Journal – July-August 2015 (Guernsey Stag Do)

Side view of a white cardboard model of the Starship Enterprise, named the USS Poker, with 2 thrusters on the back and the big circular deck sticking out over the front.

Time for another epic set of journal entries. June was quiet, so I haven’t written anything for that month – but July made up for it, as I had another visit to Guernsey for my best mate’s stag do and wedding suit fittings. So there’s a lot to share about that here, as well as my first iPhone for my birthday, a computer repair, lots of nice food, and other bits and pieces. So I hope you enjoy!

Thursday July 16, 2015

Well, we still haven’t heard from our builder yet. I emailed him at the beginning of this month, believing him to be back and emphasising that we really want the roof done. But he hasn’t responded, which is rather concerning. If he hasn’t responded by the end of this month, I’ll try again.

I was also without a computer for just over a week recently. I got an email from Apple alerting me that they were doing a hard drive replacement program. 3TB hard drives sold between certain dates had an unacceptably high risk of failure and they were offering to replace them for free. So I wasn’t going to refuse that. I gave them my number for Apple Support to phone me at an arranged time, which they did. They then got a company called Amsys to call me and arrange a collection.

Because they would be replacing the hard drive, they wouldn’t be replacing everything on it, just doing a basic reinstall. So thankfully I had a Time Machine backup anyway, and also backed up my most important files onto another external hard drive to be doubly safe. Then I did a secure 3-pass erase of the Mac’s hard drive (it writes over the drive 3 times to hide what was there), packed the Mac up, and let the courier pick it up. Because I was at work, Mum would be answering the door of course, so we were able to arrange through Amsys for the courier to have a password, just to be safe.

The technician at Amsys, Andy, kept me updated by email as to how the repair was going. Initially he needed the firmware password, which I’d nearly forgotten myself (and I wouldn’t have been able to erase the hard drive if I had). But thankfully I did know it. They sent it back within the week, and I was able to leave it restoring from the Time Machine backup overnight. And it works fine, as I had a chance to try it out last night.

And now today I’ve flown over to Guernsey, to stay with SM for the suit fitting and stag do, ahead of his wedding in September. Combining the fitting and stag party on one weekend seems nice and convenient, and it’ll allow CH (SM’s friend from university) to come over for it as well, as he can’t make the wedding itself. So he’ll come over tomorrow night and go back on Sunday.

My flight from Exeter to Guernsey departed on time, actually getting into Jersey 10 minutes early on the way, so we had to sit there for that little bit longer. Then we arrived in Guernsey bang on schedule. SM met me there, and we went back to his flat on the bus. It appears they’re moving to smart cards soon for the buses, much like the Oyster cards in London, or the free pass I use in Devon, that you just tap on a reader. So until then, they’ve gone from books that get stamped to paper vouchers that you just tear off and hand to the driver. It meant I got a free journey, as SM had plenty of tickets.

We went to La Creperie for tea, where they do savoury and sweet pancakes for the main and dessert courses respectively. For the main course, I had a cheese and bacon crepe, and SM had the chicken curry one, and we had Cokes to drink (SM having the Diet variety of course). Then, for dessert, I had an ice cream filled crepe with chocolate sauce over the top, while SM had an apple and calvados crepe. It was a really delicious meal, and very filling too, I only just about finished my dessert.

We then went into Harvey’s Bar for a pint of Strongbow each, before going back to his flat to watch a bit of TV (Mock The Week, Russell Howard’s Good News and Family Guy).

In terms of sleeping arrangements, I’ve got the sleeping bag, laying on an inflatable bed that SM has borrowed from his sister, along with an electric pump to inflate it with. CH will be getting the mattress and a blanket to sleep on. My bed goes down the length of the room, so my head is near the window and my feet towards SM’s computer, while CH will sleep widthways across the room at the foot of my bed. So we should be reasonably comfortable.

Friday July 17, 2015

I slept alright last night. It was pretty warm, even with the window open, and it’s quite a noisy road outside, but I was still able to doze off comfortably. We didn’t intend to get up too early today, but SM and I were awake and didn’t feel like going back to bed. So we had some Weetabix for breakfast, and played some WWF Smackdown! – the original PlayStation 1 game, though obviously we were using his PlayStation 2. I haven’t played it since we had it in school, so it certainly brought back some memories. And, though SM virtually always won, it was a pretty even match, both of us getting an equal number of moves in on each other. I was never able to carry out the big Smackdown moves though, but that didn’t matter.

