Monday, 24 December 2012

Mine and Brandi's Christmas Present!

In May 2011 my awesome Ford Cougar retired. The unsensible amount of petrol it took didn't match my more sensible life-changes, and I had to change it for a little Ford Ka. Although I knew when anybody looked in they expected to see a girl (and once, when I left a blond wig in my car from new years, a few Asian guys who beeped at me half-did. Best reaction ever when they realised), driving it made me feel responsible!

I didn't mind driving it too much. One speaker was broken, and the CD player rarely worked, so I had gotten used to using headphones... which was actually more comforting than hearing the noises the car made at 70mph, but aside from all of the problems, it was cheap, which suited me!

The last half of 2012 has brought many changes. One of which is more money. So, as a Christmas present to Brandi and myself, we have bought a new car!

It took us quite a lot of research to decide which car to get... it was between the Audi A1, Peugeot 208 and the Kia Rio 3.. but after testing the Rio (and Steve being much nicer than the arrogant Audi bloke) there was no competition. It seemed like the nicest, best value car, and has all the features that only came on the top models of the other cars..

This is my first "new car"... and is awesome! I was actually driving along listening to music on my phone, without the use of a little speaker or headphones... and then I took a call over Bluetooth. These may seem like normal things to most people with cars... but going from a 12 year old car to a 2 hour old car it was luxury!

Brandi will learn to drive manual soon in it (and probably completely destroy the gearbox in the process) so then I will even be able to go out and drink again, and her drive back!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

SCH: My Memoirs

Today, on the 11th October 2012, it is my last day at SCH. It is actually my last hour as I write this.

I have learned a lot at this company, after leaving Switch, and my knowledge has grown a lot... but, I have decided to leave to start my own business as a contractor.

Although most of my memoirs come in terms of work I have done here, but that is too boring to write, let alone read, but a lot has changed in the time I started (namely 3 houses, two boxing fights, getting engaged, getting married, and getting a house).

The person I have got on with best here is Dave Jr. We work well together, and have a laugh (such as finding Dave's letter on his desk, printing out a new version, and not telling him. Results here.). He also became my new boxing and grappling partner.

I used my time at SCH well. In the time between the builds of the programs, I learned to solve the Rubiks cube in under 2 mins, to cross it off my list. Also, I came up with the idea of RedditDayOf, and spent time (at dinner, of course) growing and moderating it.

Like leaving anywhere, I am sad as it is another chapter over, but it is a very exciting time at the moment.

This is wrote quick because I need to leave to meet my accountant!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Carly and Paul's Wedding

On July 29th my sister, Carly, got married to Paul. Paul is a really nice guy, and not only thought so highly because of the standard set in the past, he is genuinely really nice. So, needless to say, the family was thrilled.

I don't actually have any photos of the wedding, as Paul spent the night at his family's house, so when Savannah saw him for the first time on the day (as she came walking down the aisle as the flower girl), she shouted "dadddyyyy" and tried running over to him. When she wasn't allowed she started crying, overwhelmed with the day, and couldn't be stopped. My mom was going to stand outside with her, but I quickly took her place, to allow her to watch the wedding.

Here are some of the photo's from afterwards.

Then, to entertain myself, I decided to take pictures of the kids looking stupid... (the whole "you have something on your heel" trick).

... while the girls kept guard of the entrance.

On the evening there was a nice disco, with an awesome sweet table.

Me and Brandi danced a lot, and Savannah stayed up very late being my dancing parter.

... but it was all a bit too much for Eloise.

Monday, 8 October 2012

61) Start a business

Last February I left Switch. This was a mixture of needing more money/career progression, and partly to get time off to see Brandi.

Right after Brandi left I started working at SCH (a huge company). In the past year I've learned a lot, and feel like a much, much better programmer, and have a good grasp of business in general.

In June, just after Brandi moved over, I realised I hadn't really made and progress, and was on the verge of stagnating. I can afford the mortgage and food, but not a lot more... I don't want to be an old dad either, but with money I couldn't . I spoke with my superiors, and negotiated a responsibility and pay increase.

Over two months passed, and the pay rise was yet to come. I decided to act quite quickly, and boldly, and set up my own company.

And so... as of the 14th September 2012, my company was incorporated.

I felt like this is a milestone, so I had the celebratory glass of birth whisky.

But, to tell the truth, I have been pretty nervous. When I first listed myself as available for work I got a load of calls, but most were put of when I said I still had to work my notice at SCH. And then came the call from Jon, from Switch, for a months contract. And then came a call for a 3 month contract for Peugeot... and this is a picture I took when I turned up for my first day.

But yeah... as I said, I'm a bit nervous. Today went well, but this is a really important week that will kind of decide how my whole life goes. Needless to say, working for yourself programming is a lot more money than working permanently  but with it comes much less security, and a lot more pressure (though I don't really get stressed).

I want to use the contracting side as a stepping stone into actually working as a proper business. I am hoping to start developing some kind of product/service in future, and then no longer have to stick to long hours that means you see no daylight in the winter.

Hopefully, this time next year all of my financial problems will be sorted, and I will look back on it being a great decision.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Croatia, Sukosan: My Memoirs

On 23rd of September I went to Sukosan, Croatia with my friends. Unlike our previous short breaks, this was different because Ash had been replaced by 3 girls.

- Getting off the plane into 28 degree Celsius heat. A real 'wtf' moment when getting off a Ryanair plane.

- Brandi getting locked in the airport toilets.

- Walking through the really picturesque Sukosan village for the first time. Every house seemed to be growing things like olives, green and red peppers, grapes, tomatoes, and other things.

- Going to a restaurant and ordering two big meat platters between us, but it wasn't quite enough meat. I trusted the guilty-of-war-crimes-looking waiter.

