It’s my birthday, it’s my birthday, go me, go me!

I’m up in Milton Keynes, with the Balls. Last night was enjoyable spent slaying a bottle of homemade sloe gin and today we go forth to snowboard and tonight we feast!

Presents so far include: Derren Brown’s ‘Tricks of the Mind’, ‘Blackadder’ DVD collection, ‘A Scanner Darkly’ and ‘The Black Dahlia’ DVDs, a bottle of sloe gin of my very own and the complete works of Mozart on CD. And in March I get to pick up my mum’s main present, a snowboard, including binding, bag and edge sharpening kit. So, phat lewt indeed!

And only four days until Conception!

But first, the weather…

Snow!
Then panic, chaos, delayed and canceled trains, people bundled up like Nanuk of the North (minus the yellow snow) and advice to “stay at home unless absolutely necessary”.
Closely followed by melting of said snow, and knock on effects on the transport connections caused by said few flakes.
Same as every year.

But anyway!

Last weekend was the birthday celebration of Ibis and there were gamers amundo! The festivities began, from my perspective, on Friday evening when Penny and I went to eat curry in Reading with those of Alison’s guests who had arrived a day early at the hotel. Oh, and Alison was there too, which was a relief. This did mean that Penny and Alison have finally managed to meet after all this time.
The curry was good, the company was good and it was nice to meet at least some of the people before actually engaging in freeform roleplay with them and their 25 or so friends.

What is freeform roleplay? Well, it’s like LARP but without the rubber swords. Hmm.. Not quite doing it justice. Tabletop roleplaying without the table. Or the dice. Or a great many rules. And with more GMs. And costumes. How about improvisational acting but with a prose character sheet and objectives? I think you get the idea.

The freeform in question was held at the excellently appropriate venue of and was excellently organised by . This being my very first freeform roleplay I was fairly nervous to begin with, especially as I didn’t know the vast majority of the guests. But all were friendly and I was eased in gently, playing the Lord Sandberg, a cunning manipulator of the political scene. Or at least he would have been if I hadn’t been about half a plotline behind everyone else. I’m afraid I didn’t do Lord Sandberg sufficient justice, but I certainly had fun trying to influence the leadership contest of the Conservative party. And thereby miss an entirely different plotline (or three) of occult goings on.

A lot of people had put a spectacular amount of effort into their costumes and really looked great. I wussed out and stuck with the tuxedo rather than hiring/buying a whole outfit.

The dinner and speeches after the gaming event were great, particularly Alison’s half hour speech in which she spoke about everyone present, which was a nice touch. And then some very nice people gave me a lift home at the end of the night.

Happy Birthday Ibis and thanks, I enjoyed celebrating with you and your friends.

These bi-monthly updates are getting quite tiresome, especially as they seem to be becoming a habit. It’s difficult to blog at work and I tend to get distracted blogging at home. Must try harder!

So, Bryce already covered and the return to . It’s a shame the service wasn’t great at the end as I know it’ll put people off the restaurant. There’ll always tend to be a tendency of “Well, the food was good, but the service wasn’t so hot. Let’s try somewhere else…”
Incidentally, according to Wikipedia, Lalibela is “ is one of modern Ethiopia’s holiest cities”.

Work is going okay. I’ve decided to stick to the job I was hired for rather than moving to more ‘exciting’ areas. I almost shocked myself how easy the decision was in the end. How things change…

Last week, of course was and Penny and I carved pumpkins. Much fun indeed and photos in the link.

Last night was the , which wasn’t bad. However, and I do hate to say this, the firework display in Aldershot was better…
I took some and some , allowing me to mess about with .

Next weekend? The .

And in the meantime, this month is National Novel Writing Month, to it’s friends, and I am taking part this year. The goal? Fifty thousand words in one month. And I’m already behind…

It’s not every day that your ancient past comes back to revisit you. My best friend, while I still lived in Germany, was a guy called Thorsten; this is about 20 years ago now and we fell out of contact about 10 years ago. No particular reason, just distance and time really.

