December 02, 2007

Ceilidh

On the 23rd November we had the CEH Ceilidh (kay-lee) which was excellent. I will admit to being sceptical at first, but I went along with it, the caller was really good in explaining the dances as we went along and I had an excellent time. My legs hurt for about 4 days afterwards, but I got over it….

John & Kerry
Esther & Others

November

I can’t believe that it is now December.

So what did I do in November? Well I went to see a couple of films with people from work. . Firstly we went to see Sicko by Michael Moore. I think his films are really well pieced together, although are blatantly one-sided propaganda – but never the less, it’s the side I like to believe in. He really holds the NHS in high regard, which has to be saying something about the American health care system really doesn’t it?

I also went to see Elizabeth: The Golden Age – which was good but not really what I wanted. I was expecting a whole load of Armada battle scenes, but that was crammed into the last 25 minutes of the film. It was more about the plot to usurp Elizabeth by Mary Queen of Scots, but even that plot wasn’t explored very well. A disappointing sequel to Elizabeth generally.

I also spent two days down in York on a team-building course, which was really good, and York was fantastic. It feels very much like a small town or village as opposed to a city, there are no high rise blocks so it was a welcome change to typical city life. I walked all around the city walls but didn’t pay to go into the Minster.

I also completed a presentation skills course, which was held in Edinburgh. It was really good and surprisingly useful – having done a lot of presentations at uni I was a bit skeptical about what they could possibly teach me – but it was well done and I got some really good tips and feedback.

Last night was the PhD student (+ John) Christmas get together at Sanna’s flat. I baked some cakes and stuff for it and we all had some Finnish mulled wine stuff (I can’t even remember let alone spell the proper Finnish name for it.) Anyway, it was quite tasty, and after a while we all got ourselves together to go to a Latin club on Rose Street. Now that was dodgy. The DJ was dire, but the dancing was funny – especially a very very drunk Kerry!


October 27, 2007

Back to Devonshire

So on Thursday after work I went straight to the airport to fly back to Exeter for the weekend for Mum and TA’s birthdays. The flight was delayed by an hour and 45 minutes, which was a real pain, so I didn’t get back to Exeter until 23:20. Not only that but I was sat next to a very Scottish lady (not terribly unsurprising in itself,) who was afraid of flying. She just chatted at me, so I felt obliged to chat back. Now I’m not the kind of person to talk to strangers, (STRANGER DANGER!) but I engaged in this fruitless exercise. Anyway, what I dislike most is the randomness of the conversation and where it goes versus my complete dislike of telling anyone anything about me or my life when I don’t know them, have no inclination to get to know them and will never see them again. So I’m forced to make up conversation, like oooh it’s my mum’s birthday, I’ve not got her a present yet… To be fair I’m really glad it’s only about an hour and 10 minute flight!

On Friday TA picked me up from my house, drove to Exeter via her house to pick up stuff / drop off stuff, then she drove like a bat out of hell through Exeter (by this time we’re running a wee bit late,) via the railway station to pick Mike up, to get to the ExeShed restaurant in the new Princesshay development. Turns out we were only about 10 minutes late so not too bad, so we got shown to our seats upstairs and given menus to peruse. Perusing done, we ordered and waited / chatted / waited some more, complimentary bread and oil arrived with a muted ‘sorry for the wait,’ before our mains arrived. Mike’s had a ‘jus’ which had formed quite a substantial skin from sitting under a heat lamp, my ‘sauce’ on my fishcakes looked a bit like vomit and was also relatively congealed, but TA’s was relatively ok. Timing apparently isn’t their forte. So we ate that and ordered desert – all cold requiring little effort. We waited / chatted / waited some more before it arrived and it was halfway through eating that TA noticed a large chunk of plastic wrapping in my parfait. We complained, the parfait was knocked off the bill, but a 10% service charge was added – needless to say what with the shocking service, cold food and choking hazard we neglected to tip at all, and carefully avoided standing on the bit of wood that replaced the broken glass floor tile at the top of the stairs on the way out. Not somewhere any of us will be highly recommending!

