December 10, 2006

Christmas Cheese Like You've Never Heard it Before!

Who knew that pass the parcel could lead to such revelry? Calling it music is perhaps stretching it a bit…

November 30, 2006


Hello blog watchers, and welcome back. Seeing as I’ve not blogged for yonks (not actually true – I’ve done loads of blog entries, you just can’t see them :-P) I thought I’d best give you all – that’s right, all two of you! – a brief, coherent update. And I’m going to start on a happy note, too. I am in pain. This is partly my own fault. I’ve played pool for 4 days running this week and whilst this has noticeably improved my game (I think – I’ve even managed a couple of plants!) it’s done nothing for my back. Was leaning over the table today to make a tricky shot when I thought, “Ah. That’s not pleasant,” and it seems to have got worse as the evening’s gone on, which is a bit poo, really. Added to this is the fact that I’ve come down with a “gastric infection” (nurse’s words, not mine) which severely buggered up yesterday by leaving me unable to go to my lecture or do any work. I know, I know, I’m hardly going to get any pity for being unable to spend the afternoon on Richard III but it would’ve been nice to get it out the way. Haven’t been feeling 100% today either so I went to see the nurse about it, but she reassured me that it’ll go away of its own accord fairly soon as long as I rest.

The problem with that, of course, is that I can’t rest. Albeit some of the work I’ve got to do (reading “The Quiet American” and “The Comedians”, and to a lesser extent, typing WO minutes) can be done in bed, but I really need to get this commentary done either tomorrow or Saturday and I’m really worried I won’t have the energy to do it. I got in from 1025 this evening, looked at the clock, and realised it was only quarter to ten and I was already shattered. I plan to have a loooooooong lie-in tomorrow. I might aim for Ed’s record…

There’s so much to do over the next week or so as well that I’m getting that I’m getting that feeling I always get towards the end of term, a feeling of just hanging in there and doing enough work to keep your head above water and surviving through till the holidays. But I don’t want to get behind on work, and I’ve got MA applications to think of. And I’ve not got the thought of going home to look forward to for at least a week after the end of the holidays, partly because I think I’ll have a Christmas party to go to on the Saturday, and partly because I have three essays due in next term and I should probably get started! But on the plus side, I’ve got several concerts, a curry (yay!), and at least two other parties (a housewarming followed by a soiree no less) coming up to look forward to. I’ve no doubt the next week (and a bit)’ll be a good one, I just would like the mental capacity to fully appreciate it!

And as you may have guessed by the fact that I’m typing this (or by the wonder that is Facebook), we’ve got the internet back at last! This has made me very happy, even though, naturally, as soon as I’ve got the internet all the things I wanted to use it for have magically disappeared and I’m once again resorting to the old “email, blogs, Facebook” cycle. It’s also had the side-effect that socialising in the house has been severely reduced as everyone scuttles back to their respective rooms to do whatever it is they were doing when the net was broken, as opposed to sitting in the front room moaning about the lack of internet and watching Arrested Development, our sole form of entertainment. Good times (sniff). Still, it means that everyone in the house has been wandering around with a smile on their face on the few occasions they’ve been out of their rooms. Hurrah! (N.B. This may be a slight exaggeration. We’re not all that anti-social. Honest.)

And also on the plus side, my short story got workshopped in our Practice of Fiction seminar today, and although there are quite a few things I need to change about it (understandable really, it was a first draft) people were, on the whole, positive about it, and there’s definitely the beginnings of something there. This has made me feel a lot better and more positive about my writing generally. Hurrah! And good luck to those being workshopped next week :)

I’m trying to think of what else there is to say, can’t help feeling that I’m missing something really obvious that someone’ll point out later… Ah well, all that remains for me to say is:

Symphony Orch. and Chorus Concert, Sunday 4pm
Wind Orch and Revelation Christmas Concert, Monday 7.30pm

Be there! (No other alternative, I’m afraid, you’ll all just have to turn up!)

October 15, 2006

Birthday Joyousness

Just to say a big, massive “thank you” to anyone who sent me a text, a card, wrote on my wall on Facebook or got me a present for my birthday (or, in the case of Matt Cooper, did all of the above!). I had an absolutely fantastic time on Saturday, and it was you guys who made it so fab. It’s amazing not only to realise that I’m now a proper proper adult (when you get 2 texts within the space of 10 minutes calling you “old fart” and “old dear”, you start to worry!), but to realise yet again just what amazing friends I have. So a most sincere thanks from me to everyone who helped to make this birthday the best one ever :)

September 25, 2006

Juvenile… and yet amusing

Spotted in Hong Kong:

...or won

September 22, 2006

Lu's Hong Kong Update

Greetings from sunny China!

