Favourite blogs for James's blog

My favourites » All entries

April 08, 2011

Feeling frustrated

It's been a difficult couple of months. I feel like all I'm doing is going round in circles and I can't see where the gap in the loop is for me to escape. We've been trying to find a house for what feels like forever, and I really just want us to get our own place now, somewhere completely private, where we can put our stamp on and actually make a home ready for married life. Not too much to ask! But perhaps it is us who ask too much of the housing market...we've not got a massive budget but we're after quite a lot - 3 bedrooms, a good sized kitchen (pref kitchen diner) and lounge, reasonable sized garden, garage, parking...it's a lot to ask, especially because we're ideally looking to live in Kenilworth! I think we could easily get more than our minimum requirements in Coventry, but we don't really want to stay in Cov, it's time for a change. Seeing a couple of potentials today though, so perhaps our luck will change! I really hope they're what we're looking for, it's hard work constantly looking, I certainly am glad that we're not having to sell a house as well as look for a new one!

Just for the record, I'm not moaning about this, I realise I'm in a really fortunate position to be able to afford a house at all, but I guess none of us want to settle for simply what we can get, it's always good to try and reach for what we want, pushing ourselfs that little bit further and hopefully being happy with the choice we make.

Of course in an ideal world I'd win the lottery and be able to buy a house like this:

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-31645130.html

mmm.


March 11, 2011

Never underestimate…

Writing about web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12709598

...how destructive nature can be. As a huge earthquake and Tsunami hit and affect a large proportion of Japan I can only watch in horror as the news reports flood in and the casualties and devastation rage across the country. Only weeks after New Zealand suffered terrible loss and damage it really seems like nature is proving to us just how devastatingly powerful she can be.

It brings all those little niggling things that you hate about your life into perspective. I feel very fortunate to be safe right now.



March 07, 2011

I'm back!!!

Helloooooo!


After a very lengthy absence from blogging (due to password loss and general idiocy) I'm now able to log on and unleash my ramblings upon the blogging world again! Woo!


I find I have nothing interesting to say.


I'll get my coat.


April 06, 2009

On blogging and the like.

To quote from my Dad’s blog:
“I have been a poor blogger recently”. Although the “recently” in that sentence is pretty redundant.
Life has continued without my little updates to the world. The trouble is that whenever I think of something interesting to write for the world to read, I’m never near a computer, and when I am sitting in front of my laptop screen I can’t think of anything even vaguely interesting to fill this little box with.

Many things have taken place since my last post. Easter is nearly upon us, and term finished weeks ago.
I have had my last ever lecture, which was a strange experience. I must now just learn all the material from a year to cram into 9 exams next term. 5 of them are in the first week of term, and I’m still not sure if that’s a curse or a blessing.

I have also done quite a bit of singing, including my first pro gig in Coventry, with the Finham Choral Society . It was the Mozart Requiem, which was quite good fun (I think it’s a great piece of music), with the added bonus that the conductor now has my contact details.

The first week of the Easter break was spent in Officer Training, which was great fun. It did mean that I spent an evening running around campus dressed in bin-liners, a big paper strawberry, and a pair of girl-boxers on the outside of my trousers, masquerading as Strawberry Man during one of the social events. Fun times.

Last week was spent equally in Cottenham and at home with my darling Charlotte. We wandered round a lot of places, had some nice walks, and generally enjoyed each others’ company.

At this precise moment I am in Cornwall with the lovely Charlotte and Mr. Jon Parker to sort out lots of things for UWCC Tour in July. I can’t go on this tour because I will be in training, but it’s going to be awesome. We’ve got lots of places to go and visit tomorrow so that everything runs smoothly in the summer.

I had a million and one other things that I thought of to write about but, naturally, they now all escape me. I might carry round a little pad to jot things down on in the future.

That’s all for now. Another update to follow…when I next update.


February 23, 2009

Exhausted and Elated

That was my answer to the question “How do you feel?”, which I was asked by two student journalists at about half 1 on Sunday morning.

This last week has been good.

Campaigning like that is the most knackering thing I have ever done. I am more tired than when I cycled to Paris last year.

However, on the coach home from the London gig (more to follow) I did get numerous texts and phone calls congratulating me on getting elected to the Sabbatical post of Societies Officer for the academic year 2009/10, which really does make it all worth it. I had taken some drinks for the coach journey home (I would either be celebrating or drowning my sorrows) and promptly cracked one open!

The coach got back to campus at about 5 past 1, and I wandered into the Grad@Cholo to see if there was anyone still there. I had a chat with the chair of elections group, and a couple of the winners, before getting collared by the aforementioned journalists. Providing answers to difficult questions at quarter to 2 in the morning (whilst slightly inebriated) isn’t easy!
Once I’d been released by them, I went to bed. I didn’t even have enough energy to drink my champagne.

That wasn’t the end of it though – during lunch the following day I got another phone call from these people to tell me I’d won by 8 votes and then ask me in the same breath how that made me feel. Journalists are peculiar people.

It still hasn’t quite sunk in that I’ll be running the Union next year, but it’s definitely exciting!

Moving on from the elections for a bit, the Chamber Choir also had a highly successful concert with the newly formed Chamber Orchestra on Saturday night at LSO St. Luke’s in London. I had a great time, and it sounded brilliant. There apparently will be a recording of the gig coming out soon.

And in the less good news, I have managed to break the screen of my phone so I can take calls but making them or reading texts it completely out I’m afraid.

Sleep is good. I might have some more of it later.


February 15, 2009

On the spade and the socks

For those not on facebook, you will not know that my two most recent statuses have been:

James is desperately trying to get hold of some socks…
and
James now knows that you can’t peel a windscreen with a spade.

