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Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: Tough, Tumultuous, Semi-Successful and Quite A Lot Of Fun

Brexit.

Let's get it out of the way.  Don't worry, I won't spend much time talking politics, this blog is all about the self-defecating narcissism, after all.

I summed it up perfectly on the morning when I woke up.  A victory for lies.  A victory for xenophobia.  A victory for racism.  Or something like that.

This year has seen the general feel of the country, and the wider western world, turn against the values of freedom, liberty, tolerance and respect that I hold so dear.  It's almost acceptable to be racist once more.  It feels in a general context that nastiness has swept the nation, and the western hemisphere.

But despite Trump, Brexit, Le Pen, Putin, Assad, Orban, Grillo, Wilders, Erdogan, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and fucking Nigel Farage, there remains hope.  The general unpleasant atmosphere and rise of populist, nationalist and outright racist views makes it a tough outlook - but the world does continue to be a better place overall.

Less people dying in conflict, less dying from malnutrition, improvements in life expectancy, more countries democratising, vast improvements in technology, more young people in education, more women in education - you name it - there is a lot of good news around if you seek.  Let's just hope it doesn't get reversed through this period of unpleasant selfishness we have entered.

My year hasn't exactly been easy.  In fact it has been pretty damn tough at times.

It started with notice of redundancy.  Not that I cared about my job but I knew I wasn't ready to be a web developer.  Though I did care about my job, and worked with some wonderful people that could make me smile no matter how miserable the job, office...that fucking boiling hot office, and most of the customers were.  Oh sorry, did I ask you to pay on time?

Uncertainty ruled.  But sometimes worries and troubles can be a force for good, and I try to channel them as such.  I set myself a strict study plan, sometimes getting a little stressed if I hadn't done my hours - I remember being quite upset with myself when I left my Surface charger on the train to Hull, which meant I was not going to be able to do the required 6 hours of studying left on my weekly target.  I didn't know quite how insignificant this disaster was going to be compared with something that unfolded later in the year.

I don't really know how to broach that subject.  A handful of you know what I went through this year, most of you don't.  Well, assuming I have more than 6 readers of this post, it will be most.  Maybe I told a few more than 6 when drunk.  Someone very close to me contracted cancer.  I had the kind of blase semi-confident attitude that I normally do that everything would work out fine, as everything normally does work out fine.  But it wasn't as straight-forward as it should have been for someone fitter and arguably healthier than myself.

Of course, it did work out "fine" (still a shit outcome but much preferable than death), and 6 months later said person is pretty much back to normal.  But it could have been a very, very different outcome.  If you are reading, I hope I haven't said too much - let me know and I'll amend.

I remain lucky.  Others not so.  A few close friends have lost loved ones this year, and may I take this opportunity to say that my thoughts are with you.

Now, back to Brexit.

Only joking.  One thing it has made me realise is that I have to live my life and make effort to fulfill my dreams.  Although I knew that and things were in train anyway before the news.

You could say August was quite the month of upheaval, the cancer thing, moving house, moving city, changing job, changing career.  I was emotionally exhausted by time I went to Ibiza.

Which was fucking great.  I had the perfect person to go to Ibiza with in Martin, and the holiday was the perfect mix of messiness, sunshine, culture, beaches and looking at backsides.


It wasn't the only break away, as I also went to Bucharest in Romania with the ever-delightful Alena (Ali to you) which was a slight eye-opener being the poorest country that I had ever visited, by some way.  Even poorer than Hull - City Of Culture 2017.  Make sure you put Hull on your to-do list next year.

There were lots of good times during the year - roast dinners, birthdays, parties, occasional club nights or simple beers down the pub.  Thanks to everyone that joined me, from my sister, to Alena, Martin, Al, Rosa, Zag, JP, Ben, Karen, Elisa, Dave, Bod, Khristine, Ashley, Iain, Carrie, Tommy, Ellie, Swen, Shaun, Emma, Josie, Silvia, Michael, Ali...I'm asking for trouble aren't I as someone is going to turn around now and say "what about me?".  All of you, ok?  I love you all.  Even if you voted Brexit.

Many special events - being at Wembley to see Hull City AFC promoted again, going to watch the rugby league cup final with my dad - who insisted after the 5th or 6th defeat at Wembley that he would never live to see Hull FC win at Wembley.  We won.  Lord's with my Dad was pretty special too - we are in the ballot for this coming year.

I loved going to watch the Shakespeare in Reading - how many years was I threatening to go there?  I had a really nice day in the picturesque village of Bibury (the day after Brexit).  I had a lot of fun writing my roast dinner reviews, and sometimes eating the roast dinners - though I did get dumped by Get Reading early in the year.  Oh and definitely not forgetting my visit to Parliament - I have the best sister.

I'm struggling for my segue into moving to London.  I should have done it earlier.  Not just the segue but the actual move.  For 11 years I threatened to move to London.  And finally I did it - and wow was it super-exciting at first.  I had a whole week off where I didn't do any studying and I just enjoyed my freedom to walk around the parks and streets of London, just getting off on the buzz of the place.

And I moved to London for my first web developer role.  Which didn't work out.  Fantastic at first, actually coding for a living and having a grateful employer.  But that I didn't fully learn PHP/Wordpress in 2 months was my downfall (not that it was possible to do so).  I don't know whether to be grateful for the opportunity as I know so much more than I did back in August, or be pissed off that I didn't get the training and support that I expected.

So now I'm sat here in London in another tough situation.  No money coming in except benefits and I still don't know what housing benefit I'll get if any.  But it isn't just the financial side of unemployment, but the emotional side too - the loneliness mainly.

I definitely used to be lonely.  I'm not sure if I am now - I have created quite a character for myself so I can normally keep myself amused.  That said, if unemployment goes on too long, then sitting here every day by myself may drive me insane.  No, I'm totally normal right now.  Not even the tiniest loco.

It shouldn't go on too long.  I should get a job reasonably within the next couple of months but who knows?

It's been a strange year overall.  I could easily write it off as a shit year but that really gives prominence to the bad things that have happened, all of which were out of my control (has someone taken back control?!).

However I'd like to view it as a very imperfectly good year.  Sure, its been tough.  My beliefs have been shat on, I've fallen out of love with my country and I've gone through arguably the most difficult period of my adult life.

Yet there has been a lot of fun and more importantly, I have actually achieved.  I have moved to London.  I have changed career.  I escaped Bracknell.  The main items on my agenda have a big bloody tick next to them.

