Here’s another set of entries from my personal journal, again covering a couple of relatively quiet months. I did a nice bit of socialising during August in particular, spending a weekend with a friend in Portsmouth, and then my birthday weekend with friends in Exeter. September, meanwhile, has been relatively uneventful, although there are plenty of news stories I’ve decided to mention. So I hope you find things to enjoy in here as usual!
Sunday August 5, 2007
Another month arrives, and it’s finally brought some nice weather with it! The floods around the UK have been subsiding, and people have been getting their water back – even if they still aren’t allowed to drink it, even after boiling it. Plus they’ve got to clear up all the mess and deal with insurance and stuff.
But down here where I live, it’s been fine. The kids are off school now, so the morning traffic is quieter – the trade-off being the evening rush hour is slower, but then I had expected that after seeing it last year. I don’t know how the tourist trade is doing down here, but the funfair has sprung up in Torquay, even with a little rollercoaster ride. And the BBC Breakfast news programme reported from the beach by Paignton Pier earlier in the week, when they were talking about the weather getting better.
Work’s going fine too, not much to report there. But our syndicate did get 4 numbers on the Lottery this weekend! Ok, when shared out, the £74 won’t be much each, but it’ll probably go into the kitty for the Christmas dinner, like the recent tenners we’ve won. So we’ve not done too badly lately.
At home, it’s been a pretty quiet week. But I’ve booked the week off work before my birthday – which means I’ll have the Bank Holiday Monday tagged on the end. So by booking 5 days off, I’ve got 10 days off work in total, counting the weekends and that Monday. Hopefully I might go and see my mate P, which will be nice, after seeing him briefly last year for S’s birthday.
In the news, the floods haven’t been so prominent for a change. The big stories this week have been no less devastating for the people concerned though. First, a concrete road bridge buckled and crashed into the Mississippi river, tossing cars and people into the river. It’s amazing to think a bridge can collapse like that, but apparently inspections in the past haven’t revealed any major weaknesses. But some studies also indicated that work was still needed. There have, of course, been many deaths and injuries as a result of this terrible accident, and the task of recovering cars and people is extremely difficult. With all the debris and oil in the water, it’s a wonder they can find anyone at all. They’re very brave people who go down there to try and find the vehicles and people.
Back in the UK, it appears that there’s another outbreak of foot and mouth, which isn’t comforting for the farmers who had to deal with it 6 years ago. Hopefully the procedures in place are better than last time, when things didn’t work out as well as they should. And it was caught pretty quickly this time I understand, so here’s hoping the effects aren’t too catastrophic on the communities affected.
Sunday August 12, 2007
We had some flowers and chocolates delivered from Marks & Spencer for Mum’s birthday yesterday, which were very nice. Nothing else to report at home other than that, mind you. As for work, that’s been pretty much normal as well. The only development is a Senior Finance Assistant’s post that has come up – it pays a bit more than my current job, and is more closely related to what I studied for. Plus my parents and one of my work colleagues think I should go for it. So I might drop in an application before the deadline on Friday, I’ll have a think about it first.
Next weekend, I’m going up to stay with P for a few days, then I have the following week off work anyway, and the next weekend I’ll be with AB & AL in Exeter for my birthday. So it’ll be a fairly busy week!
Foot and mouth has been the main subject of the news this week of course. It doesn’t seem to have spread too far, with only a couple of farms affected so far. It seems to have come from a science laboratory nearby that uses the virus in its tests, suggesting that an employee didn’t follow procedures correctly to avoid it getting out. Which is pretty silly of them when you consider the consequences. There hasn’t been much happening other than that though.
So a pretty quiet week all in all, but plenty happening soon it seems. The weather’s been nice so far this month too, so fingers crossed it remains so.
Tuesday August 21, 2007
I’ve just got back from a long weekend with P, having gone up to Southsea in Portsmouth on Saturday. It was nice to see him, his parents and their dog again, in their new house. They’ve got plenty of talking gadgets to help them – microwave, clocks, audio description on their Sky+ box, and some software called Guide on their computer which does a pretty good job.
