Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year!

(thanks Michelle!)

Hmm, New Years resolutions... what shall they be...? And you guys...? Let me know!

Last post of the year, before I head off to Martin's for New Years. Hope you all have a good one!

Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Well, it's been one year on from my first post in this blog (easily remembered, since some sort of sense in me considered this day a year ago would be a great time to make a start on a blog).

I'm not a Christmassy person (love the gifts though!), but I suppose being the holidays has meant that I've reflected on myself - some good and bad things. Good things, I suppose, include how I am getting along in life. I suppose that qualifies as a bad thing too! And I suppose the big topic that is on my mind is my sanity (or lack of). So that's something I'm working on, so sorry for being a crap friend (condescending, inconsiderate, attention, lack of contact, etc) to you all. I'm working on it. You'll see me write a bit more come New Year's when perhaps I'll make some resolutions - yeah right! XD

Stuff your faces full, everyone, it's one of the few times in the year where you CAN feel good about it. Eat like a pig, go on!

Have a lovely Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A few pictures of the snow...

The snow is here in Bristol (about 2 days after the east side of the country, the weather was cold enough, so it was just a matter of time of when it would rain (i.e. snow).

Ice on the rose branch

Slush on St. Johns Road
Clifton, Bristol

Citro├źn 2CV on Saville Road
Stoke Bishop, Bristol

Monday, 21 December 2009

Woolies Indoor Market, Bristol

Something strange and interesting has happened on Whiteladies Road (actually, a number of strange things, possibly good things, have happened on the whole stretch of the A4018 in Bristol! We'll go into those in a bit.)

This week I went to look at the old Woolworths store on Blackboy Hill. They've turned it into an indoor market! Although the shopfront is deceptively boring, and the ground floor as well, for that matter, I have no doubt in believing that this is a positive contribution to the retail at the upper end of Whiteladies Road.

I spoke with the manager a little, she was a nice lady and was talking to a contractor or plumber (I assume), and she said that it had been open for about 6 weeks now. Here's a few pics of the downstairs:

Frankly, I thought it was rather bland and generic, and lacked variation as all the stalls looked too unique and temporary. The upstairs, however, were a whole lot better.

El got a vintage coat, too!:

Overall, I like it. The upstairs is wonderful, and the far end of the hall is empty, so hopefully they'll get someone in. I love the fact that the floorboards and ceiling beams are exposed rather than covered up like downstairs. The downstairs just doesn't have the cultural/industrial charm the upstairs has, and I'm not sure the window arrangement of the previous occupier is best suited, but I assume there are reasons (e.g. easier to get planning permissiong leaving as-is.)

Other changes on the A4018: (most are recent! i.e. last 2 months or so!)
- New lane arrangement at Blackboy Hill outside the bicycle/wedding dress shop. (possibly good? it definitely caters for cyclists better!)
- Borders is closing (and I managed to buy a US magazine for 90p instead of £4.50!)
- Paperchase has moved two stores along from Borders (not checked it out yet)
- Between Borders and Paperchase is the Vinegar Hill shop (previously the Alldays/Co-op/Post Office, the shop is wonderful, think Cath Kidston, but less pink and red and more white, and slightly more practical. A cross between the Guild and Cath Kidston, I s'pose)
- Slightly older, but other new businesses on the Clifton Triangle include the new office building at the top of Jacobs Wells Road, Patisserie Valerie and Waitrose opening up.

No idea what the last few months is about, but the changes seem quite frequent, can only assume the current financial climate has something to do with it (not necessarily in a bad way or a bad result!)

Thursday, 3 December 2009

My 'Annus Horibilis'...'s Latin!

I have generally come to dislike writing about personal emotion and life on this blog, but since I'm stupid-busy with coursework, I think I get my little moment of attention:

I'm knee deep in coursework, I'm not even kidding when I say I'm busy. It's a combination of not working hard enough in the previous 2 years of study (meaning my knowledge is rather lacking in some parts), events in the last few months (meaning I'm about 1-2 months behind in coursework), bored out of my brains (and easily procrastinating) and bad time management.