However very recently I got a phone call, completely out of the blue, from his girlfriend who, in an elaborate quest of cyber-sleuthing had managed to track me down and get my landline number from directory enquiries. (Aside: No matter how glad I am that I was contacted, it does show me that I need to be more careful with my private details). It turns out it as recently been Thorsten’s 30th birthday. His present was to be a trip to London and his surprise was to be meeting up with me.

And it all worked out. I was nervous beforehand of course. We hadn’t been in contact for so very long and people change. Would this be doomed meet-up where we wouldn’t know what to say to each other after half an hour of reminiscing?

As it turns out, my fears were groundless. We had a good evening, and not just spent reminiscing. I’m sure I probably came over as some kind of cynical lush, but they appear to have been the forgiving type.

So there you go. Sometimes the past comes a-knocking and now and then it’s not at all bad.

What a weekend! First off, for the impatient, the photos are here.

I’ll have to summarise this in bullet points as far to much happened for extensive prose!

Friday

  • The actual day of my and a day off work for me. Hurrah!
  • Presents! An antique-style wall clock from my mum and, rather excellently, the Anansi Boys audiobook, as read by Lenny Henry. Result!
  • Into Guildford for some exploring
  • Off to Craggy Island again for some climbing (once the test had been passed). Some traversing, some top-rope graded climbs and some bouldering. I had to borrow a harness because, oh horror of horrors, I’m not the svelte 25-year old I once was and my harness no longer fits! It seems I ate all the pies.
  • Dinner at , an oriental restaurant. A miso soup for starter and an excellent Mongolian chicken dish for the main course, all in view of
  • Snow! I win!

Saturday

  • A gentle start to the day
  • Saw on the train to London! Who knew how far Penny’s organisational skills ran! Certainly much better than my ‘appear suave and cool while talking to celebrities’ skill as all I managed was a “Hi” and a bit of a smirk, which was rewarded by a fairly dismissive smile. But at least there was an element of communication there, or so I’d like to kid myself
  • Got to at 14:30. Somewhat late as I was expecting to meet Mark at 14:00. No Mark though, who phones at 15:00 to cancel, pleading ill health
  • Due to a combination of accidents, incidents, misunderstandings and other reasons, nobody arrives for the next two hours! Numerous conspiracy theories, fueled by the Budvar I’m drinking, begin to develop. Do I have the wrong time? The wrong pub? The wrong day? Thankfully, eventually, everyone makes it.
  • The first presents! One never knows when one might need an album of 70’s music or a talking Captain Hook action figure!
  • Eventually we head off to Kentish Town to the restaurant. We go to the Ethiopian restaurant, and a most excellent meal it is!
  • Major present time… And it’s a PSP! Much desired and not-very-secretly coted by yours truly since release and now it’s mine, all mine! Muahahaha!
  • At the end of the night it was off to a hotel for Penny and me, much better than trying to negotiate the engineering works on the trains home.

Sunday

  • Chinese New Year! And what that seemed to mean was an ocean of people, 200,000 reportedly, gathering in Trafalgar Square waiting for the dragon procession.
  • Rather than wait around, Penny and I went into the Nationall Gallery, just long enough to view the , and the .
  • Back to Trafalgar Square for a bit of the dragon procession, at least those glimpses stolen in between even more people. Time to move on.
  • To go forth and purchase PSP paraphernalia. Hurrah!
  • Met Karen, Lynsey and Kev in All Bar One for a glass (or two) of wine before heading into China Town to observe the cabbage eating dragons and to buy ourselves some food poisoning
  • The London Eye was perfectly timed. Just at sunset, the sky literally changing colour as we moved around, all the building lights coming on and the Chinese New Year fireworks viewable just as we reached the peak. Most excellent.

And that was it. A highly memorable and very enjoyable 30th birthday. Thanks to all who were involved in any way at all.

ahem

“One more day to go, one more day to go,
Hey ho, hey ho,
One more day to go!”