We didn’t do too much over my few days there, we just had a lazy long weekend. We did go to the cinema last night though, and saw Rush Hour 3, a comedy action film starring Jackie Chan. It was a good bit of fun too.
Other than that, I gave him some of my music and showed him some of my photos from Spain, and some others I bought along from our school days. And talking of music, I ended up coming back with a 3-CD set of music from 1962 that they didn’t want from Reader’s Digest. I’ve got a lot of the tracks, but not all of them, and as they were giving it to me for free, I couldn’t complain!
The journey home wasn’t too bad. I missed the connection I was supposed to get at Salisbury, because my first train got in late – but by changing at Westbury and Newton Abbot instead, I got home before the original connection would have done! The journey there was even easier, as it was straight through, so that was good.
I’ve got the week off work this week, as it’s my birthday, so I can relax for the rest of it. I didn’t bother going for that assistant’s job in the end. I’m happy where I am if I’m honest, and don’t want to keep moving around jobs too much. We did get a surprise this week though, when the Chief Executive popped down to have a look around. She had said when she started that she wanted to visit all of the departments, and she finally got round to us, months later! She had a good chat with my section manager, and ended up having a long meeting with him the next day about his various thoughts and ideas.
As for the rest of this week, Mum wants me to take her to the M&S Just Food store in Torquay on Thursday. And on Friday, I’m going to stay with AB & AL for the weekend again, and hopefully get a new mobile phone for my birthday in the process. I’ve had my old phone for 7 years now by my reckoning, so it’s about time I updated it really. I don’t want too many fancy things on my new one, but we’ll have to see how I get on.
Sunday August 26, 2007
Yep, another year in my life has passed. And I still don’t feel any older, as usual!
I got a few cards and a couple of presents last Wednesday and Thursday – a £50 cheque from Nan, while my Aunt & Uncle sent me a couple of t-shirts and a pair of sandal-type slippers. I also bought some more Premium Bonds, as they’re a good investment, and hopefully it’ll get me some more prizes from ERNIE!
Then on Friday, I went up to Exeter, to stay with AB & AL. But before I met them, I went and got the birthday present my parents said they would pay for – a new mobile phone! Yes, after 7 years, my trusty Nokia 3210 is no more, and a Nokia 6300 has taken its place.
It’s a lovely phone too – nice and slim, the screen’s a good size and is easy to read, and the keys are easy to use as well, even lighting up in the dark. It has a camera for photo and video, it can play MP3s and FM radio, and has internet access, which is handy for checking emails on the move. I was able to keep the same mobile number and have all my old contacts transferred to the new SIM card, which I was thankful for. And I’m still on Orange Pay As You Go – they didn’t try to persuade me to go over to a contract, thankfully.
Then I met AB, and in the evening we went to a pub called Chaucer’s for our evening meal. We had lasagne for the main course, followed by apple crumble with custard and toffee sauce (the sauce was over the crumble and in the custard), which was very nice. Then we went to The Vaults, another bar, and had a cocktail called Wink Wink, which was also rather nice.
AL arrived on Saturday, and after meeting ST in town, we all went down to the Mill On The Exe, a pub and restaurant by the river. And because it was my birthday, AB & ST paid for my meal (mains and dessert), which was very generous of them. I had gammon steak with pineapple (plus potatoes and veg) for the main course, followed by chocolate sponge and chocolate sauce for pudding. It was all delicious, and even better because it was free of course!
ST left us after that to back to her flat, while later in the evening me, AB & AL went to the cinema, after finding out what was on. Even though they’d seen it already, they were happy to see The Simpsons Movie a second time, as I hadn’t seen it yet. It’s a very funny film, and I can understand why it’s got good reviews, so I’m glad I got to see it at last.
Then today, we popped into town, going into the Marks & Spencer café for lunch for a change. I had a cheese, bacon and ham toastie, with a drink, crisps, and a caramel shortbread slice. We also popped into Virgin Megastore and HMV – in the former I bought a set of the two Mr Bean movies, plus the latest Rolling Stones DVD boxset, The Biggest Bang, which looks great.
