Monday, 31 August 2015

Good Dog

Went for a nice stroll with Rebecca and introduced her to the park that is a 5 minute walk away from uni but only a handful of people really know it exists. It's a great open space for picnics and wide games but it's only really used by dog walkers. We sat on a bench for a little bit and a small dog came up to us and dropped his throwing ball at our feet. It felt a bit 'gobby' and moist when I picked it up but I was damned when I threw it and he caught it midair after a bounce - very impressive dog. Together we also finished up the first season of The Walking Dead game which packs a real emotional punch right at the end, three years on and it hasn't aged a bit. 

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Homebrew Take Two

It's lovely being back in Winton. Walking up and down the high street feels like home now and popping into the familiar favourite shops is always pleasant. Its actually gotten to the point where I recognise the staff in both Lidl and Wilko, I dare say I'm starting to know Winton just as much as I know Newbury now.

Begun round two of the homemade beer. I tried making a batch about a year ago now and frankly, I still haven't got the awful taste of crap beer out of my mouth. This time I'm hoping the homebrew turns out much better, I shelled out a bit of extra cash for brewing sugar and invested the help of my Dad, a seasoned home-made beer expert to ensure this batch comes out on top form. Only time will tell, by September 19th we should know for sure. 

Had a bit of a crisis at first though during the cleaning stage, I personally like to do a deep clean on all my equipment (as is recommended, but I take it to an extra level.) Spent a good old while using a chemical cleaner on the big buckets to scrub out all the bacteria, go to rinse it all out under the garden tap and two big spiders go and fall into the barrel. I felt totally unmotivated to make a arachnid themed lager so they had to go. Nothing but normal beer for me and my to-be housemates.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Rebecca's Moving Day

Bright and early wake-up call for me to roll into Rebecca's car and travel down to her new student house. The majority of today was spent unpacking her things and re-arranging her furniture, the house felt a bit like a hospital when we first came in but its already shaping up to be a pretty nice home. To celebrate her moving in I showed her Terminator 2, I know that doesn't sound terribly romantic on paper but she is a bit of a sci-fi gal so we enjoyed this film a bucket load. I hadn't seen its for quite a few years now and I was stunned with just how impressive and well thought out everything was. James Cameron was on top form here and it shows that he really knows what lies at the heart of all the best action films: characters to make the audience care about action sequences.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Budweiser is a bit Crap

I celebrated my last working day at the warehouse with a 3pm beer. The first two seconds of my initial swig of booze was absolutely heavenly, I had a tremendous thirst from walking home in the sun, it was a Friday afternoon so I didn't have a care in the world and the cool bubbles tickled and soothed my throat in an glorious manner. Then I realised I was drinking Budweiser and the whole beer became a bit naff. I settled on Bud because it was the only beer we had in the house, it was leftovers from a BBQ we had a few weeks ago, someone clearly dumped a load of this beer onto us and now we are reluctantly getting through it. It's just a crap beer by most accounts, but at least it was free.

Packing up my bags once more to visit my girlfriend and help her move into her new student house. We are quite excited to see what it looks like with her stuff in place and by the sounds of it Rebecca and her housemates will try and make a real home there. Early start for me tomorrow though as they are coming to pick me up at around 8am so we will see how that goes.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Youth for Europe 2015

Like many of the participants in this years Youth for Europe programe, I had never been to Hungary. 2015's event was a great opportunity to experience another part of the world I hadn't visited before and an even better place to make new memories and friends from across Europe.

Upon arrival at the collage at Kiskunfelegyhaza, our dorms and home-base, we introduced ourselves informally through a selection of team building exercises. We were quickly mixed into geams for a competition that would last the entire week. Groups consisted of one member of each nationality and we were each given a theme/stereotype to base our team name and flag which we had to design ourselves. My group was given '80's Athletics' so we adorned our flag with all the sweatbands and rollerskates we could cram onto one piece of fabric and proudly displayed our team 'The Footloose Ballerinos' during the opening ceremony. Throughout the week we earned more team points by taking a variety of selfies with the locals and other quirky photos to make the judges laugh. Everyone became fast friends thanks to these fun and simple tasks and they really encouraged teams to work together for a mystery prize at the end.

