A short break in the schedule

I’m going to disappear now until at least next Wednesday.

As my friend Catherine kindly reminded me: ‘a neglected blog is the sign of a full life’.

Seeing as I have blogged almost everyday since the birth of ALBD, I feel a short absence may be in order before I start being able to write Perl script and actually know what ‘Nagios’ means (although I will be disappointed if it is not an aged Spanish horse as I imagine).

You see this weekend I shall be celebrating life on the ‘grown-up’ side of 25, a new era for me, although one where I doubt I will see any significant changes in my ability to become a ‘grown-up’.

But in my opinion that’s overrated.

Have a lovely weekend.

I’ll be seeing you on the dark side.

Goodbyes and Silliness


Today, another one is leaving us.

This time it is my very good friend Catherine who has seen me through all sorts of crises both personal and work related, and I am only just coming to terms with not being able to see her every weekday as I have for the past two years. Instead Miss Miles will be heading home to Bournemouth to pursue a career in Urban Design – something she has been working towards throughout her career, so we can only be pleased!

As we bid Catherine ‘farewell’ however, we once again have again embraced this chance for silliness. I say this sitting in an office full of professional planners going about their business wearing paper hats made out of Thursday’s edition of ‘The Times’.

I think Jim rather suits his….


 Good bye and Good Luck Miss Miles! You will be dearly missed.

Eyes closed, deep breath, head down…GO!

As you may have gathered from the rather desperate plea below to Mr Savile, I have been approaching the start of the new academic year with enormous trepidation. Indeed, there is nothing like having 4 months of your own free time given back to you to remind you what it is like to lead a normal life again – where the only scary deadline involves using up the roasted vegetable humous in time, and reading books can once again be a leisure pursuit (although I still found myself desperate to make notes in the margin and reference the publisher in ‘Havard Format’).

First day back at ‘Brookes’ however and all was better than I had anticipated.

I would even go so far as saying enjoyable.

It was of course great to see my friends and catch up on who has a new hair do/tan/diet/house/car/mrs/job/kitchen, and Claire reported some very anti-social behaviour in the dorms of an Edinburgh youth hostel (unfortunately I can not divulge such information in case of pre-watershed reading).  I must also admit to being very pleased with my choice of ‘elective’ this year, being the only one to have a field trip (to Birmingham) thus indulging several of my interests; journeys, new places and people that can’t speak properly and wear shell suits*. 

I just know they’re going to love me.

So, although the word ‘dissertation’ still scares the bejesus out of me, I’m terrified of the amount of work I have to do, I have no idea how I’m ever going to give a presentation that is half an hour long and not on a subject related to tractors or Colin Firth….I have to remember I’m on the final straight now, there really isn’t that long left of my course, and there is even potential for it to be fun!

I will therefore adopt the same philosophy to completing my degree that got Claire and I on the Oxford bound train yesterday (we stood shaking with nerves on the platform!):

“Eyes closed, deep breath, head down….GO!”

Thank goodness the door was open.

* Disclaimer: This blog has not been censored for political correctness and does not intend to cause any offence to people who live in Birmingham (or its surrounding districts), have relatives from or originate from Birmingham, or have none/any of the above and still own a shell suit. Shell suits are flammable when exposed to a naked flame and can cause serious injury to ones sense of style. Jim did used to wear a shell suit in ‘Jim’ll fix it’. Jim’s ‘magic chair’ was actually made in Reading! I’ve lost sight of why I’m writing this now…. 

Large Fruit

It is one of the strangest feelings to visit a place you know so well, but yet you have never been before.

These were the exact sentiments I passed by my other half 10 days ago as we stood, audio guide clad in the shadow of Lady Liberty, enjoying a somewhat surreal but spectacular view of downtown Manhattan.

For this Summers adventure (and hence my brief ALBD absence), Neil and I decided upon a trip to New York to see ‘in real life’ all of those things that were previously only known to us on the television, in films, or from pictures of its infamous skyline, normally complimentary with mounting when purchasing a frame from John Lewis. Indeed, as our Shuttle Bus from the airport ducked and dived between traffic in quite an alarming fashion on the Brooklyn Bridge (indicating is ‘so last year’), we could hardly believe that right before us was the backdrop to every Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romance as the Chrysler Building, Empire State and GE buildings swept into view.