There was much comment on both of these.

I’m afraid that the windscreen one is really very boring. Another friend of mine had a comment on his status which said “and never peel a windscreen with a spade”. I quite liked it so I used it. There’s really nothing more to it.

The socks one is much more interesting. Yesterday I received a parcel containing 76 pairs of socks. They are for use in my election campaign (which I’m not really allowed to mention). I am running for Societies Officer, often abbreviated to “Socs”, hence the socks.

Back to the strange world of actual reality rather than facebook, the reader will (hopefully) be pleased to hear that I am well. Lectures are still going on, music is also still going on.

More excitingly, next week I will be campaigning like crazy in an attempt to get everyone to vote for me as next year’s Societies Officer for the Union. It’s going to be a tough race, but I’m really looking forward to it.

Friday was the Music Centre Ball, which was brilliant. Photos are going up on the aforementioned Facebook for those who are lucky enough to be classed as my friends. I had an absolute whale of a time.

New Day Octet also had a gig last Friday (as in 9 days ago) in University House, which was very well received. It was really enjoyable!

And yesterday was another Hymnos gig in Lapworth church. It went absolutely brilliantly and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There was a curry afterwards which I did not attend, needing to get up this morning to do lots of useful things, but I’m sure everyone else had a great time.

That’s it for now, campaign prep to be done!


February 04, 2009

This is starting to get silly

OK, I think I’ve worked out the system now.

I post a blog, wait a few weeks ‘til some comments appear, post again saying how rubbish I’ve been and promising to be better, post once more if you’re lucky, and repeat.

Let’s actually try to improve on this.

Term 2 warmed up very briefly but since then it’s snowed. It’s slightly depressing how much the snow just completely shut down the country. On Monday, not a single bus ran in London. not a single bus!

Besides lectures, the major event of this term is going to be elections for the Union Sabbs (Sabbatical Officers) for the 2009/10 academic year.
I’ve almost finished my manifesto for the Societies Officer, which looks pretty good, but to be honest the elections can be a bit of a lottery so fingers crossed!

I’ve also been playing quite a bit of bridge this term. Yesterday was our second round Portland Bowl match, which we won, so we’re now through to the quarter finals. One more match and we get to go to the finals weekend in London, which would be exciting.

Plenty of singing is going on – Chamber Choir has done a couple of gigs for One World Week and there was an Armonico Consort concert last Saturday which I really enjoyed. The main UWCC concert this term is in LSO St. Luke’s in London where we’re doing Bach’s Magnificat and Dove’s Koethenermesse, with the newly-founded University Chamber Orchestra (which is AWESOME!) I’m the tenor soloist in the Dove, so if you happen to be in London on 21st Feb come and watch it!

Next update in four weeks :P
(Well, hopefully less than that)


January 07, 2009

Term Begins

And so Year 3 Term 2 has got underway. And it’s bloody cold.

We’re all settling back into the routine of lectures, which at the moment are all in the introductory phase so they’re not too difficult! Although Complex Analysis went at a frightening speed, and the lecturer talks very quietly and mumbles a lot so I’ll be sitting near the front for that.

We’ve played our first bridge match of the term, which we (unfortunately) lost but it wasn’t a bad effort and we were winning after the first half, which is something.

Life goes on elsewhere – music is starting up again with Chamber Choir’s first meeting on Thursday and Opera holding auditions for The Marriage of Figaro over the weekend. Call me a skeptic, but I’m not certain that we’ll be able to rehearse and perform that in 8 weeks: In my humble opinion it would be better cast in a couple of weeks’ time (to give people the opportunity to properly learn the audition music) and then perform it some time in term 3. I know this clashes with exam timetables but there’d be Easter to learn everything and the pace would be much easier.

The two performances we did of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (with ensemble 1685) went very well. I got quite a few comments on my solo aria which were nice to receive too.

This is my last term of lectures, however, so I need to make sure I prioritise carefully and don’t overload myself because there are these things called finals in the summer which are worth more than half of my entire degree, and it would be good to be properly prepared for them.

Outside academia, I have just found all my receipts in my bag to claim money back from opera have got wet after my water bottle froze and then thawed again. Curses.


January 03, 2009

Musings of Y2k9

And so, we start another year, and watch 2008 fade away into the distance.

But Let me take a moment to reflect on the last 12 months and what may be to come and look forward to what the next 12 might be sending my way.

Well, memories of 2008 then. Where do I start? It’s all whizzed past but I have at least managed to fill it with quite a few things. Some things I will always remember from the year:

The year started off in the second term of my second year, with, among other things, Algebra II with Dmitry. Aaah fond memories of understanding NOTHING in a lecture. Still, I’m glad we did that module, because it did help get me to learn more independently and prepare for lectures and stuff. Third year gets a lot more abstract, and this also helped with that. Although it’s still not great because I have a practical brain which likes to visualise things.

I will most definitely remember singing in Macbeth. Singing in a full Butterworth Hall as a soloist with full Sypmph Orchestra and 250 singing in the chorus was an experience I really will never forget. It was such an incredible buzz. It was also one of the experiences which made me seriously consider going for a professional singing career. Top ten nights of my life that, it was just great.

Term 3 brought exams, which was about when I realised degree level maths is really quite tricky. In all honesty, I didn’t do enough work to do myself justice, and my grades slipped a bit. This wasn’t ideal, but did make me change my work ethic for my third year, so hopefully more good things will come out of it than bad things. It also meant that I transferred to the three year course, which again I don’t see as a bad thing.

Also in term 3 was WSO’s run of HMS Pinafore. It was the first show at Warwick where I have done nothing except perform in the chorus, which made a relaxing change.