SP then picked us up to take us for the suit fitting, which went very well. The lady’s very nice, and has all the suits in an outhouse in her garden. She’s visually impaired as well – she has enough vision that she can drive, but there are still things in her eye that obscure her vision a little bit, I’m not sure exactly how. In any case, she knew what she was doing where the suit fitting was concerned, being able to tell instantly what we needed as we tried on things.

The suits are very nice – a grey jacket and trousers, which are a lovely material, with a shirt underneath. We’ll get to keep the shirt apparently. It doesn’t have a full collar, but a small pointed collar at the front. And we’ll need cufflinks for the sleeves, which SM has already. Then there’s a ruche instead of a tie – it’s a bit like a short, wide tie with a ruffled neck to it. She showed us how to put it on – unlike a tie, the shortest part goes at the front here. It all fit very nicely and felt very comfortable. I’ve put on a little of weight I think – I tend to fluctuate around the 35-inch waist mark. So, rather than get a 36-inch waist – which fits, but doesn’t quite give the smooth look it should – we’ve gone for a 38-inch instead, as it can then be tightened up using straps on the side.

SM will receive the suits 10 days before the wedding, so if he or SP find that their suit doesn’t fit because of significant weight changes, there’s still time for an adjustment. I won’t be able to do that, of course, so this time it had to be right. Then, on the wedding day itself, SP and I will be changing at SM’s flat, so we can help each other out to make sure we look the part. The plan is that we’ll meet up and have breakfast first before getting ready.

After that, SP had to pick up one of his daughters from the pool, where his wife had been swimming with her, and take her home. So we did that, then SP, SM and I went for lunch at the café next to Trinity Church, where the wedding will be taking place. It’s where I had lunch with SM and his Dad in February. We had paninis and chocolate brownies, which were very nice, and it allowed the three of us to have a nice chat. SP then had to go after that, as he had to get back to work – he’s still a driving instructor, and it sounds like he’s always busy with it.

SM and I went back to the flat, and listened to the radio for a bit. They do a Top 3 At 3 quiz, where you have to guess the year and a movie from the songs and extracts that are played, so we like having a go at that. Then we went out for a walk again, and SM showed me where my hotel is for when I come up in September. I probably won’t remember the route from SM’s flat, but from the reception venue it’s very easy. And when I get a new smartphone as my birthday gift this year, I should be able to use the maps on that to guide me around anyway.

We then went into town, and SM went into the Sure mobile phone shop. He’s been getting spam texts about loans recently, about one or two a day, but there’s nothing they can do about them.

Then we went down to the harbour and waited for CH’s boat to get in – the Condor Liberation ferry from Poole. It takes about three hours, and was about half an hour late as well. He only had a rucksack with him, as he’s only staying 2 nights, so rather than go back to the flat we went to Harvey’s Bar. SM had told them we were coming, so they reserved the sofa and comfy chairs in the corner for us, so CH could get in easily with his wheelchair.

Friday is Meat Draw night at Harvey’s, so as well as drinks we bought 5 draw numbers each – and won! I got the very first number, so picked up the breakfast pack for SM (bacon, sausages and black pudding). CH won shortly after, so SM went up to pick that prize – and then promptly picked out his own number as well! And then SM won yet again a short while later. So as well as the breakfast pack, we came back with Chinese Spare Ribs, some pork steaks and a mixed tray with sausages and other bits of meat in it.

We went back to the flat after that, and ordered in a Chinese takeaway for tea, ordering something different each and then just mixing it all together on the plates so we had a bit of everything. We watched a comedy film on TV called Paul, about some science fiction nerds who meet an alien, who’s escaped from Area 51 and needs to get to a place where his mothership can pick him up. Not a bad film too, it has some good funny moments. We also watched The Last Leg as well, although we weren’t impressed by their guest this week (an American comedian and writer called Amy Poehler). SP also came around to drop off some chairs and poker stuff ready for tomorrow.

