Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another year, another blog post

Previous new year resolutions have lasted about as long as my resolutions made at other times of year. So I've half a mind to not make any this time round. But I have already delegated responsibility of cleaning and tidying the boy's room to the boy himself, and I have another reason to believe I might actually do better at the perennial "blog more often" promise: a new laptop.

I caved and bought a Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite (non-touchscreen version). I used money from Christmas and savings and while it's only a bit bigger than my SO's netbook, I find it quite a bit easier to type on. And it's not full of her stuff, which is a bonus. It's pretty swish, even with Windows 8, which I will probably ditch as soon as I dare. So now I have no excuse of "someone else in on the computer" or "I can't get inspired sitting at the desk".

I might actually start writing again. No promises.

Overall, 2013 has been...ok. Job is going well, and I'm still in the same job I started the year in which is a first. Everyone seems to want me there permanently, but the budget says No. I'm less worried about this than I probably should be. Speaking of which, I seem to be less worried about most things than I used to be. I don't know whether to blame tiredness, new positive attitude, or the medicine I'm on, but whatever it is, it's probably actually a good thing. The boy hit double digits and is continuing to impress everyone with how considerate and intelligent he is. We're doing something right apparently.

My beloved did get a permanent job, as everyone is impressed by a mathematician, even if she has a biology PhD. She also graduated, which means we're Dr & Dr, and I can't keep making fun of her for not having a doctorate. But I can keep calling her a biologist, so there's that. We actually made it to Dublin as well, after saying for years we would go. May have to do more travel in future.

Some close friends got engaged, and their wedding may be the thing I am looking forward to most in 2014 - not least because we actually get to go, having missed most of our friends' weddings due to being too far away. They also bought a house, which is cool and scary, and got us looking at house prices. Yeah. That's not happening anytime soon.

So I have some regrets, as always, and some hope for the future, but no real plans. That's not a bad place to be.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Another Seven Things Update

A quick update to prove I'm not dead and to catch up on my Seven Things before I make any more resolutions for 2014....
  1.  Learn how to play the violin. What violin? *blows dust off strange shaped case in corner* Oh.
  2. Start Family Game Afternoon. I did. It stopped. We still play games occasionally, and especially over Christmas, but not on a weekly basis. Ah well.
  3. Stop being afraid. I think I've actually been doing ok on this. Sometimes it all gets too much and I have to get someone else to make a phone call but mostly I just blunder through.
  4. Take a vacation holiday to Dublin.We went, it was great.
  5. Find a better place for my money. There is no better place. Even under the mattress runs the risk of it being stolen, and let's face it, interest rates are going to stay low for quite some time, so unless I want to take on more risk there's little chance of gain.
  6. Try fish fingers and custard. This probably isn't going to happen. I don't like custard anyway...
  7. Be more involved. Again, I've...not. I've been withdrawing again, which makes me wonder if it is at least partially seasonal, and not really got back into Twitter or Facebook or blogging like I hoped I might. I may yet still give in and declare this blog dead, although I'd like to keep at least some of the posts. Far too many of them are moaning about how I don't blog though, which is the worst kind of meta-angst imaginable....
So, that was 2013. Will do a proper run down of the year later, if I remember. And then for next year? We'll see.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

What I Did On My Holidays Part Two: Locko

The day after getting back from Ireland, we paid a quick visit to our pet degus who were holidaying at friends' house, repacked, and headed Derby-wards. Specifically, we went to Locko Park.

The Spring Moot is the smallest of the four main Lorien Trust events, so despite going on the Thursday, we were still only away for four days. The benefit of going early though is getting to put tent up at leisure and getting to spend time drinking with friends and chatting instead of running around scared trying not to get hit. Or whatever it is the rest of them do while I'm going that.

After a night of Apple Sourz and throwing ice cubes at people, we actually went to bed fairly early and got a decent night's sleep. I was awake the next morning, only some hours after the boy got up, and we went to get breakfast at "the marketplace". There was a coffee van, so that was me sorted, especially when we discovered he sold cakes too.

