Adverts

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Review Of 2015 Goals

This probably isn't my most interesting of posts, but I like to have it up for posterity.  Red text denotes success or lack of it:

Lifestyle

Lose Weight – So I didn’t quite manage my 6kg target last year.  I finished at 94kg, pretty much what I started on but averaged 91.5kg.  My goal is to get down to 87kg by December.  It’s a long-term goal – a lifestyle change not a crash diet.  I had got down to 89k, but ended close to 93kg.  Total failure.

Monthly No Computer Evening – I live my life around my computer.  All day at work and I’m sat in front of it most of the time I am at home.  So on the 19th of each month (chosen by random number generator, of course), my computer goes off at 6pm.  It doesn’t matter what I do – sleep, socialise, cleaning, DJing, whatever.  Just no sitting in front of the computer.  I didn’t like the rigidity of it, so I instead made it more positive and created a monthly movie night, monthly going out for dinner, monthly exercise night/day and monthly DJ practice.  I’m not really following it to the plan, but I do now exercise more, practice DJing more and watch more movies.

31 Day Detox – Last year I detoxed for the whole of February – this year I won’t get back from Poland until 2nd February so I am starting my detox on 3rd February and continuing until 5th March.  Successfully completed.

Try An Activity – Yoga, rock-climbing, rowing, salsa dancing, ballet – it doesn’t matter – I need to try something that involves exercise.  Nope.  Not even thought about it.  Though I nearly went to watch a friend do flamenco.  Except I was in Ibiza.

Get On My Bike.  I did buy a bike in 2013.  I will eventually get on it and ride it.  100m is the target for 2015.  Actually I’ll keep it simple – buying a bike pump for my flat tyres is the target.  Successful completed.  I pumped my tyres up, and I do ride my bike every sober weekend when the weather is vaguely acceptable.  Target smashed.

Fashion Icon – Short shorts, sparkly stuff, blue shoes and a collection of Happy Feet socks are all required.  I have my short shorts and happy feet socks which fell apart so made me unhappy.  I bought some green sequinned shoes, and also a blue sequinned tracksuit from China which as an Asian large is way too small from me.  Target smashed.

Go Places

Go to 2 new countries.  Poland is already booked and I aim to go to Switzerland.  Why?  Because the random country generator told me to.  Granted it picked Somalia first but I decided that I should probably wait until there is a little more stability before visiting there.  I went to Poland and Portugal.  I didn’t make it to Switzerland but the target was achieved.

Ibiza.  I am going!  I might even go twice.  I went!

2 New UK Adventures – I am well-travelled across the UK – you could name most towns and cities and I have been to them.  There are a few notable exceptions such as Brighton and Slough.  But also there are cities that I feel I have vastly unexplored such as Liverpool & Newcastle so another goal is to explore two new/unexplored urban areas of this wonderful country of ours.  I went to Slough.  50% successful.

2 New Football Stadiums – Hull City AFC may not be in the Premier League forever so it would be sensible to tick off a couple more grounds whilst I can.  The lifelong aim is to go to all 92 grounds – but football isn’t a priority.  Not managed any yet.  I went to Brentford.  50% achieved.

Countryside & Castles – I want to explore the countryside in my local area and visit at least one castle/palace.  By the end of 2015 I want to have done a 12 mile walk.  Studying is usurping walking, but I did go to Mapledurham House.  Not quite a castle though.  Kind of half achieved.

Take A Foreigner To Watch Cricket – I intend on going to watch cricket a couple of times this year – not fussed whether that is 20/20, a day at a test match or just a local cricket club but I must take a foreigner to watch cricket.  An Aussie does not count.  Failed this one – but I did kind of get my sister into it.

House Music

DJing – I want one set a month.  No more – unless it is paid.  I need to rebrand my website – again - but most importantly I need to release one mix a month, and also have promotional materials to hand out to people when DJing.  Still not done the promotional materials, but I did rebrand my website.

Cocoon In The Park.  As soon as details are released I am booking my hotel.  I don’t care whether anyone else is up for it though of course that would be ever better.  It’s the best festival I have ever been to with my favourite DJs.  I’ll go by myself if I have to.  However this does depend on the date as it might clash with Ibiza.  If it clashes with Ibiza then I’ll do something else special.  It clashed with Ibiza.  Sounds like it was full of Carl Cox fanboys anyway…twatts.

Secretsundaze – This is one brilliant party, I enjoy it so much.  I went and it closed early.

Fabric Birthday – I’m kind of going off fabric, certainly going off the crowd there anyway.  But the birthday is special.  I would like to go this year.  I went!

Romanians – I want to see some Romanian DJs this year – Barac or Cristi Cons would ideal.  I saw Cristi Cons.  Achieved.  Didn’t quite make it to Romania though.