TA's 24th

Friday evening was really really good. Having helped make some last minute costumes for the cave man theme we set off in TA’s car into town to meet people. Only at the Marsh Barton roundabout TA realised she’d had three vodkas and it wasn’t best she drove – so some seat swapping later saw me in the drivers seat getting us into town, via the railway station pas several police cars! Anyway we all congregated at the pub having dressed people in cave person attire, where some people had made a stunning effort. (Me, not so much – see photo!) We had a few drinks there before heading on to John Gandy’s for some more drinks, when at one point I had two drinks on the go – and for some reason my Long Island Iced Tea was cloudy – any suggestions? Very drunk there before moving down to Riva club when some dancing ensued and many many photos! Mike had to leave at 1am to get the train to Standstead and TA and I headed back to hers having called it a night!

Saturday was pretty sparse, until the evening when Penny, Barbara, Mum and I went out for dinner at the Elizabethan in Luton (not London, Luton, another Luton!), which was really nice. I had a good red Thai curry, which is something I should look at cooking at home. It was really pleasant. Although I need to give Penny some money…

On Sunday we had the usual roast dinner, but in the evening TA and I went to see Stardust – it was brilliant, so funny, but really well done. Kept us entertained and on the edges of our seats. Brilliant – a definite future DVD purchase!

So anyway – I am back in Scotland again now, but ho hum – 8 weeks and I’ll be back ‘home’ again!


September 16, 2007

NEBOSH

No – it’s not some kind of posh phrase for ‘tosh,’ but rather an acronym for the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health – and I am going to be qualified under their National Certificate in Health and Safety for my new role as Local Health and Safety Advisor.

I don’t know when I am taking on the role yet (although I have taken on Display Screen Equipment risk assessments) but I am hoping that it shall be the end of October, when I shall have had a chance to a) catch up on DSE and b) get more settled and understanding of what is required. I.e. get David to show me anything and everything! To be honest, I’m not looking forward to it a great deal at the moment. The course is really hard, and very intensive, that’s not to say I can’t cope just that I’m going to be studying until December (when the exams are) and I already have a lot on what with the Mercury side of things. Damn it – I might have to take a stance and scale back the Mercury as I am supposed to be 35% H&S. We shall see.

Anyway – I’ve had homework every night this last week and have just finished writing a practice assessment for a workplace which is an exam I have to do at work in December before my written exams. I’m glad we get a chance to practice because I found it really hard to assess what level of risk something posed and also what was important enough for management to be informed. I await my results.

Also this weekend I went to see ‘3:10 to Yuma.” I have to say that I am not a big fan of Westerns, but I’m not sure if that is just my general aversion to black and white films, which most westerns are. So I was really really pleased with this remake. It was brilliant, a really good story with lots of action and a few Native Americans too (stereotypically bad people as always!) I was a little unsure about it when I first saw the trailer the other week, but have to say – great film – 4 stars!


September 13, 2007

Weekend antics

Well it’s been an age since the weekend but I have been very busy!

On Saturday Sanna and I went to the cinema to see ‘Two Days in Paris.’ I wasn’t sure about it when I read the review but as I am game for seeing most movies I thought what the hey. Turns out it was actually really really funny. The cat and the fois gras was hilarious!

On Sunday Sanna and I went to the Highland games in Peebles. We paid £5 for parking which we thought was excessive but it turns out that it covers your entrance too! Phew. We saw lots of bagpipe bands competeing, some highland dancing, as well as some ‘strongmen’ tossing the caber! It was a little cold though, so we didn;t stay for the prize giving. But we did have hot chocolate to try and warm us up! It was really good and I think bagpipe bands are kinda cool – I’m just not a fan of solitary bagpipes really…

Caber Toss

September 09, 2007

I saved a life… (ScotBlood)

Now I have to say I neither like nor see the point in having regional blood services. Surely if we have ‘National Blood Service’ then that is what it should be – national, all of the UK, but no – Scotland (as (annoyingly) with most things, has it’s own blood service, so I took myself along yesterday to register.

In Scotland they have dedicated donation centres, so I went along to the one in Edinburgh. After taking a number and registering my details at reception, I was to be treated like a brand new donor so had to be asked all the questions by the nurse, even though I’d filled out all the relevant questions on the form. I then had to have my haemoglobin tested, but not my left index finger, no no no – not in Scotland – they test the blood from your left ring finger. You don’t get a plaster either – just a swab to hold in place until you stop bleeding.

I then went through to give blood; skipping several people in the queue because it makes no difference to me which arm I donate from. So the phlebotomist came and inserted the needle and everything and I donated away. They have groovy little chairs to sit you in, not the fold up beds I am used to. Anyway, 465ml later and I am all done, needle removed and for this they did give me a plaster! Through to get some squash and a bit of a rest and I was all done!