After leaving them to go off to a pub to watch the football later, I nipped into Argos, to pick up a new catalogue, and also to get a new rucksack. The one I got from Millets a while ago is ok, but because it leaves a gap to stop you sweating on your back, it means there isn’t really much room inside it. So I got a better one this time.
And that’s about it really. It’s Bank Holiday tomorrow, which is good, and then we get a short week back at work. It’s also been sunny and hot over this holiday weekend, which is very unusual, but it’s also been a welcome relief to see some sign of summer!
Also celebrating a birthday yesterday as well as me:
- Sean Connery – 77 (born 1930, arguably the best James Bond)
- Frederick Forsyth – 69 (born 1938, author of Day Of The Jackal)
- Gene Simmons – 58 (born 1949, founder member of Kiss)
- Willy DeVille – 57 (born 1950, member of Mink DeVille)
- Rob Halford – 56 (born 1951, member of Judas Priest)
- Elvis Costello – 53 (born 1954, big hit was Oliver’s Army)
- Tim Burton – 49 (born 1958, directed Batman and Beetlejuice)
- Billy Ray Cyrus – 46 (born 1961, big hit was Achy Breaky Heart)
- Candida Doyle – 44 (born 1963, member of Pulp)
- Claudia Schiffer – 37 (born 1970, model)
So that’s it. Another birthday’s been and gone. The next big one is for Nan, who’ll be 100 in November, so we’ll be popping up to see her. It’s the same time as my mate S’s birthday, but hopefully I’ll be able to pop down to Bournemouth around the same time. We’ll have to see. But that’s all in the future. For now, I’ll just relax until I go back to work on Tuesday!
Saturday September 1, 2007
There isn’t much to report this week really. It was nice having a 4-day week thanks to the Bank Holiday, and work has been fairly quiet. I got the cream cakes in at work for my birthday, of course. There were also photos on our intranet site about the flooding in Torquay that I missed while I was away, and it was pretty bad. The back area of the Town Hall was very badly hit, given that it is at the bottom of a hill.
And at home, it’s been fairly quiet. I’ve deposited a cheque from Mum and Dad for my mobile phone, and received my new Premium Bonds. Our builder came round and fixed a few things this week too, including the floor in my part of the living room downstairs, which had started to lift in one or two places for some reason.
In the news this week, prison officers went on a surprise strike for a day over pay. And they do have a point, when you consider what they have to put up with on a daily basis. It’s not a job many people would want to do. The other big story this week has been the 10th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, with memorial services to mark the anniversary.
Things will be getting back to normal again with the kids going back to school from next week, which will free up the evening traffic a bit, although it’s not been too bad towards the end of the holiday. And at least the summer holiday has finished with nice weather since the bank holiday weekend, even if it was one of the wettest summers on record overall.
Sunday September 9, 2007
Everything’s getting back to normal again now, with the kids having gone back to school over the course of the week. Work’s been quiet still too, and there’s not much to report from home either. But we’ve looked into how to send Nan a 100th birthday card from the Queen, which is easy and doesn’t cost anything, so that’s good.
Back in the UK, the source of the foot and mouth outbreak has been put down to faulty drainage at one of the laboratories near where the disease was found. Thankfully it doesn’t seem to have spread. But in nicer news, there was lots of sport yesterday – and England won, 3 times! We won our European Football qualifier, the Rugby World Cup qualifier, and a cricket match against India! It’s not often something like that happens, and I’m still not expecting it to become commonplace! The Last Night Of The Proms also took place yesterday, which really does show how quickly this year has gone!
Sunday September 16, 2007
Nothing much to report at work this week, it’s still quiet there. But we have learned that our Christmas dinner will be with the Post Room team this year, now they’ve recently moved down next to us.
As for home, Mum’s iron packed up this week, and we couldn’t find the spare one we thought we had. So I popped over to Argos in Torquay to get her a new one. In fact, Mum wanted me to get 2 irons, so she definitely has got a spare one now. And I also got The Simpsons: Season 10 on DVD while I was out.
