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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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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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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Day Two Complete!

Day Two Complete!Well that was Day Two of our new kitchen!.

As you can see to the left, we have a shiny new sink and two worktops and a number of cabinets all ready to be installed!.

Work started promptly at 0830 and finished at around 1500 all the while the door was wide open and sucking any heat straight outside! Luckily we were underneath a sleeping bag in the lounge and managed to stave off the worst of the chill! also, we haven’t put the heating on yet as it would be pointless with the door being open!.

I am sat here in my favourite jumper (thanks mom!) and lovely and warm (apart from my feet anyway!) and looking forward to next friday when our little boy comes home.

Well, the weekend is now over and we have managed without a cooker or washing machine now for four days (thankfully we have a freezer full of odds and ends!) and the workmen have just arrived for the start of Day Three, stand by for news at the end of today!.

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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Costa, Clothes and Friends

coffeeNot long been in after a busy day in town.

Today we met up with an old school friend of mine in one of the local Costa Coffees in Southampton.

It has been quite a while since we last saw each other, and in that time both of us got married!.

We all had a great time chatting about marriage, games and cats over an iced americano.

After we parted ways, agreeing to meet up again soon, Tracey and I visited Matalan to get her a new blouse, CEX and GAME to window shop (and yes, for me to look longingly at Grand Theft Auto 5!).

After that,we met up with a couple of other friends and went back to Costa for another Iced Coffee and a catch up!.

Finally, we went into the local Buyology store and bought two large boxes to start to store the contents of our kitchen in when it gets replaced (see here) and caused the shelf to collapse when we pulled the boxes out!.

So all in all, a productive and enjoyable day (even if we did scare the shop assistant half to death when the shelf collapsed!).

College Days Revisited

I’m sat here watching the new series of Don’t Tell the Bride and looking forward to starting college again next week.

I’m not going full time as the course my wife and I are doing is only a few hours on a Wednesday at Totton college, but it is still the first time I have been back to college for a few years while I have been battling depression and trying to find work, so it is a big deal to turn that corner finally and start planning for the future again.

The course is an ITQ level 2 as we did the level 1 a few years back, it is an IT qualification in the use of Microsoft Office 2010 as I think I need to learn more about Office as it will come in helpful for my writing and for the possibility of employment in an office environment.  Also, it will vastly increase my knowledge of Office gained from judicious use of Google and YouTube!.

Plus, it makes a change from simply spending all day every day mindlessly job hunting without success or trying to wrap my head around the programming challenges I have set myself!.

The job centre needed to send some paperwork to us to prove entitlement for the bursary to enable us to do it for free – and they actually did! they sent the correct paperwork out with all the relevant details we needed.  Tracey phoned them to ask as I didn’t see the point, I knew they would screw it up just like they always do but this time the system worked!. Boy am I pleased to be wrong!.

So, we start Wednesday, I have an early hospital appointment the Thursday and Friday we are “house sitting” for my parents which is a nice little holiday for us somewhere else away from Southampton for the weekend! should sleep well then! maybe get a chance to catch up with my reading as I have been focussing on the computer recently so it would be nice to get back to The Dark Tower again!.

Wish me luck and take care!

Meanwhile in Southampton…

It’s been a fairly busy day today.

Firstly, we were up early anyway, then we had time for a quick coffee or two before making our way to the bus stop.

Why is it when you are in a hurry, the bus always stops at every single stop on the way to town? and you get the pushchairs and the wombles getting on board and complaining loudly about everything?  at least they have a pass now, it used to be worse before when they would get on board and then spend ten minutes rummaging around in their purse for the coppers to make up their fare! then they moan the bus is running late!.

Then we met with my parents in the Marlands in Southampton for another lovely cuppa and a chat while my “baby” sister (who is now officially half my age!) goes birthday shopping with a friend.

Afterwards, we headed to a local shop were I picked up a Monster to revive my flagging caffeine levels where I stood waiting for ten minutes while the two people in front of me insisted on using their credit cards for a newspaper!.

After knocking back the energy drink, we headed off to the Central Library so I could talk to the Open University about the possibility of doing an access course and how to go about finding out more, before finally heading past the blaring SO Fest to get the bus home.

And now, I have to build up the energy and courage to face the hordes of shoppers at our local Tesco’s to do our fortnightly shopping! A few more energy drinks first I think, just to keep me alive until I get home!