Journal – August 2010 (Portsmouth Holiday)

Welcome to another set of journal entires. There wasn’t anything to mention in the first half of this birthday month, but during the last couple of weeks I’ve had fun staying with a mate in Portsmouth as well as seeing some friends in Exeter, so there’s plenty to mention about all of that. And while in Portsmouth I also captured some photos and video footage on my Nokia 6303 phone, so I’ve included some of that here too. I hope you enjoy!

Saturday August 21, 2010

It’s been a while since my last entry, but then there hasn’t been anything interesting to mention until now. I did finally decide to set up a profile on Facebook however, despite my initial reluctance to do so. I’m still not sure if I’ll use it much, but I’ve uploaded a few video clips and photos already, so at least there’s something there for those people who add me. And I’ve already had 3 friends notice me on there despite me not saying anything!

Right now though, I’m seeing some of my friends in person again. Before I go to Portsmouth with PK for a week, he & I are staying with AB in Exeter this weekend. He came down on Wednesday, then I went up to Exeter yesterday evening. We didn’t do anything special – the three of us just got a couple of pizzas from Pizza Hut to eat while watching some TV.

Then today, the three of us met up with ST & JL, and we all had lunch at a restaurant in town. I haven’t seen JL in about 10 years, so it was great to catch up with her again. She’s just finished university and is hoping to work in education in some capacity, and she doesn’t live far away. Her and PK’s guide dogs enjoyed playing with each other in the restaurant too!

After we left the restaurant, JL went home, while the rest of us had a look around town before going to The Globe for drinks in the evening. ST went back to her flat for a moment, then came back with photos from her holiday in the Cayman Islands, that she’d been on just a couple of weeks before. She didn’t go to the place called Hell, nor did she swim with dolphins, but she did get to swim with stingrays. And the photos were lovely – the sea and sky are both so blue, and the beaches are so bright and clean. Then after our drinks, ST went home, while PK & I went with AB back to her place for the night.

Sunday August 22, 2010

Today we had lunch in The Globe – fish and chips, which was really nice – then we lazed around for the afternoon. Then in the evening, PK & I went with ST & AB to their church gathering, which is held in the hall of a school. PK & I didn’t stand up, sing or pray or anything like that, as we’re not believers, so we just set next to ST & AB on the back row and watched everyone else. And nobody minded – everyone in the group’s very friendly, and we had a nice chat to a couple of people before the service started. PK’s guide dog Yogi was with us too of course, and loved the fuss he was getting! At one point, when everyone was asked to be silent for a moment, Yogi was the only one to make a little noise! And he enjoyed rolling on his back for belly rubs. And he seemed quite keen to jump at one woman as she was petting him, although it turns out she has a dog anyway, so Yogi could probably smell that on her. The service itself was alright anyway – it was quite impressive to hear everyone singing together at least, with nobody obviously out of time or tune.

After it was over, and we’d finished chatting to people, PK & I went back to AB’s again, and ST went back to her flat. AB went to bed after a little while later – but, as PK & I were rather peckish by that point, we ordered in another Pizza Hut. This time, however, instead of walking down to the shop, we decided to try it via the internet on my phone. And it worked nicely!

Monday August 23, 2010

Today I travelled with PK back to his home in Portsmouth. We had lunch with AB at Subway in Exeter first, before PK & I caught the train in the afternoon. And the journey went fine. I was even quite impressed by the first of the two trains we were on, as the list of stations was scrolling across on a screen that I could see with my monocular, and the tannoy announcements were very clear and informative, more so than on most trains I’ve been on.

We got a taxi to PK’s place at the other end, where I got to meet his parents again and their other dog, Devoy. Like Yogi, he’s very friendly and loves the attention. And the two dogs like to play-fight and climb over each other now and again.

Nothing much has changed about the house since my last visit as far as I remember, it still seems much the same. His Mum and Dad seem to be doing well too. It’s been 3 years exactly since I last visited, so it’s nice to be back.

Obviously it was evening by the time we got there, so we didn’t do much. I gave PK some more music that I’d brought over – and, in return, got some of his pictures and music, and also the video we’d shot using his camera in Spain last year, so I’ve finally got a copy of it. He also, incidentally, gave me the little bag of oils I got in Morocco that had been left in his luggage rather than mine. Not that I’ll use them, but still, I have them now. One of them’s rose oil, the other I have no idea!

Anyway, we watched some Gadget Show repeats mainly – a show I don’t usually watch, as I keep up with tech news online anyway, but it was still interesting. We saw a couple of episodes of Last Of The Summer Wine too, which will have its last ever episode on August 29th. It’s not one of my favourite sitcoms, but it’s ok. And we got to see Yogi and Devoy play together as well, one trying to mount the other from the front at one point! So I got a bit of footage of that on my mobile phone just for fun.

Wednesday August 25, 2010

Yesterday was a relatively quiet day, so there isn’t a lot to mention for that. In the evening, though, I went to watch PK in one of his Taekwondo sessions. He was one of only 4 students there, and they did lots of stretches and warm ups before forming pairs to practice specific moves and do some sparring. So that was fun and interesting to watch.

Then today I turned 27! I got a card from PK, and one from his parents too, which was nice of them. PK and I went to Portsmouth Museum, to see the sci-fi exhibition currently in residence there, including things from films and TV shows like Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, Terminator, Alien, etc. So that was pretty cool, I got plenty of photos and a couple of video clips there.