Proudly displaying our team flag

One of the most impressive and remarkable things about our group was that everyone was always up for exploring and trying something new. Each and every one of use were united by a love of discovering a new culture and learning about eachother. Even when we were just relaxing back at base conversations about different countries, foods and traditions were commonplace – everyone had a story to tell and it was effortless making new friends.

Making a fool of yourself was commonplace in the team building exercises.
Our first official day in the town began with a short tour and sightseeing quiz where we got learn more about Kiskunfelegyhaza (including how to pronounce it's name). The town itself was gorgeous in the sunshine. Later on we had the chance to go up the clock-tower to get a better view of the surrounding area, you could see the ornate roof of the town hall proudly glistening and the quiet bustle of the marketplace. Passing through the main square we were treated to a piece of chimney cake, a spiraling piece of vanilla confectionery that would couldn't get enough of during our stay.

A multitude of festivals rounded out the rest of our time there, starting off with the motorcycle and sidecar festival which was choc full of hairy bike enthusiasts (humbling to know they are a worldwide phenomena) and a great selection of craft beers begging to be sampled. The following day we celebrated Ancestor Day at another festival where the Hungarians displayed their heritage and traditions. Mostly it was a horse and archery show where everyone dressed like they were huns, several men also casually went around with leathery whips and relished any chance they could get to show off their skill by loudly cracking it whenever possible. This was also the hottest day by far of the trip, even our Hungarian helpers were sweating bullets and commenting on how unbearable the heat was. Any break from the heat was welcome and our prayers were answered when we found an agricultural sprinkler in the corner of the show. Everyone got soaked and couldn't stop laughing while we played a group game around it; funny how one hose could bring so much joy to a group of young adults.

Me posing with a group in traditional combat clothing during the Ancestor festival

Since I have no photos of any horses from the festival, enjoy the Polish, French and Spanish trying their best to make one.
 The wine festival was the kind of thing that you would just never see in England. It was just full of people getting mildly drunk together without causing a ruckus of any kind, it was all very chill and the perfect spot to socialise with the others as the sun went down. I even tried my hand at a local folk dance with a group of strangers, anyone could probably tell that I was an Englishman from a mile away as at first I didn't fit in, but I got the motions down-pat towards the end and the lady next to me gave me a big thumbs up when we finished.

Of course, it wouldn't be a bonafide Youth for Europe trip without a journey to the capital and everyone was itching to get to Budapest. We arrived by coach to explore the parliament building which was layered with real gold, every room was a spectacle and we were even lucky enough to see the changing of the guard for the royal crown display. The weather unfortunately took a turn for the drizzly side once we left but that didn't stop us from seeing Buda Castle and St. Stephen's Basilica, both of them are now ticked off my sight-seeing bucket list.

The whole gang in Budapest
Our final night together was spent at a nearby club which was reserved just for us so we could dance and sing into the wee hours of the morning. It was a beautifully bitter-sweet way to end the last day of the programe, everyone partied as hard as they could to try and forget that we would be saying our goodbyes in only a few hours time. At one point in the evening, when everyone was beginning to simultaneously tired and wistful Alphaville's Forever Young started playing and the Italian boy stood next to me drunkenly shuffled closer and said 'This song is about my philosophy'

For whatever reason, that moments stuck out for me. I too wish I could remain forever young, if only to experience even more brilliant trips that Youth for Europe put on every year. As we said our final farewells everyone hugged and said 'See you in Poland next year.' I'm already counting the days.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Theo Salad

Made my infamous salad for Louis and my parents tonight and it went down quite well. I skimped on some rather obvious steps like salad tossing and trimming down the larger lettuce leaves but it generally tasted quite good. Really perked me up after another long day of work, I keep telling myself that I only have two more days to go and then I'll be traveling back down to Bournemouth to see Rebecca and help her move into her new house. That thought is really pushing me to the end of the week.