So, with a lot of buts, I have to conclude that this year has actually been a good year.  Mostly down to me - and partly down to you too.  Thanks x

Friday, December 09, 2016

Unemployment Begins

So I have just returned from job centre minus for the second time this week.

It was inspirational, invigorating, exciting, relevant and demeaning.

So inspirational that I have poured myself a beer.  Though I was going to do that anyway - I've had a tough, busy week.  More on that in a minute.  Plus it is listed in the conditions for jobseekers that I spend some of it on beer.

Last time I was made unemployed, it took me nearly two months to get around to applying for benefits as I was having too much fun.  This time I thought I would be organised and applied for it the next morning after losing my job.

I applied for it starting last Thursday, not realising that I was still employed until this Wednesday.  I found that out about 20 minutes after applying.

I didn't think much further, went down to job centre absolutely not fucking plus on Monday morning for my 9am appointment, the doors were closed until nearly 9:10am, waited for my appointment sat next to someone clearly angry, waited longer whilst he kicked off during his appointment when she questionned him about being unemployed for 13 years which is all due to him being discriminated against for being a rastafarian.

Only then to sit down and find that they cannot change the start date of my claim and I would have to submit a new application.

So I went home (30 minutes walk), tried to apply but it wouldn't start my application due to stored information in the browser.  Tried a different browser, same problem.  Bizarre.  Tried private browsing and was then told by the system that I cannot have jobseekers and must apply for Universal Credit.

I went through the Universal Credit screening process online and it said I was not eligible for it.  Couldn't apply for jobseekers either.

So then I called the number and eventually got through to someone after a long-winded menu system who then put me through to someone else who then tried to insist that I had to apply online.

A few minutes of polite, calm reasoning later and she was taking my application by phone which took 30 minutes.

Bored yet?

So today I went for my new appointment.  An hour interview, basically him filling out forms - though I did spend around 10-15 minutes trying to use this useless signing screen to detect my signature before it would finally accept it.

There was a moment of mild consternation when he asked what other jobs I would be looking for apart from web developer roles, and I replied "front-end developer, back-end developer, full-stack developer, Wordpress developer, Drupal developer..." - he insisted that I should spread my net wider and I negotiated at one extra role.  Credit control.  Which I of course will not be applying for any jobs for even though I could command a far higher salary than a junior web developer.

And then I came home.  With a bag of onions.

Government beaurocracy at its best.  Now I feel unemployed.  I feel part of the system.


There was one bright spot in that he suggested that it may be worth me going down the route of becoming self-employed, which is my eventual goal, but I would rather work for an agency for a few years before having my own agency.  And that there is a New Enterprise Allowance fund, similar to jobseekers, with a business mentor.  Which is good government.  And is my back-up plan if I am still unemployed in a few months.

I'm not sure I can cope with being unemployed for that long.  Last time was hard enough with redundancy money that I was happy to splurge and regular visits from semi or unemployed friends.  It is the being by myself thing.

This time I am acting as though I have a job.  I am treating Monday to Friday as a working week, with studying or coding websites roughly from 8am to 6pm every day, with a few breaks.  Granted I took a half day today - I am not amused that I am going to have to sign on every week instead of every fortnight as it was previously, with the amount of time and beaurocray that takes.

No update on jobs - nothing positive anyway.  The one I had a really tough Skype interview for last week I didn't get.  No surprise.  I've some bullshit conversations with a couple of agencies and applied for a total of 27 jobs online in total now, including some I have found on corporate career boards instead of the usual reed/indeed bollocks.  Some really damn cool companies.

More importantly, I have massively improved my portfolio - it looks much cleaner than what went before.  Still a few areas to be fixed but you can have a look seeing as you made it through the utter crap I wrote above.

Next up I am going to create a kind of agency site but with a very me kind of twist.  Not something at all sensible but something that might catch people's attention.

I have to say that I have had a lot more fun coding at home than I had towards the end of my job where I was just doing dull-as data entry.  But I do worry about the loneliness of being home alone all the time, nobody to have face to face interactions with except when I go to Sainsburys on a yellow sticker scavenger hunt at 9pm.  I am on a £25 a week budget so that rules out getting the tube to London even if someone is buying me a pint.

I shall try to spend more time exercising and DJing too - funnily enough the guy at job centre minus did suggest that I should try to get some DJ gigs.  Hmmm.

Until I have an income, it is heads down, crack on, study hard.  By myself.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Complaint: Cadburys & The Smaller Chocolate Bar Sizes

Dear Cadbury's

OK I'm overweight.  Not horrendously so but I am a good 10kg above the weight that one should be.

I don't eat a huge amount of chocolate.  My main issue is not doing any exercise - I refuse to go to the gym as I don't want people to think I am one of those gym types, and I never get laid as I only get fat matches on Tinder - and when I say fat, I mean phat fat.  I am sure that they are lovely girls but I have enough difficulties getting aroused at my age as it is (36).

Yet I note that you have stolen some of my chocolate bars yet again - this time taking 6g off a Cadbury Wispa.

Why do you think it is acceptable to make chocolate bars lighter in the same way that my drug dealer thinks that a gram should be 0.7 of a gram?  Being short-changed by my drug dealer is unacceptable.  Being short-changed by my chocolate dealer is also unacceptable.

In future, please simply put the price up.  I and most other chocheads can handle the idea that cocoa commodity prices have gone up.  We can understand exchange rate differences.

Just be honest with us and stop sneakily making our chocolate bars shorter.

By the way, the Daily Milk Oreo bar is a revelation in chocolate.

All the best
James


Thank you for contacting us about the Cadbury Dairy Milk range.

I was most concerned to learn of your disappointment with this product and that you feel the pack represents poor value for money.

Cadbury has long offered its chocolate in a range of sizes and shapes and these have regularly changed over the years. This particular change is driven by the need to keep our bars competitively priced in the face of rising ingredient costs which have been well documented recently. Some of our competitors have chosen to increase the price of their products, but we wanted to maintain a great price point for consumers and customers so have removed some weight to allow us to do that.

Whilst the price will remain the same, the move to reduce the size has meant that we are able to avoid raising our prices in light of the soaring cost of food and drink manufacturing in the UK.

We do feel that we are offering good value, in what is a particularly competitive market.

We very much value your feedback and would extend our thanks to you for taking the time and trouble to contact us.

