Here we go with another year of my journal entries. These early weeks have been mainly focused on arranging trips away in the UK and abroad in the months ahead. But I also met up with some friends in Exeter, we had a bit more work done on the house, and there are other bits and pieces like TV shows, news stories, etc that I’ve decided to mention as always. So I hope you enjoy!
Monday January 8, 2007
Happy New Year! 2007 is upon us already. The end of 2006 was pretty easy – the last few days at work were very quiet indeed. On New Year’s Eve we just stayed at home and watched a bit of Jools Holland on BBC2 before switching over for the fireworks on BBC1. They were brilliant this year, reminding me of the millennium fireworks which we saw live by the Thames in 2000. A great show.
And this year? Well, last week at work was pretty much business as usual. Most people are back, apart from one who’s off with a viral infection and another recovering from an operation. And we’re making progress with the printing of cheques and other jobs.
As for me, I stayed with my friend AB in Exeter this weekend, hence my slightly late entry. She had her boyfriend AL there too. I went up on Friday night and she cooked us a lovely dinner of pork and lamb chops. We went out for a few drinks afterwards, and that was it for the day.
On Saturday, ST met up with us for the day. We first went round to the Cats Protection Centre, as AB has been looking to get a cat. She was going to have a couple before I arrived, but changed her mind after being told they were messing and spraying.
The cats in the Centre were lovely, and it is a shame to see them shut away. They live in pens with windowed doors, and there’s a back area to them as well. There’s a basket for them to curl up in and a few little toys, plus their food and water. So they are looked after well, although they’d obviously prefer much more freedom. All the doors have details about the cat, and you can open them up to say hello and stroke them.
Some are shy and don’t come over, but some are very keen indeed. Sally, a black and white cat (who AB reserved to be picked up on Thursday), was one of them. One cat, Pickles, was really friendly, and he’s got very fluffy black fur like Murphy (a cat who belonged to my nan’s old next door neighbour). But Pickles has actually lost a leg, poor thing, due to a car accident. He’s still fast though – he shot out of the pen at one point, but was still caught by the staff and put back in easily enough.
Next we went and had lunch in the Walkabout pub. I had a ham and cheese melt, which was delicious. Then we had a look around the shops in town before going back to the pub to watch a football match. Not the most exciting 90 minutes, but we had a bit of a chat as well. It sounds like ST’s family had a good Christmas, getting a surprise visit from a relative who had emigrated to Australia!
Then we went up to the new Vue Cinema, which isn’t far from AB’s place. They show films quite late, but our choice was shown relatively early (8:45pm). There were only 2 films we could see – Miss Potter or Employee of the Month. Miss Potter is a weepy tale about Beatrix Potter, so I didn’t fancy seeing that, but AB wants to at some point.
Thankfully, though, we opted for Employee of the Month, an American comedy about a lowly box boy in an American department store, who tries to compete with the flashy guy who always gets the employee of the month awards and all the girls. It’s obviously fairly predictable – the box boy wins in the end and gets the girl after all. But it was still good fun, a nice easy way to finish the day. ST went home after that, while AB, AL and I went back home and watched a bit of TV before going to bed.
Not much to report from yesterday. AL went to catch his train first, then AB and I went to the George’s Meeting House pub again – it seems to be turning into a tradition that the two of us go there for a Sunday roast before I go home. We both had roast beef this time, and for pudding I had chocolate fudge cake (she had apple pie). I couldn’t finish mine, I was quite full up (not helped by the cider I was drinking as well). As I had a while to wait for my train, I went with her to the Vodafone store to make enquiries on behalf of her boyfriend, as he wanted to change phones and networks.
We were there for a while, so I went to the train station after that – only to find I had to wait over an hour, as the train I wanted to get seemed to have been cancelled. Thank god I had my iPod with me! It was raining when I got back home too, so I got a little bit wet, but it didn’t matter.
So it was a good weekend all in all. AB has talked about meeting up again a few times this year. The next time should be in February for another curry and quiz night, which hopefully AL and ST will come along to. Later in the year, AB wants to go to Newcastle, and has invited me and st to come along, as well as her boyfriend of course. And she’s also asked if I want to go to Spain with her and AL in the summer. She might even ask another friend of her’s too. I’ve never been to Newcastle or, even better, Spain. And I expect I’ll be popping down to Bournemouth to see my best mate there again as well (he’s also coming down here for his next eye appointment in March). So it could be a fun year if I’m travelling to various places!
The news isn’t really worth mentioning at the moment. But in terms of entertainment, Mastermind presenter Magnus Magnusson has died at 77. A true celebrity, unlike the nobodies in Celebrity Big Brother (yes, that’s back again). The only one I really know is Leo Sayer, and I can’t understand why he’s on it. Also on the TV, someone has won the Deal Or No Deal jackpot for the first time, and Des O’Connor has started presenting Countdown. Apparently a kid on the show solved a numbers game that Carol Vorderman couldn’t, which is quite a miracle!
The music charts have also been shaken up – downloads are now fully allowed with no restrictions, so we might see some unusual songs creeping in, including oldies, album tracks, B-sides and live tracks. Plus if EMI, as they are thinking, release all the old Beatles stuff, some people reckon it could be a top 10 made up entirely of their stuff.
So overall it’s not been a bad start to the year. Let’s see what the rest of it brings.
Friday January 12, 2007
This has been a fairly quiet week, but our builder’s been back with us since Monday, and will be here until he finishes everything downstairs. He’s now finished the back room, having now put in all the shelves and the picture light. So I can now finally move all my DVDs downstairs again, and bring my new TV back down as well.
