Christmas Music Already?

logoWe went out with our close friend Philippa last night in part to celebrate my one year alcohol free.  We chose to go to Cafe Parfait in Southampton, which we went to once over a year ago and really enjoyed.
After a few bottles of Becks Blue, a delicious Spaghetti Bolognaise and some choice music courtesy of my iPod, we started to get ready for the evening.

After the girls meticulously applied their make up, decided what to wear with great difficulty and emerged from the bedroom as a stunning pair of beauties, I threw on a nice shirt, had a shave and put my dress shoes on in case the bouncers had an issue with the boots I normally wear.  We jumped on a late night bus which was running on time for a change (probably because it was about 2130 and everyone was already out).  We shortly arrived in Southampton and walked the remaining distance to Cafe Parfait itself.

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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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Kerbal Chaos!

I have been recently watching career mode tutorial videos for the technically brilliant Kerbal Space Program by Scott Manley on YouTube.

I have finally taken the plunge and started a career game.

In KSP you are in charge of the Kerbal Space Program (funny that eh?) and can design and build a seemingly endless variety of spacecraft to launch into space!.

You can orbit planets and moons, land and complete scientific missions, build Space Stations and much more.

It is more a simulation than a game in my view (though it is really fun!) and there are thousands of mods available to augment the gameplay in a myriad of different ways.

It is still heavily in development with a complete “Sandbox” mode where you can design and build to your hearts content and a career mode where you unlock new technologies by conducting space flights and experiments to obtain science.

My first attempted flight was simply a capsule with a parachute attached, connected to a solid state rocket, which is as simple as it gets but I somehow screwed it up as it promptly took off, veered to one side, exploded killing my poor Kerbal astronaut and left the parachute sadly floating to the ground unattached to anything.

Frantically watching the first video again to hopefully see where I had failed, I tried again.

Using an actual engine this time rather than a rocket, it sat on the launch pad.  I pressed “Launch” and it made a noise and sat there mocking me doing nothing, turned out i had forgotten to open the throttle so no fuel was going to the engine.

Third time I attempted a launch, the parachute opened while my rocket was still on the launch pad and then the engine ignited sending my astronaut up into the atmosphere, where he eventually fell back to Kerbin and without a parachute he was killed on impact.

Finally, I got the stages right, opened the throttle, pressed launch and watched in triumph as my puny rocket soared into the heavens.

After having watched a few more videos, i tried to carry out an experiment to earn some science, sadly, I accidently clicked “EVA” and my brave astronaut leapt out of the falling space craft as it fell to earth below him…. yeah I guess you know how that ended too.

Well, I have learnt a lot during these tests and feel bold enough to try again!

Wish Me Luck!


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Spaghetti alla Bolognese
Spaghetti alla Bolognese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, it’s official.

I am losing weight.

Before I went for a shower, I decided to weigh myself, a little under sixteen stone, so about half a stone loss in a few months since I stopped drinking.

I don’t know if that is the cause, but it must have some bearing on it as I have not been exercising as much as I should have.

My main exercise other than walking is bringing the shopping home on foot every two weeks (which my back does NOT thank me for!).

I haven’t been using Kinect recently due to issues with it not picking me up properly, but I should really try and use it more for the exercise it lets me do.

I also tried on some of my combat trousers which I had grown out of and now I can do them up! also tried on a pair of jeans that I bought but could not do up and they now fit!.

So, all in all I am quite pleased that I have proof I am finally losing weight, it’s not all in my head! 😉

Now, I am writing this and preparing to make a start on tea, it’s my favourite Spaghetti Bolognese!.

We will probably be watching The X Files with dinner and if I have time, will have a quick session on Knights of the Old Republic or Kerbal Space Program (I haven’t decided yet!) followed by a milky hot chocolate before bed! wow, how action packed my life is! 😉

See you next time!

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Alcohol Free-Dom

This image shows a red wine glass.

Since giving up alcohol for health reasons some fifteen weeks ago, I have been on the lookout for good alternatives.