And sunny it is, though surprisingly hazy. Hong Kong is hot, though not unbearably so, and humid. What makes the heat easy to take is that every building – quite literally – is air conditioned, though I still can’t get used to the fact that when I go outdoors, it’s warmer than indoors…

It’s really hard to say what’s been going on without sounding really boring. Most interesting things to have happened so far: we’ve been severely screwed up by jet lag, I’ve been sick in a nice restaurant (in the toilets, thankfully!) and I’m getting a dress tailor-made for about what I’d pay for a Monsoon dress in the UK. It’s been hard adjusting to things like the time difference, the heat and the food, but we’re into day three now and I think we’re pretty much sorted. Dreading how long it’ll take me to get back to UK time, but at least I’ll know that I can eat pieces of meat knowing that they won’t still be on the bone! Having said that, food’s dead cheap if you know where to look: we had a nice Chinese today for lunch that cost a fiver. For two of us. That’s 2.50 each. Bargainacious!

We’ve done some of the sightseeing bit – we’ve taken the Star Ferry across the harbour and seen all the major skyscrapers, and generally seen most of the place. Still to do: taking the tram to the top of Victoria Peak to see the view over the city, and seeing the Big Buddha, which is on the island we’re staying on. We’ve agreed to give Hong Kong Disneyland a miss. Other than that, we’ve mainly spent the time shopping, as things like electronics and clothes are surprisingly cheap. Customer service out here is amazing, almost too amazing in fact: shop assistants will happily run around the shop for you (literaly) to find the perfect pair of jeans, but they won’t accept that you might want to leave the shop without buying a pair; it’s almost like they think they’ve failed you. I felt so bad today handing a pair back to the lady because they just didn’t fit right – she just looked so disappointed. People here are really polite, and they really do take the phrase, “Happy to help” to a new level.

Other things that we’ve seen: Jackie Chan everywhere, including advertising his own gym, and the lightshow on the waterfront, where all the big buildings light up in time to music, which was really impressive. And we’ve managed to get by without using any Cantonese, as most people speak English to an extent. And friendly people keep stopping in the street and giving us directions when we’ve been lost, which is very handy!

Haven’t had chance to explore the island where we’re staying yet, though it does have the Big Buddha on, and our hotel’s right on the beach. It’s not a bad place to stay either, bar having to take the ferry over each morning – not great if you’re prone to seasickness, or if you’re feeling decidedly dodgy, like I was the other morning.

All in all, am having a really good time. It’s great to have the chance to experience a culture that’s so different from our own, particularly now I’ve had the chance to settle into it and have found somewhere where I can get a proper cup of tea. Will hopefully return to the UK with some great photos and a few tacky souvenirs as well as a few bargains.

I’ll update again if we manage to do anything else interesting, but for now, I’ll leave you all to your lunch :)

September 17, 2006

All Quiet on the Blogging Front

Hello all!

Yeah, it really has been a while, hasn’t it? I’d like to excuse myself by saying I’ve been rather busy this summer, but I’ve realised that quite a lot of that busyness has involved me a) going out to town with friends, or b) going the pub. But that’s not to say that I’ve not done loads of stuff. I’ve been to see Snow Patrol, I’ve been camping down in Somerset at Soul Survivor, I’ve been to the Leeds Festival and seen the Kaiser Chiefs (who were really good) and Franz Ferdinand (who were amazing!), I’ve been to London to the Prom in the Park, I’ve been to Delamere Forest, I’ve been boating on the river in Chester, I’ve shown a couple of people (namely Geoff and Kel) the sights of Liverpool (well, kind of)... and have basically spent the rest of the time catching up with loads of people I’ve not seen for ages and who I probably now won’t see for a while. That, and teaching myself some new songs on the guitar, I’m getting reasonably good now! And I’m getting guitarists’ fingers to boot. Oh well.