Consumer Relations Team

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Ocado Complaint & My 425 Error

Hi Ocado

I have had a frustrating day today. Have you any idea how to fix a 425 error on an ftp server? No, neither have I.

Recently I undertook a project called Supermarket Slut. I became fed up of Sainsburys not being able to deliver chicken that lasted long enough through the week.

Chicken breasts are the one item that I require to last through the week - as they are for my salad for Monday to Friday and tend to go off. Other things being short-dated I can just about work around - as long as it isn't everything.

Anyway, I'm digressing. So I undertook the Supermarket Slut project, as I did feel very close to Sainsburys yet repeatedly let down. We've had some good chats over the years, especially when it comes to my scientific endeavours. I'm not sure that they believe that I am building a teleport machine but they play along anyway.

Maybe we will have some good conversations too, but maybe we won't, as both packs of chicken received today are only dated until Tuesday.

I am not happy.

This is the reason I stopped shopping with Sainsburys and gave all the other supermarkets a chance. Even Asda. Can you imagine?

Sainsburys actually came top in Supermarket Slut but you came a close joint second - and I like that you have a greater range of fish.

I would send you the spreadsheet but I think it's on my work computer.

Anyway. I hope you can understand my point in between the giblets.

Regards
James

ps If you can fix my 425 error then we will be good friends.

**********

Hi James!

Although I'm aware of and have used FTP servers, I'm afraid fixing a 425 error is beyond me!

Oh and the teleport machine certainly intrigues...

Anyway, on to the chicken, we display a life guarantee on the webshop for all the fresh items we sell. The number displayed relates to the number of days of use you can expect, including the delivery day. Our produce comes straight from our suppliers to our warehouse and then on to you. We don’t pick from stores, which means your shopping’s never been handled by other customers, or sat on the shelf for days before it gets to you.

We’re constantly working with our suppliers behind the scenes to get this information for you and to make sure that you get the freshest produce. We hope the life guarantee will help you plan your meals and help reduce food wastage, something that we’re very conscious of.

I’d certainly like to look into this for you; if you’d be so kind as to provide the use by date and product batch code (the batch code will appear as a series of numbers and letters or a date/time stamp, I’ll be able to investigate further.

Regardless, on this occasion I've refunded you for the chicken breasts and you'll receive an automated email to confirm this.

I hope this helps and if there is anything further I can assist you with, please do let me know and I'll personally be on hand to help :)

Kind regards,

Imz
Ocado Customer Service Team

P.S. Although I can't help you with the 425 error, I hope we can still be friends!

*********

Random picture of an old caravan because more people will click on the post.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Sainsburys Complaint & My Manly Chest


Dear Sainsburys

I am not sure whether you are aware but I am entering my manly torso-chest into a Sexy Torso competition shortly.

One of the many areas of advice that I have encountered is for colouring my torso to ensure I stand out to the judges.

To do so, I need to rub half an avocado onto my chest, particularly the nipple area, and let the oils soak in overnight.

However this week, my Sainsburys avocados were totally unacceptable.  I bought a packet of the ripen at home avocados, but they just went to a weird light green/light brown.  I did try to rub them into my chest once the skin appeared ripened but they didn't work - and I thought they smelt a bit odd too.

Please can you ensure that future avocados are more appropriate for rubbing into my manly torso - I really want to win this competition.

You may also be interested to know that I am growing a kind of chest moustache to cover my nipples.

Kind regards
James Winfield

******

Dear James

Thanks for taking the time to contact us.

It’s disappointing that the avocados you received were poor quality and unusable. I know that you need these avocados to prepare for your Sexy Torso competition so I can appreciate your concern that on this occasion they didn't work as intended. I'm sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

All our avocados comes to us from reputable suppliers. We insist on strict quality control procedures and temperature controls throughout all stages of storage, handling and display. This should ensure that it reaches you in perfect condition.

As this hasn't been the case, I've forwarded your comments to our quality managers. They in turn will let our suppliers know about this. I'd like to assure you that we constantly refer to customer feedback of this nature as part of ongoing reviews.

I’ve also sent you a £1.75 evoucher to cover the cost of your avocados. The voucher code is ****-****-****. This'll be sent to the email address on the account, is valid for two years and can be used on a future online shop.

We appreciate the time you've taken to let us know about this as we're committed to selling high quality products. I'd also like to take the opportunity to wish you all the best in your upcoming competition.

Kind regards

****** ******
Customer Manager
Sainsbury's Online

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Greetings From The Lonely Girl, Tatiana

I'm looking for a worthy partner for marriage and family formation.I sent a profile to the marriage agency in my city and the answer came to me with your email. I do not know anything about you except your email address. I've never acquainted with the men on the Internet.I would like us to make our acquaintance closer. I do not know what you like in woman, please tell me. I am educated, kind, and honest woman without bad habits.I want serious, intelligent and educated man beside me. I would like to exchange phone numbers with you to know each other better. I lead an active and healthy lifestyle. I like swimming and sport exercises.It gives me the energy for a better life. I'll write more if you answer me.I have a lot of photos and I can send them to you in the future. I will be happy to answer your questions, I hope to receive a letter from you. Tatiana!

***

Hi Tatiana

Thank you for your kind e-mail.

Unfortunately I spend too much of my time and money, on getting high and snorting as many drugs as possible, to be able to have children.

The two most important things in a woman to me are a good pair of breasts that I can snort drugs from, and also she needs to be kinky in bed - whips, handcuffs, nipple clamps - that kind of thing.

I think you are probably too boring for me.  I wish you all the best in your search for a husband.

Kind regards
James

****

Hello my new friend James! I'm very excited and very pleased that you have
written to me. I would like to tell you, about myself, about my
hobbies, about my life in general. I hope you will understand my
message. For you to get to know me better, I must say that my age is
38 years old, I a woman of average height (168 cm.) and the feminine
figure (60 kg). What are your height and weight? How can I call you? I
am talking about my family. I got quite a small but good family
experience. I believe my parents marriage ideal, and I want to build
such a strong and reliable relations in my future too. I got divorced.
I have a daughter. Her name is Nastya. She is 10 years old. I wanted
to build strong relationship, like my parents, but it was
unsuccessful. He started having problems with alcohol and he left our
family seven years ago, leaving me and daughter. I live in Samara. It
is a city on the Volga River in Russia. I work as a music teacher in a
kindergarten. My main hobby is my job. I like what I'm doing. I like
to work with children. I like to make holidays to children. And you
know, the children very much appreciate it. This is nice, and a little
hard to talk about myself. It nice because everyone is worried about
their words the interest that he likes or dislikes. But at the same
time is difficult, because the study of man, especially yourself, this
is a great way and great work. If you want to know more, please ask. I
will answer. Please tell me more about yourself and your hobbies. What
do you like to do? How do you spend your free time? Tell me about your
family. Send me your photos. I wait for your answer.