At some point that morning I hit a slump, probably when more people were arriving and putting up tents and I was failing to help. I never really recovered from this, although the oppressive heat didn't help too much either. I'll try and remember what happened though, apologies if I got it all hideously wrong.

Shortly after time in we had word that the annoying illusion demon lord that had been repeatedly attacking our lands had taken one of our islands. This made us realise that we hadn't seen any of the scouts that had been sent to look into the situation on that island. This was especially troubling for my character (Rhiann) as amongst those that had gone were several friends, including the one cooking for us all weekend. A transport group did come back in, not looking happy, and with people missing. Was relieved to discover the member of my group (Order of Celestial) had been sent out earlier (out of character reason: the player arrived late), then felt very guilty as it turned out four characters had died. Everyone was a bit stunned by this, and it mostly wiped out my memory of the rest of the evening. Other than a void gate opening in a neighbouring faction camp and another character dying in the ensuing fight.

Saturday breakfast was enlivened by the young Ben Hunter, friend of Striker (my boy's character), turning on the High Scout and asking "Why did you leave my adoptive mother to die?" Arms folded, the lot. The lad is turning into a great little role-player. Later in the day everyone rushed to see the "big thing with wings" that had walked out of the ritual circle: turned out to be the Archon of Good who is now cured of being a Balrog and walked about a bit scaring the bejeebus out of the not-so-good characters on the field and putting a very big smile on the face of Seraphim: one of our faction who'd done a lot to help this come about. Things get fuzzy here. At some point some bad people turned up and had a heart-stopping moment when word got back to camp that apparently Seraphim had been "dismissed" (effectively insta-killed). I ran further than I've ran in a long time in an effort to catch up with Rhapsody (J's character) but it turned out to be a false alarm. I also discovered I'm hideously unfit, and really can't run very far, even if it's all downhill.

I then got embroiled in the ongoing battle for a bit, before managing to drag Rhapsody back up to camp so we could have dinner. We mostly then sat in a tent being out-of-character as at least two people had left in-character due to threat of dismissal and the rest of us were just knackered and hungry. This dragged on into night, J went to bed and others were considering it when the bells went off at the ritual circle (this is not a Good Thing generally). Some people raced down to be big shiny heroes, me and Ryn hung around at the camp gate before hesitantly deciding to try and see what was happening (it sounded like a big fight). Part way there we ran into someone else who was trying to get away from big fight who convinced us wading in would be foolish and we went back to camp. Eventually everyone else came back too and I went to bed.

Sunday I got up late (I think) and started packing early and then there was a bit fight. It was a bit vague, as final battles tend to be, but we were watching a ritual for the beginning of it which probably didn't help. I only fell over a few times (by being hit, not by just being clumsy) - once while trying to get to Rhapsody who was lying behind a couple of monsters, at least one of whom, unsurprisingly, noticed me run past them and whacked me on the back. Won't catch me doing that again in a hurry. Stupid me. We were all a bit spread out and there were worries that we might run out of healing power, but it turned out to be ok. I honestly can't remember what else might have happened.

After scorching hot weather all weekend, it naturally started raining just as everyone was trying to take down their tents. I mostly hid in ours and packed, J got soaked doing most of the loading into the car. The boy fell asleep listening to Muse while hiding in car from rain. I helped take down our tent once it had mostly stopped and then went and dozed in car too while J helped other people. We did our usual post-event meet-up at the nearby Toby Carvery - chatted with friends we didn't get to see much of at the event, and drank lots of lots of Pepsi Max. J drove us back home as the boy and I both fell asleep. She really is a star (but then it is her fault we go to these things in the first place).