My best mate S rang this week to invite me to go to Blackpool with him in February. He’s going to an NUS conference for students with disabilities, as he is the representative officer at Bournemouth University. His friend T was his escort last year, but she’s skiing this time so can’t come. So that’ll be good fun. AB also rang to talk more about going to Spain with her and AL in May. They met some people last time they were there, and we can rent an apartment from them. It’ll be self-catering, and we can share the cost. So I’m looking forward to that, though I’ll have to brush up on my Spanish.
In the news, there aren’t any particularly major stories. There have been storms up and down the country, as is typical for this time of year, causing some damage with trees being blown over. And David Beckham’s moving to Los Angeles to try and make soccer popular with the youngsters there, by joining L.A.’s soccer team on a salary of $500,000 per week! But that’s about it, there’s been nothing too fascinating.
Friday January 19, 2007
Our builder’s now getting on well with the hallway, and we’ve got a new doorbell. Now my TV and surround sound system is back downstairs, I’ve begun re-watching my music DVDs on it, starting with Live Aid, which sounds excellent. I’ve also been watching The New Statesman for the first time on DVD, and it’s pretty good. I thought it might be, as it stars Rik Mayall, and was written by Laurence Marks & Maurice Gran (who later wrote Goodnight Sweetheart).
I’ve also got the next DVD set of Allo’ Allo’ (Series 5 Part 2) and the last set of Keeping Up Appearances (Series 5 plus 3 Christmas Specials), so I can watch those next.
And I should be getting a headphone splitter for my iPod soon, which allows 2 people to listen to it at once. I just thought it might be handy when I do the 8 hour trip to Blackpool with my best mate – yes, eight hours, and it mixes buses and trains over 3 changes! He’s got someone else from his uni going along as well, who will also have an escort, so there’s 4 of us going to the conference now. S has also asked me to bring my CD-ROMs of Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly. Plus he might do some work on the journey too, which seems mad to me, but I suppose it has to be done sometime, and there’ll be plenty of time to do it!
The trip to Spain has also been booked. AB has been getting on with organising that all week, getting money from AL and I for the air fare and deposit for the apartment. We’re going from Monday 14th to Monday 28th May, and we’re flying from Bristol, so AB has booked us into a hostel there on the Sunday. That way we’ll be near the airport on the day, rather than rushing up from Exeter. So that’s a good idea, and the hostel room’s only £15 each for the night (shared, with 1 double and 1 single bed). So that’s going to be good fun I think.
The news has only been about 2 main things. The first is the storms, which have hit much of the UK, with reports that they are the worst for 17 years (i.e. since 1990). We fared fairly well here, just a few trees down, but other parts of the country really got a battering. Some people were killed too.
And the other piece of news has been so boring, because it’s about Celebrity Big Brother. Even if you don’t watch the show, everyone knows what’s going on. Basically there’s a Bollywood actress from India called Shilpa Shetty, and a few of the housemates have been having a right go at her, including Jade Goody from one of the old series of Big Brother, and a girl from S Club 7. It’s resulted in accusations of racism, thousands of complaints to the TV regulator Ofcom, and Carphone Warehouse have withdrawn their sponsorship of the show. Maybe Channel 4 should have stepped in to calm things down sooner, but with more people tuning in and voting on the phone lines, it gives them a big incentive to let it play out.
Friday January 26, 2007
First month of the year nearly over, that’s soon gone. Our builder’s doing well with the hallway and stairs at home, doing papering and painting as well as other bits and pieces. Dad’s been sorting out stuff in the loft, so it’s a bit of a mess with everything being moved around. And my mate S has booked our trip to Blackpool, so I’ve got the registration information and conference documents. I’ll have to read them this week, as I’ll be taking notes for him, so it’ll help to know what’s going on.
The big news story this week has actually been in Devon for once. A cargo ship called MSC Napoli got into trouble in the storms last weekend. And to reduce the risk of it sinking, it was forced to run aground in shallow water at Branscombe. It tipped over slightly, spilling a number of containers as well as oil. The rest of the oil is currently being pumped off the ship. It’s taking days, because there’s just so much of it. Hundreds of birds affected by the oil have been rescued on beaches from Dorset to Torbay. Some have sadly died, but others are being looked after.
There are still hundreds of containers left on the ship. But the containers that washed up on the beach contained all sorts of things that the ship was delivering. Some of them were believed to contain toxic substances, but the majority were safe, containing everything from nappies to motorbikes. And so people were nicking them! Many greedy scavengers took it upon themselves to come onto the beach, destroy the containers and steal their contents. They reckon they’re entitled to the goods as nobody owns them, however they’re actually property of the boat’s owner. But if the thieves report their finds to the Receiver Of Wreck using special forms, they might get to keep them if they’re not claimed later. Not that such a technicality bothered everyone, as it didn’t take long for items to get listed on eBay. Even organised gangs were targeting the beaches at night to get their hands on anything they could.
It’s just so greedy and insensitive. One family found that they had lots of irreplaceable personal possessions and photographs stolen. I did hear on the news this morning that the person had brought them back, so hopefully that’s been sorted, but it was stupid to nick them in the first place. There is finally a police presence on the beach, but it took them long enough. The reason is that maritime legislation is not very well known by the police, and this isn’t something they have to deal with every day. But now they’ve sorted that out, they know they can arrest people, and scavengers have stayed away since.
That’s all I think is really worth mentioning for this week, and indeed this month. I’m going to get my hair cut tomorrow, but I’m not doing anything exciting other than that this weekend. I’m off to Blackpool for my mate’s disability conference next weekend though, so I’ll write all the relevant entries after that.