Journal – July-August 2013

Here we go with another set of journal entries. There wasn’t anything to write about during June, so this post covers July and August instead, during which I’ve had another work-related visit to Bristol, met my friends in Exeter and celebrated my birthday. So I hope you enjoy!

Sunday July 14, 2013

It’s been 2 months since my last entry, as there wasn’t a lot to report during June really. But they finally repaired Torquay seafront after the flooding damage and Paignton Bus Station also reopened, so I was able to take Mum to the dentist for her latest replacement of an old filling that had come out. The dentist was able to patch it up pretty quickly, so we didn’t have to go back for another appointment. We’re still talking about our move to London a lot as well, including the things we’ll get when we move into Nan’s house (it’s been fascinating looking at smart TV’s for instance), and places we’ll go and see.

I’ve been pretty busy at work over the past week. My section manager G & I went up to Bristol for 3 days, going up on Monday night and coming back on Thursday night. This was to work with our new software supplier on the development of the bills to be produced using their system, as we’d come to a sticking point with some of the more complex documents. It proved to be a very worthwhile experience, as we were able to call on their help directly there, and we learnt enough that, by the third day, we were starting to solve some problems by ourselves.

In a way, it was a good precursor to homeworking, as I got a security fob to slip on my keyring that allowed me to remotely login to my own office computer back in Torbay. It involves going to the Citrix login page and typing in my username, then the passcode is a 6-digit PIN that I created, plus the random 6-digit number generated on the key fob screen, which changes every 50 seconds. It worked pretty well, which is good.

We used a laptop that we had borrowed from work, which takes a while to load and get into because it uses software to encrypt the entire hard drive that you have to get through first. And we couldn’t use it on the first day anyway, because we needed to be able to modify the hosts file, so that the IP address of the design server in the Bristol office could be added. We were able to sort it out for the next 2 days, but on the first day (Tuesday) we were able to use the PC of one of the supplier’s staff instead, as he was out that day (he was back the other days).

G & I stayed in the Premier Inn just down the road, in separate rooms. For tea on Tuesday night we went to the Pitcher & Piano by the docks, on Wednesday I went to the V-Shed bar next door to that (while G visited a family friend in Bristol for the evening), then on Thursday night the 2 of us went to The Stable, a pizza and cider bar, with 74 different ciders! All those evening meals were very nice – Tuesday’s and Thursday’s were a little over our £10.17 expenses budget, but we were happy to pay the extra. My meal on Wednesday night was well within the limit though. Our company doesn’t pay for alcohol of course, so the ciders I had with my meals with G won’t be paid back, but that’s fine.

As for lunch, we had Burger King on Tuesday and KFC on Thursday, while on Wednesday the people we were working with kindly took us out for a pub lunch, so I had a burger there. They usually do that on Fridays – as I did with them when I visited last year – but as we wouldn’t be there on Friday, they moved it for that week. Breakfasts were had in the Premier Inn, where you help yourself to the food – which was nice enough, though nothing special, much like the hotel as a whole really. G prefers the Premier Inn in Manchester, and I prefer the one in Exeter. And the lighting was a bit awkward for me in the Bristol one sometimes. The bedroom lighting wasn’t overly great, though it was adequate, and the lifts were right by the front windows where the sun shone in, along with shiny white floors, so I was almost blinded each time we came down for breakfast or to leave the hotel! It took a moment to adjust to that every time.

So that was a successful trip all in all. Then yesterday I went up to Exeter to see AB & DB. They’re happy in their new flat, and they have a couple of nice new sofas now. And AB’s pregnant – I knew they were trying, but she made the announcement to everyone on Facebook after they came back from honeymoon, which they also very much enjoyed by all accounts.

The three of us met up with ST yesterday evening for our evening meal at KFC and a couple of drinks, and then again for lunch today at Nando’s, and a bit of relaxing in Northernhay Gardens, as it was so hot, before I came home. It’s been swelteringly hot all weekend, with temperatures near, or even hitting, 30 degrees Celsius, and it sounds like the glorious heatwave could be here for a little while. So we’ll enjoy the summer weather for as long as it lasts!

Tuesday August 27, 2013

I’m 30! Another decade done and dusted, though today doesn’t feel any different as usual. I’ve had cards from my mate SM, my Aunt and my cousins, and Mum’s giving me money as it’s the easiest option. There are some DVDs coming out in September I want, so she’ll pay for those. My Aunt got me a pack of 3 short-sleeved shirts from M&S, which fit nicely.

I got Mum flowers for her recent birthday from M&S. There was meant to be chocolates with them but they never came, so they agreed to give me a refund. Well, they gave me a refund, then they sent me an email saying they’d dispatched the chocolates again, which presumably meant they’d charged me for them once more, but then issued me with another refund without the chocolates ever arriving. So I’m not sure what happened there!

We also had issues with my Aunt’s package for Mum. She had sent it via her local Post Office, and the man there had assured her that the postage she’d put on was enough. But it wasn’t, so we got a card through the door saying we had to pay £1.19 (the first pound is a ‘processing charge’, whatever that means!). So I went online and paid it, yet a week later it still hadn’t arrived. So I emailed Royal Mail who, to be fair, were very quick in responding. We did finally get the package a couple of days later – although Royal Mail then emailed me to say they couldn’t find it in the delivery office! Of course they couldn’t, now that we had it! So there was a breakdown in communication there. Still, they did send us a book of 6 stamps as compensation – first class as well! We’d expected second class ones as they’re cheaper.

Anyway, we won’t have to worry about sending packages to each other when we’re up London and can just hand them to each other in person. Still no date on when we’re going yet. We’ve still been talking about it regularly, as we very much want to do it, but Mum hasn’t quite geared herself up to put the wheels in motion yet, and I’m not going to put any pressure on her. It’s a big change after all.

As for work, we’ve had a bit more training on our new software – which was ok, though the latest update to the software had bugs that meant we couldn’t fully do all the exercises, and the manuals weren’t as clear as they could be (as always). Still, the plug-ins training has given us things to play with, so we’ve been using that knowledge to develop a graphical tool that allows us to create boxes with rounded corners, shadows, etc, and also a tool for creating gradients or vignette effects. It’s been a good way of learning the Python programming language, that’s for sure.

There hasn’t been an awful lot going on other than that. Not much on TV either to be honest. I’m just rewatching Doctor Who (from the Christopher Eccleston 2005 series onwards) in preparation for the 50th anniversary special in November. Peter Capaldi’s been announced as the new Doctor, to take over at Christmas, so it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on.

And that’s it really, 30 years gone already now! The last few have been… interesting… that’s for sure, but hopefully the next few will constitute a fresh start, something I think Mum and I will both be pretty glad of, we do need it.

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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