We’re also going to be ordering Nan’s 100th birthday card from the Queen soon, and my Aunt’s going to sort out a birthday cake for the occasion. It looks like we’ll be going up to London on the Friday and coming back on Sunday.
One of the big news stories this week has involved the Northern Rock bank. There has been a lot of volatility in the stock market lately because of sub-prime mortgages over in America – these are loans given out to people who can’t really afford them, so the banks were being very risky. However, banks often sell their debt to other banks, and a whole cycle starts from there. And now the debt has grown, nobody knows where it all is, so banks are getting reluctant to lend. Or if they do lend, it’s more expensive.
So it’s had an impact on shares, and it’s starting to hit all banks around the world. And so Northern Rock, which relies more on mortgages than individuals depositing money, got an emergency cash injection from the Bank of England, and we’re talking billions here. Everyone is at pains to stress that the bank isn’t going bankrupt – it has tons of assets, but not much cash flow at the moment. And the Bank of England wouldn’t make such funds available if the bank was at risk of going bust. It’s still a rare move though, as banks usually get money from each other, but that’s not easy with the current situation. And it’s caused customers to panic, with thousands of customers withdrawing their money and closing their accounts. You can’t blame them, really.
And for our poor farmers, foot and mouth disease has reared its ugly head again, and it looks like the same strain as last time, plus it’s in the same area. Looks like the government were a bit eager to declare us disease free, but let’s just hope it stays contained.
But in a final piece of interesting news, Led Zeppelin are making a comeback for a one-off gig at the O2 Arena (formerly the Millennium Dome). It’s in tribute to one of the key figures who helped them get started (Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun). This is the first time the 3 surviving members have performed together in decades, while John Bonham’s son Jason will be on the drums. So everyone will be curious to see if they still have the old magic. It’ll be interesting to find out.
Sunday September 23, 2007
This week has again been quiet, there aren’t any massively important jobs to do at work at the moment. Which is good, as it’s nice to be able to relax sometimes without a lot of pressure to get stuff done. Nor is there much to mention on the home front, other than Mum getting cheques for £100 and £50 from the Premium Bonds.
In the news, customers have been continuing to take money out of Northern Rock, but the government has stepped in to reassure savers that their money is safe there. The bank will struggle now though, with so many people having deserted it, so it remains to be seen what happens there. And Jose Mourinho, the manager of Chelsea football club, resigned this week, which was the main headline news even though I didn’t care about. Still, all of that is much more interesting than the political party conferences going on at the moment too!
Sunday September 30, 2007
And another month draws to a close. The main event at work has been the issuing of a reshaping report, whereby a company was brought in to produce a report on how the council should develop itself to become more efficient and save money. Whether that’ll affect our jobs, nobody knows, but we don’t seem to have any reason to worry at the moment.
Apart from that, our lottery syndicate at work won another £10 this weekend, plus we’ve been choosing what we’ll have for our Christmas dinner. I’ve gone for soup followed by turkey, which wasn’t a difficult choice from the menu were were given.
It’s been pretty quiet at home, but we’ve booked our train travel to London for Nan’s 100th birthday in November now.
The news this week has mainly been about protests in Burma. The highly-respected monks there have been protesting in their thousands on the streets against the government, who are a very harsh regime it turns out. Foreign journalists are banned from Burma, so the only information, pictures and videos we’ve been able to see are from the protestors inside the country. But the government there have been cracking down on it a lot recently, closing down phone lines and the internet as much as they can. And most monks have been arrested or detained now, so the Burmese people have been coming out on the streets instead. So now the government have got the army involved, using tear gas and guns to try and break it up. People have been killed or injured as a result, and it shows no sign of stopping. Burma isn’t listening to anyone outside, despite worldwide appeals for the government there to show restraint and allow the protestors to demonstrate peacefully.
Meanwhile back in this country, one of the big stories has been an outbreak of bluetongue, another disease that is affecting the farming community on top of foot and mouth, so they’re really having a hard time at the moment.
And that’s about it. It’s been a pretty relaxed and quiet month for me at least, which is good.