*************

As she clearly didn't read my e-mail I didn't correspond further.  Opportunity missed?

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Ibiza 2016 - My 13th Visit

Gosh is it really a week since I arrived back from the White Isle?  Or probably two weeks before I have finished writing this.

Myself and my very good friend, Martin, decided a few months back to go especially for Cocoon on 19th September with the massively exciting line-up of Guy Gerber, Dana Ruh, Sonja Moonear, Nina Kraviz, and Sven himself.

The preceding month was crazy.  A house and city move, with a new job and career, and something really serious going on that most of you don't know about (some really shit news, but all is kind of ok now).  I was very much ready for a holiday.  I needed a week relaxing in the sunshine.  I didn't need 5 nights in Ibiza.

Of course, I made it even more difficult for myself by firstly getting drunk on Thursday night, then having to DJ on Friday night in Reading, getting home at 7am on the day I was going to Ibiza.

I was also having questions about whether it would be my last trip to the island.  I had kind of fallen out of love with it the more that I had read about it over the previous year and all the problems that it has - crime, theft, Ushuaia, fun police, local councils, every other fun thing being banned or curtailed...this was quite a change from one year ago when I wanted to move there, as I have done for some time.

Travelling with someone who has access to the British Airways lounge was a definite bonus.  Free beer, free wine, free bacon sandwich, free chocolate brownie, free wine, free beer, free scones, more free wine - the flight itself was more civilised than Easynet though speaking to the stewardess she said it was the quietest for some time.  We may have accidentally broken the rule on not drinking the non-duty-free-duty-free on the plane.

We were staying in a hotel of which I was a little wary of as the pictures made it look a bit basic, despite being 3 stars, but it was perfect for the trip.  Well-staffed, safe with a mixture of European residents - this was Ibiza Town as opposed to the trashy San Antonio, after all.  And we had a view of a cliff.


The first night we just went out for some sangria and ended up suddenly rather pissed.  We stocked up on essentials (beer and chorizo mainly) and I managed to get a crazy 5 hours sleep.  In Ibiza! I actually slept every night, though only averaged 3-4 hours each night.

For the Sunday we just went straight out and got on the beer.  It's good to go on holiday with someone like-minded enough to not judge me for drinking at 9am, and happy to join in.  In fact we chose the same drinks, food etc quite an extraordinary amount of times.  Good taste.

I managed to get stung in one bar that miraculously had music playing during the day - €8 for a pint of beer.  Most places are less than London prices still, well most bars are anyway.  But there was a really hot Spanish girl working there and I was besotted for the 16th time already this holiday.

We trekked over to San Antonio to meet some mates later before heading back to the eastern side for Guy Gerber's Rumors night at Destino.

This was an excellent night, I do love outdoor venues, even ones as plush as Destino.  The music was excellent, crowd spot-on too and was probably the best night out that I've had for a couple of years.  I did a full review here.

We were rather pickled but happily so, and I do remember trying to read when we got back - my vision was so blurry, I spent about an hour after Martin had gone to bed trying to conjure up different ways to be able to read - even tried drinking water - eventually I gave up and got some sleep.

Not much sleep, mind.  We got straight back on it the next morning and was half-cut before going to find some lunch.

We both ordered the same meal, again, and a piece of salmon, one potato and a tiny portion of grilled vegetables arrived.  I was like "where is the rest of our meal?".  Neither of us finished it.

I made half an attempt to sober up before the evening as it was the big one - Cocoon.  We ended up unintentionally in a bar owned by two Germans because I needed a pee on the way, and befriended the couple working there - the guy had many a tale to tell of his clubbing days in Germany (I'm guessing he is nearly 50), stories about Sven running around off his nut in his wild days - I could have happily stayed for hours and listened.

We had some random tapas in the old town later, some good, some not so good - Galician style octopus?  I think not.  Then found the hippie quarter and the gay quarter - the barman was very welcoming to me in particular, wiggling his arse into my knee when serving drinks - I moved my knee back, he moved his arse back, I moved my knee back further, he moved his arse back further - I gave up and rolled my eyes.  Do I really look gay in green sequin shoes?

Apparently Cocoon isn't as fabulous any more so my shoes probably weren't so appropriate - Amnesia certainly isn't either - no ice cannons, distorting sound system, annoying crowd, dated feel, bar staff ripping people off (not us - they seemed to like us - maybe my improved Spanish helped).

Cocoon itself I have no complaints about - Dana Ruh and Sonja Moonear were particularly excellent if more on the side of techno than I was expecting.  Though by time Nina came on, most of the crowd were just there to film bits on their crappy phones - even before then someone was filming the night on their selfie stick.  Seriously.  Oh, what has happened?

I gave up around 5am so I could go have a piss without groups of Italians pushing past me (the stereotype still works).  Full review here.  Of Cocoon - not my piss.  New blog idea?

Does anyone remember ratemypoo.com?

Oh and I was fed up of the attention - I had way too much of it.  So glad that I'm not famous.  I might have to tie my mullet up next time I go clubbing.  Male and female attention - I'm not sure if they were taking the piss.

Tuesday was a later start but ended up being another day of drinking - que surprise.  It actually rained too - there was quite the thunderstorm in San Antonio with some flooding, so we were told by the hot taxi driver on the last day.  Yes - Ibiza even has sexy as senorita taxi drivers.

Being English, we walked in the rain in our shorts and flip-flops - I considered singing some football songs too but that may have confused my holiday companion.

It was apparently the first time that it had rained in 4 months so clearly I was a good luck charm.

By this point we were trying to be more cultural so found a few tapas bar recommendations - the first one we went into was utterly confusing.  There seemed to be no system with people milling around, no front of house, no queue - people randomly taking food from the bar.

Everyone seemed to be Spanish but then we heard two scousers so we quickly hotfooted it to a tapas bar with more logic to it - again where almost all customers were speaking Spanish - the menu was written on the wall - in Spanish.

By way the, to my many Saudi Arabian readers, you may want to note that one of your royal family's rather grand and humongous yachts was in town.  I highly doubt they were here on business - unless they are considering buying a nightclub.