After the end of exams came my second highly eventful Arts Festival week. Thomas came to visit, and we went to see a lot of things. Both of the WSAF weeks I’ve experienced so far have been awesome and I will remember them for years to come.

Then the summer arrived. Well, the British “summer”. And with it came UWCC Tour and degrees, along with my most memorable experience of 2008.

Tour and degrees were both awesome. We went to Belgium and had great weather, sung in the Brussels Conservatoire, ate incredibly good chocolate, drank (a few too many) really good beers, and generally had a whale of a time. The beauty of tour is that it follows straight on to degrees so there were two weeks of Chamber Choir mayhem, during which you become a really close-knit group. I will always remember the treasure hunt put on by Juliet and Sarah.

Then in late July, I cycled from London to Paris. This really was an incredible, even life-changing experience. I met so many great people, and we were all taking on a huge challenge together. The sense of teamwork and friendship that came out in just three days was incredible. I can recommend it to anyone, and can honestly say that it will change you for the better.

September brought the 120th birthday party which I will also never forget. The months of careful planning, the week of general jobs and preparation before the event, and then the day itself, with loads of friends, old and new, and a whole roast pig. I think we still have some pork in the freezer!

And so on into October and my final year of university, with more maths, and two more operas, (mounds of music in general really). Dido had a very high level of production and was a joy to be involved with, if a little stressful. Plus it was my first performance in Covent Garden. The Zoo, together with Cox and Box, took itself slightly less seriously. I have never been so stressed as I was over the props and set for Zoo, but Cox and Box was the most fun I have ever had while on stage. When else does one get to lob a bread roll into the audience?

Chamber Choir reconvened with lots of new Freshers for the new year, and I had the pleasure of meeting Charlotte, who is a fantastic companion and always fun to be with. I certainly hope we will be sticking together for a long time.

Chamber Choir’s concert will also stick in my memory for a long time – Coventry Cathedral was packed and is an amazing place to perform.

We all had a good Christmas and a quiet New Year, and now I look out to 2009 – what will it bring?

2009 is my final year as a student, after 21 years of learning I will in June this year graduate from university and move on into the real world, all things being well.

Forgive the cliché, but University’s just gone so quickly. It feels like barely yesterday that I was moving into my first year room in Westwood, and I’m now worrying about things like jobs and a house and stuff. All a bit scary really.

There will be more music this term, I’m sure, and I will stand down as CC Librarian near the end of term, which will be a bit of a relief. It’s a good job, but it doesn’t half eat time.

There will also be the Sab elections, so I will be getting my act together to run a (hopefully) coherent and successful campaign to get myself elected to a Sabbatical position for the 2009/10 academic year.

But all that is to come, so let’s just get out there and see what life throws at me in the next 12 months.


December 30, 2008

Stop world, I have blogged!

OK, I concede, there is not a worse blogger in the entire country. 3 months is a pretty ridiculous blogging gap.

Since my last update I have done loads, including being involved in three shows (including performing in Covent Garden), a term’s worth of maths, and had plenty of laughs.
I am currently in London playing bridge at the year-end congress. The Swiss pairs event did not go well, but we performed slightly better in the men’s pairs yesterday. Today is teams which we are hoping will be better still.
A New-Year Resolution of mine for 2k9 will be to update this blog frequently, so start checking back again, or I will have lost all my readership for ever!

Expect another update in the New Year,

Love to all

James :)


December 16, 2008

Eeek!

Internet Explorer security alert: Microsoft says all users at risk

Users of Internet Explorer, the world's most popular web browser, are at risk of having their computers hijacked because of a security flaw.

The flaw allows criminal gangs to take control of people's computers and steal their personal information when they visit websites that have been corrupted by malicious hackers.

It is believed that as many 10,000 sites have been compromised since last week.

Microsoft said that it had detected attacks on machines using Internet Explorer 7, the most widely-used version of the browser, but that other versions are "potentially vulnerable".

"We are actively investigating the vulnerability that these attacks attempt to exploit," the firm, which also makes the Windows operating system, said in a security statement.

"We will continue to monitor the threat environment and update this advisory if this situation changes."

By last Saturday about 0.2 per cent of Internet Explorer users had already visited one of the websites designed to exploit the flaw, according a statement on the technology giant's Malware Protection blog. The flaw was first exploited last week but there has been a sharp increase in attacks in the last few days.

Given that three-quarters of people on the web use Internet Explorer, millions of people could already have been targeted.

Microsoft has published a list of technical changes that it say should protect against the threat until it can release a software update to close the loophole, although the instructions would be incomprehensible to most casual surfers.

It has also advised users to enable their firewalls and install anti-virus and anti-spyware software, but web security experts say the best guarantee of safety is to use an alternative browser such as Firefox, Safari or Opera, which can all be downloaded for free.

The websites corrupted by the hackers are mostly Chinese, and have been programmed to steal passwords for computer games which can be sold for money on the black market.

But the Internet Explorer security flaw could also be exploited by criminals seeking to steal people's bank details, private data and identities. "That's a big fear right now," said Paul Ferguson of Trend Micro security researcher, warning of "mayhem" if fraudsters succeed.

Graham Cluley, a virus expert at internet security firm Sophos, said that the “staggering” number of people could be affected by the attacks. While many of the compromised sites are pornographic, many are legitimate, mainstream web pages.

“Problems like this are found all the time but Microsoft always has a fix. What’s new about this situation is that there is no fix.

“This is a really critical and serious problem. People should make sure their anti-virus software up to date, and remember to install Microsoft’s security patch when it is released.”