As for work done, it’s perhaps best not to mention it. I’m hoping to get more of War and Peace read (yep, still halfway through it) on the stupidly long flight I’ve got coming up, and have been trying to read some Shakespeare, but still, I have the awful feeling that I’m going to be behind before term even starts.

Oh well.

And as some of you know, over the summer I purchased this thing of great beauty:

New Sax

I proudly present to you my new tenor sax. Isn’t it pretty? Sounds pretty good too, though not necessarily when I play it. Also managed to get myself a piccolo as exchange for my old tenor, which isn’t as pretty and doesn’t sound as good, but which will do the job. Wind Orch, you have been warned.

There’s a part of me that’s not looking forward to getting back (sacrilege, I know!) because I’ve really enjoyed my time back home and I’m not looking forward to missing everyone again and losing touch with them. But for the most part I am looking forward to it, and I know I’ll be fine once I’m all moved in and settled. Have printed out loads of photos and stuck them in frames and have also bought furniture for my room – am looking forward to prettifying it, arranging it all and making the space my own. And of course I’ll be living in the House of Hogg, which will definitely be something to look forward to. And as soon as I get back I’m going to the Bengal for curry, which will most definitely be something to look forward to!

Will be back in Liverpool the weekend of the 13th October because – drum roll, please – it’s my 21st birthday! That’s Saturday 14th October, for those not in the know – less than a month to go now! Am rather excited about that. Will soon be able to do loads of things that I couldn’t do when I was 20, such as… erm, accompany learner drivers out on their own. Hmm. Still, I guess it’s still a milestone. I’ll also be back up here on the 15th November, although that’s yet to be confirmed, when I’ll be getting, erm, confirmed in Liverpool Cathedral. Rather pleased about being able to be confirmed anyway, but I’m very, very happy that it’s going to be in the Cathedral – how lucky am I? The Cathedral’s huge, and it’s lovely inside. It’s an honour to know that that’s where the service will take place. Hopefully…

And the big news: I’m flying to Hong Kong tomorrow! There’s no real reason for going, I’m just going for a holiday as I’ve always wanted to go to the Far East and as yet have never been. I’m going with Pete, my friend from sixth form (though technically not from sixth form, as we weren’t there at the same time), and we’ll be out there for a week, though the trip takes about 10 days total because of the length and times of the flights. I’m really not ready to go – am only just starting to think about packing – but still, really looking forward to it. Quite glad that they speak English out there, though, as my Mandarin is non-existent. Will try and blog or do something on Facebook while I’m out there, but if anyone has any (small!) requests for things they’d like me to bring back, or would like a postcard, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do.

That’s about it, folks. Apologies that I’ve condensed two months’ worth of summer into a single blog, it would’ve been mammoth otherwise. I’ll be back in Coventry from 30th September; I guess I shall see you all then :)

Apart from those who read this who don’t go to Warwick, that is…

July 12, 2006

A nice way to spend an evening

Go for a random walk and a random drive.

Random drives are always good. The random walk was lovely – Jules and I had a stroll along the Pierhead after dinner to see where the Mersey Ferry terminal sunk (and it has properly sunk – it's really surprising!), to look at the new stadium they're building at the King's Dock, and to try and work out what the Third Grace was. We got the Cunard Building, and obviously the Liver Building; turned out we'd both forgotten the Port of Liverpool Building. Anyway, it was just really nice to stroll along the waterfront. Reminds me of the things that are good about my home city, and gave me the chance to find out some stuff that I didn't already know about it. Plus Jules and I got to have a good chat and catch up as we walked along, which is always a bonus!

The random drive was great! Haven't done that in a long while, and it reminded me just why I used to love doing it in sixth form. Maybe it's because I know the area round Liverpool a lot better, but there's something satisfying about going for random drives when I'm home; it's just not the same at uni. Plus tonight we ended up driving to a local beach, which clearly isn't going to happen in the West Midlands! Under Jules' expert guidance, we meandered up the coast to Formby, had some excitement when we got stopped at a level crossing (OK, it's not that exciting, but it had never happened to me before! Probably a had to be there thing), drove past all the footballers' houses and ended up at the sand dunes – with the Beatles on the stereo, naturally! It probably doesn't sound like much but it was great to see parts of the city (ish) that I don't usually visit. It was also Yasmine 2's first proper trip out and first trip on the motorway, which reminded me not only how much I've missed driving, but how much I missed my Yaris. Definitely going to take good care of this one…