Saturday July 18, 2015

We didn’t do much this morning, other than getting up and getting ready for SM’s stag do. SP’s friend SA then came to pick up CH, SM and I to take us for lunch. Unfortunately, however, CH’s wheelchair wouldn’t fit in his boot as had been hoped. So after some deliberation, SA had to call SP and get him to drive over. He was then able to take SM as well as CH, which freed up some room for SA. CH sat in the front seat of SA’s car, while I sat in the back with the wheelchair on the back seat next to me. Not ideal, but it worked well enough. And depending on the angle it was at on the various journeys we took, one of the wheels would turn around meaning, for SP looking in his rear mirror in the car in front, it looked as if the wheelchair was driving the car, seeing the wheel going round!

We went to a restaurant called The Rockmount for lunch first. Most of us had a sirloin steak baguette and chips, while SP had a duck and brie pizza and CH had sausages and mash. CH doesn’t really drink alcohol, preferring juices and soft drinks, which is fair enough. SA doesn’t drink a lot either, but had a few during the day. In any case, SM and I had a Strongbow with our meal.

While we were waiting for the meal, SA got out the gift he’d made for SM from all of us as well – a cardboard hat version of the Starship Enterprise, named the USS Poker in this instance. It looked very cool, it was very well made, and SM was very happy with it. He gladly wore it most of the day, although there were obviously moments when it was easier to take it off. SP and I hadn’t had the chance to buy SM anything ourselves – but we did go halves on SM’s expenses between the two of us, as the best men.

After lunch, we drove to the bowling alley – stopping at an ice-cream van on the way to sit on a wall by the beach and have a ‘softie’ with a flake (a ‘99‘ in other words). We booked one lane for all 6 of us at the bowling alley, and played two games – I got 92 and 93, which was pretty consistent, including a couple of strikes and a few spares. And for drinks we had a Coke and a Strongbow. So it was a fun game.

We went to the arcade area of the bowling area after that. SM and SP had a game of pool (which SP won), while CH had a go on a motorbike racing game. Then I played CH at pool, and beat him pretty easily. It was then time for an interval, as SP wanted to go home to get changed, and so SA and SP could take their cars home. and it gave everyone a chance to relax before the evening ahead. So CH, SM and I were dropped off back at the flat, where we watched The Big Bang Theory for an hour.

SP, SA and CH then came back to the flat – having got buses this time, so they didn’t have to worry about their cars – and we all went down to Harvey’s Bar, where they loved SM’s Enterprise hat of course. We started off with a strawberry flavoured shot called Tequila Rose, which SM has had with TB before. Being pink, we were teased by the others there about it being girly, but it was nice and not very strong. Then we had a proper pint each – Strongbows mainly, while CH had a Coke, and we sat down and chatted for a bit.

We then went to King Balti, an Indian restaurant, for our big evening meal. I had Makhani chicken (it’s in a barbecue and curry sauce, and tasted like it had some coconut too), with egg fried rice, and lamb flavoured keema naan bread, along with a couple of bottles of Magners cider this time. It was a very nice meal, and we had a good laugh as we were chatting there.

Finally, we went back to SM’s flat and played some poker, with more drinks of course. SM had been to a cider tasting recently, so had some Somerset Redstreak cider that he’d bought a crate of at the time, so I had a bottle of that, which was very nice. It didn’t take long to get used to the rules of poker again – I didn’t win anything, but I wasn’t out too quickly either. CH was a complete novice though, but also picked it up very well – and won overall! He had a lot of beginner’s luck and was clearly paying attention too, and clearly enjoyed learning about it.

We actually didn’t have a lot to drink there, as the meal and other drinks had already filled us up, and we had lots of nibbles as well (little Toffee Crisp bite-size chocolates, Fruit Pastilles, Cadbury Velvet Chocolate Eclairs, Haribo, etc – we never got around to having any Pringles). So none of us was actually drunk by the time SA left to get his bus, and then less than an hour later SP and CH got a taxi home together. SM, CH and I then went to bed about 1:30am.

So it was a very fun day and, most importantly, SM really enjoyed himself. It wasn’t a huge drunken party, but a good day out with the lads, which is how it was intended. SM could certainly have handled more alcohol just fine, but he was perfectly happy with how it all went. After all, it’s how much fun you have, not how much you drink.