The Usuals – Sven and Ricardo, of course.  Somewhere, sometime.  I saw Ricardo.  Not Sven.  Not that bothered either.

Learn Things

Spanish.  Given that the eventual goal for my web development studying is to be living and working from Ibiza, and with languages being more difficult to learn than code, I need to start now.  I have an app called Duolingo which is pretty good and can learn whilst having a poo.  The goal is to complete the app.  And chat up hot Spanish women with one side of their hair shaved off when in Ibiza.  Cu├íntos elefantes tienes?  Bien para no muy bien.  Si si yo achivo.

JavaScript.  I received a 930 page JavaScript book for Christmas.  This is going to be the bane of my year.  JavaScript is ‘var = function(fucking (hard));’.  But I need to know it well if I am going to make a future career in web development.  Slowly.

Drupal, Wordpress, Bootstrap & CSS Animations.  Without going into too much detail, these are technologies that I need to learn next.  Drupal is a content management system, as is Wordpress.  Wordpress will allow me to create better-looking blogs than Blogger does.  Bootstrap is Twitter’s framework to make it easier to make good-looking responsive websites.  I’ve learnt the basics of Wordpress and Bootstrap, and have just started learning Drupal.

Cooking.  I really enjoy my cooking – 5 years ago I didn’t even have any pepper in my cupboard.  This year I want to expand my knowledge and buy cookbooks about the cuisine of two other countries.  They will be countries close to the UK!!!!  Irish, French or Spanish, in all likelihood.  I have been bought a Spanish cookbook and done a few bits from it.

Blogs & Projects

Top Tunes – I need to do a total rebrand for this blog. I don’t think having my name against this is good for marketing.  Each post is read by around 30 people – which is nice – but I feel people would be more likely to read, follow and share if it had a generic branding instead of being focused on a wannabe DJ with 82 fans.  I now have a good plan.  But I haven’t started it.

Ubereadoolische – I sometimes think about giving this up but then I forget that followers/readers is not the goal – it is supposed to be my practice ground for my web development.  This year I will redesign it using my new-found jQuery skills, improved design ideas probably once I have gained knowledge of Drupal.  The plan is in my head.  It is 60% completed.

Roast Dinners Around Reading – I want to achieve a minimum of 25 new places reviewed and have at least 200 followers on Facebook & Twitter.  Smashed it.

Sweeney Todd Pie Blog – Every remaining pie must be reviewed.  There are still some pies left and I don’t live in Reading.

Weather Forecast – I am aiming for a minimum of 1,800 followers which is roughly double what I started the year at.  I must complete the rebrand with a professional photographer and also I want to read at least one scientific book to advance my understanding.  Smashed it already though I haven’t read a scientific book yet.

Fish Out Dolan Out – It’s my Hull City blog, in case you haven’t realised.  It seems to be more popular on Twitter so I’m aiming for a FB/TW 100/500 follower count.  Halfway there.

The Only Tory From Hull – It’s election year and this is my politics blog.  My aim is for 100 followers on either Facebook or Twitter.  I feel this is going to be a slow burner.  Not even half way there yet.  This is indeed a slow burner.  I think I’m bored of it.

Things To Buy

Rockit speakers.  I do have half-decent speakers now but I really want to upgrade.  Especially useful if I ever decide to host a BBQ this coming summer, which I might.  They are amazing.

Sound Card - I need to improve the sound quality that my computer can record my mixes at.  It is fine now but fine isn't good enough.  It definitely helped.

CD Printer – To print promotional CDs for my DJing.  Purchased.  Used it to print prime ministers.

Microsoft Surface – I just want one, ok?  For studying on the train, outside in the sunshine, etc.  Stick your apple up your arse.  Probably a waste of money.  We’ll see.

CDJ stands – I need to get my CDJs onto stands to create some space for…  Next purchase.

Technics – I really want to learn how to play vinyl.  So I need some technics and some vinyl.  Very unlikely to happen until May/June.

Decide Things

Job.  I’ve been in this job for 3 years now.  I am happy.  But I didn’t get a pay rise last year and am not advancing my career.  I don’t like uncertainty so my first decision is whether to commit myself to another 12-18 months here or start job hunting.  I’ve had enough but I haven’t even had an interview let alone got another job.

House.  My housemate is almost definitely moving out so I will need to find somewhere new to live.  This is partly dependant on what I choose above – if I stay working in Bracknell then I will probably move to Bracknell so the travel time can be put into studying.  Yeah I know.  If I get a job in Reading then I will stay in Reading.  If I get a job in London then I will move there.  I moved to Bracknell.  Not sure if that counts as success.