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What I Did On My Holidays Part One: Dublin

We got up early on Saturday (27th July) morning and J cooked us bacon sandwiches for breakfast because she is made of Awesome. We'd booked a taxi for seven fifteen to take us to the station, where we were ridiculously early for our first train of the day. We got coffee (hot chocolate for the boy) and sat on the platform with our luggage (a backpack each - J had the huge one which most of our clothes, the boy had one with all his things in and I had the one with two boxes of Yorkshire Tea).

We were finally going on our first "proper" holiday as a family.

Three trains later we were in Holyhead and we nipped across the river to the Co-op to buy lunch before going to the ferry. The boy automatically started spelling his name for the lady giving us boarding tickets before we pointed out this was the one part of the world he didn't need to do that (one day he may curse us for giving him a Welsh name, but so far he seems to have coped). The customs officer searched our lunch bag rather than make us take off rucksacks which was nice, and the ferry trip over was the smoothest I'd ever had. The boy was getting tired and restless by this point, but it was the longest trip he'd ever taken there was only so much reading he could do. I'd bought newspapers so was engrossed in a crossword most of the time.

After getting into the country by exasperating the immigration officer ("No, we didn't bring passports. I have a driving licence here somewhere..."), we got a taxi to take us to the B&B via a cash machine. There was then a slight 112/122 mix up, but then we got into our room ok and collapsed.

We were in Dublin. Finally.

That evening was spent visiting friends (and delivering Yorkshire Tea, which made them very, very happy), eating takeaway, playing Fruit Ninja on the Kinect, and saying hello to a snake. The next day we bimbled round the city centre for a bit, bought some stuff (but no gifts because I forgot) and postcards, and then got soaked as the rain suddenly started and we realised we only had one umbrella between us. We went back to the B&B (the fantastic Townhouse btw) to dry out and ventured out again only to get caught in even heavier rain. After hiding under a bridge for bit, we turned around and went back inside. It had finally stopped when we decided to venture out for dinner. We wandered until we found an Italian restaurant that looked reasonable. They had a ridiculously good wine menu (several pages, broken down by region, order by grape variety) and so we got a bottle of primitivo between the two of us, and the boy had orange juice. And some food. Which was nice.

Monday we took the DART to Killiney (and discovered how it was meant to be pronounced after asking for the tickets, no wonder bloke looked confused) and bought drinks and waited for another friend and her sister to come and meet us. The intention was to go explore a cave, but that was nixed by a youth group being in there, so we paddled/swam/ collected all the stones ever on the beach instead. We then went to find lunch, and foolishly went a different way back from the beach into town. And got slightly lost. We were confused why it was taking so long, but found a pub which seemed nice, and had a lovely lunch there. We also randomly bumped into yet another friend (we have lots of Irish friends, ok?) who'd just finished having a pint and had no idea we were in the country, but instead of asking him where the heck we were, we just said hi, and see you at the weekend, and things like that. We then headed out of pub, continuing down round we'd been going on, and finally asked directions. We then wandered even further, asked more directions, discovered we were in Dalkey (one stop further north) and finally made it to the station there. Much much later we looked at google maps and found out the u-turn we did without even noticing. Getting lost is fun.

We went back to friend's house (in Bray) and delivered more Yorkshire Tea (which made them very, very happy), ate more takeaway, and played Apples to Apples. Back to B&B we went and collapsed. The next day we took the Dublin Bus City Tour round (enjoying it right up until the wife and mother-in-law jokes came out) to Phoenix Park and the Zoo. Had a great time wandering round and seeing all the animals (except those hiding from the rain, we got wet again) and discovering just how cute red pandas really are. Like a cross between a fox and a bear. Two soft toys were bought, one for J and one for the boy. Took tour bus back into city centre and rested a bit before going in hunt of food. Were recommended the Porterhouse (and bumped into yet another person J knew) where the boy impressed the waitress by eating a huge burger and then ordering desert. I was told I needed to try a Hot Whiskey, and I have decided this is a Good Thing and I need to find a friendly bar to convince to do them over here. Or make them myself. Or move to Dublin. Whichever is easiest.