I've accepted my work is going to be sub-par from now on, but if I just sat there and moped about it as I have done previously, I'd get nowhere, so today I decided to be optimistic. I wrote my aims in life on a sheet of paper. It sounds silly, but I was able to work for the next few hours. Today, was the turning point where I realise I need to be much more optimistic about the way I tackle these things. This is just one of the many steps I am taking in my personal checklist (inside my mind) on things I want to work on to become a better person. (side note: a number of entries in October covers this more.) The sheet of paper is something I will remind myself with - the most important one on there, is "Successful!". I'm trying to sit there and be confident about my work, although I've only got a little more than 2 weeks, I want to make it the best work I can produce in 2 weeks. It's doable, I know what you're thinking! "that's a crap way of looking at your studies"... well, yes, perhaps. But given the circumstances I believe trying to tackle it optimistically is always going to be better than doing it pessimistically.

In the midst of all this, both my motorbikes are in shocking states of repair.

Duke (the red one) has a loose chain. I am going to assume that his gears/cogs are worn, but I've not even had time to pop open the case that goes over the chain to take a peek... I don't want to ride him much more for fear of breaking him.

Blue bike has taken a hit on Saturday after a friend got off a bit quick, whilst I'm not one to fuss about a broken indicator, I have since realised my radiator is loose, not sure if this was from before. But it needs tightening. More shocking about Blue bike, is the fact that the MOT for it was due in October, and I've just forgotten about it and not realised it was due. Blue bike is going to fail, at the moment, even if I got the broken indicator replaced. This is due to the fact that the handlebars are completely wankered. The handlebars have been like this for some time now, due to a variety of falls.

What it basically means, is that if the handlebar touches the petroltank (on a traditionally placed petrol tank on a more normal motorbike, forget about the fact I have a storage compartment in it's place for now), it's an MOT fail. I've checked online for replacements, one eBay bike-breaker doesn't have any, I'm waiting for a reply from another. eBay US only has one for $99 however has no hole to allow for the heated handgrips, three online shops which I've checked have them at £87, $149, $179. All of which I can't afford. Not right now anyway. So, what it means is that Blue bike might have to go without an MOT for a little while. And I'm contemplating on taking Duke for a proper service to have him sorted out - if I did it myself, it would take half a day, and I don't have half a day free anywhere in my schedule at all.

Maybe I'm a crap rider. Here's everything that's wrong with blue bike (and theres a lot more which is wrong and is generally more expensive to get fixed than it is with Duke, partially because it's BMW, and partially because of the model's uncommoness)
- Bent handlebars
- Left heated handgrip not working
- One of the stuffbay screw-threads is missing
- Left fairing cracked and scratched
- Left indicator broken
- 15,000 mile service well overdue (it's on 19,000+ atm)... I can't afford it.
- Bike is looking a bit grubby, so could do with a clean!
- Topbox is not properly secured as some plastic/bolts have worked themselves loose
- Engine oil low

I need to sort out Duke, because Blue bike annoys me a bit too much for daily use :( Blue bike also runs a greater risk of being damaged when in the city, and I don't like to run this risk unless I'm in London, where it's speed is needed. I dunno if I should take Duke for a proper service to have him checked out... should I?

Anyways, I'm off to sleep. Sorry this post is a bit bland and boring. Hope tomorrow is a productive day. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Xenopus Trip

We're ( that I mean the Frogging Crew!) on BBC's iPlayer! Find it here, you only need to watch the first 10 mins or so.

It's a bit of a shame that Albert and Gemma don't get much coverage, considering they're the ones piloting this! =(

Monday, 23 November 2009

November bits and bobs!

So, I'm now the grand old age of 23.... and the day before and on the day, for the first time I felt old... weird feeling yah. People always tell me they feel so old when they hit 20... didn't feel it, til now. I think it's partially to do with the fact that the majority of my pals and people who I grew up with have graduated?

So... what I mean is... I'm 23 years young ... maybe :)

I spent a bit of time dossing around in London during study week (and much filtering - Chiswick to Holborn in 25 mins is a record), and YES, some work was actually done that week. And boy was it awesome. So I met a bunch of strangers.... strangers? I've been corrected: "friends you've never met" and boy, what a good description that is. Going up to London again at some point in Dec. to meet them again.