Chapter three of the prolonged tale of woe that is my graphics card begun just as sadly as all the other parts. The replacement piece arrived quite late this evening and I couldn't wait to try it out, but after installing it into my PC it acted no differently to the one I sent back. I've come to the conclusion that I may need to tweak some parts of my computer and I will possibly have to upgrade my BIOS which is quite a dangerous process apparently so I'll wait until I find someone who can help me through the process.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Kindle Owner

Work inexplicably flew by today. I was possibly doing the most mundane day's work I'd done as I basically stood in a corner and didn't move outside of a square meter for a good three hours. But as I said, that time zipped away. Certainly hope this trend continues throughout the week.

I can call myself the proud owner of a second hand kindle now. Mum got a newfangled 'paperwhite' version so I inherited her old one, I haven't got too much on there at the moment but I am already excited by the prospect of being able to read much more thanks to it being such a compact unit.

My Hungary write-up is nearing the final stages now, I just need a good way to open it and to layer on a smattering of photographs. I'll post it here once it's all good and ready.

Monday, 24 August 2015

A Cold in Summer

It's a curious thing having a cold in the Summer time. You typically associate feeling a bit naff and bunged up with colder times but with today's weather you could have fooled me. Deep down in my core it feels like November has come already and I'm already panicking about what to buy people for Christmas presents, colds do this to me, they take me back to a time that is certainly not August.

So, feeling groggy to begin with today but at least I got a lift into work. Wrong. The guy who was meant to collect me and work alongside me today just didn't answer my messages so I had to walk in a bit late. To make matters worse I then had to take a little trip across town in the pouring rain, the kind that drenches you within 30 seconds so I was pretty chilly for the rest of the day.

My eyes are really beginning to feel the burn from being awake for a little too long so I may have to get an earlier night than usual so I have more energy to face tomorrow.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Pasting in the Middle

Working on my Hungary write-up went alright today. It was nice because I actually went in knowing exactly how I want to end it and that part currently reads quite well, now I'm just filling in all the gaps while its fresh in my mind. Certainly have enough photos to use though, my whole Facebook has exploded with 45 people all sharing, liking and commenting on pictures, 5 days later people are still uploading their memories; let the good times roll!

Can't believe how quickly the weekend went though, the prospect of working tomorrow is making me quietly cringe. Work itself is never bad but it is now starting to drag just a tinsey bit now that I've been relegated into the small room. With a bit of elbow grease I might get it feeling a bit more spacious but that miracle may not come tomorrow.

Gone With the Wind

Earned this lazy day I feel, or at least I certainly earned the lie-in. While I really didn't do much during the daytime aside from getting some serious 'me time' in I finally committed to watching Gone With the Wind and frankly, I feel foolish for not seeing it sooner as it was absolutely sensational. 

Remarkably, it doesn't feel remotely dated. In fact, it feels like it has only gotten better with time as it has a very classic feel which only adds to its charm. It is also commendable what they accomplished for 1939 as every set and scene just looks like it is a cut above other films of that decade. Performances, music, lighting, camerawork - just everything was so on point and occasionally it all aligns beautifully for some truly breathtaking moments. Not a lot bad to say about this one, although I was slightly more enamored with the first half that dealt with the civil war over the second half. But it's all worth it for those oh-so quotable ending lines which inspire goosebumps if you know they are coming.

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Small Room

Couldn't believe how tired I became halfway through work. I relegated myself to what we call 'The Small Room,' in actuality the room is fairly large but it is absolutely rammed with documents and folders to the point where you have to shimmy sideways to actually use any of the paths. I typically dig smaller spaces but this was bordering on uncomfortable, especially because there was standing room only. Time crawled as a result and the tiredness from Hungary caught up to me since I woke up more tired than I felt going to bed.