But he added that switching browsers may be an over-reaction. “It’s certainly a fix and gets around this problem, but Firefox, Google Chrome and other browsers all have their own security issues.”



For me, only slightly annoying in the sense that at work I use Web based outlook and its performance in Firefox is rubbish - the screen is completely useless. With IE it's set up brilliantly, but I've no idea how to make it look like that in Firefox! Other than that I tend to use firefox for most things, but I guess whatever you use you're probably not 100% safe. Be careful kids!!


December 10, 2008

I think…

...Jon should blog about something. Do it now. I'm bored and so are you, you know this to be true.

Blooooooooooooog.

Love from me xx


November 09, 2008

untitled.

I went to Coventry Cathedral this morning to the Remembrance day service and on the way I stopped in to the corner shop to get my poppy. I was having a quick chat to the shopkeeper and he told me that a blind poppy seller in town had his collection tin stolen. I can't believe that someone would stoop so low as to steal something like that - at the most it would have had £20? Maybe a bit more, probably not. I felt really quite sad. The service itself was nice, it adds a certain significance to the whole meaning of why we remember, when you are stood in the ruins of the cathedral bombed in the Second World War.

The nice thing about going to town on your own on a Sunday is that you then get to go guilt free shopping. Not that I really bought much, but I have lots of Christmas ideas now! I did indulge in a plate of meatballs at ikea at lunchtime though - mmm meatballs. I've no idea what they make that sauce out of (nor do I particularly want to find out) but whatever they do to it, it's very tasty!

Just got back and crashed on the sofa in front of the TV for a bit. Why is it that they've changed the mascot for Mr Muscle? Wasn't the whole point of the last guy that even weedy geeks with no muscle could clean with ease thanks to Mr Muscle power spray? Now it's this weird animated Arnold Schwarzenegger character who all the housewives are drooling over...it's just wrong. Bring back the geek, that's what I say!!

Anyway. Yes. Product based rant over.


November 04, 2008

Well, that's odd.

So for a few weeks I've not been able to sign on here (am guessing the whole "WGA is free, woop!" thing maybe cocked up the system a bit) and so have not been able to rant/muse/ponder the various things that happen in my little world.

The first thing I was going to write about was thiswhich I was absolutely horrified by. Although I shouldn't be surprised that humans are capable of such cruelty, this kind of barbaric quest for blood is beyond my comprehension. It just makes me sick.

Then I thought I'd better say that after 2 long years I've finally passed my LPC so now have a postgraduate diploma in legal practice (yay!) but that I've no idea what I want to do with it (oops) so I should probably get my thinking cap on with that one...

Lots has happened since I last did a proper blog catch up, I've turned 26, become an auntie, done a few concerts, cried & laughed a hell of a lot...that's just for starters! All good stuff. I'll leave it there for now, may blog properly soon (now that I've got it back!)


October 12, 2008

Unconnected musings

It's interesting what goes through your mind at 23.37 on a Sunday night, when you know you should be in bed because you have to get up early in the morning for work, but you're just not in the work frame of mind because you've had one of those rare weekends where you haven't actually HAD to be anywhere or DO anything you didn't want (n.b. you still DO go places and realised actually you HAD to clean the house, but at least nobody expected it to be done.)

Having had one such weekend, and having been in a rather strange state of mind for most of it, this is exactly the sort of time that I start getting all reflective and often rather sad. I think about what has been, what could have been and what is. Randomly looking back at some old facebook pictures I discovered someone who I used to be friends with (and just for the record it was HIM who cut the ties, I was perfectly prepared to forgive and forget his actions up until recently) who obviously left facebook (for whatever reason) is now back on there, because he's tagged in the pictures and when I click on him he comes up still with 2 mutual friends. Now I know that people "facebook purge" all the time - I've done it myself when I realise there are people you know you have added but won't really ever talk to, so it's fine that he's removed me as a friend - he did it in real life so might as well do it online! I guess it was just the finality of the thing, to know he was still on there, but that he chose not to want anything to do with me when the whole reason for him alienating himself from everyone wasn't my fault. I would rather that he'd just disappeared from facebook entirely, than know he's still on there deliberately ignoring me.

Then again, why care so much? I don't know. Probably that reflective thing again. After all, we used to be quite good friends really. And so I'm a little sad now. But that was just one thing, other things have had me in quite the odd mood over the weekend. Luckily I have nice people like Stu around who do a marvellous job of cheering me up, and distracting me from big scary things (next weeks results mainly) by taking me to see happy rescue ponies at Redwings Horse Sanctuary and writing me poems :-)

My mind is so full of all the things I have to do, where I've got to be, what I am going to be faced with each and every minute that it's no wonder I'm looking and feeling a bit shattered. I find a racing mind very counterproductive to sleep. Probably why it's now 23.52 and I'm still not on the way to bed. I should go and at least give it a try...

Will try and write something a bit less dreary next time I get around to being on here. Promise.


October 04, 2008

Fire alarms and oily hands

I’ve been cooking. It’s very nice and relaxing.

Before we get on to that, a brief update on the life of the James.

Term has begun; we’ve had our first week and it has been a raging success. I like many of my modules, although I missed all of Friday’s lectures due to feeling too ill to attend them. Friday was spent in bed reading though, so it was not all bad.

Chamber Choir has lots of new members and is all very exciting. Paul let in loads of people so I now need to go and generate some more music for them all, which is a slight inconvenience. They are all great however. I even managed to get myself married (on facebook) to one of the freshers. We had a social after the first rehearsal on Thursday and all had a good laugh.

Opera Warwick (the new name for Warwick Student Opera) had their first meet yesterday, and also has lots of new members, which can’t be a bad thing. Auditions for Dido are over the next week, and we’ve now had our first Cox and Box rehearsal, at which I discovered that actually learning my music beforehand appears to have been over-preparation.