On Wednesday, we got up late, had breakfast (the full Irish breakfasts at the B&B were wonderful, although to be fair, most cooked breakfasts are and adding white pudding only improves matters), and tried to cram everything back into bags. Despite having got rid of two large boxes of Yorkshire Tea and only buying a few small things, all three bags were as heavy as before. We finally had time to write out postcards, went to pay up, discovered we'd apparently already paid in full when we'd arrived (which I seem to recall we were meant to, but J wasn't convinced it was the full amount) and trekked back out into city to buy white pudding and Cadbury's Dairy Milk, as for some reason the Irish bars are much, much nicer. We caught the tour bus again (as tickets were valid for two days) and by chance ended up with same driver as first time previously, so discovered just how much of his patter was identical every time. Thankfully got off before worst of jokes. Wandered around the Natural History Museum for a bit, then went to find lunch and mostly only found a Costa Coffee instead where we hid from the rain. The boy had lunch, and then we trekked further to find stamps, post postcards and then grab a taxi back to the ferry port. And then waved goodbye to Ireland.

Customs coming back in involved a brief lecture about how it's easier if children have their own ID (child trafficking) and the boy going suddenly shy before admitting J was his mummy. They apparently thought I was her child too...not sure how flattered to be by that! The trains back also went pretty smoothly, boy was very well behaved and I taught him how to do Sudoku. Arrived back in York at about half ten and took taxi home. Once again, as soon as I'd settled boy in bed I went to sleep.

Holidays are fun, but tiring. We all decided Dublin is great, and we should go again. Not just for the hot whiskeys though.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Another "I aten't dead" post

I have a half-written post about larp that just kind of dwindled as I couldn't remember what I actually did. I could do another "Seven Things" update, but the only real news is that we have booked a trip to Dublin - it's actually happening! I, of course, did nothing to arrange it, but then I'd have taken forever to decide when would be best, let alone find somewhere to stay, so J did it all and now the train and ferry tickets have arrived and the B&B is booked. We're actually invading Ireland at the end of this month.

Still somehow surviving work. Even managed to read a little - took the death of one of my favourite authors but I broke out of my "must read all the books I haven't read yet - in alphabetical order" regime, and re-read "The Crow Road" - a book I cannot recommend enough. Seriously, just go read it. Even if you have already. It's totally worth it. And has the best opening line in fiction ever. Fact.

So I've been reading a little bit more, but still playing games on my phone more than, well, anything else. Day-to-day things have been getting done, but it does feel like I'm just scraping by sometimes. Even when I remember I need new work shoes, I then fail to find any I like or that fit. Housework gets done and then it's bedtime. Weekly game has just been passing me by, and I've tried paying attention, honest! It's July already, nearly summer holidays. Have the vaguest feeling I had more plans for this year, for my life, but I can't quite grasp hold of what they might have been. Apart from unobtainable because I don't have the sticking power to keep trying something,or the determination to even find the time to start.

But we're going to Dublin. That's something. I probably won't remember to blog about it though.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Not the blog post you're looking for

Well, it's certainly not the blog post I've been trying to write for the past two weeks - that one was about larp and how cool it is now I have keen.

This? This is me actually having the time, energy, and wine to do a quick and long-overdue update on how my Seven Things are going.

In brief - badly.

I haven't picked up the violin in months.
Family Game Afternoon died quietly while we were busy doing other things.
I've had an increase in frequency of nerve failure, mostly related to phones, but also in relation to actually just getting on and doing things.
I've made no arrangements for holidays, savings accounts or buying fish fingers.
The depression really has been driving me back inside myself. Sometimes I forget and post on Twitter. I haven't even been reading most of the things in my RSS subscriptions, let alone sharing and commenting on them. I barely interact with my son. I barely talk to friends even when they're there. I'm not sure how long this current slump has been going on, but I know it's bad - I've hit the "can't be bothered to read books" stage which is never a good sign.