Career Path.  I need to decide whether to take a very junior role doing web development or a more senior role doing credit control, as my next job.  I’m veering towards the first option.  Though I do change my mind occasionally.

Quite a successful year overall at 63%.

Detox 2016

Two years ago when I did my fear-inducing virgin detox, I needed it.  I had been drinking and partying almost every weekend since I was 14.  I’d certainly not had any more than a week’s break from intoxicants since my early teenage years.  My body needed it.

This time I don’t need the detox so much, but I want the detox.  I am craving my detox.  And it is for a greater variety of reasons than just my health.


I am expanding my detox this time.  Firstly to 36 days – because I am 36 years old.  I am also expanding the definition of unhealthy substances to include all sausage and bacon-related products.  Even chorizo - stick that up your arse Mariano Rajoy.  The main reason behind the lack of bacon is to challenge myself to find healthy, low calorie yet tasty breakfast options for the weekend – such as smoked salmon and eggs, for example.

My health could be improved – I am feeling tired and unhealthy at the moment.  Too much beer, too much shit food, too much caffeine.  The body needs a spell of sobriety and it needs a spell of healthy eating – not just 4 or 5 days a week that I usually manage (albeit not the last week or two), but 7 days a week.

I also need to do more exercise.  I have started exercising more but I struggle to walk to the local shop when I have a hangover.


The mind also needs a rest.  I’m not enjoying going out as much as I normally do.  I actively want to spend my time reading more, watching more movies and yes, I want to get out on my bike more, to make myself less unfit.

I’m also concerned about a recent lack of progress on studying.  I have a lot I want to achieve, I urgently need to focus on my portfolio, not to mention an 85 hour study backlog that I have to tackle now.

Plus I have a whole list of things that I need to do, from buying some shelves, to visiting the doctors and dentist, along with various other administrative activities that I keep putting off and it would be nice if these were banished from my mind.

Finally, I’ve overspent in recent months and want to finish the month out of overdraft for the first time since September.

With a bit of careful control, I might even have enough saved up by the end of the month for one Technic deck.  If we are granted some form of annual bonus which is allegedly due tomorrow, then I might even have enough for two vinyl decks.

So, physically, mentally and financially, I want this detox.  I have been looking forward to it for weeks.  It starts very soon.

Manana.  Maybe.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Observations On Bracknell

I did mean to write a post about my first impressions of Bracknell when I arrived, but I have been so depressed since stepping foot into Great Holland’s that I haven’t been able to broach my emotions on the subject.

I am now ready.

Occasionally in my life, I have dreamt of getting arrested, so I’m viewing this as a stint in an open prison – I’m doing time.

My initial sentence of 6 months is nearly up, though I fear it may be extended due to bad behaviour.

One of the first aspects about Bracknell life that I noticed was that there are absolutely no attractive women in the street.  One thing I miss hugely in my Neanderthal way about Reading are all the beautiful women that I walk past, especially those from other countries, especially those with a natural suntan.

In fact, I don’t walk past many people, let alone attractive women.  In the time I have spent there, I recall seeing one attractive woman in my neighbourhood.

There are far many more dogs than hotties.

I mean, the “woof woof” variety.  Everyone seems to have a dog, and most of them are large dogs.  Many of them look like the type of dogs that want to bite and often are not on a lead.

One thing that has not surprised me is the amount of empty drugs bags on the floor.  I also regularly smell cannabis, though not so much over the last month – I guess the locals spent their money on Christmas rather than cannabis.

I have not walked past any street dealers yet.  Nor prostitutes – thankfully.

Great Holland’s might be a council estate, and might have a certain reputation but many people work.  I describe it to those in Hull as like Orchard Park but everyone votes Tory and has a job.




Some pictures above of Orchard Park, in Hull.  Bracknell is almost beautiful in comparison.

The local shops are actually OK once you walk past the exceptionally scary-looking local pub.  Within a few minutes walk, I have a proper fish and chip shop – well, it ain’t up to Hull standards, you cannot get patties or chip spice, and the haddock is distinctly average, but it is a fish and chip shop nonetheless.  Unlike in Reading where fish and chips is served in chicken shops.

There is a butchers that I never use, feel bad for not using and never get around to using.  And a pharmacist.  Oh and a Londis style shop which does sausage and bacon sandwiches in the morning for about half the price that I used to pay at Reading station.

Apart from that there is nothing between my house and the town centre, a good 30-40 minutes walk away.  Oh except a MacDonalds.  And a half-decent pup that does…wait for it…craft beers!  I went there once to watch the football, hipster-style.

