Sunday, September 16, 2007

One year on...

This weekend has marked one year since I came away to university.
The coming year will be a lot more challenging, I start my first teaching placement next week. This means I'll be working really hard til Christmas. I've given up my sports shop job, I told them it was because of my workload, but really, I didn't want to be there.

Since most of my CU mates are back at uni, I've been kept busy sorting wireless networks recently.
It really makes me appreciate having my Mac... There always seems to be something goes wrong when using Windows, usually related to the stupid admin utility bundled with the wireless card, which doesn't want to relinquish control of the connection, but neither will it connect to the network.

Ho hum. The joys of being a geek

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back to the grind

This weekend 3 of my housemates moved in, and a good quantity of the CU also returned. Most people don't start back for a week or 2, my course begins on today, with 2 days of boring administration stuff, then lectures begin on Wednesday. Unfortunately, my student loan won't come through for another week. Since last night was the first night with 4 of us in the house, we stayed up far too late playing xbox games, as is the norm for students.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Long time, no update....

I've really neglected this over the summer, been too busy doing nothing. Since my last post, I've moved house, Esther has bought her first house, I've been away 3 times, to France, Cheltenham Bible Festival and the Aber Conference, I've gained a deathly boring part time job in a sports shop, and I've spent a week dog sitting.

Uni starts again in a couple of weeks, everyone keeps telling me that this next year will be much harder. This weekend, I'm heading home to my parents for the last time before the new term.

Monday, May 21, 2007

PSA - check your pockets

I just emptied the washing machine, only to discover my bluetooth headset in the bottom. I had it in my pocket when we got back from the weekend away.
I tried to turn it on, it flashed frantically in blue, then green, now it looks dead.

Ah well

Trip to Snowdonia

This last weekend, the CU lads had a weekend in Snowdonia. Original plans involved camping, but weather reports meant we booked into a bunkhouse instead. We started the weekend by visiting a local forest on Friday night, for study and worship, then, after about 4 hours sleep on the floor in Andy's lounge, set off for Wales on Saturday morning. We spent much of Saturday in Beddgelert forest, then Sunday morning we climbed Y Gribin, a ridge which runs up the 'back' of the Glyders. We finished the weekend with the traditional pub lunch, then drove back in time for the evening service.

It was a great time of fellowship, getting to know the other guys better, and being able to marvel at the world we live in - such a wonderful creation.

Chris drove his frog/lawnmower and had a little trouble keeping up...

They're not making rude gestures, as it may seem. Rob, in the back was talking to our car on a radio, Chris was scratching his eye. Just an unfortunate moment to capture

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Whilst we were running round Joburg airport, trying to locate a staff member to find us our baggage, I encountered Wolverine* on an escalator. After a brief struggle, I overpowered him, but sustained slight injury. The result, which had slightly healed when I photographed it, can be seen below.

*Ok, so I was running on an escalator, and I slipped. Those edges are sharp. When they say don't run, they aint kidding.

The journey home

This was where the real fun of the trip began.

We left Lily at around 1PM on Friday 13th April. We drove down to Durban, had lunch, dropped off the car and were checked in nice and early, to give plenty of time. They still couldn't give us 3 seats together. We boarded, and I was delighted to find that my seat, just behind business class, was actually a business class seat, with legroom to match.

Sadly, the delight was shortlived. We were informed by the pilot that the flight was not being allowed to take off, due to thunderstorms in Joburg. We waited over an hour, getting more and more nervous about the time. We eventually took off, and landed in Joburg with about 30 minutes to spare before the Iberia flight went.

We hadn't been given boarding passes for the whole trip, as we were travelling on two seperate tickets. This meant we had to check in again, but Iberia had closed the flight. There were only 2 Iberia staff around, everyone else had gone home, and they sent us back to SAA, as it was SAA's 'fault' we didn't make out connection.

SAA told us there was no chance of a flight that night, the next available flight with free seats was the following Thursday. They gave us vouchers for a hotel. We tried to locate our luggage, only to be told to go back the next day, as everyone had gone home.
The hotel, D'Oreale Grande, was very nice. We didn't feel really in the mood to appreciate it, so after midnight waffles, we went to bed.

