Friday night, I met up with Kev & Lynsey at the, by now infamous, Tattershall Castle. The drinks are expensive, but the view is good. However it’s also very popular on warm sunny evenings like Friday, when it was rammed to the port holes. A good evening though, resulting in me feeling exceedingly fragile on Saturday. However I had a quiet day to myself to nurse my hangover and generally do very little else.
One actual productive point of Saturday was going sofa-shopping. Sure, I’ve bought a sofa before, but never actually gone shopping for one; walking around, comparing size, covering, comfort, colour etc. And we’ve finally settled on one which should be delivered while I’m in Germany. So, we’re ready for the house-warming party in July!
Sunday was spent shopping in Basingstoke. Boring, but necessary as we had to pick up the last few things before we leave for Egypt on Saturday.
Tonight I leave for Eindhoven, back on Wednesday night.
On an unrelated note, I found the following quote by the director of “All in the game”, a new football based movie starring Ray Winstone:
“People don’t want to sell their soul, but they’re prepared to lease it out, put it on a mortgage. They hope to get it back, but it doesn’t work like that.”

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.

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.

The weekend, as is often the case, began on Friday night. A slightly frazzled, ‘work is finally over’, ‘I hate the rush-hour’ Friday night, but Friday none-the-less. As Penny was out gallivanting I finally finished watching the second season of 24. Very enjoyable, and very, very brutal. I won’t spoil it for anyone by detailing why, but wow.

Saturday began with breakfast with Penny before she went off to work. I then got a haircut that took me by surprise. Somehow when I said “just a trim to tidy it up please”, the bizarre acoustics of the barbers translated this to “I’m sick of my crazy uncontrollable locks, make me look somewhat less disrespectable, dammit!”. I must confess it does look more professional, but it’ll take a while to get used to the change in length.

Then, having plenty of time left over of my morning and nothing left to fill it with, it was off to London where I arrived at the usual pub in Canary Wharf about an hour early. Good thing I’d brought reading material with me! And when that ran out, there was always the news to read on my phone. After the usual food, drink and catch-up, off to Kev’s for our game of Aberrant. We didn’t really achieve very much, but we got ourselves in a position where we’ll be ready to move next game session.

The post-game period was spent watching the Top 100 animations of all time. Some I disagreed with (Urutskidoji?! Sure it was only at 85-ish, but still, there are a lot of far superior animes out there that didn’t even make the top 100) and of course The Simpsons made number one. Good program though.

Sunday was spent playing a non-horror game of ‘When Darkness Comes’. It was fun to play, though the rules needed some tweaking. It also took longer than I had anticipated, mainly due to the ridiculous number of botches! I’ll be writing up the rules and posting them to EG. It looks like it’s a game I can run easily at Conception.

Speaking of EG, it’s back up with most of it’s content. The database got corrupted, so some content will have errant question marks throughout it. The only thing lost was the forum posts, news and user accounts, but all the actual content is there. I need to create a new logo too and some icons have been lost. However, security is affirmed and the codebase more stable. Which means that once users are recreated, we can post the Aberrant journals up there.

My movements this week: I’ll be in a B&B until Wednesday night when I’ll be going home to repack. Thursday night I’m flying out to Holland, returning late Friday.

Right, that worked, so first an update of the last week that I have missed blogging.

Tuesday

Tuesday was my last day in the office for some time, just as I was getting used to getting up late, having lunch at home and being home before The Simpsons starts. All things change, especially in the world of conslutancy.

Wednesday

What a day. First day at the client site, various work-based pressures and some of the worst cigarette cravings since I gave up. I nearly cracked on numerous occasions. But the highlight of the day was meeting up with everyone after work, first in St Stephen’s Tavern in Westminster, and then at the Tattershall Castle. Ostensibly, as far as Kev was concerned, this was just a general meet-up drink, but was actually to present him with his 30th birthday present. It was given early so he could actually book his appointment to fling himself out of a plane as close to his birthday as possible. I have visions of Kev being securely fastened to a fat man, hurtling to the ground! There may or may not be a parachute involved, but it still sounds terrifying!

Spent the night on Andy’s sofa, which meant for a reduced journey time in the morning and more sleep despite the late hour of ‘lights-out’.

Thursday

Nothing major to report, ended the day back in Aldershot having a nice Thai meal in Aldershot. Both pleased and horrified to find the staff there recognised us from previous visits. We have becomeā€¦ regulars.

Friday

Pay day! Yay! Long awaited and much enjoyed. Penny’s day was mostly spent putting her belongings into storage, in preparation of her moving to her sister’s for the next 6 months or so. In the evening she was due to go to a leaving do in Fleet so, after pitifully whining, I managed to convince Linsey and Kev to join me for a drink or two. That was a good evening, starting off at the Tattershall Castle (fast becoming first choice in meeting-up places), then the Walkabout on Embankment and finally finishing at Pizza Express on the Strand. I nearly missed my train at the end of the evening, but just made it back in time.

Saturday

Ah, shopping! Not a lot of shopping admittedly, and somewhat geeky. Picked up the ‘horror’ boardgame _______ (too sleepy, can’t remember now, need more coffee) which I’ve got a few things planned for. I’ve actually got a Global Frequency/Lethe scenario planned for the boardgame. I also picked up part 3 of Warren Ellis’ ‘Desolation Jones’. Still enjoying it, but it was the weakest so far. Three pages of the book were actually plot or plot-related background. The rest in it’s entirety, was about stuff Warren had learnt about the hardcore porn industry.

Sunday

The plan was to go to Farnham for breakfast. Since we’d just missed the train, we decided to take the next available train, which took us to London. Since we were there we had brunch there, and then popped over to the Tate Modern, where Penny could have another look at the work of Anselm Kiefer, particularly the work ‘Lillith’. TM is due for a major rehanging and 40% of the pieces are due to be removed from the display.

The evening was spent with me trying to resurrect Endless Games. Unsuccessfully. I’ll take another stab at it this evening, even if it means recreating the database entries by hand.

Well, that’s it for now. Let’s see what a new day and a new week brings!