Back to tapas, I chose a few things that I understood and the plates came over at typically Spanish times - some straight away, one about 2 hours later.  We had some absolutely sensational patatas bravas (although not quite 'bravas'), some pimientos (type of peppers) - very nice but very salty and a massive bowl of them.  Then we had some kind of special Eivissa pork dish - pretty sensational.  Hmmm, what else did we have?

Easily the best tapas I have had for a couple of years and a proper tapas experience.

We were going to have an early night so we could go to Formentera the next day, catching the early boat.  But we decided upon a final beer at the German bar and got talking to his friend from Whitby - next thing we knew it was 3am closing and we had a fair-sized drinks bill to pay.

I actually got a record 5 hours sleep.

Somehow I managed to persuade my fellow genius to get out of bed in time to get the last boat to Formentera which was interesting on a hangover - I couldn't drink any desperately needed water for it was going up and down inside as the boat crashed over the waves.


30 minutes later I breathed a sigh of relief that last night's alcohol hadn't reappeared.  We went to the nearest restaurant and had the most amazing fish and chips - I have no idea what the fish was, something local I think, and it was just truly beautiful.  It came with "triple-cooked chips" - wannabe hipster bars need to learn what "triple-cooked" really means for these were amazing.  Granted they were probably cooked 30 times.  So, so good.



Then we laid on the beach.  I stared at topless Spanish women.  Nearby Russians stared at me with a mixture of confusion and disgust.  I stared at more topless Spanish women. And I went in the sea - warmer than the North Sea.


It was nice to actually lay down and relax.  Something I very, very rarely do.  And the beach at Formentera just seemed so isolated and remote - nice to get away from the over-hyped Ibiza beaches.  It just felt more natural.

In the evening we did something that I've never done which was to climb to the top of D'alt Vila - the absolutely beautiful fort which most will recognise from having flown over it, if they haven't actually been.




Quite a wonderful building which is actually a UNESCO world heritage site - neither the museum or cathedral were open but it was still wonderful to wall around and be within its confines.


The evening then finished with quite an excellent pizza and another vodka or three in our German bar and that was the holiday done.  I was utterly stuffed and fairly ready to come home and get on with my life.


There was no week of mourning following, no long comedown - I was fit and ready to go by Friday - Ibiza certainly didn't destroy me.

And I fell back in love with the island again.  OK a lot of that had to do with the amazingly beautiful women over there - especially the Spanish.  But also the gorgeous food that we ate - the beaches, the sea, the weather (especially the rain) - there is just something about that island.

I want to go back.  I have re-found my desire to live there, although I appreciate that the desire may not be so attainable on a limited island suffering housing and water shortages - unless I can run a business and employ a couple of Ibicencos to balance out my impact on the island - and somehow assist environmentally.

Maybe I should just buy a £30k apartment in Alicante?  They have hot Spanish women there, surely?

I doubt I will go back next year.  I spent £765 in 5 days - not helped by forgetting to sort out foreign exchange before I went, and certainly not helped by Brexit - you fucking selfish bastards "oh we've got our control back".  Yadda yadda.  Did you not think about my Ibiza holiday?  Plus the hotel was around £200, and fights £220.

If I do go for a clubbing holiday next year then it will be somewhere financially Brexit-friendly like the exceptionally good-value Sunwaves in Romania.

I'd still like to do Detroit's Movement festival, BPM in Mexico, and go clubbing in Beirut.  I really would like to get turned away from Berghain properly.  Maybe even go to Croatia too.

And there are loads of places that I'd like to visit without clubbing - which I may have to settle for next year with my current financial situation, being in a junior role in a new career.

Ibiza is slowly losing its magic and its soul as the Ushuiaisation of the island continues. The closing of Space is another downward step, the seeming removal of ice cannons at Amnesia - the pressure that the clubs are under from the central government, police, local councils and residents, mean that it may not be the central clubbing island at some point in the future - at least for underground sounds.

That said, there is still enough to interest me - Underground, DC10, Destino, Pike's - maybe I'd even give Pacha another try now I'm older! I'm sure I've missed somewhere obvious off too.  Don't even suggest Bora Bora - stuck in a 2004 timewarp and living off its name with super-expensive drinks and moody-as-fuck staff.  What an awful place that is.

And the people over there do make the island what it is - I'd love to go in spring when everything is quiet and peaceful, the almond blossom is out, clubbing is limited but possible.

Ibiza has long accepted the outcasts of various societies, from Vietnam war draft-dodgers, to those escaping Franco - rumours have it that some Nazi generals made their way over there to excuse punishment many decades ago.  I'm hoping that the "Refugees Welcome" sign that I saw, includes an invitation to myself to escape the horror that the United Kingdom threatens to be post-Brexit.


I will be back, but not next year.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hello Harrow

I've finally done it.  I have moved to London.  Harrow to be exact.  Well, to be more exact, Rayner's Lane - or that is the closest tube station anyway, at just 6 minutes walk from my house.

Chosen for convenience of location above any other factor, it is just 35 minutes, door to door, to Baker Street, and 45 minutes, door to door, to work, in Amersham.  Rayner's Lane has the added advantage of not only being on the AIR CONDITIONED Metropolitan line, but also on the Piccadilly line.

Sure the area isn't cool or edgy like Dalston, Peckham or Hackney are (or Shoreditch used to be) - it is generally quite suburban with the odd rough edge.  There are only two pubs - one is a Wetherspoons, the other a quite rough looking Irish pub - apparently the best gaa pub in town, whatever one of those might be.

One of the first selling points was the street where the house was, all white-painted fake-Georgian style houses, terraced into groups of 6 or so houses, trees on the street, manicured gardens, driveways - all very pretty and welcoming.  Like England is supposed to be.  Pretty much the opposite to where I lived in Bracknell.


Just around the corner, is the main high street, complete with tube station, a Sainsburys local, an Iceland for when I have the desire to eat anti-food, a Romanian shop with hotties and occasional house music playing (no minimal, yet), a determinedly disappointing Tesco Express, a handful of chicken shops, a fish restaurant that might be good, 27 other local supermarkets/off licenses in a row and a variety of Indian-themed places, such as the Indian wedding shop.

And a special mention to the cake shop who told me off for photographing their cakes.  I am delighted that you have put me off from eating buying any as a lot of pounds could have been lost, and kilograms gained.


