all been rosy though. I’m now a long way away from those people who became very dear friends to me during my time as a student and it feels very odd not being within “send a quick text and meet down the pub” distance. I’m also a long way away from Heather too which I think I’m finding the hardest – not being able to pop round with a surprise bottle of wine and a tasty recipe in hand (usually something sea food related) whenever the fancy takes us is a real shame.

Thankfully our time apart has been interspersed with a couple of memorable meetings, one in Middlesbrough for Heather’s birthday and another just after finishing work for Christmas when I traveled to Leeds. Both occasions offered us the now rare occasion to enjoy each others company and have a meal out or two. The Leeds visit saw us take in the German market for another year and tour the Leeds Museum which is now finally open! Here’s hoping that the new year will see Heather’s successful graduation from the university and hopefully the finding of a job located such that traveling for the both of us is that bit easier.

I’m now currently staying with my family over Christmas and have the chance to relax, chill out and of course catch up on the odd few computing related bits that I’ve let slide as I’ve cracked on with my new job.

Keen eyes will have noticed the new “Photo Blog” style entries appear on the site. These are the the result of the happy union between my new BlackBerry, Flickr and a neat bit of code on my site. All of these things I hope to blog about soon. If I’ve got time I’ll also be making a few other changes to my various web projects and if I do, I’ll be sure to let you know.

I guess that simply leaves me to apologise once again fro my lack of blogging in recent weeks, promise to do better in the new year and wish you all a very merry Christmas and prosperous new year.

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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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Exploring Swindon

On Sunday afternoon I decided to take a walk up into Old Town as the weather was wonderfully warm and sunny for the time of year and I thought I had better make the most of it. Despite having been here a number of weeks I hadn’t had a proper chance to explore since first having a look around when finding a house.

As I got to a couple of streets I remembered walking down before I noticed an old hotel which had closed down and an alley down the side of it. When I walked though I found myself in a gorgeous park, wooded in places, with a lake and plenty of open space with benches to sit at or have a picnic. What with the warm weather adding to the atmosphere I wished I’d brought my camera along to capture the autumn leaves and the sunlight filtering through them.

I can see myself spending many enjoyable hours photographing the seasons in the Old Town park, hopefully a few shots will find their way onto this site in the not too distant future.

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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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Mind the gap

I’m now properly moved in to my new house in Swindon after spending two weeks in London. I was surprised at how quickly the trip from my temporary flat to the place my training was taking place became a normality, particularly the morning tube journey and hustle and bustle of London life. I met lots of great people during the many evenings we spent out and about at the end of the day and I hope I will end up remaining in contact with them all despite being based elsewhere in the country.

Still, no sooner had I got used to the morning routine in London I’m about to start a new one in Swindon. Its my first proper day at work tomorrow and I’m thoroughly looking forward to getting started. I’m sure I’ll end up posting more about work after I’ve settled in.

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