Sunday July 19, 2015

None of us had a hangover today, because we’d spread the drinking out sensibly, so we were up shortly after 10am. We were going to have a roast lunch at a local restaurant, because SM had won a Sunday meal there in a weekly radio competition. But when he rang up to book it a few days previously, it turned out they had a couple of functions on. So instead, we walked down to the Thomas De La Rue pub near the seafront, and had their double steak burger, containing bacon and cheese and served with fries, which is as delicious as it sounds. We had a Coke to drink with it.

We then went for a walk along the seafront road, where they were having a motor show, with lots of cars of all ages and designs, including classic models and very modern, flashy ones. We carried on after that along the breakwater, so we could have a look at the view in the harbour, before eventually walking back to SM’s flat. We were only out for a couple of hours, but I caught the sun a little bit – nothing too bad and not painful, but still noticeable.

We then went back to the flat to relax for the afternoon. There wasn’t much on TV, but there was Sounds Of The 70s on Radio 2, so I had that on. We then played Trivial Pursuit (which I won, amazingly), then I showed SM some videos I made. Before my computer had gone away, I had been working on a few videos for fun, playing about with iMovie – one being a slideshow of photos and video clips about SM set to music he likes, and a couple of trailers for the stag do, plus a compilation of SM and SP playing table tennis from my visit back in 2001 set to the Wimbledon theme. I didn’t show the clips on the stag day itself, as there wasn’t a convenient point to shoehorn them into proceedings. So I showed them to SM on Sunday instead, and he can show SP whenever he wishes. Which he will soon I expect, as he does like them. And talking of SP, he came round a bit later to pick up the chairs and poker stuff he’d left at the flat yesterday.

We then put the Chinese spare ribs in the oven. On SP’s advice, as he and SM had done them once before, they were to go on a low heat for a few hours, and be soaked in Coke too (yes, Coca-Cola – I’m not sure why!). We then took CH down to the harbour so he could get his ferry at 5pm (being a slow, evening ferry this time, he would get back just before midnight). Then SM and I went to Harvey’s Bar and had a couple of Orchard Gold ciders, before going back to the flat. We watched a bit of TV, then had the Chinese spare ribs, which were very nice, while watching Family Guy. We then had a Tesco own-brand mint cornetto each, which was also nice and pretty much the same as a regular Cornetto, while watching an episode of American Dad to finish the night.

Monday July 20, 2015

We didn’t feel like doing much today, so we relaxed in the flat, sharing the sausages and bacon from the breakfast pack we won on Friday. Neither of us like black pudding, so that went in the bin. We also had beans with it (the type which has little sausages in with it as well), and SM had an egg with his. So that was nice. We played some more on Smackdown in the afternoon, and had a mini Magnum to eat as well. Then we got the bus to the airport in the afternoon.

My flight was on time, and I got back to Exeter with no problem. I was able to get a bus from the airport – even though it only went to the bus station, I was happy to walk to Exeter St Davids train station, as it helped to kill the time before the next available train home, rather than me sitting at the station for ages. So, from the flight leaving at about 5:35pm, I got home at about 8:45pm, which is good going. I then had Southern Fried Chicken with potatoes and vegetables for tea, and caught up on a couple of TV shows I hadn’t watched while at SM’s (Humans and Cats Does Countdown).

I had a quick Skype chat with SM this evening as well, and he told me about TB having her hen night over in the UK on Friday night, as he’d had a catch-up chat with her after I’d left. One of her friends had contacted SM with a Mr & Mrs set of questions, so that they could compare TB’s answers with his, like they do on the game show. Some of their answers did match, and she had a good time overall. The only downside was that one of the girls had brought their 18-month old daughter with them, who was running around all day (literally until 2am). So that was rather strange for a hen night, but it didn’t ruin the day for TB, thankfully.

And that’s it. I’ve got tomorrow off work, so I can relax and take Mum shopping, as well as send SM the photos I took on his stag do. Then it’s back to normal. But it was a great weekend away, and it’s only 2 months before I go over again. I’ll be staying in a hotel then of course, and it’s going to be a life-changing weekend for SM. Until then, I’m going to try and get a new phone and get our builder to do the roof!