We also looked at their other floors, seeing a bit of the history of Portsmouth in one room, and listening to some football songs in the Pompey football exhibition, before finishing off by looking at the Arthur Conan Doyle exhibition downstairs, who I hadn’t known had spent time in Portsmouth. It was all very interesting. I came away from the gift shop with a DVD about Portsmouth attractions, some fudge, and a couple of Sherlock Holmes mugs for Mum and Dad.

PK’s Dad got in a Chinese takeaway this evening, which they like to do for occasions like birthdays, so I enjoyed the sweet and sour pork. I also spoke to Mum and Dad on the phone of course, and also to SM when he rang in the evening.

Thursday August 26, 2010

Today PK & I went with his parents to their local library, where they have regular talks from people who come in. This time it was a guy from Humanware, from whom I got my CCTV at work. He was blind, much like many of the people at the talk, and demonstrated phones that could take a picture of some text, like a newspaper or a letter, or even packaging, and read it back. There were 3 different types of software – one sent the picture to a special server in ‘the cloud’ to process it, while the 2 less expensive options processed it on the phone, which is a bit less powerful.

He also demonstrated a locator gadget. Basically, you can put a tag on something your keys, or your cat’s collar, or whatever, and assign it to one of the 4 buttons on the remote. Then if you’ve lost it and want to find it, you press the relevant button on the remote. Previous items like this have just made the tag beep – but that’s no good if you’re not in the same room to hear it. So, the remote also makes a beeping noise to guide you in the right direction – the closer you get, the faster and higher it goes. So it was all pretty clever stuff.

We were quite lucky to get a room in the library at all, as the building had been rather damaged by flooding the previous week, from vandals leaving water running on the third floor. Luckily, first edition works by Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle weren’t damaged, but there was still electrical damage and other things that needed fixing, as the water came through all the floors. Hopefully police will find out who did it.

Anyway, this evening, as PK’s got an iPod from someone that he’s not yet used, I installed iTunes on his machine and helped him import his current MP3s and some more CDs into it, and helped to upload as much of it as possible on to the iPod.

Friday August 27, 2010

Today PK & I visited the Spinnaker Tower. It was to be Portsmouth’s Millennium Tower, but it was delayed for 5 years. So, as it was finally completed and opened in 2005, this year marks its 5th anniversary. It’s a great place too. The views are lovely, and we got a good audio guide too – it’s a receiver that you use rather like a telephone, pressing buttons from 1-8 as directed as you go up the 3 different levels. On the first level, there’s a section of glass floor you can look through, as if you’re standing on nothing. As the Tower is also having a Seaside season, we were also treated to a couple of jugglers, who were good fun, and were dressed in proper red and white stripy seaside entertainer clothes. The kids were also treated to a magician and a Punch and Judy show, but we didn’t stay for those.

We carried on listening to the audio guide as we climbed our way up the other two floors. It was very interesting, telling you about the history of Portsmouth and the different places that could be seen. Not that we could see the exact places that were mentioned of course, but we’ve got nice photos and videos of the views anyway. They took a photo of the two of us at the start too, but we couldn’t find out where to pick it up at the end, so we never got to see it!

After that we had a meal at Burger King – not just a burger meal, but afterwards we also had one of their Fusions, which is essentially the same as a McDonald’s McFlurry, being ice-cream with something in it – caramel fudge in this case, which we both enjoyed. And because Burger King and Spinnaker Tower both sit on the outside of the Gunwharf Quays shopping centre, we also explored that too – popping into the HMV, Adidas, Nike and Levi stores, and also Cadbury, where I picked up some nibbles for my train ride home, and also 3 varieties of Bournville chocolate (original, orange, and Jamaican rum and raisin) for PK and his parents to say thanks. His Mum in particular likes Bournville chocolate, so it seemed an obvious gesture really.

Saturday August 28, 2010

My train today was at 12:30, so I was able to be up and ready without any rushing. PK’s Dad made me a bacon sandwich for breakfast to keep me going as well. We weren’t able to get a taxi to the station however, but their neighbour was kind enough to give us a lift. The train ride home was relatively uneventful – although they did change the platform for the connecting train at Bristol Temple Meads when it was nearly due to leave, so we all had to go through the subway to the new platform. We were told by one of the staff, however, that the driver had just gone up the stairs ahead of us, so there was no rush, as he needed time to get himself ready as well. The train left pretty much on time though, and I got home when I expected to, walking through the door not long before half past five, to unpack and get things sorted out.

I opened my birthday presents from my Nan, Aunt & Uncle this evening – which contained two cards, a £50 cheque, and two t-shirts. The t-shirts fit nicely – which I hadn’t quite expected as the size was only medium! I’d had a card from my cousins just before I went away too – they always send their cards early. Paying off my student loan was Mum and Dad’s big present, but they asked me if I wanted something for my computer too – so they’re going to pay for an external hard drive, which will be much better for backing things up on than the DVDs I use at the moment. I’m ending up with rather a lot of those for my music and videos alone!

Sunday August 29, 2010

Today has just been a catch up day, mainly sorting out the music, videos and photos I brought back with me, catching up with the few emails that needed dealing with, and helping Mum and Dad top up the Tesco order we’re having delivered on Thursday – which will hopefully include a big chocolate cake to jointly celebrate mine and Mum’s birthdays.

And that’s it really. Back to normal from tomorrow, but it was very good to get away for a week, I enjoyed that break.

Author: Glen

Love London, love a laugh, love life. Visually impaired blogger, culture vulture & accessibility advocate, with aniridia & nystagmus, posting about my experiences & adventures.

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