London was good. Didn't get up to too much, but managed to have a bit of a shop and visited a spa, which was amazing – so relaxing! Well recommended. The spa I went to was the originally titled "The Spa at Chancery Court" and had a relaxation room, steam room, sauna, lovely showers… It was bliss. Could've stayed there far, far longer than I did. The other highlights included eating in a Nando's built into the arches under a railway bridge, so that you could hear the trains going overhead, and taking a stroll yesterday evening along the South Bank, stopping on Waterloo Bridge to have a gaze at the skyline. Fabulous. Still don't think I could live in London though, just don't think I could hack the pace…

Up next this week: catching up with old friends (again), Kel's 21st in Northampton, and then Snow Patrol in Nottingham, followed by the Open at Royal Liverpool. The fun never stops :)

Alex Stanbury Summary: Went for random walk and random drive. Learned about Liverpool with friend. Went to London. Had fun in spa and on bridge.

July 07, 2006

An update from the Capital of Culture (although Capital of Building Sites might be more apt…)

So, first blog of the holidays. I guess it should, by rights, be a post–Tour blog, but I think Naomi’s pretty much got that covered. I may do something on Tour if I get round to it, but that’s by no means a guarantee. Pictures will be going up on Facebook and on my MSN space as well if I think on; I’ll stick all my photos on my blog when I get a spare few minutes. For now you’ll have to make do with a general update I’m afraid!

Things have been pretty good since I got home. It’s been good to get away from last term, and in some ways, good to get away from the MC. Don’t get me wrong, I love you guys (shucks), but sometimes all the gossip and the politics become a little too much to handle. I felt after Tour, enjoyable though it was (and it was), that I really needed a bit of breathing room, a bit of space to use a more hackneyed expression. And I’m feeling a lot better for it. Just being able to sit back and read whatever I want, from more serious stuff to trash, is sheer bliss. A break is really what I needed after last term, and so far it’s doing me the world of good.

Results came in the post this week – I got a 2:1! I know, that’s pretty much as expected, but there’s that moment when you open the envelope when you wonder if it’s all quite gone to plan. Was generally quite happy, as there were areas I felt I could’ve done better in, and would like a slightly higher average next year (I know, picky picky picky) but on the whole I did well. Most impressive mark: 68 in the module of doooooooom! Seriously, if not attending lectures and being terrified come exam time has that effect on me, maybe I should do it for all my modules next year…

This week’s been going rather well so far. Yesterday didn’t start off too great. Actually, that’s a lie – it started off fine, even if it did start off on a friend’s sofa bed after a really good night in. It just reached the stage where little things were getting to me, so much so that I was tempted to write a blog entry about them knowing that I’d be able to do a more cheerful one this evening. But I’ve since realised I can’t be bothered to do two blog entries. And things are actually pretty good at the moment. I’ve just got a bit of a bad back and feel like I’ve got a lot of soul–searching (bit of a cliché there, my apologies) to do after last term. But that’s nothing major.

Anyway, there’ve been loads of things happening over the past few days, and some still to happen, which doth a happy Lu make. As I mentioned (kind of), yesterday I had a lovely meal cooked for me and had a great evening catching up with my friends from 6th form. It’s really good to catch up with everyone when I get back here, and makes me wonder why I don’t keep in touch with them more during the term, even though I know it’s because we’re all really really busy. I’ve got plenty more people to get back in touch with and loads of stuff on to keep me occupied. This summer’s shaping up to be a good’un :) The sun’s been cracking the flags (a Scouse expression?) here for much of the time – it’s clouded over now and we’re probably due a thunderstorm soon, but it’s been lovely for the past few days. Did get to feel smug when Sam said there was a thunderstorm where he was; it’s not often the north–west has better weather than the south! Have taken advantage of it by walking round the park as part of my “I seem to have lost weight whilst on Tour, I best keep this up” programme, and doing some sunbathing in the back garden. Am off to London this weekend so will probably avoid the thunderstorm, although I’m aware that it’s currently unbearably hot in the capital (40 degrees on the Tube, apparently). Still, not only do I get to see my Mum and do some shopping, but we’re also planning on visiting a spa for the day :) Hurrah!