The area has a very mixed ethnicity as you may imagine.  Predominantly asian, particularly Indian, but a mix of white, black, English, Romanian, Polish all featuring quite highly in the mix of cultures too.

No hipsters, there are very few beards, no unicyclists - in fact, hardly any cyclists despite the provision of actual cycle paths.  They also have outdoor gym equipment in the area.  No I haven't used it.

I was quite pleased the other day to note that there is a cricket ground very close to my house.  A really thumping 6 might even reach my garden.  In fact it is a sports ground but I may well end up watching the odd game there next season, all being well.  They have tables with alcohol-sponsored umbrellas so I hope that means that they also sell alcohol.


Further away from my house, within walking distance, is a Waitrose.  In the opposite direction, a shopping street that Bracknell would be proud of - Argos, Poundland, Primark - everything.  Though as I was walking back through the tunnels under the overpass, and I noted that they had a TV screen before this ugly barbaric 1950's tunnel structure.  I wondered why - it is a view of the other end of the tunnel.  Slightly disconcerting.

Parks are close by, trees are aplenty in the area, and some areas of Harrow are very nice indeed - I haven't ventured to them yet but my landlady did show me on her guided tour that she gave me.  Harrow boys school looks posh, and some of that area looks like a quintessential English market town.

I live in a 3-bedroom house with just the landlady (currently).  The front garden is just a drive, the back garden is mud - to the back of that is the Piccadilly line - quite comforting to hear tube trains, unless one has had to leave the windows open overnight - they are quite a wake-up call.

The house certainly could do with some modernisation in places, and a few little repairs, but it is perfectly imperfect for me - I could have moved into an ultra-modern place that I looked at but I just felt that I would be stepping on eggshells a lot there.


The best part is my bedroom.  Lots of space, a large wardrobe, under-bed space - everything I own, and I own a lot of shit, fits in.


I can see myself being happy here.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Goodbye Bracknell. And Thank You?

It was with excitement that I left Bracknell.  I'm not entirely sure whether I was more excited about leaving Bracknell or moving to London.

The house I lived in wasn't the best.  6 people crammed into a terraced house, thin walls and fire doors, people that would leave washing up for weeks and deny it being them, things that would break - I did live with some decent guys though so it wasn't all bad.  But the amount of times those fucking doors would bang at night when I was trying to sleep.  Not to mention the cat next door that tried to stare me out at the beginning.


There were almost no hot women anywhere.  Whenever I saw someone attractive I really had to double take.  In fact, much of Bracknell is fairly ugly - I say much as not all and I will qualify that later.  I could be snobbish about some of the layabout whales I'd see but I should try not to, I'm not exactly Mr Thin.

There were no pubs worth visiting and almost no culinary scene.  Some of the roast dinners I had there were abominable, others average at best.  At work we tried to find somewhere nice to go for lunch on occasion - nowhere, even in the posh nearby villages was good.  Though Blue's Smokehouse, which I went to on my last weekend was excellent - miles better than the BBQ place in Reading.


Culture was non-existent.  Almost.  There is an arts centre in very nice grounds, but the offerings were fairly unspectacular from what I saw.  Certainly nothing ground-breaking or edgy.

They are actually trying to do Bracknell up.  The centre does look less shit and once the shopping centre is finished with all the predictable shops and restaurants that it will offer, it will at least have something there.

It was at least just a 20 minute walk to work.  And there were nice places to go for a walk nearby.  Despite all the cheap 1950's council housing, Bracknell had loads of parks, lots of greenery, lots of trees - I wish I had had the foresight at the beginning to do a photo album - Bracknell: Beauty And The Beast.

One of the things that pissed me off most was the connection to London.  1 hour and 10 minutes on the stopping everywhere train, after a 30 minute walk from my house - so nearly 2 hours to Waterloo - rarely my final destination.  And not forgetting the amount of times the trains were cancelled or delayed.  The connectivity of Bracknell by rail was poor - dreadful, in fact, when compared to Reading.  Even Reading would take an hour to get to including the walk from my house.  And the last train was something shockingly early like 11pm from Reading (later from London) - I certainly did not trust the last train to actually run.

So nights out in Reading were often curtailed.  But this brought an advantage in that I did manage much more studying on a weekend than could have been the case otherwise.

And that was the point of living in Bracknell - to cut out the commute, and spend more time studying during the weekdays.  It worked.


And for that I thank Bracknell.  Begrudgingly.  It wasn't as bad an experience as I expected.

But it was crap.  Time to live again.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Goodbye Easynet/Interoute/MDNX/Solution 1/Viatel/Griffin/Iconnyx/Telecomplete/Fused/Man Bytes Dog/Allurian...

I'm starting my new job tomorrow, not only my new job but my new career - the one I have been striving for for a few years, especially the last two.

Joining MDNX (as it was then known - of which I only twice mistakenly used the somewhat more illustrious similar 4 letters) was not something I strived for.

Going back in time, ooh 10 years ago, I had joined Verizon as a Debt Recovery Analyst.  I absolutely smashed it in the first year, becoming one of the very few members of staff to achieve the highest rating.

My business studies degree was coming in useful (I was still actively studying for it), I was focused, enthusiastic - getting great support and encouragement from an excellent manager, who left me alone to do my job.  I was smashing all of my targets by miles - and millions.

Then a team leader job came up for it.  I didn't have the confidence in myself to go for it, plus it 'required' foreign languages.  So I didn't apply.  And a witch became my manager.

Work became hell.

Eventually she was managed out, but not before I had totally lost motivation and interest.  I did get back into it, but never quite on the same level of enthusiasm - I had seen how absolutely useless a large corporation could be, and how uncaring one could be towards their staff.

Eventually I moved on - a promotion - to the commissions team.  Which was dreadful.  Managed by a lesser-witch and a sly champagne socialist, there was nothing to do for the first two weeks but read terms and conditions and I knew on the first morning that I hated it.  I wanted to leave immediately.

Spending all day staring at a spreadsheet with 900 rows and 2000 columns trying to find something that might be out of place, for 2-3 days, then having next to nothing to do all month was not my idea of work.  I was miserable and hated every day.

I succeeding in being made redundant - and successfully spent all my money having fun.  Which led me to having to find a job.  MDNX came along - they found me - I didn't really want to work in Bracknell.  I absolutely did not want to work in Bracknell.  But the redundancy money had run out and I had no option but to take it.