On Monday night we had the first bridge match of the season, which we (unfortunately) lost 7-5. Still, it could have been worse and it’s early days.

Today I bussed onto campus (a luxury) and the Octet had its first rehearsal of the year. It sounded great (considering three of us were in nowhere near good voice), and we’ve got some really good music to do. We’re hoping to spend a weekend doing some recording next term.

On returning home, I did some work, sorted out some of my music (still a lot to go though!) and cleaned the bathroom. When it came to supper time, I had some wraps that I needed to use the rest of, so I dug around in the freezer for a bit and found some pork chops. I still vaguely remember buying them (because they were on offer) in term 1 of my first year. So I chopped one of them up and stir fried it with veg and soy sauce and ginger and it was mighty fine.

Wondering what to do with the others, I decided to have a go at making a marinade. So I’ve now got two pots in the fridge, one with a curry-style concoction in it and the other with a weird mix of things inspired by Chinese cuisine. Both look and smell very tasty, and both were satisfyingly squidgy to mix with my hand. Although I had no idea what I was doing, so heaven knows if they’re going to taste OK.

It was, however, great fun to be creative.

Tomorrow holds the delights of a bridge exec meeting, along with the first meeting of the club. Should be a laugh. Then it’s home for pork curry or chinese-style somethng or other…


September 25, 2008

Inundated

Wow I really do feel popular! Many requests to keep posting. I guess I should write an update then :P

I’m in the Maths computer room at the moment, deciding on modules for next year. It’s not going very well so far. They give us far too many to choose from (as in, about a hundred), and I’m not the most decisive person at the best of times.

I have now moved back in to my Leamington house, as have my three housemates. It’s the same house and people as last year, which is nice. Plus, it means that I can’t be too bad to live with (always a bonus), seeing as they’re all prepared to put up with another year of me. I even managed to tidy everything away, catalogue my music and go to Asda before I took the car home. So I now have 16 litres of fruit juice under my bed waiting to be drunk.

Since my last post we had the 120th party, which was, as far as I could tell, a huge success. Everybody I talked to had a fantastic time, there was enough food to sink an aircraft carrier, and we each had a big cake. Mine was totally wacky, which I feel suited me down to the ground. The hog roast was HUGE, and even we were forced to admit defeat by a considerable margin. I doubt it will all have been eaten by Christmas. It was nice to see lots of people :)

Being back in Leam it’s now a chance to see everyone uni who I haven’t seen since June (unless they came to the party, of course) before term starts on Monday. It’s really strange – most of the people in the years above me have now left and gone to get proper jobs and other scary things, and I’m going into my third year. It feels like only yesterday I was a fresher, all young and carefree!

Music’s already seriously underway, despite the fact that term hasn’t started yet. I’ve just spent quite a few hours sorting out all the Chamber Choir folders for next term, and I’ve been cast as Box in Cox and Box which is one of Opera Warwick’s productions for next term.

This evening I’m off to play some bridge ahead of our first league match of the season which is on Monday.

So, ahead of me lies a busy year – music, bridge, cycling (yes I’m going from Leam to campus again this year!), and to top it all off, my finals. Then who knows what I’ll get up to? I certainly don’t!

I make no promises as to when my next post will be…


September 17, 2008

Hamlet!!

I'm SEEING HAMLET TONIGHT!!!!!!! Yes, that's right, the one where David Tennant is Hamlet. Could I be any more excited? Not if you told me Gordon Brown had finally decided to retire! We've had the tickets for over a year and finally the day has arrived!! I can't actually believe I'm going to be in the same room as the Tennant. He's my dream man, all geeky and cute and that HAIR - oh yeah! Plus it's an awesome play and I'm looking forward to this adaption.

Big Smiles :-D :-D


September 10, 2008

OK OK I'm here!

I never knew this blog was so popular. That’s three whole readers!

I am still here, still alive, still able to type, even while stationary.

Life has been relatively quiet since returning from Portsmouth. Plans for the birthday party are in full swing. We put up the big tent thing today, and it looks like it’ll do the job nicely. I also got a parking ticket from a very mean attendant, who stood there and did all the paperwork really slowly as I waited to drive off. That was less of a success than the tent.

Last weekend was the Coventry [Bridge] Congress, and was an overall success. We (Ant & I) won the pairs on the first evening: a very pleasant surprise indeed! So now I have a trophy to my name, which is nice! The Swiss pairs was… less of a success, but we came just one Victory Point (out of 140) below average in the teams, which is definitely not bad.

That’s about it really – lots going on in preparation for Saturday, so I’ll get back to that now and blog about it later. Probably much later, but hopefully on Sunday or Monday.


September 04, 2008

Why not?

Writing about web page http://www.kpequestrian.com/index.php?page=398

Katie Price/Jordan whatever you choose to call her...you have to admit, whether you like her or not, she certainly knows how to promote herself. Her latest equestrian range is...well, pink to say the least. And as classy as it isn't, there's something fun and quite friendly about it. Pink has been increasingly creeping into the equestrian world - I have a very nice pink Tayberry cap and of course there is their welly range based on the original hunter welly design, to name but a few items. Silks and pink crops have always been available as far as I can remember.

wellies pink

(mum told me when I was picking out new wellies there was no way anyone from the countryside would take me seriously in these so I bought green ones but I wanted those spotty ones, I really did.)

So Katie's range includes such horsey looking tops as stripy cross country shirts, equestrian jackets and also pink headcollars, leadropes and rugs for your fashion concious equine friends too. I'm assuming she might branch out into pink Jodphurs at some point as well - perhaps with her logo printed on the Arse as is popular with such styles as Juicy Couture tracksuit bottoms (although I hope they won't be as expensive...)

