Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Seasons Greetings!

Quick note to say hi and bye ;-)

Me and the boys are off to sunny (ahem) Wales with some friends for the New Year. There'll be 8 of us in total in a lovely cottage together, should be awesome fun, just hope we don't get snowed in!!

Although hugely looking forward to this break I'm apprehensive about the damage that'll be done to my already suffering diet over the next few days! My clothes are already feeling tighter and I'm registering additional poundage on the old scales already so it looks as if January will be a veeeeery sensible and quiet month for me ;-)

I'm not sure this cottage will even have mobile phone reception, let alone wi-fi... in fact I'm positive it won't have the latter so updating y'all is unlikely to happen until next week so please be patient!

I have lots to tell and photos to share, I've had a wonderful Christmas at Joe's parents though thought this year that it might have been a bit too much of a strain for his Mum as there were a lot of us to cope with and she is not a young lady anymore (despite not looking anywhere near her true age!).

Next Christmas however should be a different matter, we've put in an offer on a four bedroom house which is just a couple of mile down the road from our current one but is in *such* a nicer and safer area.

My son got mugged by a fully grown man at knifepoint in November and that was pretty much the straw that broke the camel's back. Living close to Brixton (aka Scuzzville) is bad enough but I can cope with the scummy people as long as they don't trouble me or my family. However, at quarter to five in the afternoon on a week day some lowlife piece of shit decided to put a knife up to my son's throat and tell him that if he didn't hand over his phone he'd cut it.


Fortunately my son's not an idiot and gave it over straight away, he knows that a) his phone cost £30 (last year his phone was nicked again, but this time by an opportunist older boy who snatched it from his grasp) and b) no material possession is worth taking a kicking, or worse, for.

He was pretty shaken up though to say the least and was hysterical for a while from the shock and fear, as I said, what kind of scum puts a knife up to a kid??

Anyway, as I said, that was the final straw so we started looking around at different areas and we've found one a little further away that we know and love and also have friends in and around (very important as we're not quite ready to move out to the sticks yet!).

House prices in that area are sky-high though, because it's such a nice place to be for families, so we're having to purchase somewhere that needs a bit of work, but it'll be a fun challenge and will be so worth it to be able to put our individual stamp on it instead of paying developer's premiums for someone else's idea of 'the finished article', but it'll be a good couple of years before we reap the benefits!

Saying that though, having an extra two bedrooms and not having to look over our shoulders quite so much will be worth more than anything, it'll just be a bit of a pain in the arse to get to work now, no more 20 minute journeys, dammit!!

Anyway, that's my recent news, I still have to update with pictures from Christmas parties and a wedding to boot!

Hope you're all well and had a truly fabulous Christmas, I look forward to updating you all in the new year.

If I get the chance I'll try and send some phone blog updates, either on here or twitter but I can't promise anything as I may just find myself in two states over the next week...

1) Drunk
2) Hungover

Actully, there's also a strong possibility I will be:
3) a combination of the two! ;-)

Lots more festive love and best wishes for a Happy New Year!


Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Just popping on to first say


I'm still alive, nothing's wrong, in fact everything's going really well, I'm just stupid busy at the mo both in my work and personal life!

Probably not going to improve either situations, especially the personal life as we're in the process of buying a new house! wooot!

Yup, we're buying a four bedroom pad in a very nice area and I'm super excited about it, but more about that at another date.

In the meantime, everything's cool, I haven't been able to exercise nearly as much as I'd like to as I've been so busy and I've probably drunk more alcohol than I needed (tis the season to be *hic* jolly!) but my food has been pretty good (if a little high on the carb front)

I'm off now but we'll have our laptop with us over the festive break so if I get a chance I'll get on and post a few words but in the meantime, I hope you and the people dear to you are well and that you have a fabulous Christmas and an equally marvellous New Year.

Here are some gratuitously cute festive kitty pics from the home of lolcats:

Lots of festive love


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Would you like to see some pictures?

Silly question really... of course you would!

Well I don't have time to write much as I've got to finish off an assignment before tomorrow night but will share these with you.