So, whilst I was there, I bought some mushrooms... Girolle, Oyster, and some other type that I forget the name of... Porcini? These all went into my lovely mushroom risotto. £4.54 poorer on fresh mushrooms later and a ride back to Bristol, did my risotto taste any better?

I had Tara and El over, the week after I was in London, and DAMN!... Tara cooks up some fine pizza. We had a pizza stone to work with, too... Supposedly they're good as they heat up the pizza properly. ... did it make much difference?

Here's my risotto, early stages.

El was having a nap (long day, eh?) so we'd just woken her up... and I think at this point, her cavegirl instincts came out... watch out there!

This picture needs no description:

Gertrude was looking rather scary. Thankfully, the oven sorted him out, and he was charred by the end of it. That'll teach him to look scary!

So, did the mushrooms make a difference? Yes and no. There was a light bit of mushroominess to it, it tasted marginally more mushroomy, but considering I ain't a conoisseur, I ain't one to appreciate it. For now I'll be sticking with the dried stuff, which is marginally cheaper, Tesco's do a pot for £2-3 I think, the fresh, equivalent amount from Whole foods is roughly £4-5. (The fresh stuff was bought out of novelty). As for the pizza stone, I will say Yes to it, having made pizza in the past on a metal tray, I think this heats up the base properly and ensures thorough, rather than doughy cooking. Even slightly soggy pizzas weren't so soggy when they would have normally been. The only thing about the pizza stone, is that it needs to be heated at 230 degC for 45 mins, which means you need to plan ahead. I got it for £5 in Oxfam.

On another note, I've been getting out and listening AND seeing live music acts! 3 in the last 2 months or so I think? Hopefully I can top that around Christmas or after. Live music is an awesome night out imho. I need to remember my earplugs though... my ears suffered lol. Here's "This is my Normal State" - Non's and Adam's band playing at The Croft, in Stokes Croft.

Crazy folk in Redland on this strange contraption...

Anyways, that's all for now. Hopefully I'll have some more interesting updates, and sorry no pics (still) of travel. Boo. You guys know how 3rd year uni is... bloody hard.


Saturday, 7 November 2009

Deadlines... not mine though.

I really like this poem...! I'm never a fan of poems, and for that reason the "Poems on the Underground" thing never appealed to me - but this one caught my eye.

Well, here I am - I've been toiling over coursework along with El and her pal Sara's dissertations. A number off all-nighters and late nights later, they get their work done... only just..... Picture of the deadline day, about 2 hours before hand-in. The room is a mess lol.

I always forgive. Forgiveness is important in life and to me.

I am forever wondering whether I've done something really crap to deserve what I am getting in life these days. And for that reason I am in London at the moment - to have a bit of fun. It will be mega-depressing to leave on Sunday. I'll just have to come back here and there and make it a more-regular thing. I've met up with some pals and some nice people. Later today, I am going to meet some people in Chinatown... that'll be good. I need more stuff like this to take off my mind. I am going on total friend-zone friending. I remember this is how I got through the end of something like this last year.

On Thursday, I went to a fireworks show with Jann and her pals in Southwark Park - although I know better firework shows exist, it was still pretty good, everyone remarked that it lasted a lot longer than they thought it would - and I did too! The fireworks were impressive, a wide variety. Me and a pal of hers felt it was better than the NYE ones, since it was a lot less crowded, more relaxed atmosphere and there were food stalls - the car-and-trailer types that you often see around in funfairs.

It was a good night, and tonight I went out with a friend of El's and her brother to the Giraffe in Chiswick. Whilst I've never been that great a fan of Giraffe for their slightly-overpriced stuff, I was subtlely impressed by an over-enthusiastic (literally.) waiter and some rather delicious grub (BBQ chicken and cheese quaesidilla thingy). Asking for water did not come with a sense of guilt (thankfully) so it was a good meal. I suppose the guy's service makes up for it, not always, but it did this time. Service (and smiling) is important!