I wonder what the equestrian world really thinks of the range - or for that matter, what their opinion on Katie Price is. Well, I think that we know what a certain proportion of the community think of the woman but perhaps they're not so snobbish about her merchandise. Then again... it is VERY pink.

I grew up loving horses and desperately wanting one of my own. Katie obviously felt the same, and luckily for her she's now in a position to afford to own and look after them, something my poor old bank balance won't stretch to. Unfortunately it is quite an exclusive and snobby sport - historically only the rich could really afford to keep horses for pleasure, rather than for work, and games such as polo and sports such as hunting were therefore never really available to your average rider. This is probably largely still so, there is definitely an element of it being about your connections, rather than your riding ability. Katie might not be the right image for the sport, but her money is as good as anyone else's and what harm would it really have caused to have let her in to the match? I can't say I'm her number one fan, but you can't say that she hasn't worked for what she has achieved, whether you approve of her methods or not.

So would I buy her pink range? Probably not. I don't think there's anything particularly unique about it, If I want to wear a pink shirt riding I can probably pick one up in Matalan for half the price, the chances are that if I did buy something I'd get it covered in slobber and grass stains when (inevitably) I fall off at high speed. Perhaps if she had a range that was wipe-clean and padded I might be interested (or perhaps I should just stick to stroking horses over a fence or mucking them out - less distance to fall!) but still, Katie I salute you for bringing much pinkness to the Horsey world.


August 26, 2008

Scrab–tab–u–lousy–result.

Writing about web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/technology/2008/08/scrabulous_users_stunned_bemus.html

Well it's not that much of a surprise that Scrabulous has now been removed by Mattel, but I have to say personally I'm a little bit gutted. Not that I think they had the right to continue, and despite certain arguments I never could see how scrabulous wasn't a pretty near carbon copy of Scrabble (c) so the outcome was fairly inevitable all along.

I would agree though that Scrabble (c) would have been wise to have made something equally good, either by utilising the skills of the scrabulous creators or simply copying them (tit for tat!) but from what I've read (admittedly I've not tried the official scrabble game application, I can't make myself add it because I know most of my friends won't bother and that's the main reason I played so that I could play against them, I don't want to play randoms!) the official version is nowhere near as good as scrabulous was. I think there's a time limit within which you have to make your move or the game is abandoned. This, to my mind is a bit naff. Not all of us have 24hr access to the internet, and I don't know about any other users, but if I'm on holiday for the week I'm hardly going to log in to make my move.

As per any game, you have people who are more involved than others. For some this will have been a genuine blow and real cause of distress, for others it's a loss but they'll find something else to play in their lunch hours and for the rest they'll probably not even notice it's disappeared from their pages. I'd say I fall into the middle category. I played it quite a lot, usually had 6 or more games on the go, and enjoyed looking up new words. I'd say it had increased my vocabulary and word regonition skills to some degree. I will miss more the interaction between friends who played it - I loved the banter you could have in the little message box to the side. Some very amusing conversations passed between us! Especially playing against people I don't get to see very often - an old school friend used to thrash me at the game, and then I beat him - the joy!!

I think I'd still go out and buy the board game, I never owned it or really played it before scrabulous so by rights I probably should have bought one at some point anyway, and I don't go with the whole boycotting of the Mattel group products (Barbie was a very important part of my childhood) because I don't think it will prove anything. I would probably argue that sales of scrabble (c) have probably risen as a result of scrabulous (I don't know if they have, I have no stats to say either way) or at least it hasn't done them any harm (their legal action may have though if some of the comments are anything to go by) but I think they were always going to keep selling the board game/offline version with or without scrabulous.

So there you have it. If anyone's interested I'm now playing Pathwords. It looks like the blockbuster board ("I'll have a P(eee) please Bob") but it's nothing like that. It's not as good as scrabulous and it never will be. Sigh.


August 22, 2008

Blogging on the move

Well at the moment I’m in Paul and Robin’s car on the road to Wales. I’m going to be thrown out at Newport Station to catch a train home, but I think it’s quite exciting that I can connect to the internet at all, so I just thought I’d let my readership know.

Technology is a wonderful thing.


August 19, 2008

I'm at work now. What better time to blog?

And here, as promised, follows my diary of the epic journey to Paris on two wheels. It might take me a while to type it all up, so here goes:

Wednesday 23rd July
1807 hours
We’re off! And already I’m running late. The train was a few minutes late leaving Solihull. The journey has begun. I’ve already cycled about a mile to the station, with a big pack on my back, kindly loaned to me by Thomas. I can’t wait til tomorrow morning!

2232 hours
Made it safely across London thanks to the Hufton’s map. Didn’t even manage to get lost! London is a very busy city and full of drivers who don’t seem to have ever encountered a cyclist before, which is slightly worrying. Still, I only had to swear at one driver and he really wasn’t watching where he was going.
Sue cooked a fantastic sausage cobbler for supper, and we ate it outside in their garden as it got dark. She kept trying to persuade me to eat more, and I could hardly turn her down. I’m now getting ready for bed for an early start tomorrow, but I can’t get to sleep. I feel like a four-year-old awaiting Christmas day, I’m so excited. Alarm set for 6:15 tomorrow morning.

Thursday 24th July
0520 hours
I woke up about 5 minutes ago (sunlight streaming through the window), glanced at my watch, and saw it was quarter past the hour, so was ready to get up. Then I looked again. Oops. Still, at least I’m not going to be woken up by a nice bleepy alarm clock. Mind you, getting back to sleep isn’t going to be doable, so I’ll get up and pack all my rubbish back up into Thomas’ rucksack in a minute or five.
Thanks are due to Joe for the use of his bed. It is very comfortable. I can vouch for it as I write.