The next morning we were back at the airport for 7.30, where we were told to return at 1, and they would get us on a flight. We located our luggage, returned to the hotel to shower, change and eat lunch, then back to the airport. Sure enough, they got us on a flight to London, via Paris. It was leaving at around 7.45PM. Wanting to be sure of a seat, we checked in there and then, and spent the next 6 hours in the departure lounge, trying to find things to spend our remaining Rand on.

The flight to Paris was uneventful, but on arriving, at around 8AM, we were told our Air France connecting flight was cancelled. The next available flight was at 5PM. Unwilling to wait, we were told to buy tickets for Eurostar, and Air France would refund them.
We enquired about our baggage, as it was supposed to be going to London on a non existant flight, and were told to return in an hour as they were looking for it.

We headed for the Eurostar terminal, only to be stopped by 3 soldiers. In my very tired state, I waved my passport at them as they babbled in French, as it normally works like magic. It turned out that there was a suspicious package, and we had to wait until they had checked it.

We made it to the ticket office, bought 3 tickets and returned to the baggage claim office. They had not found our bags, and filling out the paperwork took so long we were not going to make our train. So we returned to the ticket office, exchanged our tickets and got a train to Gare du Nord, where we once again went through customs.

We got on the Eurostar, but my ticket had no seat allocated, so I had to sit in the corridor until we discovered a free seat. There was a group of French schoolchildren going to Ashford on exchange, and a slightly batty American couple.
This couple talked non stop, loudly, about controversial topics (including mocking a disabled person), were very arrogant, anti French and for some reason pro English, to the extent that they began singing 'White Cliffs of Dover' when we emerged from the tunnel.

We arrived in London late, said goodbye to Katherine, and got picked up by my parents, who got slightly lost getting home. We finally arrived home some 54 hours after starting, having travelled by plane, train, bus, car and on foot.

Points to learn about this trip are as follows:

Avoid connecting flights where possible
Joburg departure lounge is boring, though the toilets are nice
Something else can always go wrong
SAA food is much nicer than Iberia
The French army don't have any bullets in their guns

Friday, April 27, 2007

Lily of the Valley

Firstly, apologies for the lack of updates, I've been really busy writing an assignment.

We arrived at Lily on the Monday, early evening, just Warren, the manager, and all the volunteers were leaving, they literally drove out as we drove in.
So we had the first evening for Esther and Katherine to get reaquainted with the children and house mothers, and for me to be introduced. Strangely, on learning I was Esther's boyfriend, they all laughed...

The kids at Lily are unlike any I have ever encountered. They are very tactile, crowding round you, jumping on you. They are very trusting of visitors, something which could be a problem later, but they are in a very good environment, with a strong Christian basis.

On the Tuesday, Sung Min, Warren's new bride, made her return from Korea. The welcome the kids and housemothers gave them was quite something to see, with banners and a Zulu song.
Sung Min was a volunteer at the same time as Esther and Katherine, so they were happy to see her again. As part of their wedding gift, we presented them with a framed satellite image of Lily.

We also got the chance to visit Makaphutu, the childrens village which has recently come under Lily management. They have had many problems there, but the new manager Wade, one of Warren's brothers, has many ideas on how to improve things.

I was made to be useful during my time there, I was mistaken for a volunteer by one of the staff and ended up driving the Kombi to Pietermaritzburg on an errand. My computer skills came in handy also.

It was a great time, I finally got to experience what I had been told so much about, and it has definitely confirmed my desire to serve abroad, should the opportunity arise.

We were there from the Monday, to the Friday. When we left, at around 1PM, we had little idea of the journey we faced. More on that later.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Lesotho and the Drakensburg

On Thursday 5th, we drove into the Drakensburg. We stayed in a backpackers hostel at the bottom of Sani Pass, the mountain road into Lesotho. On the Friday we took a trip into Lesotho, where we got to experience a traditional dwelling, complete with home made bread and beer. As we were leaving Lesotho, the clouds descended, remaining til the morning we left.