These are the group pics that the nice people at Maximuscle have sent me from the Body of 2009 photoshoot.

After seeing these pics it will become obvious to you why I felt like a bit of a lardy giant!

In case you were wondering, the girl on the opposite side to me is the one who actually won the 'Inspire' category (next year she says, next year...!).

You'll be able to read all about her and the others once the new website is up and running... but more about that at another date ;-)

So, first here we are in our sports outfits:
(yes, I know I shouldn't have worn those tatty old Tchibo pants and should have worn shorts to show off my quads! Also can't believe how pale I look despite having a 'dark' coloured spray tan!!)

Next we had to wear white shirts and black trousers:
(yes, high waisted trousers are always a no-no if you have a large behind but they were the only ones I could get in a 10 at short notice - I don't wear trousers at work, only jeans!

And finally here we are looking rather more glamorous :-)
(I love that dress, bright colours are a must... who wants to be a wallflower! Hilarious that I was still gigantic despite wearing the lowest height heels!)

Anyway, that's your lot, I'm off now to write about Pain and Water-Borne Infections... jealous?! ;-)

Hope you're all keeping well

Lots of love


Monday, 7 December 2009

Catch up - Part 1 - gigs, performances and concerts!

Hello there!

Big huuuuuge apologies for my absence but I haven't had time to breathe lately let alone blog!!

Sometimes life gets in the way of even my blogging! Capturing and keeping a moment spare to myself is becoming increasingly more difficult as the year wears on!

I imagine things will settle down in January and I'll be all partied out, but until that point my online appearance might be even more sporadic than at present!!

There's so much to squeeze in before crimbo and work is just nuts at the moment, I'm writing code using syntax/methods I never have before... what I'd give for a bit of training in this, it's so frustrating at times!!

Of course, the eureka moments are worth it and by the time I left on Thursday I was able to output some pretty plausible looking results into one of our database tables :-D

It's all pretty boring geeky stuff mind, reporting on whether we're in breech of service level agreements and the like - rock and roll!

By contrast my studies are super interesting, though not as immediately rewarding as my day job ;-) learning facts like that 15,000 litres of water are used during the production of just 1kg of beef - I feel sooo bad about my love of sirloin!!

Anyway, "I'm off track, got to stop that"

... which leads me seamlessly (ahem) onto my first gig report

Just Jack - Shepherds Bush Empire - 9th November 2009

(it was a lyric from 'Glory Days' in case anyone was concerned I'd actually finally totally lost it)

Was super excited about seeing Just Jack, been a fan since he brought out the awesome humorous and observational diatribe that is 'Starz in their eyes' - a scarily accurate analysis of the whole zero to hero popstar process which is unforgiving of the ones who fall from grace along the way - does anyone remember those Pop Idol/X Factor contestants 6 months further down the line once they've faded into obscurity - only to emerge every now and again to turn on the christmas lights somewhere remote, or cut the ribbon on some discount designer store in a far out shopping outlet centre ??

You can check out the lyrics here, though I swear they've got a line wrong...

"Welcome to the kingdom of the blagger
Uncutting you nose clean, coating you bladder"

Pretty sure he says "uncut in your nose, Clicquot in your bladder"

would certainly make more sense, damn these lyrics sites!!

Anyway, the perpetual happy chappy gave a rousing performance, I think it was his only London show, and received plenty of well-deserved adoration from the crowd (us included!) :-D

It was sooo lovely to see him at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, it's such a great venue, it's much smaller than our local place and the acoustics are magnificently better in comparison!

It feels so much more intimate there, when I went to see Starsailor there earlier this year I felt like they were singing to me in my living room - the place is so small that even stood at the back of the floor area you're still pretty close to the action!

Still too far to take a decent picture on my rubbish phone camera:

boo hiss.

Anyway, if you wanted to see one of my favourite songs, here's Snowflakes... this is lovely, much slower, really gorgeous:

But of course, if you really want to listen to/see the real crowd pleaser you have to check out this video clip of 'The Day I Died'. I can't embed it for some reason, blergh!