Catchy song, no? Needless to say, by now I’m more excited than a baby in a strip club about the events of the next three days.

One day shy of being 30 years old. Three decades. It does make me think about the myriad of events has occurred to me in that time, excepting maybe the first decade, which was singularly uneventful. Don’t worry, I’ll spare you a tedious listing of greater and lesser bouts of nostalgia. Although I do look back fondly at the the arrogant teenager who thought he knew everything; Who learnt a lot and became the arrogant young man in his twenties who was fairly sure he knew everything. I’ve learnt a lot since then, so I look forward to being the arrogant man in his thirties who is absolutely certain he knows everything.

But I’m more prone to looking forward to looking backwards. I’ll start by looking forward to the events of tomorrow, the events of the weekend and seeing my friends, to moving in with Penny in the next couple of months, to road-tripping around Germany later in the year and to everything else that can and will happen.

Anyway enough of that rubbish, where are my drinks! Avast!

Update: Grrr…. Everyone here on site has signed and presented me with a birthday card today. Which means they all know that it’s my birthday tomorrow and that I have the day off. Which means it’s going to be impossible to sneak off early today! How inconsiderate is that? I’ve been in a celebrating mood since waking this morning and I’m supposed to sit and be productive all day? Don’t they know how this is supposed to work? Sheesh!

I know, I’m wishing away the day, but it’s been quite a tedious work week, and the early morning have been less fun than ever. (Admittedly they weren’t exactly a barrel of laughs to begin with, but there’s always a worse option. I recommend diving for cover any time someone says “Well, at least it can’t get any worse”!) Now it’s just a question of how quickly I can sneak off!
Plans for the weekend? Saturday involves a lie in (hurrah!), a haircut and a whole lot of nothing. We may lounge around and watch Lost and some, as yet unwatched, movies like Existenz or Spirited Away. Hell, we might even go crazy and watch them both!
Sunday is a little more packed. We’re going to the cinema to watch ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ now that Penny has finished the book. The rest of the day will be spent at Guildford’s indoor climbing wall Craggy Island where Penny will be sampling a taster session and I will be taking a refresher course. While Guildford may no longer be our moving destination, Craggy Island is still the best climbing facility in the area for quite some distance.
I must admit that I’m quite excited about the fact that it’s now only 2 weeks until my birthday. Huzzah! I’m getting as excited as a small child at Christmas! Okay, okay, I’m getting as excited as me at Christmas!
My mum is bugging me, asking me what I want for my birthday. Apparently I’m to think of something poignant, sentimental, non-generic and very personal to me that I’ll treasure and remember as being gifted to me on my 30th. Isn’t that cheating? A lot? It’s hard enough thinking of presents for other people, why do I have to think of presents for myself? I’m sure that’s against the rules somewhere! And if it isn’t against the rules, it ought to be!
Anyway, enough of this. It’s time to start plotting my escape. Have a good weekend!

Well, it’s been some time since my last blog post. Resting for Christmas and all that. And so I shall now give you the summary of transpired events.
Russel’s 30th Birthday
I know I already covered this months ago, but I found a picture on my phone of Russ’ birthday cake, complete with picture of a juvenile Russ in his lurid school uniform, on my phone and uploaded it to Flickr.
Christmas
Christmas was good. As usual I spent it with my parents in the Netherlands, although this time taking the very reasonably priced train all the way there. Less changes, less time and less money. Why fly?
Christmas at my parents’ is definetly a feast season, the pinnacle of which is the Christmas Day meal itself, with the traditional goose, red cabbage and dumplings. Mmmm….
My mum takes Christmas very seriously indeed and reverts to a five year-old. A five year-old with free reign to decorate the house. Don’t misunderstand though, it’s utterly brilliant and it’s impossible not to be infected with the seasonal mood. Evidence can be seen here.
Presents were good. Everything from books to a lava lamp to my much-desired coffee bean grinder from my parents. From Penny I enjoyed recieving the Violent Cases graphic novel, and the movies Existenz, Memeto and Appleseed.
New Year
New Year meant the second trip up to York within a month. This time though there was no drinking in the care, but there was a Penny. It was a great event though, starting with some excellent food at the Dormouse and then copious wine and conversation. And the alledgedly-secret Santa which resulted in me gaining A T-shirt emblazoned with “Arrrrr!” from said christmas mystery person and a bad film from Santa-Hoff.
It was good that Penny was able to come to the New Years Eve celebration. We hadn’t spent Christmas together and also Penny hadn’t seen everyone for months.
Last Week
Last week I had to spend the Bank Holiday Monday in the Fleet office. Not too much of an issue except that with everyone there seemingly ill with some virus or another, and the air-con cranked right up I ended coming down with something. So, it meant that I was not in work all the rest of last week. That also means thattoday is my first day back in the office.
More posts to come soon!

