Christmas Preparation Underway

We have had a busy couple of weeks.

Not our bookcase! ;-)

A while back, my wife Tracey found a cheap second hand bookcase on facebook.  When it arrived we then promptly spent the next two days sorting out all of our books into a large database and filling up the new bookcase.  We also went through the ornaments on the mantlepiece and in the cabinet and threw some out and others were moved to the top of the bookcase.  Figuring that the rest of the lounge may as well be done now, we then had a huge clearout and general tidy (not that we are untidy per se just a little cluttered).

Now, with a tidy lounge, my wife decided now would be a great time to sort out the bedroom, which quickly followed suit and now we are left with the fallout of all this sorting and clearing – a large collection of boxes, bags and assorted bric a brac in the shed all ready to be thrown out in the spring (when we have our huge annual clearout).  The amount of stuff we have to throw out would probably fill a skip! you don’t realise how much stuff you accumulate over time!.

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Football Manager Addiction!

Football Manager was named in 35 divorce cases in the UK.

Having played a fair few hours of it over the last couple of weeks I can see why.

I am not a huge follower of football and will be the first to put my hand up and admit I know next to nothing about football strategy and tactics (though I have printed out a few guides and read a lot of articles to increase my knowledge somewhat).  I understand they have streamlined  the game and improved vastly upon it since my last foray into Football Manager (2012) and I have found this version (2014) to be a lot simpler and more intuitive than the last one I played (I know it’s all a matter of opinion but I am getting on with this version better than 2010 or 2012 somehow).  Even though I am not a huge football fanatic, I still find this game highly addictive and think about it even when i’m not playing it and planning for my next session!.

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A Relaxing Weekend?

Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just got in from a rather hot walk up to the big Tesco’s up the road.

Tracey made the whole trip there and back without stopping which is a huge achievement at this stage of her recovery.

Now we are both sat down with a cold drink and I thought it would be a good time to write.

Yesterday, we had to make another trip to Southampton, firstly to return a cheap pair of speakers we bought for Tracey’s computer, and secondly to return a game (Stardrive) that we bought from CEX and turned out to be a Steam game that had already been activated.

CEX were great, they refunded me straight away and the voucher went towards… (and I am almost ashamed to say this)  LEGO Star Wars The Original Trilogy.

In my defence, I am trying to get more games that both Tracey and I can play together and we are both Star Wars and Lego fans and the games came recommended so thought it was worth a try!.

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Totton College Taxi Drama

We had an interesting phone call the other day from our tutor Nina at Totton College.

English: Totton College Totton College from th...
English: Totton College Totton College from the Calmore Road entrance. Formerly Totton Grammar School which opened in 1955, the College was opened in 1969. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Her and another member of staff, Kirsty had been talking and felt bad that we walked home the week before (and pushing that wheelchair from the college home was very tiring!) and had arranged for a Taxi to pick us up and drop us home for the last few weeks of our ITQ course!.

I was lost for words! I had no idea the college could even offer such a service, and the fact that these two members of staff thought about it and made it happen for us to make our travelling to and from college a hell of a lot easier just blew me away!.

We took a risk and decided not to take the wheelchair as Tracey would only need to walk around the college, but as it turned out we had underestimated the stairs and realised that next week we would be taking the chair anyway!.

It was such a strange feeling sitting in a taxi to and from college like royalty where we are used to walking and it made us both feel a little lazy but my goodness wasn’t it easier and a lot quicker! we usually don’t get home until gone 2200 but we were home a little after 2100.

So if you are reading this Totton college:

Thank you from us both! you have made us both smile and really made it a lot easier for us to complete our course! we look forward to studying with you again in September! (though Tracey will be more mobile by then hopefully!).

Well, time for me to do a spot of Python before going back to modding my Bethesda games (Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas) and I will shortly get a post up telling all about this new exciting hobby!.


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Wheelchair Wonders

I needed to go up Tesco’s recently to collect our prescriptions and it was while I was pushing Tracey in the wheelchair I noticed a very odd thing:

People were making way for us.

There is one road especially where we are normally standing waiting for a good five minutes while cars speed past from three directions.

But the last three times we have crossed that road, people have actually stopped their cars and waved us across!.

We also had a trio of mom’s pushing pushchairs who moved into single file to allow us past! and to top it all off, on our way home today a couple of schoolboys on bikes standing in our path moved aside to let us past!.

I managed to put aside my shock and thank each and every one of them for their kindness.

I remember reading a long time ago about the topic of committing one random act of kindness every day, and this last week I have seen that in action albeit in a small way but it made our trip that much easier.