We did manage one short walk to a nearby waterfall, and on Easter Sunday we visited a local church then drove into the countryside for a picnic. We then went to a local posh hotel for dinner, only cost 85 Rand ( 14 to the £1).

On Easter Monday we packed up again and drove to our final destination, Lily. More on that later.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

St Lucia

On the Monday (2nd April), we spent the morning looking around the shops in St Lucia, and in the afternoon we went on a boat around the estuary, where you can see hippos and crocs, as well as a variety of birds.
The next day we drove up to Sodwana Bay, which is supposed to be a very secluded quiet beach. Instead the beach was full of people who had driven onto the sand in 4x4s and set up gazebos. We looked pitiful perched on our towels between them. Shortly before we left, we went for a walk along the beach, only to discover a section of beach that was completely deserted.

Wednesday we decided to go to the beach at St Lucia. We were just starting down the road to the beach when a man in a pickup offered us a lift.
We discovered, as he drove us, that the beach road is about 3 miles long, so we were fortunate. We weren't at the beach long as the weather turned bad. We began the walk home and were offered another lift, which dropped us right outside where we were staying. Riding in the rain is actually pretty fun.

Thursday morning we left and drove down to the Drakensburg.

Sadly I forgot to take my camera with me every time we went out in St Lucia. I'll hopefully get some copies from Katherine.

Monday, April 16, 2007

South Africa Part 1 - Outward Bound

I'm going to split this into sections, for easy readability.

First up, the journey there.

Esther and I met Katherine at Heathrow on 31st March.

We flew Iberia, via Madrid, to Johannesburg, uneventfully. However, the food was awful, you had to pay for it on the short haul flight, and the meals on the main flight were manky - grey chicken for dinner, nasty looking cold meat for breakfast.
And the flight attendants were grumpy. And old. Hollywood lied to me.

We arrived in SA late, and we rushed from the international terminal to the domestic, to be told our connecting South African flight had closed. The man then tried to check us onto the next flight, only to discover the tickets we had were blacklisted.

We originally bought our tickets from MAS Travel, who took money from people, issued tickets, then ran off to Pakistan with the money, without paying the airlines. In December, Iberia contacted us about it, and they honoured the tickets, issuing new e-tickets, including the last leg with SAA.

However, SAA blacklisted the tickets without telling us, and we were forced to buy new tickets to Durban, hopefully we can claim back from the travel insurance.

We got on a later flight, picked up the hire car, and I drove the 300KM from Durban to St Lucia in one hit, arriving at about 7pm on the Sunday.

Morals to the story:

Beware of cheap tickets from small travel agents
Don't fly Iberia
Don't travel on April 1st

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Easter Holiday

2 more days, then I'm off to South Africa with my girlfriend and one of her friends.

We're starting off by visiting St Lucia, then the Drakensburg mountains, with a day trip to Lesotho, then finishing with a visit to Lily of the Valley childrens home, where the girls spent 6 months as volunteers.

I'll try to add updates, and photos when we're out there.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Testing mobile posting

Apparently, you can set up your blog to receive posts sent from an email
This was sent from my mobile, if it works, it's pretty cool.

The signature it places at the bottom is annoying though.

mail2web - Check your email from the web at .

2 Weeks, 1 Day

I've been lacking in time for updates recently, due to workload.

And laziness, in all honesty.

Today I made my appointment for my jabs, ahead of our trip to South Africa, on the 31st.

I'm now getting really excited about it.

I'll post more details of what we're doing later.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

u hs ovastayd yr wlcom...

Texts to deter illegal migrants

They have some batty schemes. This is but one. I only hope they don't mess it up.

Knowing the govt, they'll probably text a bunch of WWII veterans by mistake.

I love this bit:

Home Secretary John Reid said the new policy would make life "uncomfortable and constrained" for illegal entrants.¨

Just wait for them to sue because the texts contravened their human rights by making them miserable.