No matter though! Going to really enjoy my weekend and use it just to chill out and have to quality 'me' time to recover.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Back from Hungary

Finally back from the lovely town kiskunfelegyhaza in Hungary. The days were warm out there and our bedrooms were stonkingly hot but it was worth enduring for all the activities and traveling we got up to. It was good to see the usual crowd again and enjoy the very, very cheap prices that Hungary have to offer; beer was laughably inexpensive. I'm doing a full write-up on my trip over the weekend for the Twin Town newsletter, in the mean-time I'm back to work and generally trying to recover from about 5 late nights in a row. The tiredness hit me only a few hours ago, but I feel ready to form a symbiotic relationship with my pillow now.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Packing for Hungary

Change of scenery at work today as I was down in the main office amongst other people, this was a big, but welcome contrast to the solitude and confinement of the warehouse. I actually ate lunch in a bonafide kitchen today too, and then I was offered cake! In between coffee breaks we packed and transported over 40 boxes of files for processing so I consider that to be a good days work; just in time for my holiday in Hungary. I'll be gone as of tomorrow, as a result I probably won't be able to update the blog until I get back in a weeks time. I'll be kicking back with cheap alcohol and good company. I'll be taking a lot of photos, expect better quality images this year as my phone is now capable of photographing in more than 3 megapixels. Until then and I hope that everyone has a brilliant week and makes the most of their Summer.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Skinny Jeans?

After blowing a hole in my favourite tan trousers I needed to buy a new pair before heading off to Hungary. Because I don't really like trying on clothes in shops I made a mental note of my size based on my old pair and just matched the numbers hoping I'd do ok. I think I may have purchased some hybrid skinny trouser as a result as the fabric really hugs everything below my knee. I'm still not hugely sure how I feel about them but I guess they will grow on me. They certainly win when filling out the most important criteria in buying new trousers: pocket space.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Windows Nostalgia

Marched myself out of bed and the loving arms of my girlfriend to hop onto a coach at a rather unsociable hour for me. We said our farewells and I tuned in and tuned out to some music, falling asleep quickly after stepping on the coach. At least I think I was, I can remember every song I listened too and all the sounds, I could also feel my body but I couldn't really move it, I know this because I knew I had my mouth open while my eyes were closed, but I didn't really feel like doing anything about it. Regardless, my coach got in happily and I strolled into work and really bossed the day, despite feeling rather tired.

I perked right back up once I got home and had a coffee though. I've also decided to commit and download Windows 10 onto both my laptop and my main computer. I'm getting a little sentimental about changing it up, I'm looking at my start bar now and having flashback to fond memories of... looking at my start bar. In my head it seems a bit more rose tinted, but the more I think about it, the more absurd it seems sticking with the old OS. Windows 7 has served me very, very well in the past but I am excited to take my PC to the next level.

And heck, I can always downgrade if I really want to.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Short-cut Long-cut

Got to marvel at Rebecca's copy of Windows 10 this morning while eating breakfast. It got me really pumped to start using it myself, everything looked very swish and versatile, not to mention, HD Crossy Road is a big pull. Otherwise we did have a journey down into town onto the pier again but we got a little lost en-route as I declared I knew a shortcut, I overshot it and we ended up walking for an extra 30 minutes. Between us we decided that we burnt off a fair amount of calories walking around today so we treated ourselves to a pub dinner and left with some very happy tummies. Packing up my bits and pieces now, ready to catch the 7:30 coach out of Bournemouth, I'm not terribly excited about having to get up so early but I guess I can get some kip on the coach.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Bus Battle

Finished up my day at work yesterday then got packing to go down to Bournemouth to see Rebecca. National Express have scarcely let me down when it comes to getting me from place to place on time, however yesterday they were 30 minutes late to pick me up. The whole time I was paranoid that I missed it so I spent a long while glancing over my shoulder for the coach. So I got in a bit late, but it was OK, there was a fireworks festival on the pier shortly after my arrival so we didn't have to wait around so much in town before the fuses were lit at 10pm. The display was actually quite short, but they looked gorgeous reflected in the water, some multicolored fireworks even lingered on the waters surface like small flames; fond memories of the lantern scene in Tangled came to mind.

Getting the bus home was an absolute travesty though, so many people were on the beach for the show and they all rushed out as soon as it was finished. Clusters of people all stood around at various bus stops waiting to get on, Rebecca asked if we should just walk and I shot down that idea. I spent the next 45 minutes wishing I hadn't. Traffic moved ridiculously slowly and by the time we got home it was almost midnight. All I wanted to do was collapse into bed.