I have been drinking a lot of flavoured, sparkling water from Asda, Sainsburys and Tesco’s which is just fine and gives me something to refresh myself during gaming sessions! 🙂

However, occasionally I fancy something a little….more.

I found a surprisingly large collection of alcohol free drinks in major supermarkets just by looking hard.

After trying a few different things, I can heartily recommend Becks Blue from any major supermarket (and recently One-Stop) it tastes just like regular Becks, except it is alcohol free!.

I also like the Kopparberg mixed fruit and Cobra 0%.

I can also recommend the Red wine from Sainsbury’s it has a deep, refreshing taste and is indistinguishable from it’s more alcoholic brethren.

Also, Asda has a nice selection of Mocktails which are alcohol free cocktails (very nice!) and Sainsbury’s do a nice champagne which my wife and I had at our wedding (though why it never occurred to us to look at alcohol free drinks after this I don’t know!).

Recently, my wife ran across a website: The Alcohol Free Shop which has an astonishing range of drinks from wine and lagers, to spirits and cocktails.

While I cannot personally attest to the quality as I have not ordered from them yet (they are a little pricey) it is a perfect example of what alternatives are out there if you look hard enough.

One thing that particularly appeals to me is their selection of dark ales as I really do miss an occasional ale and this would be fantastic if they taste anywhere near as good as their alcoholic counterparts.

I hope this has been of some help to those of you who have given up (or are thinking of) giving up alcohol, I wish I had looked into the possibility of alcohol free alternatives much sooner, it would have made the early days a lot easier!

I wont rattle on about the health benefits of alcohol abstinence as many others do, i’m sure you are well aware of the risks associated with alcohol consumption so I don’t need to harp on it here!.

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More Planning!…

Well, recently I have been trying to distract myself from the ever present Depression by trying to get into my games.

I can play for longer than I could this time last year, but it is still a far cry from the old days when I could spend whole days and nights gaming!.

I am planning on applying for volunteer positions with a local farm and the local Police to give myself some structure as well as allotting time for writing, working on my BITC Paranormal Investigators course, Programming and Reading.

So far, it hasn’t been too effective as I find myself easily distracted, especially when I come up blank on what to write or something I don’t understand with Python! but I think this is the best way forward as it gets me back into the habit of working to a schedule.

I was recently ruthless with my games (see here) and have been trying to use Kinect more often for exercise (I know it doesn’t beat going outside but it’s better than nothing and saves me getting soaked in the rain!).

I still feel slightly silly using Kinect but it is pretty cool! I just hope it isn’t sending all those ridiculous videos of me playing and using voice commands to Microsoft for goodness knows what  nefarious purpose! 😉

Well, I suppose I should get on with some writing or coursework!.

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A Return to Gaming!

Fallout: New Vegas box art
Fallout: New Vegas box art (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, it’s been a fair old while since my last post, so i thought it high time to write and update you all on what’s been happening in my world.

Just before Christmas, we had a run of appointments, from the Dentist’s to the Doctor’s and also a hospital appointment or two so my apologies for not writing!.

I recently had a Liver Biopsy which was a unique experience, my appointment was at 0800 but I got called in early thinking “Yay! this will be over in no time!” but there was a few hour wait until I was called in during which time I had to have another shower using this antibacterial soap in preparation for my procedure (which was strange showering in a hospital!).

Finally, I was called in and had to lie on the bed (with my book ‘The Founding‘ by Dan Abnett just in case there was another delay) while they wheeled me down to the right area (I felt so lazy being able to walk but they wanted me lying down!).

The worst thing was the injection of the anaesthetic, that stuff burns when it goes in until it kicks in and numbs the area!  The Doctor performing the procedure was brilliant, explaining what was going to happen at each step and it was all over in a few moments (I also got to see the sample they took before I was wheeled back!).

After an hour lying on my right side and having my stats checked regularly, I was wheeled back up to the ward where my wife Tracey was waiting patiently (with her book!) and even though I felt ready to leave right away, I had to stay in until about 1900 lying down to ensure there was no complications! good job I had my wife and my book to keep me busy!!.