Thing is, I don't want to have to go back to my GP and discuss medicine dosages and the like. I've been here so so many times in the past and I don't really know what's helped turn things around: mostly just time and a concerted effort to drag myself through it without sinking any lower. I'm not sure it's strictly true that every time it gets a bit easier, but the trend is definitely towards shorter periods of existential apathy and much quicker recovery periods.

So, step one of the process: stop calling myself lazy. I have done housework today - not everything but some. It's ok that other people help. And while it would be nice to write another blog post before next weekend, it's ok if I don't. I can always prattle about the GEF afterwards.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Seven Things Update

A bit later than planned but I've finally managed to get together the energy to write a quick update on how my Seven Things for 2013 are going.

  1.  Learn how to play the violin. Well, I've bought myself a book with CD. That's about as far as that has got. 
  2. Start Family Game Afternoon. Started it, went well for a bit, but has trailed off last few weeks due to busyness and some apathy (and, indeed, antipathy from certain family members who'd rather be playing Minecraft). But it stands a chance of becoming a regular thing, even if not ever week, especially now we have even more board games. So I think this counts as tentative success.
  3. Stop being afraid. This one really didn't stand much of a chance. I have managed more "going and doing things" at work that I once would never have seen me do, but I still get wound up about them, especially after the fact. And being nervous makes me make more stupid mistakes than being calm would, so this definitely needs working on some more.
  4. Take a vacation holiday to Dublin. Not even thought about this yet.
  5. Find a better place for my money. Have a plan. A vague plan. It involves more time and planning though. And having the nerve to go open another bank account. At least I've thought about it. A bit.
  6. Try fish fingers and custard. Need more room in freezer before buying fish fingers.
  7. Be more involved. This is where I've really been failing, despite best intentions of nearly-two-months-ago. Another spate of tiredness/boredom/depression has just left me switching off after work and at weekends - barely actually reading posts on internet, let alone paying that much attention to what the boy has been building in Minecraft. And I've probably been neglecting my poor better half, except yesterday when I tried to make a fuss over her as it was her birthday. 
All in all a miserable one-ish out of seven so far, but then we are only just over a seventh of the way through the year. So there's hope yet.

In other news, as mentioned it was my SO's birthday yesterday (never ask a lady's age, I'll just say it's a semiprime, as are both its neighbours, and leave it at that). She seemed happy with presents, and we went out to Red Chilli (which is probably her favourite restaurant) for evening meal with, well, our gaming group plus one (and the boy, who didn't eat as much as last time, but was probably better behaved over all). Just had half term, and I took three days off work to look after boy while J was busy lecturing and seminaring and doing other teaching fellow-y type stuff. Was strange popping into work for just a couple of days, and feels even stranger to think I'm going back again all next week. Weird how quickly something can become "normal". Think that's it for a life update.

Friday, February 8, 2013


The title refers to the sounds I seem to make most times I want to say something to someone at work but can't quite figure out where to start. Communication - not one of my strong points.

I think I had something I wanted to blog about, but I'm not sure. Not having my own computer at home really stops me getting things down when the mood strikes, and then when I grab my chance on the family 'puter or even nick J's netbook for a while the mood....fades away.

I had a vague plan to do an update on the Seven Things, but as I haven't really tackled most of them, that seems a bit pointless. Also, part of me insists the update post should be on 21th February (and then the next on 14th April, then 5th June etc.) - whether I stick to that or not is anyone's guess.

So a more general update then. Work is still going ok. I haven't killed anyone yet, nor even attempted to do so, despite several occasions of hunting around for missing paperwork that turned out to be on someone's desk (lesson: do not assume just because you asked in front of everyone that everyone was listening). Getting used to being a working mum, and having a son who's at after school club every day. Holidays are going to be more interesting, especially as I'm still not used to this idea of booking time off. Well, we'll see how it goes.