Today was very chill though, I made pancakes for breakfast and then Rebecca and I watched Clueless (her choice) and The Terminator (my choice.) We had our lazy day in today so we are looking out to spending some time outside tomorrow on this stoking hot weekend.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Man With a Van

Confidential destruction is the name of the game at work and today it started to pay off slightly. Visually, the warehouse is an absolute jungle of legal documents and cardboard boxes, 75% of it needs to go whereas the rest need to stick around for a few more years. After checking if a file is good to go our not, we bag it up and throw that bag to one side. Recently we have cleared a lot of shelves and boxes, but the waste bags have begun piling up so it looked like we caused more chaos than what we started with. Then the man with the van came. And hallelujah he cleared a lot of our gubbins. Granted it was very hard work lugging all these bags over to him, we moved 110 of them in total and these things are heavy! Now though, everything is looking a lot better, still a long way to go but baby steps are being made. 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

NI Nightmare

Lumping through another day's work and came home to a big hoo-ha about the location of my NI card. This has often been a sticky point with my family as I have been notoriously cack-handed with my national insurance number. I tried texting Mum and Dad to ask about its whereabouts but since both of them are in Belgium at the moment I didn't really expect a response. To my surprise, Mum responded, she is also relatively new to phones and texting so the general meaning of every message is garbled. Despite this Mum told me that for some inexplicable reason, Dad took my national insurance card to Belgium with him.

About 5 texts later Mum was becoming more and more vague with her messages and I was getting nowhere fast. I couldn't for the life of me think why he would have my card with him. Luckily Dad called me back and told me that Mum was severely mis-informed and told me exactly where to find it; crisis averted.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Since I Left You

Jumped right back into work and tearing off covers. If anything I think I got a little bit too into doing my job today thanks to Louis' music. He gave me the album Since I left You which is like that schizophrenic electro-sampling jumble sale that just gets you so pumped when you listen to it. I was working like an oiled machine and tearing through folders while being jazzed up by these tunes. An hour later, my arms started to hurt a little bit so I know I need to start pacing myself, gotta make it through to the end of the week.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Deep in Legal Documents

First day at the new job over the Summer went rather well. Destroying files and legal documents is the name of the game and the warehouse is brimming with folders to condemn. I like to think there is a grand long-term goal to our efforts but on this scale it's hard to see any immediate progress. The task itself is a tad repetitive though but I can easily listen to music while I do it. I've just asked Louis to load me up with a whole load of music, including Jeff Bridges album Sleeping Tapes which should be fun.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Prepped for Warehouse Work

Getting myself psyched up for stepping into Louis' shoes and literally doing his job for him. Well not quite. His working time ended by the end of July and I'm swooping in to continue where he left off. I'll be mostly working in a small warehouse in the corner of Newbury, sorting through old legal files and binning all the ones they don't need anymore. Louis used to come home grumbling about the work but I am fairly pleased to start working there, mostly because of the money and also because it sounds like pretty simple work.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Samurai Swords

Coaxed Louis into playing Pikmin 3 today which I consider a small achievement. I remember Mark playing through this one as well which I always thought was slightly uncharacteristic of him, often Mark will want to try a game but he will very rarely see a game through to the end like unless forced. Pikmin 3 and Resident Evil 4 are two exceptions. Seeing Louis finish a game on the other hand is a different story completely, as I can only name a handful he's gone the distance with without getting bored or distracted and I hope this will also be the case.

Otherwise I saw two films with samurai swords today: Throne of Blood was a Kurosawa interpretation on Macbeth which really nails the feelings of paranoia for a guilty monarch. Best scene by far was the final death sequence which could quickly go into any top ten character deaths list. My copy had some very shoddy subtitles though as I had to re-interpret 80% of the transcript as English was clearly not the DVD producers first language.

Kill Bill: Vol 2 was second up on my list and completes the story of The Bride. While it runs at a much slower pace than the first one, we are treated to an excellent performance from David Carradine and the same campy violence the series is known for.