I hope next week I hope I'll have a few pictures of travel - it's difficult to ride a motorbike AND take pictures at the same time, y'know. I rode out here and have been riding through some hellish (but rather fun) central London traffic which is about 10x worse than Bristol. Some excessive-mad filtering skillz are required... which I'm honing.. lol. I've been thinking about how I can grab pictures whilst on the road, without buying special equipment which costs a fortune... I still don't know how.

And finally - some pictures of late night 3am shopping at Tesco Extra Southall:

Action shot!

Look how tidy the shelves are! (the floors on the other hand....)
Peppa pig!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Triumph Bicycle

I spent last week working on the Triumph bicycle that is sitting in the garage. I've spent more than what it's worth on it... =/

But hey, it'll be the use that I'll get the most value out of. The bicycle is actually filthy, as if it hasn't been cleaned in some 20-30 years of use, and there is LOADS of gunk on it. I managed to date it to 1969 by reading the writing on the Sturmey Archer gears on the rear wheel.

This is the front wheel - look at that muck on it! No pictures of the rear wheel, but its a LOT worse than this.

The bicycle:

I've taken off the rear wheel and started cleaning it... I've had to take it apart almost completely.

And look at the shine on the rear wheel after cleaning! (took 2 hours....)

This is what the gear stuff and chains look like! MANKY!!

Cleaning up in progress:

Look at that chain! much better, aint it?! Took like, more than 3 hours I think.... lol.

I'm such a fan of fixing/repairing/restoring things! Getting your mits dirty sometimes can be SO rewarding... this feels so good to work on this project. Hope to have the bicycle set up by sometime late next week and I can ride around.. yay! Another method of getting around, without walking and without my motorbike.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

New aspirations

Courtesy of El's "I am pig face" blog.

Thanks el :)

Sunday, 25 October 2009

If only.

"If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world." -Mercedes Lackey
...which is a very much agreeable quote right now*.

The other day, I wrote something on here, which, on second thought (and some second opinion) was just not quite right. I managed to annoy/anger(?!) her a lot the other night, and this did me no favours. It was a sorta... back to Square 1 sorta thing. Changes? No changes there... I let temptation (um.. selfishness I suppose) get to me, and somehow expect a more than what I've been given, which isn't right when you think about it - since things are done, and done for a reason.

I have some bad habits I need to break, and this includes something that resembles a 'sweet-talk' habit which I seem to have engrained into myself - it works a little like this: "oh maybe I should do that, there's no harm in it" even if there's a gut feeling telling me doing it is not quite right. And then if it's wrong, being apologetic is of little use, since it's like the 'boy cried wolf' analogy... that stuff gets old and means little by then. I just have an inbuilt assumption that doing anything is 'alright', but it's not and I really think that should end here.

So what have I learnt (at the cost of annoying others). To quit. To quit and realise where you'd standing is where you stand. (I've just been fortunate things are the way they are, so far. I shouldn't take this for granted.. which I have... unfortunately.)

I've used up my 'lives' now in a way and I paid the price. I totally regret what I did the other night. I properly ruined a [recovering] friendship which was still alright for a bit of selfishness by expecting too much. As made clear to me, friendship isn't a right. And to be fair, it was my fault. Last nights flatwarming didn't seem too bad though, after a drink. I'm happy that some people were nice to me.

If you're reading this, an apology would mean little, but you should know I'm trying to put this whole matter to rest and bury it. And give you that space that I said I would (not just in person, but online too). That's important, for you. This post is my way of dealing with things and overcoming [some of] my flaws, by recognising them, as a start.

*Despite being 'agreeable', having regret, sure, a bit of grievance is expected, but is no good in the long term. A bit of a Google, and this is a better quote to go by and work on, form now on:
“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves - regret for the past and fear of the future.” -Fulton Oursler

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Free hardcore!

Note: Assuming you haven't done so already, if you have a Google account, feel free to "follow" my blog - the link is on the right hand side ----->>
(it will come up in your feed on the Blogger dashboard)

The more comments I get (from different people) the better I know how to steer what I write and make it more interesting! Keep me writing [something]... hopefully my blog isn't gibberish!

Comments = GOOD for me!