Maybe all those small random acts I have committed over the years have started to come to fruition? they do say what goes around comes around!.

As it turns out, I should have called the pharmacy before we made the trip today as they didn’t have a delivery yet which meant they couldn’t completely fill Tracey’s prescription.  The delivery arrived while we were waiting outside with a cold drink in the heat but was sadly not opened when I went back to enquire so instead I got the pharmacy’s direct number and will definitely be calling it tomorrow before committing Tracey to this journey for a third time in three days!

At least we are both getting some well needed exercise and fresh air!.

Banjo-Kazooie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My wife and I went to town the other day.

As part of her recovery we are walking every day to get her back into shape and exercise her heart, but are also taking the collapsible wheelchair for when she gets too tired.

Tracey walked to the bus stop just using the chair for balance then we jumped on the bus and spent the next twenty minutes being bounced around on the uneven roads which wasn’t exactly comfortable for her.

But eventually, we made it to town and got out our list we had made to ensure we didn’t forget anything.  This was the first time we had been in town since before Tracey’s operation and we didn’t want to waste time!.

We got off at the Marlands and entered CEX, where we immediately headed for the Xbox 360 games and picked up Banjo Kazooie Nuts & Bolts for a bargain low price as I had recently had been playing Banjo-Kazooie and felt like retrying Nuts & Bolts after a brief go a few years ago which ended with me trading it in as there were other games I wanted to play more.

After waiting in the queue for a good twenty minutes (don’t get me started on CEX’s queueing issue!) we headed for GAME in West Quay and promptly arrived at the primary reason we decided to go to town rather than just up the road and back:

Murdered Soul Suspect.

I had been waiting for this game for over a year and had been saving my Christmas GAME voucher and the points on my card for just this occasion, eagerly snapping up each and every trailer released over the past six months.

The tagline is simple: “The hardest murder to solve is your own”.

Then something horrific happened.

I decided to try Viva Pinata.

I had been toying with the idea for a few years since I heard good things about it from a friend.  It just makes a change to play a game now and then that doesn’t revolve around killing or destruction! I can just relax and play this or Banjo if I feel like something different.

To try and deal with the guilt and shame of buying these kids games, we sat in the park and enjoyed some fresh air and sunshine.

After a while we made our way back to the bus and went home pleased with our bargains and an evening of gaming prevailed…

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The Long Awaited Update

English: Main Entrance to Southampton General ...
English: Main Entrance to Southampton General Hospital, Southampton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well hello readers, it’s been a very long time and I have good reasons.

My dear mom passed away suddenly which dropped the bottom out of my world.

The loss of such a beautiful, loving, kind woman is a loss felt by all who know her.

Secondly, my wife has just returned home from major heart surgery and the installation of a pacemaker.

As you can imagine, my world has been extremely busy and I have not been able to find the time to post.

Even if I could post, it would be endless accounts of daily hospital visits to my wife which i’m sure you wouldn’t want to read.

I think I have crossed a line in my writing, I used to simply write for myself but now I am trying to think of my readers (and I know there are a few of you out there!).

Every time I thought about writing (which was admittedly often) I couldn’t start and simply sat there staring at the screen for what felt like hours.

I have heard it said that the best time to write from the heart is during times of high emotion and it is that thought that I kept returning to over and over again.

Though I knew this, I just couldn’t write, so today I feel things have settled down sufficiently to allow me some freedom to write and here I am.

Getting used to life without my mom has been hard, I still expect to pick up the phone and hear her voice and chat about recent events in our lives.

I had the honour of being a bearer at her funeral, she carried me for seven months (I was premature) the least I could do was carry her for a few minutes.

There was a great turnout, a lot of family, friends and coworkers came to pay their respects and say goodbye to a woman who had been such a positive force in their lives.

Coming hot on the heels of mom’s funeral (as in a couple of days later) my wife was admitted to Southampton General Hospital for major heart surgery.

My wife Tracey suffers from a rare connective tissue disorder called Loeys-Dietz Syndrome which amongst other things can cause the aorta (the main artery going to and from the heart) to become enlarged and if untreated can lead to a condition known as Aortic Root Dissection which is where the aorta bursts and is usually fatal.

Thankfully, after running a series of tests and examinations, they discovered that Tracey’s Aortic root was significantly enlarged and surgery was the only option before it got larger and possibly burst.

The last few weeks have been tiring with daily trips to the hospital, seeing Tracey recover quicker and quicker every day and then the pacemaker which she felt had set her recovery back a week or more.  Seeing the excellent care and support she received at the hands of the dedicated Doctors and Nurses was a sight to behold.

We are so fortunate in this country to have such an excellent National Health Service and we are grateful every day for Tracey’s recovery due to the care and support she received.