It stars the oh-so-lovely James Nesbitt, who I was thrilled to see again in our gym last Saturday - I was worried that thought he'd moved out of the area, hadn't seen him for months!! *gasp*

Oh and if I have indeed whet your appetite for a bit of Jack action, here's some music from the actual show :-)

Jump! - 20th November 2009

By contrast to my adulation-filled report on Just Jack's gig, this performance won't receive such an emphatic review!

The storyline goes:

Set in an average Korean home, the family members are all surprisingly agile. They include a grandfather, a drunken uncle and a karate-chopping mother. Each is a specialist in a martial art and they enjoy challenging each other. Comedy and combat is very Tom and Jerry and the characterisations and plot have the simplicity of cartoons.

I can't say it 'captured my imagination' and was far too obvious at times - like the 'love interest' - a studious type who suddenly is possessed by superhuman strength and agility (not to mention fighting prowess and some testosterone fuelled aggression!) once his Harry Potter-esque glasses are 'r

Here's another rubbish picture, of the stage

Actually that's absolutely dreadful! Here's a promo one:

In fairness, it does what it says on the tin - it's a light-hearted tale comprised entirely of slapstick and martial art displays in pretty equal measures.

However, I'd have probably been happier if they'd cut out the entire 'storyline' and just had a bunch of dudes running round kicking ten shades of shit out of each-other... but in a fabulously agile and elegant fashion ;-)

Snow Patrol - Royal Albert Hall - 24th November 2009


I could really stop writing now and that would be sufficient in describing how the night was for me, but then it wouldn't do it any sort of justice now would it! (would also be a pretty boring review too… ;-) )

Unfortunately the gigs sold out pretty quickly and I wasn't able to get any really decent seats. However, being the Royal Albert Hall, which has the most amazing acoustics *wherever* you're sat - that didn't deter from our enjoyment of the night in the slightest! :-)

Here's a general pic, we were at the front of our block, but as you can see, pretty high up!!

Aside from a somewhat embarrassing uncomfortable moment when some random punter in the crowd managed to attract Gary Lightbody's attention sufficiently that he actually left the stage, mic in hand, and walked over to him in the crowd.... cue everyone holding their breaths thinking "oooh what'll happen, something deep and meaningful?" (or secretly hoping for a punch-up - cameras at the ready?! haha nahhh) - personally I just thought he wanted to give the guy a hug... anyway, the guy says he wants to propose to his woman, through Gary!! Gary somehow agrees to this, and utters the words, only to find that his 'woman' is nowhere to be seen!

whether this was just a casual acquaintance who scarpered at the thought of it getting that serious... or the woman was actually just a figment of the fella’s alcohol-addled mind, I'll never know!

Anyway, he pressed on with the show... it was amazing!

Visually the performance was pretty basic, but then it didn't need to be anything flashy with a voice like Gary's!

There were a few pretty flashing laser/spotlights at time though.... ooooooh aaahhhhh ;-)

Have you eaten chocolate eclairs? Not the actual donut-styles treats with the chocolate on top and the cream in the middle, I'm talking the actual mini chocolate versions (these things).

I remember the first time I had one, I put it in my mouth and sucked away (matron!) until nearly all the caramel had gone... but then I bit into it and there was this lovely rush of smooth cool chocolate - quite unexpected!!

Gary Lightbody's voice is like that, it's all I could think when I was listening to him since, just how smooth and luscious he sounded!!

I really like Snow Patrol but I wouldn't count myself as their biggest fan. However, after that show I feel a lot more love for them.

The highlight of the show for me was when Gary started introducing the next song, it was a duet he said he'd written to sing with Martha Wainwright. He then went onto say that he had a very special person present to perform it with him, and I thought "RESULT!! I get to see Martha Wainwright live - woot!"

Nothing could have prepared me for hilariously wonderful surprise that was James Cordon!!! I didn't know how or why it could work... but it did!!