I know what you're thinking..., but no, hardcore is not some form of dodgy top-shelf material (top-shelf stuff... interested? g'wannn!). It's the layer of foundation material used in building, which consists of broken up bits of whatever, usually larger bits of stone and rock, sometimes even brick is used. There was no short supply of it (although some of it was questionable, and seemed more like building rubble/junk dumped by the side of a public footpath with supposedly "good" intentions), there was actually a rather large amount of rubble in used materials bags by the side of the path on the left of the picture.

Moving on, today I went in to talk to my dissertation tutor. I told her about my circumstances and said that I was more than a month behind in my research and so on and handed in a really shoddy synopsis (worth 10% mind you..). She understood, and whilst we concluded I wasn't the "ideal" student who would have done everything right, the important thing is that I was back on track, catching up and making the most of the remaining 80-90% since I can still do well in that. It was good to catch up with my tutor (who is also my dissertation co-ordinator and course leader) on a more personal level.

A thought I had today - you know how after a while, internet shopping becomes a matter of dealing with a faceless entity, which if anything goes wrong you usually jump to the conclusion that sorting it out will be a pain-in-the-butt due to the automated systems and complex logistical networks that somehow makes the world go around? Yeah, I think you know what I'm talking about here - there's no friendly customer face. I think this is especially the case with someone who has been on eBay since early 2002 and Bricklink since 2003 (with some 600+ feedbacks combined)... everything just becomes a matter of ordering something and expecting nothing more than an invoice inside the package... Thankfully I make the effort to write personal notes too all my Bricklink folks to thank them for their custom (and draw a great big smiley!).

Well today it was nice to be reminded that not everyone is what you assume they are - everyone from the customers who can't spell properly on eBay to those who absolutely suck at responding to emails. I delivered a Bricklink order to someone in Filton (Bristol) today, where I had a good chat with him. We're talking about a guy, in his mid-30's roughly, he has 5 children and still plays with Lego with his 2 children which are interested in it. He's still buying the stuff too, and looking to sell off the bits he doesn't need. I happen to pass by his area, then remember that I brought his order along just in case I would be able to deliver it, so I call him up and swing by, and I meet the most pleasant guy (for someone who has shoddy gramatical errors) ever... it starts off with him asking how much it was, I tell him, £2.00, despite knowing that his order including delivery is about £3.00. I refuse to take any more for it - at which point, he offers me eggs. Eggs. Fresh chicken eggs... which were laid about 1-2 days ago. There I am, amazed... and I ask him if it's easy to keep [the chickens], to which he offers to show me the hens around the back. Sure enough there's a massive garden and at the far end, theres a chicken pen, with some chickens clucking... It's such a small thing (i.e. 2 eggs) but being offered fresh eggs is strangely enough, generosity that I don't encounter these days very often, especially in the online world. It's a nice change from the normal reality that is internet shopping. I know I'll be offering that guy discounts from now on if he wants more parts.

Not everyone online is a faceless entity, or someone you merely chat with through a forum, it's so important to remember that there's a character behind all those usernames you see. It reminds me of how my associations with the University of Bristol started - through meeting someone online from a forum. It reminds me to not forget my roots and the values I once kept. It also means I'll be writing happier and notes which are more fun to my buyers! And I've got two eggs now... hmm.... fresh eggs.... mmm... damn, where is cream soda when you need it? =O

That aside, why do I feel strangely compelled to further my abilities and make myself a better character/person? Strengthening my confidence seems difficult but I know it could do me some good. Being able to be precise and make decisions without worry or doubt is essential to me. Not waffle on, be indecisive or generally hobble along in life. No, because that's not how it's done. I need to learn to inspire others, properly. I am learning out how to figure out my life better now, and take control of it. Listening too. It's a strange desire, I feel change is happening already, for the good.. or for the worse? I don't know... sometimes I'm not keen on it, but for the good I'd like to think!, it's best to look at change with optimism, and deal with it, grab it by the horns if necessary. I have a preference to look at it with a good outlook though, things will always look up, just don't let this s*** get you down.

"Change is not merely necessary to life- it is life." -Alvin Toffler.

But don't jump to conclusions or assumptions, I'm still meee!! Still your friendly neighbourhood mew mew! =^_^=

Lifes too short, so try and smile!
Here if you need me! =)

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Balls are touching...