J has finally submitted final copy and just today got official letter of "you passed". So that's a graduation ceremony to look forward to in July, and fewer jokes about how I'm the Doctor and she must be River Song/Sexy/my companion. She's off larping this weekend - not running it for once, getting to play/drink/dance all weekend - which is why I have the computer all to myself.

Today was the funeral of a young lad I never met, but the boy did know from school. I contemplated getting time off work to go, but I suspect I wouldn't have coped well. J, being far braver than I, was happy to take him, and so, feeling slightly guilty, I let the two of them go. He was fine, apparently, and when I asked him about it, he said the ceremony was "good". They weren't close friends or anything, but he did have a soft spot for the apparently very popular and cheeky little boy. I may have squeezed his hand a bit tighter on the walk home this afternoon.

I think I better stop there and find something else to occupy my brain before going to bed. Because...um...yeah....

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Seven Things

Another year over and what have we done? Quite a lot actually. J and I celebrated our tenth anniversary with a weekend away in Whitby where I mirrored her proposal to me nine and a half years earlier under the whalebone arch, only I had a ring to give her. So I win that one I think. We both got jobs, and neither of us suddenly got sacked which was nice. In fact, we both still have jobs going into the new year which is a first. J has finished writing her thesis and passed her viva, so 2013 is looking to be the year she can finally start calling herself  "Doctor".

So not making resolutions seemed to work out pretty well for me. On the other hand, I did drift a lot while I wasn't working and am starting to get stuck in a "work, wash up, sleep" rut so maybe I ought to try and set some goals for this year. Don't worry though, "blogging more often" definitely won't be one of them.

Inspired by reading this GeekMom blog post, I decided to have a go at the 7 Things x 2013, only instead of using the first things that came into my head I put some thought into it. (Mostly because I didn't really want to learn to sew or find Jesus, and "Stop: Hammetime!" doesn't really work as a goal.)

So let me present my Seven Things for 2013:

  1. Learn how to ... play the violin (again). After all, we went and bought one.
  2. Start ... "Family Game Night/Afternoon". "Screen-free Wednesday" has been a success at getting the boy off computer games and TV occasionally, but the last few days of trying out our new games has reminded me how much fun playing together as a family can be. Probably better for the weekend than on school/work nights, so I think this may have to become our new Sunday afternoon tradition. If I can convince the other two.
  3. Stop ... being afraid. I've made great progress on this, especially over the last year, but I still find myself shying away from even simple things like ordering food. There's really no need for it. I know I can do it, and so I should. Of course, I can't really stop myself being afraid: I should say "Stop fear preventing me from doing things" but that's just less catchy.
  4. Take a vacation to ... Dublin. We will make it this year, dammit!
  5. Find ... a better place for my money. I'm currently banking with one of the Big Four, and while I've often thought and talked about moving, the usual inertia and worry about forgetting something important has stopped me. I'm also terrible as making decisions. But it's time to start putting my money where my mouth is, and while I have an income and ought to be saving some of it, it seems a good time to start.
  6. Try ... fish fingers and custard. Well, I have to, at least once.
  7. Be more ...  involved. With the world, with my family. Even with Twitter. I've been slowly withdrawing from everything, partly because I'm tired from work, partly because I lost my laptop and posting from and reading on my phone just isn't the same. And yes, I suppose depression plays a big role there too. But while it's important to have "me time", I still need to spend time and interact with my family and friends. And maybe it's not too late to save the country from the Tories. 
 Ok, some of them are vague, with no defined goals or benchlines. Some of them are simple and straightforward though, and those aren't necessarily the most likely to happen (we've said year after year we'd go to Dublin to see folk but...J made it! I didn't). But I think all are reasonable and potentially achievable, and none of them put undue pressure on me to do something I struggle with. And that's all I ask from my New Year's Resolutions.