Well, the secrecy is over, the cat’s out of the bag and the cover is blown. No, not the Somewhat-Obscured Santa! It was Russell’s Surprise 30th Birthday Party at the weekend. I’ll apologise in advance for this rather long entry. The people that were there will know all of this and the people that weren’t won’t really be interested. Ho hum.
On Friday night I met up with (M)andy and Tim on the way to Mandy’s, where Andy would be driving us from. Mandy engaged in frantic packing while I helpfully set in her swing chair, criticised her music (it’s traditional, not vindictive) and looked for vodka. When everyone was packed, we headed down to Andy’s car, with me clutching half a bottle of vodka and some mixer.
The journey north went smoothly, and especially rapidly for Mandy and myself as we were quite happily steaming through the bottle of vodka. It ran out half way through the journey and I, for one, was certainly glad that we hadn’t brought a full bottle. We would only have drank the whole thing, ruining all of Saturday.
Eventually we made it to the hotel in York, where everyone removed their luggage from the boot. Except for Mandy who, while remembering to pack, had foolishly forgotten to pick up her bag and it was still sitting on her bed back in London. For some reasons she assumed, without checking, that Andy would pick up her bag. Oops. No clothes for the weekend, no hair straighteners for Lynsey and no lack of piss-taking.
Saturday morning, involved (M)andy going clothes shopping while the rest of us wandered through York. I can’t remember if I’ve been to York town centre before, but it’s certainly very picturesque. But finally we found the outdoor ice-rink. It was a tiny thing, small enough to spit across, but it certainly was fun! I’m not sure how much fun Andy had as he was the only person to fall over and did so three times. And to add insult to injury (quite literally), there are photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sburn/sets/1570541/
Eventually, nursing bruises and aching muscles, we headed to Russ and Andrea’s place and hid in the kitchen as Russ approached, ready for us all to stream out en mass. The surprise was certainly successful, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Russ speechless before!
The party itself was a success. The wine flowed like a river, fireworks were enjoyed and much fun had. The only moment of horror was when Amy accidentally trapped her fingers in the fridge door, prompting a panicked trip to the hospital for fear of broken fingers. Thankfully it was a mere flesh wound.
People left the party at various times. As can be expected, with the exception of Andy, all those who left last were in a pretty inebriated state. And yes, I was amongst them. But Apparently I wasn’t the worst, which is a benefit. I think Mandy deserved that acoolade considering how rough she felt the next morning! Personally I was pretty glad for the big bowl of leftover chili at R&A’s. That, together with some ibuprofen and rehydration salts had me feeling quite perky.
While at R&A’s, Russ’s birthday present arrived from us, a rather nice widescreen TV to replace the ancient monster he had been suffering so far. And we were shown another example of Russ speechless, twice in as many days.
It wasn’t long after that that we all decided to make out way home. What with the M1 being closed due to the blaze, we all felt that it didn’t pay to dawdle. And a good thing too, what with the jam we got into on the way. Things were nearly desperate enough that widdling into cups was considered.
And that was it. Eventually we all got to our various homes, ready to start priming ourselves for another week of work.