They also have a ‘3 times a year promise’ and you get a gift when you make your third donation – they’re not great – I believe it’s a keying with a supermarket trolley on it. I have to wait for my Scotblood Donor card – but I don’t think it will be as good as my NBS one. Oh well. The good thing is they tell you when you can donate again – so for me – it’s the 1st December.


September 07, 2007

The new bedroom…

So I finally finished off painting the bedroom on Tuesday, when I did the touch ups and moved all the furniture back. I also hoovered, interesting as the hoover is rubbish and doesn’t suck unless you use the hand attachments – so I did. Needless to say I won’t hoover save for special occasions.

New Bedroom!

I also went ot see the new film Hallam Foe on Sunday. It was very odd, but Jamie Bell is really very good as a pervy disturbed kid. Not something to own on DVD, but I liked it. 4 Stars.


September 02, 2007

Johnlo Piconet – the fabulous painter!

Well this weekend has gone by in a flash really! I asked if it was ok to paint the bedroom on Friday to get rid of the ghastly and oppressive blue-ness, it was so on Saturday morning I went to B&Q to buy some paint, brushes, whit spirit etc. (£24).

The instant I got back I opened up the paint and started brushing it onto the walls with great sighs of relief – yay – no more blue! I’ve chosen what is described as Mellow Mocha – which is basically a coffee colour – very milky coffee. I like it – it is a lot like the colour of my bedroom back in Devon – so it can make me feel at home too.

By 1pm I had finished the first coat – looked very patchy due to oppressive blue behind, so off to B&Q to get another pot of paint and a roller set this time! (£13).

Quick lunch break here – I met up with Sanna and we went to the Mosque kitchen, which basically serves curry, Midday – 7pm every day. It was so cheap and so tasty. Definitely a place to go again. We then went shopping for a bit – getting Sanna a new belt – before we headed to Costa for a coffee and a chinwag. We made arrangements to meet on Sunday for the end of festival Fireworks too.

Back to the flat and I rollered on the second coat before settling down to watch a couple of episodes of Firefly before bed. I was up early on Sunday to start the glosswork – which also looks terrible with the blue behind – so a second coat is required for that too! I shall have to wait until I get home from work tomorrow to do the second coat, so I touched up the coving with some white emulsion. I don’t think I’ll have the bedroom back proper until Tuesday evening at the earliest – it WILL be worth it though!


September 01, 2007

Heather and John's Excellent Adventure, also featurng Chris

24th August

Well, last weekend was excellent! A truly excellent adventure!

Hev arrived about half past six on Friday evening, we had tea (Fish fingers, chips and peas – old School University catering!) before we settled down and watched ‘Jersey Girl’ as recommended by Troë and rented by me using my online rental subscription! (30 Days free trial – woo!)

We went to collect Chris from the railway station at about 10:20, then we chatted and stuff before bed.

25th August

Braveheart Hev and Chris

On Saturday we got up mid morning, I moved the car due to a Hibs game, and when we were all ready we went into Edinburgh centre to look at the half-price hut to find us some comedy! We walked up to the Royal Mile to see some street entertainers before going back to the half-price hut to browse again. After a McDonalds lunch we, for the third time, returned to the half-price hut and got tickets to see Sammy J that evening. Whilst in the queue some guy touted his free comedy that afternoon, so we went to that too.

Oh dear. This was rubbish, but thank god it was free. It was basically one very long (almost an hour) very unfunny story involving him doing impersonations (bad ones) of famous rock and roll stars – using props including: a pint of best, a cowboy hat and some sunglasses. I kept nodding off – need I say more? 0.5 stars – (for his effort.)

However, after eating dinner at the Slug and Lettuce in the Omni we went to see Sammy J!

We went over to George’s Square where there are masses of beer tents to choose from, before we went into a big top type tent to be greeting with a white grand piano. Quizzical – we were!

Sammy J is really really good, I’d say he takes inspiration from Tom Lehrer because he has a great turn on the piano making comic songs, including one which is a sort of palindrome with him signing backwards. He can also talk to birds, not to mention dribble on himself! He really had us laughing with some audience participation and for £4 was a really good deal. I’d pay to see him again. 5 Stars.