All in all it was a fantastic night and we left the place with a warm glow feeling very special indeed to have been part of such a lovely intimate-feeling concert. I felt like he'd been sitting in our living room singing just for us, it was lovely :-)

Classical Christmas Concert - Sunday 29th November 2009

A good friend of mine plays violin rather well. So much so that she plays in an orchestra which gives performances at various point during the year.

I was really looking forward to this performance, not least because of the great programme of music:

- Bach, Sinfonia from the Christmas Oratorio
- Dvorak, Cello Concerto (Soloist Kwesi Edman)
- Brahms, 2nd Symphony

But also because my friend had told me that the cello soloist was something rather special.

Sure enough, Kwêsi Edman did not disappoint.

I played the cello at school for quite a few years. I was never amazingly good (probably due to my lack of practice and discipline!), but I did enjoy playing and took several exams.

However, I have *never* heard a cello sound like it did when Kwêsi played. It sounded like he was playing a violin at times, so expertly he was able to reach the highest of notes. It sounded magical, and I was captivated - not least because the man is absolutely beautiful!

I forgot my camera and my phone's camera doesn't have a zoom. I tried to take a pic just after he was finishing his bows but you can't really make him out too well:

Click here for some better pictures.

Eddie Izzard - The O2 - Thursday 3rd December 2009

Ahh, my final gig/concert/show report - you still with me?! ;-)

This was my final (I think) surprise from Joe for the year. You might remember that a little while back he organised a special wine tasting evening for me, well he'd said that something was happening last Thursday but wouldn't divulge any info so was very intrigued indeed!

However, best laid plans and all that... I got an email from one of our friends the week before to a bunch of us saying "don't forget Eddie Izzard next Thursday!!!"

oops, I guess he forgot it was meant to be a secret! :-D

Anyway, I was very excited about seeing the glamorous Mr Izzard, having seen him on TV a few times and, most recently, reading about his running an amazing 43 marathons in 51 days for charity!! What an awesome achievement from one we'd deem to be somewhat 'less-than-sporty'!!

The last (and only!) two times I've been to the O2 I've been in charge of snapping up tickets so we've always gotten good seats - usually at the front of the second block in the stalls.

This time we were about as far back from the stage as before.... but miles above it!!

Okay, I might be exaggerating a teensy bit there but it certainly felt that way... especially walking up the stairs to the seat!!

Here's the view:

You wouldn't want to lean too far forward huh??!

Anyway, once I'd gotten over my terror of being up so high I realised that it doesn't really matter how far up the seats are if you can still see the screen... if we were sat at the back of the hall then it would have been a different story - might as well just watch the DVD, you'd see more!!

I enjoyed the show, but not as much as Michael McIntyre... but I'm not going to draw comparisons as they both have very different techniques and modes of delivery... Eddie is less routine and more ramble.

The benefit of that is you're unlikely to see him do exactly the same gag more than once... unlike MM whose routine I've now seen 3 times in the last few weeks!! (I must say however that I've found his jokes just as hilarious every time round, he's quite the master of observational comedy!).

Eddie spent most of the performance attempting to disprove the existence of God - quite humorously I must add (I did like his take on the whole Noah's Ark tale!), but it did also feel to me like perhaps the wrong forum to be doing so and that maybe he's actually at the point where he'd really like to believe but is desperately after some proof/evidence!

God doesn't work like that unfortunately!!

All in all an enjoyable night, but lacking in the whole belly-laughing "OMG I've got tears in my eyes and my cheeks hurt so much from the smiling" aspect... perhaps a little more rehearsal might have paid off... or is that just me subscribing to the more formulaic comedy that's around now? I don't know... I love Jimmy Carr as a presenter and comedy-show panellist, but hate his stand-up act.

It's a good job everyone finds different things amusing though or the world would be a very boring place!

Right, better get off now, I have lots of training news as I have managed to get to the gym when I've not been out partying/eating/drinking or at gigs!

Oh and I've discovered a love of netball... but more about that soon!

Hope everyone's well and you haven't missed me too much - I know some of you have more than others of course ;-)