We now have the long road to recovery ahead of us, and to that end we inherited mom’s collapsible wheelchair so Tracey can go out for walks using it for support then when she gets too tired, she can hop in and be pushed by me (which gives me a good cardio workout!).

So that is you all caught up with my life the last month or so since I last posted!.  My apologies it is a little longer than you are used to but it seemed I had a lot to say after all!.

Now to do some writing and maybe programming before going up the local shops with Tracey.









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Avoiding Charity Muggers

Flaming Charity Muggers!!

My wife and I took a leisurely walk to Southampton wednesday to make the most of the nice weather.

We hadn’t been in the city centre five minutes before a charity mugger or “Chugger” jumped us demanding a minute of our time for some unnamed charity.

We hurried past mumbling “no thank you” and ran straight into another one, who was holding out a leaflet expecting us to grab it and use it as a tool to initiate communication.

After narrowly escaping that one, we trained our eyes into the middle distance scouting for others, hopefully sporting distinctive jackets and clipboards.

I resented being forced to scan the crowds around us for the ever present charity muggers, and we needed to zig zag down the street to avoid more of them.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand these people are just doing their jobs and I know that they are apparently performing a great service for their charity of choice, I just believe they shouldn’t be allowed to jump you in the street, pouring out guilt trips and demanding your bank details.

The fact that some of these people are on commission and so do not have the charity’s best interests at heart is another reason to dislike their tactics.

After a nice walk around town and a brief stop in the park to rest our legs, we made our way home where I cracked out my copy of Grand Theft Auto 5 and spent an hour trying to install it, failing miserably as the install option didn’t appear on the dashboard.

My wife suggested that maybe I could try running the install disc and see if it installs automatically, (which I didn’t do thinking I knew better).

Turns out that once again she was spot on and her suggestion that I tried as a last resort worked a charm and soon I was playing the game!.

I will definitely have to listen to her advice sooner in the future! the game was even better considering the fact that I didn’t have to pay for it thanks to some trade ins I made!.

Well, time to do some writing before I go back to the Xbox!.

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The Huge Winter Clear Out!

Well, the kitchen is finally complete and we have finished moving everything (well actually a LOT less than everything!) back in.

When we finished emptying the old kitchen, we had six 110litre boxes packed full of kitchenware and assorted odds and ends, plus half the lounge filled with various sauces, packets, herbs and spices.

We barely had room to play a board game or two on the carpet during the work, while the workmen did their job!.

When the work was complete and we started moving everything back in (which took about two days) before our cat Milo came home, we ended up with four of the six boxes full of stuff we wanted to get rid of!.  Including two from the cupboard at the top of the stairs that was full of stuff we hadn’t looked at in years and thought we may as well sort through while were at it!.

After all the sorting and restocking, we got our lounge back and then decided to go shopping while we were still in the zone!, so tired and achy we walked up to the big Tesco’s up the road and carried back two weeks worth of food before finally settling down for the night.

The following day, not being able to carry it all in one go up to the charity collection bins, we asked a friend who had recently moved if there was anything he wanted.

After going through all the boxes, he ended up taking nearly everything (three of the four boxes) which was of immense help to us and him, so off we went again to help him get it all home (fortunately he lives close by).

Finally, we all gathered up the last few items in the last box and proceeded to walk up to the charity bins up the road (where the carrier bags insisted on splitting halfway!).

Now we have a couple of hospital appointments to get out of the way and the Christmas shopping to finish (we started early this year for the first time!) before the Christmas Market appears in town (which we are looking forward to!) and the chaos of Christmas descends upon us once again.

Roll on Christmas!

Kitchen of Chaos Week One Ended

Well, that was a whole week of the kitchen work complete.

On Day One, they ripped out the old kitchen and floor and installed the wall sockets.

On Day Two, they installed the new sink and put in some units.

On Day Three, they did most of the tiling, installed more sides.

On Day Four, they installed a couple of high units and put the rest of the sides in.

On Day Five, they did more tiling and put more units in.

On Day Six, they finished tiling and put the last high units in.

On Day Seven, they grouted the tiles and did another coat of paint and the plumber arrived to fit our washing machine (which we still cant use as the plug sockets haven’t been fitted yet and all our extension leads are in use!).

Roll on Monday when (hopefully) the electrics will be finished and our cooker wired up (we have to light it with candle tapers currently!).

For now, it is the start of the weekend and all I want is a nice cup of coffee and to watch some Buffy the Vampire Slayer!.

Day Seven Complete! Day Seven Complete! Day Seven Complete! Day Seven Complete!