26th August

Today we were up late again but got out soonish and down to the parliament building which was having an open day as part of the ‘Festival of Politics.’ It was really neat inside. We then walked over to St James’ mall for lunch, then up Carlton Hill, before trying to see some free comedy at one of the venues, only to find it had started early! So we left there and went over to another venue to wait for more free comedy, only to be told – free comedy finished yesterday! Argh!

So it was off to the cinema to see ‘Knocked Up’ – and having run back to the cinema to collect my wallet – we went home where I cooked Spag Bol and we watched the Bourne Identity on DVD before bed.


August 21, 2007

Mid August

10th August

So today was the CEH BBQ and Sports day.

It was really good – the intention was to have an event where the people transferring from Banchory could get to know the people at Edinburgh. The sports may have been more divisive but there we are! For me it was ample opportunity to actually learn some people’s names! Hurrah!

The BBQ started at about 1pm, with lots of salad, meats, crisps and puddings, most of which was made by peoples own fair hands. Then everyone was divided into 4 teams for the sports.

Games included, egg and spoon, sack race, three legged race, wheelbarrow race, football relay, dizzy lizzy relay and…. SUMO SUITS!

Three Legged CEH Race

Yes, some people (not I) embarrassed themselves in sumo suits! I however just took part in the three-legged race and the dizzy lizzy relay. Our team came second and last respectively – but it is the taking part that counts!

Hairspray!

Well, I was a little unsure about this movie, but thought I would give it a go. I don’t like John Travolta so I’ll gloss over him, and just say that it was really really good – I love musicals! It wasn’t quite as naff as High School Musical – but then I do have that on a pedestal!

Jody Kamali: Backpacker

I went to see this ‘comedy’ at the Edinburgh fringe tonight. Now I didn’t do much research into the show, but I thought the premise was good, and it looked like it would be funny.

It wasn’t. Not really, some of what the guy did was amusing, yes I will grant you, but most of it was just acting and crap acting at that. Not £7.50 worth at all. Moreover it was tipped as one of the top 100 things to see at this year’s fringe, hmmm, if it wasn’t ranked at 100 someone needs a head butt!

1 Star.

Damascus: David Greig

I went to see this play with people from work, which was nice. We met at the theatre (eventually we found everyone!) before going to get our seats. Only the theatre appeared to have overbooked and was packed so we didn’t all end up sitting next to one another.

The play itself was really good. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, as I haven’t seen any other plays by Greig. It was really witty, with some good one-liners, with an over-arching moral tale. It’s refreshingly modern, with references to the current political climate (Iraq, terrorism etc.) but based upon a Scot trying to sell an English foreign language course to the Syrian government. The Ukrainian pianist narrator was a little odd though…

4 Stars.

Alan McD’s leaving evening!

Today was Alan’s last day at CEH before he moves to SEPA. So he organised a bowling / pub evening to celebrate. Bowling was good, Neil was a pain in the arse, but then he has a gob the size of the Firth of Forth so what can I say? Anyway, the first game I was second last, the second game I came first, including 3 strikes. Get me!

We then went to the pub which was really nice, socialising with everyone from work, learning some more names, just generally getting to know people, what’s good in the city etc etc. It’s a shame Alan’s gone now though…

The Threepenny Opera: Bablake Secondary School, Coventry

I love musical theatre and this is a piece of theatre that I have seen before and immensely enjoyed. This was no different.

Although obviously amateur the school put on a really good show, in particular I thought Mrs Peacham was particularly well cast. Boy could she belt out a tune (not always on key, but fantastic none the less.) It was a shame that the girl playing Polly therefore had a relatively weak voice (and distinct lack of singing ability) as she has to sing alongside Mrs Peacham a few times throughout the production and just paled into insignificance.

Mack the Knife was also really well cast with a good voice and acting ability. Not all the cast were of the same calibre. Mr Peacham for example, along with the strange ‘cockney’ accent, didn’t sing well, but I wasn’t sure if it was the actor, or just the way the character was supposed to be portrayed. Never the less, I thought it was particularly well done and had a fantastic time. What I want now is a professional production please!

4 Stars!

The Bourne Ultimatum

This was a fantastic movie! I loved it – especially the action sequences shot in London, which were a little scary. It’s all action, which was great, and in my opinion, far better than the previous 2. I only hope they don’t make a fourth!

4 Stars!


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