- Having amazing fresh pizzas (fresh because we saw the chef go over to the shop to buy things after we ordered).

- Walking back from the restaurant in the dark. The village seemed so haunted, complete with a young girl on a squeaky swing. Then a small child came running out of it's house towards Charlotte and she sh*t it.

- Playing Ring of Fire, followed by Drinking Munchkin (and a few mins later without the drinking), making me 2 wins out of 2 games with Munchkin. Then charades, and then the TV moustache drinking game.

- Liam having a few too many, "arching like a cat" over the kitchen sink, and then painting the corridor and all 3 of the toilets.

- The cute puppy that came running out, and randomly jumping up each of us, and gently biting my hand.

- Going into Zadar, and walking down a street fully of ice-cream shops, where every single shop was better than the next. I bought a bubblegum one first one, which turned out to be a huge mistake. I was later walking along with a bubblegum in one hand, and Kinder ice-cream in the other. If I had held out longer there were even better ones.

- Seeing Croatian Santa in Zadar.

- Liam texting Ash a picture of every church we saw.

- Being on the roughest bus I've seen, covered in graffiti of dicks.

- Our taxi driver getting pulled over by police (who had guns, crazy people) on the way to Plitvice lakes.

- Driving past really small villages, with half-constructed houses.

- Going through a weird looking town built around a river deep into a canyon. It had loads of appartment blocks that looked like a cross between Malaga and Chernobyl, and had the ruins of a castle in the middle.

- A Chinese person asking Mike for a picture, and when he agreed and assumed he would take their camera off them, they photographed him holding his burger.

- Walking through Plitivce Lakes national park, and seeing the many, many waterfalls and beautiful sights.

- Talking with Liam, Craig, and Mike, and deciding we will start developing things together. Hopefully this will be an important part of our history!

- Charlotte buying yoghurt instead of milk, and Brandi putting it on her cereal.

- Us men being manly and cooking spaghetti bolognese, and making a brutal cocktail using the suspicious house-spirit.

- Getting hammered playing Battleshots, then going out wandering around as a group, finding a scary abandoned building next to the sea, and then skinny dipping.

- Making our way home, wet and cold, and we all thought we had to take the road to the left, but Mike thankfully somehow know exactly where to go.

- Seeing Croatian Mario in Sukosan.

- Sunbathing on the pier, and actually getting a bit of a tan from a Ryanair holiday.

- Playing Munchkin again, and becoming 3/3 wins at it. Muwahaha. "Steady steady... turkey turkey".

- Buying a sandwich in the airport, and it literally being the worst sandwich I have ever eaten. It was only ham too, I don't know how they could go so wrong.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

113) Find 10 Geocaches: Part 10 - Completed!

It was almost 1 year ago that I found Cache #9. I wanted the 10th to be something special, or meaningful. I desperately tried to find a cache in Estonia, but I couldn't get any GPS signal. I then hoped to find one in Mexico... but again, no luck!

Before I knew it, time had passed and Brandi had moved in, and we were settling into our new home (which I still haven't blogged about, silly me). I decided there probably isn't a better place to find the final cache, than in our new area.

So, on the 22nd of July we found our 10th cache.

To commemorate the find, and the completion of item 113 on my 100 Things To Do List, we decided to plant a cache. On the 26th July we planted this cache, "Hidden Harley", as it is in Harley Warren. To date it has been found 11 times, with many finders saying they saw us in our kitchen.

Alas, one of my most enjoyable list items is now complete!

Just so everybody knows... those two pictures are from separate days, and Brandi is wearing the same top. What a tramp ;).

Friday, 24 August 2012

WWF: When did I get so old?

When I was about 4 I had a Hulk Hogan wrestling figure. I think I knew he was a wrestler, but didn't really know any more than that, but I did have the package it came in lying around. I used to leave the wrestling figure in the caravan for when we went on holidays, and one rainy day I looked on the back at all the other wrestlers. This is pretty much where my obsession started. The different figures looked so cool, so I started to collection them.

I used to love wrestling. I liked how over the top it was, and how colourful and interesting the characters were. My dad would sometimes take me to MultiVision where I would rent a video of a Royal Rumble or other main event. Mom and dad would also buy me many different books and videos about it.

Since we didn't have Sky TV, and the internet wasn't really around in the early 90s, all of my wrestling knowledge came from the videos I had, or things I read in the books, so it was fairly hard to understand story-lines, but I loved it regardless.

The last time I really watched wrestling was the 1995 Royal Rumble. Something suddenly felt different. I didn't really know at the time why, but I quickly lost interest. It turned out that WWF lost a lot of money due to a steroids claim, and lost a lot of their people, and that is when their popular Attitude Era started. I didn't care for it, it lost it's friendliness.

Every so often I read up about old wrestling storylines, and peice together what I remember, with what was going on at the time. I find it really interesting, but one thing always puts me off from doing it... the realisation of how old I am. When I remember wrestlers, I see them all as muscular, fast, and fairly young men... but when I see them now... wow. In my head it doesn't feel like 20 years has passed, it just feels like they got replaced by new people to fit new audiences, instead of because they just couldn't keep up.

So, here are some of the wrestlers I used to love to watch, as how I remember them, and what they are like now:

Brett Hart

Jake "The Snake" Roberts

"Macho Man" Randy Savage

 "Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibase

 Ric Flair

Rowdy Roddy Piper


The Ultimate Warrior



The Undertaker

Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake

Greg "The Hammer" Valentine

The Honky Tonk Man

Koko B Ware

I would find more, but a large amount of them have died.

I still have my collection of Wrestling figures, and hope that one day my children will like to play with them. I will just have to make sure not to show them what they look like now.