0754 hours
I’ve just cycled to York House and arrived early, which is a good sign. Plus I can add an extra ten miles onto the distance I’ve travelled than most people can. There are already a lot of people here, so this will be a short update before my bag goes in the van. It’s looking sunny, which is promising, although I’m going to get hot. I’m about to go inside and meet everyone else. I wonder if they’ll believe that Marmite have sponsored me?

1817 hours
I. AM. EXHAUSTED.
It’s been a hard day. We started off in groups (I don’t quite know why but I’ve been placed in group 2 (of 6), which seems a little ambitious. I kept up with them though. Just.) and the group I was in – groups 1 and 2 combined – went first. There was a biiiiiiig hill before the first stop and we took it really quite fast. It rather took it out of me. Fortunately there was water and muffins at the top.
After that, The people lunatics who decided to go in group 1 left a few minutes before us, and we got into a decent rhythm for the next leg. By the end of it though, the weather really had got hot and we were all glad to stop for lunch. A couple of chicken bagels, some crisps, an apple and a chocolate bar later, we were ready to leave again. I was persuaded to go to the cycle shop over the road to buy a bottle with a bike clip so that I could lose the rucksack off my back, and what a difference it makes. I really had no idea, but it’s so much easier without any of the weight (and heat) on your shoulders.
The tea stop was at the top of a monstrous climb, which about four of us lead right to the top. I drank more than a litre of water in the two minutes after we got there. It was the peak of the afternoon sun, and we were veritably boiling in our own sweat (loverly image for you there). From there I gave mum a ring and blamed her for my participation in the whole adventure. We had a bit of a wait for a couple of the other members, including two who had got lost and managed to find their way to a pub. Smooth move, in my opinion.
Happily, after the stop, during which we got nuts, bananas and cake, we got to go down the other side of this hill. Dan (who had a computery gadget thing) told us that we broke 40mph down it and I really wasn’t surprised. That bit was very fun.
Then we were cycling for a bit and all of a sudden I saw a sign for Leigh Park, and I realised we were pretty much in Havant, which was quite exciting. I texted Robin as we passed a sign for the shopping centre with the ever-awesome Netto in it. Then I could see Portsmouth, recognisable by the Spinnaker Tower, and I realised quite how close we were to the end of day 1. We had a pause just outside Portsmouth (literally just a pause of about a minute) and then rode the last few miles to the Hotel, where we are now. I’ve just had a shower and changed, and dinner starts at 7pm. I’m now off for a well-earned drink with the rest of the group in the bar. Being in a higher placed group than my roommate (whoever s/he is), I got here first, and have consequently claimed the bed for tonight. Mwahaha.

2133 Hours
Supper was gammon with serve your own veg. I served myself a lot of veg. It was good. With the exception of the gravy, which was just salty beyond belief. And then a large slab of chocolate cake with cream. Yum yum. We ate quickly so most people are still downstairs, but I’ve come back upstairs to finish off today’s entry and grab an early night. Tomorrow we leave at 5:15, so my alarm’s set for 4:30. Ugh. Still, at least there’s no cycling for a few hours after we get up. My roommate’s called Jacob and is a bit of a legend. Right, all there is to do now is to watch the end of Mock the Week before going to sleep.

Friday 25th July
0456 Hours (BST)
Have got up, showered, packed my stuff up, and packed my day-bag for the ferry. My cycling clothes for today are in there, along with yesterday’s crossword and a pen. It’s going to be a good journey. Breakfast is being served by the van from 5am, and my bike’s already in the van ready to leave, so I’m ahead of schedule. Onward!

0640 Hours (BST)
We’re all looking a bit like we’ve got up very early after doing lots of physical exercise. The ferry port is full of slightly dopey-looking characters, myself included. Fortunately, nobody forgot their passport so there haven’t been any major dramas or anything yet. Ferry leave in 20 minutes. We should be called any minute.

0833 Hours (BST)
We’re well into the Channel, and we’ve left England behind us. Breakfast was a yoghurt, banana, muffin, apple, and carton of juice. I got persuaded to take an extra muffin (not difficult, let’s be honest), which I’m saving. I think I’m going to have a sleep in my seat, seeing as I’ve failed spectacularly with yesterday’s crossword.

0something Hours. I can’t work out if it’s meant to be English or French time.
Ferry’s just pulling in to the port in France. Ready to disembark! Longer update to follow at the end of the day.

1736 Hours (France. What’s the Acronym for French Time?)
A good day’s cycling. Slightly easier than yesterday in total. It was a bit cooler, which was definitely nice, and there weren’t so many hills. Those that we did have were a little easier as well. Quite a lot of the journey, especially at the beginning, was on cycle paths too, which was a nice change from roads.
Today we took to the “Sign-Sprint” game. Whenever you see the sign with the name of a French village on it (specifically the ones at the start of the village, the equivalent of “Welcome to Townsville” signs in the UK), it was a mad dash towards it. I was doing OK in this game, and then everybody else gave up. So I won. It was a nice way to keep yourselves occupied as we whittled down the miles. The hotel is quite nice. Group 1 has been here for more than an hour, and have had a few drinks. They’re a bit of a laugh.
Less of a laugh, the two leaders from our groups (the others aren’t here yet) have just gone for a run. A long run. They are both officially insane.