Weekend Away

I had the pleasure of spending the last weekend at The Frontier Centre with the 18-30 group from my home church. We looked at Genesis, focusing on the Creation, Abraham and Joseph. 50 chapters is a lot for 3 sessions, but it was handled very well. In our free time a group of us, undeterred by mud and floods, made our way to an adventure playground we'd discovered last year in the dark. Wasn't quite as good with little kids in the way, but still.

I stayed home Sunday night, and left at 6am to drive back to uni for a 9am lecture. Made it by 8.30, had a shower, then rushed over to the campus, only to find we didn't have a lecture. Infuriating.

I'm up late, working on an ICT assignment which involves creating a browser based tutorial for Yr7 kids, to teach basic database functions. If my tutor agrees, I'll upload it for people to test out the links, iron the kinks* and generally comment on it.

At least the party animals seem to have all passed out, so I'm undisturbed

* pure poetry, even at this time of the morning.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Artistic Merit

I heard the sounds of laughter and sellotape...

...Good thing the room was unoccupied...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mute Math

Tonight I went to a long anticipated Mute Math gig at the Bar Academy in Islington. It was great to meet up with some friends whom I had not seen in a while.

The support act was OK, they were very young and seemed to lack confidence on stage. Not so Paul Meany, the lead of Mute Math. His repetoire included standing on his piano, crowd surfing, diving across the stage and hand stands on the piano. Not to mention the Keytar.
The drummer was wild, at one point he dropped a stick, so finished the song using his hand. Despite duct taping, he still seemed in danger of losing his headphones. The band are highly creative, using synthesisers along with traditional rock elements, and at one point 3 of the band were drumming on all manner of objects whilst the fourth used his pedal set to amazing effect.

A great night out. I would recommend them to any fans of alt rock, and the live experience is just something else.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Some Changes

I've been fiddling, cos I can't sleep, and have made some changes.

You'll have noticed the colour is now Black, I hope it's not too difficult to read. I have been meaning to change the template for ages.

There's also a link at the side to another page which gives some details about me. Another thing on my list to do.

Should go to sleep now.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Friday, I went for a scenic drive, which was cut
short due to miserable drizzly weather. I did, however, make it as far as Bwlchgwyn, which has the honour of being the highest village in Wales. I stopped to take a couple of pics, but it was a bit misty.

I found a new friend whilst I was there. He wasn't much for conversation though.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Been a while

As one avid viewer kindly pointed out, I've been a little lacking on the updates.

The reasons are 3 fold:

I was very busy for a couple of weeks at the end of Jan.

Following that, I've been ill, had 2 really nasty viruses in 3 weeks.

Thirdly, and because of the above, I've not had much to say.

I'm at home at the moment, a brief visit to coincide with the 14th Feb, we're not celebrating it, but going to see Blood Diamond instead. As an aside, we've recently marked 6 months together, seems to have passed in a moment.

I'm planning to do a couple more scenic drives, must take a camera. Then you'll all stop moaning.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Scenic Drive

I decided, as I'd handed in an assignment I'd been struggling with, I would go for a drive to unwind. I ended up driving to Llangollen, I took a few pics on the way with my phone.

How could I resist a place called 'World's End'?

The road got a bit narrow

They even ran out of bridges

View down the stream

My new chariot, not so clean now...

Monday, January 01, 2007


I made a short video at my grandparents, using the built in iSight on my new laptop. It took one frame per second, then plays it back at 25. My sister was doing a cross stitch.

Shows how much I fidget.


We saw in 2007 on Beachy Head, it was slightly breezy, as the pictures might show.
I had hoped to be able to see all of Eastbourne's fireworks, but we couldn't.

We sheltered in a lookout post, celebrated at approx midnight with fizzy grape juice and cold pizza, then retreated for a picnic in the car. Our empty cars initially caused some concern for a man in a coastguard truck who kept shining his spotlight on the cliff edge. But he realised we weren't there to jump, so went on his way.

Happy New Year to all