Used to the sort of beige and brown interiors hostels of recent university field trips have presented, I was also rather bowled over by our very grand and extremely spacious hotel lobby, as well as our very comfortable hotel room located on the 17th floor. There was no mistaking we were in New York now, where everything appeared to follow the mantra ‘bigger is better’ – even the people – which goes someway to explain the dramatic lean of our tour boat when a whole host of US citizens rushed to catch the first glimpse of Liberty Island on the starboard side – the first time ever I was grateful of paying attention to the saftey announcement and took careful note of where to find a ‘life preserve’.

Indeed, another striking thing about my first real stop in America (my 5 hour transfer in Houston I don’t think really counts) is that they call things funny. More so than I had expected. I thought I had a handle on the lingo before my Heathrow depature, and I was quite excited at the opportunity to engage in more sophisticated conversation with the local population, rather than the ‘2 ice lollies and a boiled egg please’ and ‘how much is that corn plaster?’ I have been able to manage in other foreign tongues. I knew, for example, that across the pond a lift is an ‘elevator’, to ask for ‘chips’ when requiring crisps as part of a balanced lunch, ‘riding the tube’ means something completely different over there, and when needing to powder my nose I was to head for the nearest ‘restroom’ or ‘bathroom’.

What I hadn’t counted on was someone asking me how many ‘pattys’ I’d like (to me this is the lady who lives at No.45), whether I’d like Grande, Vendi, skinny fat, half fat or low fat when ordering tea, if I’d like the ‘check’ at the end of my meal, and once curiously whether I’d ‘busted a haul out’ or had been ‘diggin the vibe on the down low’. To the last comment I, of course being English,  smiled politely at the young gentleman and nodded -much to his obvious amusement. Indeed most of the locals did seem very friendly, and one even commented I had ‘bitchin’ kicks’. I think he was referring to my shoes, and I was terribly pleased having polished them especially.

Despite these unexpected lingustic issues, New York certainly lived up to every expectation. It was tall, buzzy, exciting, dynamic and really got under your skin. We packed an incredible amount into the 6 days we were there, although we never felt rushed or were overcome with urgency as one thing flowed into another.

I’ll post evidence of our expolits on the gallery when I get my behind into gear for anyone who’d like to view my improving ability at ‘self takes’. The better framed photographs, the ones in focus and ones of me looking gormless will be Neil’s.

He is also particularly proud of his shot of Lady Liberty’s butt.

There is just no accounting for taste….

It’s all about the Journey


I’m really excited.

August has filled itself with a plethora of events, all of which I am looking forward to immensely. Not at least the journeys…

I have always been a firm believer that is doesn’t matter what happens in life, it is the journey that counts. This is a philosophy however I also seem to have taken on quite literally. Indeed it has almost always been the case that on every trip I have ever been, one of the most enjoyable parts (for me) has always been the getting there.

Despite its appalling ‘green’ credentials I am a massive fan of flying for example. I love the whole experience from the buzz of the airport, to that tense moment when you don’t know if your new H&M belt will set off the metal detectors – meaning a security woman with a hairy top lip will have to run a bleepy thing over you…the departure gate bit where nervous passengers say their prayers, kids that have long tired with their activity books  play hide and seek behind the check-in desk, the couple from Manchester who talk at the volume of a power drill and wear sun visors are finishing up their cans of 4X….then you get on the plane, find your seat, watch as heavily make-up clad stewardess’ do their best to model yellow safety jackets, the roar of taking off and then the soaring like a bird, followed by a few hours of watching delightfully cheesy films whilst being kept amused by an array of things in plastic packets , some of which are edible.

It’s not just planes though. Trains hold a similar fascination – from the different sorts of people that travel on them, to the ticket inspectors with their clicky clippers, the stewards in hats with the tea trolleys that always have a dodgy wheel, and the vast amounts of scenery that whizz past the window, making the eyes of those watching it flick like an erratic second hand on a mechanical watch.

This weekend I have a car journey. Although these can sometimes be tiring, especially when caught in heavy traffic, I still revel in the opportunity to spend time with whoever I am travelling with – an excuse for uninterrupted conversation, the telling of tales and adventures, the car sweets that are unbelievably chewy or make you squint at their sharpness, the chance to experience motorway service station toilets,  and then there are the car games…

It is not that I am ever disappointed when I arrive at a destination – don’t get me wrong. There is just something about going on a journey that fills me with excitement –  the anticipation of what may meet you at the other end, the moving on to another place where you haven’t been and you don’t know….

I guess it is the principle of the journey that spurs me on in life. I need to be going somewhere, doing something and working towards my next goal – I need something on the horizon to look forward to, for there to be a point to everything, for there to be a journey – physical or otherwise to embark upon…

Because you never know where you might arrive….

And that’s what makes life exciting.