2314 Hours. (Still France)
The meal tonight was really very good. We ate in the place next door to the hotel. It was two people’s birthdays, so they each got a cake with a firework in it. Not a little sparkler, a full-blown firework. A guy from the BI Foundation had a quick talk, and we’ve raised between us £87 000 already [that is, before we all left – Ed], which is awesome! I am now very tired, but we do have a later start than most tomorrow (it’s staggered starts so that we all arrive in Paris at about the same time), so I’ve got a bit of a lie-in. Well, ‘til about 8. Which is comparatively late. Some of my group has gone clubbing, so I’ll probably be in a better state than most of them!
I’ve now also got my red and white jersey, which is, of course, the only reason I took on this challenge in the first place. I originally had a small one, but that really was very small, so I’ve gone up to medium now. The two guides spent two and a half hours on their run, and ran more than half a marathon. The men in white coats are waiting for them in Paris.

Saturday 26th
0818 Hours (France from now on)
Have just woken up as Jacob left. Time to pack and breakfast before we leave. It’s the big day, and I can’t wait.

Sunday 27th
0044 Hours
Have just got to my room after an amazing amazing amazing day. I shall never forget it.
The cycling was the easiest day (despite it being the longest. Clayton (our guide) said that it’s amazing how quickly your legs get used to it, and it really is. I couldn’t believe it) – we started off on about 35 km of almost totally flat road. We got some really good teamwork going, working really efficiently and all slipstreaming each other. It was awesome, probably the most enjoyable bit of the cycling itself.
We overtook all the other groups and got to Versailles first, where we stopped for an icecream. It was a proper icecream. And very very welcome. It was amazing to stand looking at the monstrous palace (from a long way off) and think “we cycled all the way here from London”.
We then managed to get lost going into Paris, and then all of a sudden we were pretty much in the centre, cycling toward the Arc de Triomphe. All the traffic stopped as we cycled past which really was great, and then we went down the cobbled surface of the Champs-Élysées. There was the sprint finish to the Eiffel Tower, where we were sprayed with champagne (being some of the first under the bubbles) and then stopped amid huge celebrations in the great Meccano structure’s shadow. I rang quite a few people to say I’d got there and then we had a big celebration meal together. The food was a little disappointing, although the chocolate tart was something else. I’d earned a reputation as a gannet by then, so I ended up with about 6 people’s on my plate. I, alas, was unable to finish them all. They were a bit good though.
I’ve just got in from the meal and celebrations with my medal, and I’m now going to sleep. See you tomorrow. Probably in the afternoon.

1115 hours
Morning!
I have breakfasted once. I may go again with Jacob in a bit. My lunch is baguettes with cheese and ham which I half-inched from the breakfast. It is good. I’m off to see the final stage of the Tour de France later. I can’t wait!

2300 hours BST
What a day. It was roasting hot at the tour. There were many hours of waiting round, but it was worth it when the riders finally came past. I bought a Tour de France T-Shirt and cap because I wanted them. They’re a bit naff, but does that really matter? I like them and they’re a good momento.
Most of us slept on the train on the way home, myself included. I now have another 40 minutes or so of train back to Solihull, and then I shall cycle home. It’s been an exhausting but incredible experience. I have met some wonderful people, done something I never believed I would be able do, and done it in a unique team of lots of people. It’s been so much more awesome than I’d imagined it would be. Three days ago at York House I wouldn’t have guessed it would be half as amazing as it actually was.
Would I do it again?
The ride, certainly. But the fundraising was hard work and constantly on my mind. So probably not. I’ll have to find something else for next year…

So that’s my (slightly edited) journal of my mini Tour de France. It really was an incredible experience, and I’d recommend it to anybody in a flash. I’d better go and tidy my bit of office before we go home now though.


August 18, 2008

Bridged Out

I have played enough bridge to last me the next couple of weeks. Ten days is quite enough.

I’m at my sister’s in Havant now, working at the place she works for a couple of days to keep myself busy and stop myself doing nothing all day.

I’ve also recently started thinking about the future. The great unknown. What on earth am I going to do with myself? I only have 10 months before my third year of uni is up, so I really should start planning for after then. It’s all a bit scary to be honest.

While at work tomorrow, I shall (finally) put up my stories from Paris (I’m not getting paid so I’m allowed to take an hour off to blog properly for once) for you all to read. I also need to remind Robin to ring people about her tyre. No doubt one of us will forget. But hopefully one of us will remember.

The weather is PANTS. It feels like November, not August! There is nothing else to say on that matter.

Fortunately, I’ve managed to keep myself really rather occupied so far this summer, which is much better than lounging around doing not a lot. I feel one should always be doing things. There’s lots for me to do in the next couple of weeks. But if Thomas won’t answer his phone, I may have to eat him.

That was very hastily written and is consequently quite bitty. I promise a longer, more structured and better thought out post tomorrow, but for now you’ll have to make do with that jumble of random thoughts.


August 15, 2008

Facts you would find hard to dispute.

These are things I have been thinking about today.


  • The Bus Lanes in Coventry really are a joke. Particularly the one on Tile Hill. Despite the signs, cars still use it as an escape route from those ridiculously out of sinc traffic lights around Blockbuster and KFC and then there's that one on Hearsall Lane...great idea to do the whole sensor-on-the-road-so-the-traffic-lights-automatically-turn-the-bus-lane-to-green...if it works. Which, as I saw today, clearly doesn't. The lights are broken. Naturally. Sigh.
  • Miss Potter is a sweet film with a propensity to make mildly hormonal females weep.
  • David Tennant is actually beautiful.
  • Earl Grey tea is yummy.

There were other things, but I've had a large Friday cocktail and I'm being distracted by Cassanova and I just can't remember what they are. Well, I suppose I'd add...

  • Friday night cocktails are yummy also. Yummier than Friday night Earl Greys.