Tuesday August 25, 2015

I’m 32, another year gone! Our builder had promised to come round this month after I badgered him with a couple of emails but, unsurprisingly, he hasn’t. Partly the weather’s fault, admittedly, but it is frustrating that he also has trips away that keep taking up his time too. It is getting rather annoying now, this should have been done so long ago. I’m going to have to pester him again at the beginning of September. I’m hoping that if I keep at it, he’ll finally do it, even if it’s just to shut me up!

Still, that aside, things are ticking along nicely. The birthday present Mum paid for this year was a new phone. My old Nokia’s screen was getting increasingly covered in dead pixels, and now smartphones are becoming so good, it was high time I hopped on the bandwagon. So I went to the EE store in Exeter a couple of weekends ago and sorted everything out there with a lovely lady called Patrycja, or Pati for short (she’s Polish, though I didn’t realise that until she said, her English is very good).

Well, actually, that was the second weekend in a row I’d gone up there. The one before that, I also saw Pati in the store, and got to play with both a Samsung Galaxy Android phone and an iPhone 6 to see which I thought was best. It was very close to call, they’re both nice, but the iPhone won out – it looks great and is very easy to use, and of course the fact that it can sync with my Mac was a huge draw. But I couldn’t buy it at the time, because I couldn’t pass the credit check. I had to answer a few questions to prove I was genuine – confirming which bank I was with was easy, obviously, but I had no idea what their overdraft limit was! It was multiple choice, but I didn’t guess the right one.

When I went back the following weekend though, everything went fine. It took about 45 minutes to sort everything out, but it all went smoothly. I had my new passport with me for ID, which she took a copy of, and my bank statement to ensure I could answer the overdraft question. The final cost was £479.98 – I elected to pay more upfront to reduce the monthly cost, as I’ve switched from Pay As You Go on Orange to Pay Monthly on EE (who took over Orange). I got a £2.50 per month discount as well.

So, for a 2-year minimum term, I get 1000 minutes of calls, 2 GB of data and unlimited texts, for about £34.99 per month (that’s £25 for the line rental and £10 for insurance). I don’t make many calls, so the minutes won’t be an issue. And for the data, I use my wi-fi at home, so never use any of my allowance there, and I use little, if any, when out and about, nor would I watch lots of things like videos on it. So I doubt I’ll exceed that either. I can use it abroad too, which will be handy when I go to Guernsey, including next month.

Knowing I was getting an iPhone, I got the Missing Manuals book about it too, and spent a week going through that to get acquainted with it, which was very useful. It’s a great device, for sure – the accessibility’s great, being able to make the screen white on black as I like it, and being able to talk to Siri or dictate messages, though I’ve found I am comfortable with typing on the screen too. The camera’s brilliant quality as well, and I’ve been getting various apps for things like news and social media, as well as putting a bunch of my music on it. And it interacts with my Mac perfectly, it’s great being able to ping a file like a photo straight across using Airdrop. It does need charging regularly, but I can generally get 2 days out of it quite easily before I need to plug it in. It helps that I don’t use it in work of course, so I never have it on there – we never get a mobile signal, although I can get on the wi-fi there if I need to, I’ve tried that. So I’m very happy with it. The only downside was that it took them a week to transfer my old number over – was supposed to be 48 hours, but it seems Pati in the shop didn’t fully put the request in, so they could only put it into action when I rang customer services a few days later. But I’m all up and running now.

Apart from that, I got a couple of t-shirts from my Aunt & Uncle. And I exchanged some texts with my friend PK’s Mum and Dad, who are doing well, having commemorated the third anniversary of his passing recently – hard to believe it’s that long already!

I also spoke to SM of course. His wedding is just over 3 weeks away now, so TB went over this past weekend and they tied up various loose ends. And I’ve started putting my best man’s speech together. SP and I have got about 15 minutes between us, so it doesn’t need to be too long. I am nervous about it, and will be even more so on the day I’m sure, and it certainly won’t be anything amazing. But it is an honour to have such a position on his big day, so I’ll give it my best shot, he certainly deserves it. And I’ve been in touch with various people on Facebook, which has helped me gather a few little anecdotes and lots of messages for him (which I’m putting together in a video montage, as it won’t be practical to read them all out in the speech). So it should be a good day, I’m very much looking forward to 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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