I nearly walked out a few times in the first three months.  Boy was it hard sitting in a hot office, going back to credit control, after 6 months chilling and partying.  I actually had a decent manager, but for one aspect - she was a micro-manager.  And I had plenty of credit control experience.  I bit my tongue as she was a good soul, and had given me a chance to get back onto my feet.

But I was bored in the job, I had little interest in it, not enough work and couldn't stand Bracknell.  Not to mention that it reached 31'C in the summer in the office.  It was further encouragement towards studying - though by time I reached the weekend I just wanted to get drunk.

Once she left, things changed drastically.  A much more chilled out manager was employed (I may have had a sneaky word with the financial controller suggesting that it would be encouraging to work for a company that employed from within - I knew we'd get on) and we took over a shambles of a company - it was to be my job to sort out the mess.

Finally - a challenge!  I still didn't want to do credit control but I had something to get stuck into.  And holy crap it was horrendous.  In terms of credit control I have never seen anything such a mess, so many problems, so many customers complaining and shouting (and that was before I got stuck in) - not to mention MDNX caused a fair few issues of their own during the migration.

It was a disaster.  But something I could fix.  Ideally it needed 3 people to work on it to recover as much debt as possible.  For a while, there was just me.  Though thankfully they eventually employed a temp.

I saw the company grow hugely whilst I was there.  From 120 staff when I started, to I guess, 900 before we were bought by Interoute.  I didn't particularly grow.  I matured further.  I stopped coming in on just 2 hours sleep on a Friday after going out.  But I was going nowhere and after 2 years, I realised this.  Which was when I set my 10 hours a week target for studying - I had to get out of credit control.

Credit control can be a real misery.  Rarely do you get the opportunity to make anyone happy other than the financial controller.  I almost always reached my target.  I achieved as much as possible within the time constraints.  At one point I was receiving and answering nearly 150 e-mails a day.

But day after day you get shit thrown at you.  Customers call to shout, account managers have a go, sales managers, directors - nobody likes the credit controller.  I had to harass not only customers, but staff members that couldn't be arsed to do their job.  It is quite a negative experience at times, you really do have to have broad shoulders.

I always followed procedures and was never afraid to suspend customers if they didn't pay.  Which always seemed to surprise them.  Day after day I was having arguments with customers about various aspects of our terms and conditions that they didn't like, day after day I was having to make decisions which were difficult.  Most days I would take at least some abuse.

Examples?  Of course, I have examples:

This guy is a disgrace to your organisation and I now want to raise an official complaint about him… this guy seems intent on destroying any relationships you have.
 
Forgive my brevity, for whatever reason James has personality traits that would offend anyone, on and off for a long time now we find ourselves dealing with him and his disgusting approach to interacting with us.
 
Your ridiculously heavy handed approach to arbitrarily disconnecting completely unrelated customers is totally unprofessional.
 
You have completely disrespected us, and our customers and let yourselves down in the process.
 
I have unfortunately to make an official complaint into the way our account has been handled and obstructive and inflexible attitude of James in this matter.
 
No need to apologise for the manner in which you speak to my accounts team or finance manager (even when you were in the wrong), for the border line rude way in which you construct an email (even when you were in the wrong), or for not investigating our request for a credit properly in the first place (even when you were in the wrong).
 
It is a shame that provisioning issues are not addressed with the same aggression and lack of manners that James delivers his emails with.
 
I reiterate my point yesterday, this is very heavy handed credit control and I'd like this noted to your line manager.
 
Please do not send condescending emails of this nature. We are your customer.
 
This doesn't address the attitude and level of service we receive from James Winfield. At no point has James or anyone else apologised for this ! Also as usual the confusion is down to invoices in dispute - again . I don't see why we should have to deal with someone who is incompetent and rude !
 
There is a massive difference between robust and rude ! We pay every correct invoice on time – CORRECT INVOICE.
 
Also apparently it is not just ourselves that have complained about your terrible attitude – maybe something worth thinking about.
 
Can you NOT get through your thick head.....we are not paying until correct bills are received...get life guys...sort this stupid mess out.
 
I have now rung you four times and left four answer machine messages, I find you very rude in not replying or responding.
 
YOU IGNORANT ARSEHOLE. You haven't replied to call or e-mails so stop sending me this fucking rubbish. You're added to blocked senders.
 
Could you please confirm that this James Winfield exists.
 
Please give me the head of your departments name and email. How dare you sent me such rude and un professional emails.
 
I feel you are being extremely rude to me.
 
A happy new year to you however, it is the first proper working day of the year and you have managed to be totally incompetent!!
 
If you recall I do not want to deal with James and you took an undertaking that you would be dealing with this yourself!!!
 
I have also checked our bank account and funds you are claiming have been sent by our bank to yours, so STOP MOANING…..and get some life your end. Don’t you better things to do?....go and mess up someone else’s account.
 
Both are incredibly rude and unhelpful (even getting the name of a manager for example was especially painful!) – neither of them in my opinion has any customer service skills.
 
I have just received a further communication from James Winfield, as stated several times we no longer wish to deal with James Winfield and ask that a new credit manager is assigned to our account – please confirm this by return and I will go ahead and process the payment as above.  
 
I think this is absolutely disgusting to send us a disconnection notice without checking the account.
 
Well then we will put no further business your ways. Your attitude to us is not acceptable.
 
Once again issues with James Winfield. I am fed up of his incompetence and attitude in the way he communicates. He needs stop rubbing people up the wrong way .
 
I am going to escalate this further with your company and will be putting a complaint into your superiors about you and your heavy handed approach.
We have been a long standing customer of yours and our account is always settled in full, so I do not appreciate this poor level of customer service from you.
 
I will be writing to your directors informing them of your lack of understanding and arrogant attitude, which in part has instigated us moving VITAL user service away from Easynet.
 
I find the way you deal with your customers nothing short of disgusting.
 
I repeat I do not want any contact from James Winfield.
 
As expected form you, complete rudeness. You really should get a job you enjoy and be happy in life.

***

It is, after all, a game.  Customers try to keep their money as long as possible, I am trying to ensure that we receive it as soon as possible.  Each party is trying to maximise their cash-flow.

Receiving abuse is simply part of it - I even had threats of violence on occasion.  Sadly none in writing!  Didn't quite make it to a death threat though.

Have I mentioned how hot the office was yet?

It wasn't all bad.  I worked with some truly wonderful people.  I have little idea why I commuted to Bracknell for 3 years, and then even bloody moved there, other than I was actually happy working with the people I did.  I met some rather special people there and have made at least a couple of lifelong friends, if not more.