Had a pretty good day all round yesterday. Firstly, my new Sennheiser headphones, as recommended by Sam, arrived in the post, and they really are good! Have been enjoying muchly listening to the iPod with them. Went to the hairdressers in the evening, which might sound odd as an enjoyable experience, but I’m sure most women will understand. There’s something about being pampered, getting your hair washed for you and getting a free head massage at the same time, that almost justifies the amount I spend on it. Plus I for one always come out feeling better about myself than before, knowing I’m guaranteed a good hair day for the next couple of days! They did a darn good job this time, too – managed to give it a bit more shape whilst keeping the length, and changed the colour slightly too. And then I spent the evening relaxing whilst watching an excellent seniors match at Wimbledon, featuring the legend that is Goran Ivenisevic. The Over–35s matches are great: not only do you get to see the great players of the past playing some surprisingly good tennis, but because they’re not playing for money (although they’re still clearly playing to win) they manage to make it really entertaining. Yesterday, at one point, it was Leconte and ball–girl versus Donnelly and line judge. Hilarious. Highly recommended!

But the best news from this week is yet to come. Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to present to you… Yasmine 2!

Yasmine 2

OK, so she’s a bit different to Yasmine, as the more eagle–eyed among you will have noticed (older, different colour, fewer doors). But to be honest, I quite like that about her. After the accident my parents and I discussed whether it was a good idea to have exactly the same car again, and my mum expressed some concern about it. Yasmine 2’s perfect for that reason: she drives pretty much the same as Yasmine, but there are little differences that keep me on my toes in a “That’s not where the handbrake was…” kind of way. Otherwise, she’s the same model with the same size engine – and for £2000 less than we paid originally, and £4000 less than the equivalent new Yaris! That saving should be enough for me to justify buying a new sax over the summer. Hurrah. And I promise not to get too attached to this one, even if it has already got a name!

Right, that’s it from me. Hope you’re all enjoying the good weather and that those of you at work get some chance to take advantage of it. Enjoy, and speak to most of you soon :)

And apologies for the epic length of that entry. Maybe I should start doing an Alex Stanbury summary…

June 21, 2006

Normal service will be resumed…

…as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway.

In other words, this is my apology for being in a fairly rubbish mood this week. This weekend, I was fine, and I thought things (my mood in particular) were looking up. But this week I've so far been rubbish. I've so far bitten Sam's head off and not even attempted to join in the MC BBQ, which is definitely not right. (Instead, I have been sitting at home teaching myself Beatles songs on the guitar – hurrah!)

I'd say I don't know what's up, but I do. The problem is, it (on top of everything else, such as not sleeping and the feeling that there's not enough hours in a day) is really getting to me, way more than I should. I should be able to deal with this, and I definitely shouldn't be taking it out on other people, so those I've moaned to/yelled at/sobbed at, I really do apologise. I don't know what's gotten into me at the moment. Yeah, it's easy to put it down to stuff, but that should make it easier to solve, and it doesn't. I don't know why I can't just let go of what's upsetting me and be done but it seems that I can't. And it's making me feel like a rubbish person for being so… well, rubbish. I know Matt told me not to be too hard on myself, and he's right – I shouldn't be. At times like this I'm my own worst enemy as I tend to blame myself for not doing the right thing, even though I can see that a) I'm trying to, and b) I'm hurting, so I really do need to just let up. Easier said than done though, eh?

So just bear with me for the next few days/week or so. I'll be fine in the end, I just need to get through this (bizarrely) rough patch. And bear in mind that if I say I need to be alone, I probably do need to be alone, and half an hour with a book and a cuppa, or a long walk somewhere, will probably do me the best of good.

And don't worry. This malaise really won't last if I have anything to do with it!

June 18, 2006

Very Good News

Follow-up to Bad news from The Blog of Lu

My iPod's fixed! Yay! :–)

Thanks to all who suggested what it could be/how to solve it. In the end I was so amazed that it was working (and feeling a bit of a fool because the bloke had to install some software on it) I completely forgot to ask what was wrong. But that doesn't matter, because in this instance Apple's customer service was amazing. I showed up for my appointment at the Apple store and explained what was wrong to the guy. He then took the iPod, disappeared for 5 minutes and came back with it working! And when I asked how much the repair cost, he replied, "Nothing. It's still under warranty." All of which made me very happy :) And between that and the cool stuff on display in the store, I'm now very tempted to get a Mac as my next computer, so well done Apple!

Pretty good weekend all round, really :–)

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