Balls are touching... it's what I did on Friday, so read on. Work is looming over my head like a big grey cloud... But here's my fix!:

The last 3 weeks have been a series of [rather dramatic] highs and lows for me, and I've found it hard to come to terms with everything, but that's cool, it's for the best. On Friday I met up with some pals to go play pool at Rileys, which was easily the best thing I've done in a while. Like the others I hadn't touched a cue for some time, so y'know, we were all a bit rusty. Within an hour or so.... we were playing a little more competitively (it's a good thing, I can assure you).. but of course, Rileys was always about socialising rather than competing. Earlier today, I met up with another good friend, and we had a good chat for some... what, was it 5 hours+ or something? I don't think I've had a conversation with a single person for so long (!!). It was great to catch up and see her new flat, and all my worries were eased away... (well I hope her's was a little, my apologies for being a not-such-a-good guest!). But today I really felt she understood me, was there to listen to what I had to say and like, of had some good ideas and advice, so thank you. Today was my turning point, that point where the little light bulb inside my head goes *ding!* and I know what I'm doing in life all of a sudden again! (i.e. not being silly!)

On another note, as part of my big "phase" of distraction, I've gotten a new phone, which I've found rather feature packed. So I've been installing various ROMs (software that makes the phone go "tick"), softwares... So much so, that I'm working on a holder for my motorbike to use it's GPS feature. Note: Skip to the end of the post if you're not interested in the build!

The basic setup is basically a metal bracket (used for roofing that I got from Toolstation), attached to a waterproof case (meant for valuables when outdoors, from eBay) with some nuts holding it together and a BIG dollop of Araldite epoxy. The phone is able to charge and output audio via a splitter cable (from eBay), although it won't take calls since this would require finding some way to answer the call - i.e. the phone is inside a case, the only workaround is a button from a handfree headset, and that's not possible due to the nature of the setup. So I figure if I get calls I'll just ignore them until I pull up.

Sorting out the basic holder was simple enough. The holder will be mounted onto the mirror attachment. However, since the mirror is attached to handbars which rotate as you steer, the movement presented the next problem. Cheap wires/cables to bridge the steering (such as the typical cheap ones used in the splitter as seen above) would just not be able to handle the outdoors/rain/stress and would fail in pretty soon. I went to Maplins to buy some decent speaker cable which had 4 wires, removed one (since stereo uses 3) and was able to squeeze this into a normal 3.5mm jack. The power lead was automotive cable with a USB and mini USB plugs at either end, so it's essentially a power-only hardcore USB extension. I DIY-soldered my own cables so that I'd have some which would withstand the steering.

With the cables made up, I plugged the phone into my amp and the power to the usual charger. Bingo, it works fine and charges as it should.

The final job was making connectors ready for the outdoors, I'd already thought about the case for the phone. However, I wanted to be able to separate the USB cables from the splitter rather than waterproofing them by gluing them together. So I found a small plastic case from some old electronics to cover the plugs.

So that's it. The splitter is permanently held in place with the epoxy, tomorrow I'll mount it and give it a go, although I'm still waiting for the proper cigarette lighter socket-to-USB adaptor to arrive in the mail. I'll post a few more pictures later in the week!

Here's two good tunes which are on my playlist (might not be to everyone's taste I know)

Tomorrow is the start of another week, I'm some 2 weeks behind in study now, but I hope to catch up this week.

I've been looking at the way I work my life recently, and picked out a few sucky bits which I figure this academic year I'll work on! Well, there's quite a number of things I want to do now, so I need to take some initiative to work on myself. I've also been made to realise that I was never that inspiring towards others, sure I was good at being supportive.. but there is a line drawn between being supportive and being inspiring. Well, so I've been led to believe...! Sorry I was not there for you... I'm sorry to the various pals I've "neglected" a bit over the last year or so, you're not forgotten =P

"Live the dream" .. as a good pal always says..

so LIVE THE DREAM! I won't be scared of stepping OUT of my comfort zone this year!!

Take care all,
Have a fantastic week - I know will!!

Stay Happy, don' be sad... happyyyyyy =)