And I wasn't the only person to think this.  Time after time, people said that what kept them there was "the people".  Namely myself, of course.  People stayed to admire my hair and in anticipation that I would eventually wear my shiny green meggings.



Which I did.  On my last day.  Though the sequin shoes also got a day out, not to mention that I did turn up in shorts once when I became super pissed-off with the office temperature.

And I could listen to music all day.  Which is a massive bonus.

Though it was the conversations with some pretty special people - along with some great laughs that we had there that will mean that I will somehow always have fond memories.

I worked very hard in that last year to progress my understanding of code, make some websites, design and implement my portfolio, and then eventually get the job of my dreams, which I start tomorrow.

Goodbye Easynet and thank you - I think.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

James Went To Watch Shakespeare



Believe it or not, I’ve wanted to go to the outdoor Shakespeare for years (and I've meant to write this blog for a few weeks).  A good 12 or so years, since it used to be in the gorgeous Abbey Ruins.  You do know about the Abbey Ruins, don’t you?

When I was at university, I did actually go see a lesbian-infused outdoor production of Romeo & Juliet.

And then I didn’t go to the theatre for 18 years, until earlier this year.

Partly because partying took over my life and wallet, but also because I had nobody to go with.  Granted I didn’t ask many of my friends whether they were interested in going to watch Shakespeare.  But I fairly recently discovered that my closest advisor has a real interest in culture.

I took the wise decision to read the play before going to see it, and also to read about the play.  As charming as it may be to sit in the beautiful Caversham Court Gardens for 3 hours on a summer evening, I wanted to understand what was going on.

The play itself was pretty much faithful to Shakespeare’s musings, bar Egeus, Hermia’s father who was actually a woman.  The language is captivatingly poetic to read and this often came across by the actors and actresses.

In brief, the story is about Hermia and Lysander’s love which is not approved of by Egeus.  He wants Hermia to marry Demetrius.  Hermia’s best friend, Helena is in love with Demetrius.  In the first scene, The Duke Of Athens, Theseus, threatens either death or a life as a virgin to Hermia, should she not follow her father’s desire and marry Demetrius.

Lysander and Hermia run off to the forest, followed by Helena and also Demetrius.  The wonderful and slightly camp, Puck, was supposed to pour magic potion onto Demetrius’s eyes so that he would wake up and fall in love with Helena.  Instead he put it on the eyes of Lysander who then fell in love with Helena – who thought he was taking the piss out of her.

(Photo from rehearsal - not the actual play). 

Later it gets corrected, Demetrius falls in love with Helena (it takes her a while to believe it), Egeus kind of approves of Lysander and Hermia’s love and they all get married whilst a fairly shambolic, but fantastically so, play, is performed for the duke, by a variety of Athenian worksmen.

That is the story in brief – it has fairies wandering around at times (stealing crisps and drinks from the crowd before the play), and is rather enchanting, engaging and humorous at times, particularly the part of Bottom – who so ironically named, was having a dump in the portaloo next to me later on.

Some people were perfect for their parts, particularly him and Puck.  Theseus was grand, sadly Hermia was screechingly annoying all the way through.  Helena was excellent, able to communicate a varied array of emotions – quite the comparison to Hermia.

I didn’t quite get the point of the fairy dancing interludes to modern music.

It was well catered for, cold beers were on sale as were a selection of cakes.  Enough toilets, and just about enough space to sit down with our blanket.  The crowd were well-behaved – even the young children sat there attentively.

I did manage to get told off for walking on the grass slope instead of the paved steps to get to the bar.  Naughty me.

It was one of the highlights of my summer and I topped it off with a cultural visit to the local kebab van.  I'll definitely be watching Shakespeare before I next visit a kebab van.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

I Have A New Job!

Ohhhh you don't realise just how much I have wanted to tell everyone this.  But I haven't been able to say anything until now.  A whole week I've had to keep quiet - well bar a few of you.

Remember the job interview I went for in Amersham about 6 weeks ago?

I went to meet them last week, in a pub, of course, and they offered me the job.


This is my dream job.  This is what I have been working towards for the past few years - particularly the last 2 years.  This is why I have sacrificed so many good nights out - and why I moved to Bracknell to be able to study more.  I've spent a whole year in a soulless place, with almost zero attractive women, a total pain in the arse to get to London from - just so I could achieve my dream.

And I've done it.

I will be a junior web developer.  For a small up-and-coming digital agency.  The perfect job in the perfect company - I wanted to work for a digital agency - it isn't super-cool Hoxtonish so I won't be overawed by geeky coolness, and with it being new, I'd like to think there is the opportunity to really make my mark, and help the company grow too.

It isn't going to be easy.  I'll be going from a job that I can do with my eyes closed, to one where I will permanently be challenged.  I'll actually be using my brain.  Hopefully my creativity too.

I will need to learn PHP quick sharp.

I am having to take a pay cut.  I was expecting this, and the salary is definitely fair for the role.

The job being in Amersham means I will have to live in London.  Well, I don't HAVE to, but I want to.  Really, really want to!

Not that I will have any money to go out with until I have proved my worth, maybe bar the odd pint or two.

There is one massive BUT - they don't have air conditioning.  Surely it cannot be as hot as my current office - and I do get to wear whatever I like.  So if it is hot, I can wear my hotpants.

I am also going to have to train myself out of making animal noises.  And I am going to have to learn how to work without minimal techno, though they are much more relaxed than the average corporation so I'm sure they'll be fine with my earphones in in due course.  I think they have an office radio too - which does strike some fear into me.

My priority now, as of this weekend is to try to find a room.  The plan is to find somewhere near Harrow/Wembley - 45 minutes to work, 20 minutes to London.  I've looked through 413 job adverts and have found 33 possibles - just need to book in some viewings.

I'd really like to spend the weekend celebrating, and I have 3 different invites that I'd dearly like to attend, but alas, house hunting it is.

So 11 years after I first threatened it, I'm moving to London.

And the question you are all wondering - yes, Roast Dinners Around Reading will come to an end, possibly a gory end - do I kill him off, or leave people wondering?  Hmmmm.

Though I might replace it with Roast Dinner Adventures In London - merging culture/fun and roast dinners.

I am super excited about the future - how weird will it be to wake up excited to go to work?

Oh yeah, there will be a leaving roast dinner - probably 4th September.