All the nursing staff and the Doctor were fantastic, I really felt they cared about me and they were friendly and warm, and people say the NHS is bad! we don’t know how lucky we are to have such a system!.

Christmas was great, Tracey got me a model of the SSV Normandy SR1 from Mass Effect 1 which has pride of place on my desk and the Elder Scrolls Anthology containing Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind GOTY, Oblivion GOTY and Skyrim GOTY.

Needless to say I am getting back into my games and the Elder Scrolls are my favourite universe! I even started using an Xbox controller in the PC to make it easier!.

I have also got into Flight Simulator X (with FS Flying School and REX Essentials) and have been putting a lot of time into Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and Mass Effect 3 (even though I should be writing and doing my Paranormal Investigator course!).

College has been going really well, we have now finished Microsoft Word and Excel units (that last test was NOT fun! I hate nested IF statements and VLOOKUP!) and are going on to Publisher and Access if we have time, it’s great getting coffee in the Costa in the college as it is a fraction of the price it is outside and it’s really good coffee! helps keep me awake during the more complex parts when my eyes want to glaze over!.

We also sorted through all my games, getting rid of over fifty games (some I hadn’t looked at in years!) we traded them in at CEX in town (which took ages!) and got nearly £50 in vouchers which we spent on Kinect for the Xbox and a few Kinect games to get us started!.

Having a small lounge, we invested in the Zoom accessory for Kinect that is designed to get the Kinect to work in smaller rooms (It’s still not perfect but it is at least usable) and have been having fun with Kinect Sports (Yay Bowling!) and Your Shape 2012.

We finally finished watching all seven series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and are now watching The X-Files.

Well, time to go and do some Programming and maybe some writing, hope you all had a great Christmas!.

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Just a small update…

Well it has now been a few weeks since the Great Kitchen Adventure and I am still getting used to our new kitchen!.

I am still surprised that we actually have cupboard space left over after our big clear out! I guess though as time goes on we will gradually start to fill these spaces up.

I have been having a break from programming due to becoming stuck on one of the exercises at the end of a chapter and have been bashing my head against the wall trying to solve it!.

I think I may just call it a day on that one and jump ahead to the next chapter, though it feels slightly like cheating!.

I really want to get stuck into the rest of the book though, as I have the next few books planned and have some ideas that I want to start putting into practice.

College again tonight, we had a test last week on the Microsoft Word unit and hopefully passed with flying colours! this week and coming weeks are all about Excel.  It is great to be back learning and things are going really well!.

We also had our first Abel & Cole delivery of fruit, veg and juice today and wow! we got loads!  I started drinking the pear and kiwi juice (100% juice and nothing else) and couldn’t stop! guess that will be going on the list for next time!.

I can definitely recommend these guys to anyone looking to eat more healthily as their produce is mainly organic so chemical free.

Well, time to go and get something to eat before we leave for college!.

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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!

New Kitchen Ahoy!

Well I know it’s been a while since my last update but things have been really busy this last week with hospital appointments, Doctor’s appointments and so on!.

During this time, we have been steadily emptying the kitchen in preparation for the new kitchen work which started on Thursday.

Now the living room is filled with boxes and assorted kitchenware so we are restricted to the sofa and a small patch of lounge carpet where we keep ourselves busy playing board games while the workmen from Drew Smith rip apart our kitchen!.

They arrived promptly at 0830 on Thursday morning and within an hour they had completely removed our old kitchen, within another few hours all the electrics had been removed and replaced (LOTS of extremely loud drilling!) and a new fluorescent strip light fitted.

Finally, we were given a tour of the work and marvelled at how big our kitchen is now it is empty! a short while later, the floor guys came out and ripped up the vinyl floor leaving the floorboards exposed for the first time in who knows how long?.

After heating up a mystery meal from the freezer which turned out to be a nice chilli, we retired for the night and I watched some youtube videos while I tried to get to sleep!.

Now, the men are back and seem to be preparing to fit the new kitchen already!, at this rate, they will be finished before the end of next week! (and we sent our kitty Milo on holiday because of the noise and the fact the front door will be left open all day).

Roll on the amazing new kitchen! 🙂


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