Green space is plentiful.  There are lots of parks.  This I did not expect.  However, there are also lots of children.  Visiting the local shop in the morning is similar to hell.  Real prisoners are lucky.  15 minutes away there is some really nice countryside, and I have been advised to give South Park Hill a visit – apparently it has great roast dinners and is a local cultural centre.

Who knew Bracknell had a cultural centre?  For the rest of it is a total creative back-water.  There is nothing for me here – which I guess works because I am here to study lots and get my portfolio sorted out so I can go live somewhere with a soul.

It isn’t the most conveniently located location either – having been used to being 25 minutes on a train from London, I am now an hour or so and 267 stops away.

On top of that I also feel more isolated.  There is no popping into town to pick up some bits, or meet someone for a quick beer.  Going to Reading is an hour long trip.  Roast dinner reviews are more difficult too, often requiring two trains.

Cycle paths are everywhere and I have only had one pavement cyclist encounter – in Reading I would have 10 encounters each morning.  Walking and cycling here are both safe.  There are also conveniently located trampolines.

I loved Reading.  I semi-loathe Bracknell.  But not as much as I thought I would.

But please, get me out of here.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

2015: Frustration, Funerals & A Flurry Of Fun

2015 was an interesting year.  Plenty of good moments but also some very sad moments too.  It hasn’t been the best year I’ve had but it certainly has not been the worst year.

I’ll start with the frustration.  Once I received my higher than expected bonus, I then concluded that I was bored at work and didn’t want to spend another summer in an oven.  So around April time, I started looking for jobs – though I was being very picky, only going for jobs with a decent pay rise, and that were in the centre of Reading, or in London.

I didn’t even get an interview.


Work continued to be frustrating and the office was too hot almost every single day of the year, despite it hardly ever being hot outside.

My house contract ran out in August, so the month before that I sadly decided that it would make more sense to move to Bracknell, so I could do more studying.

Moving to Bracknell, meant that the job search was over, as I had a 6 month minimum contract in the new house.  The new house itself is fine, but also frustrating living with 5 other blokes, some of whom seem incapable of taking the bin out, or emptying the dishwasher and especially putting their dirty dishes in the dishwasher.

Not to mention the noise, banging of doors and having to listen to my room-neighbour talking at his computer until 1am.

At least I do actually get more studying done.  That has been the other source of frustration this year (ignoring my permanently inactive sex life…I cannot even get a match on Tinder) – firstly that I was not making anywhere near enough progress in turning a hobby into my future career.

I did one very sensible thing and that was to set a weekly 10 hour study target.  I do have a 71 hour backlog right now but I’m on the right track.  It is often frustrating in that I get stuck and I have nobody to turn to for help, other than internet forums which can be patchy.  But when I solve those moments of frustration, I do receive a fair portion of joy.

The year started with sad news, in that my auntie’s dog died.  I’m not a massive dog-lover but he was so warm and cuddly.  He only saw me once a year but always came for a hug.  I definitely do not get enough hugs full stop.

I did wear the fact that I’d made it to 35 without attending a funeral as a badge of honour but sadly I had two to attend this year, both my grandma’s husband, and my uncle.  Neither was exactly unexpected due to illnesses.

I had the honour of being a pallbearer at my grandma’s husbands’ funeral.

At my uncle’s, it was bizarrely uplifting, somewhat inspiring, often funny but downright sad too.  An emotionally complex day.

I managed to squeeze in 3 holidays last year.  Well, one proper holiday and two weekend breaks.  First up in January was a weekend in Zakopane – I had a great first night, got to see some decent snow…and then I was ill.  That first night was so much fun, with some super-funny people that I just don’t get to spend enough time with.

I’d also managed to be invited to Ibiza for Kane’s birthday and I quite like that island so I duly accepted.  It was a bit too hot for my liking over there, and there were no nights out there that really appealed to me during that particular week – but I still had an excellent holiday and broke my Zoo Project virginity (what a tease that Villalobos played Zoo Project the week after).

The other break was to Lisbon with my sister – I loved the history and the architecture, shame about the drizzle.  Another country ticked off the list.

I actually saw more of my family, partly due to aforementioned circumstances but also due to going back to Hull a little more – although after the Christmas Eve disaster it might be a while before I consider that adventure again.

Not to mention that I now go away to Reading once a month – I have my own spare bedroom thanks to my best friend, which I take full advantage of when DJing.

DJing is something that has generally gone well this year – it really has been a delight to try to grow a night at the Purple Turtle, and try to improve myself as a DJ, finding out what works for the venue and what doesn’t – and also what works for me as a DJ too.  I am closer to pinning down a couple of styles of DJing now, although I do like an element of unpredictability still.

Something else that went well this year was my blogging.  Get Reading are featuring my Roast Dinner reviews (though I’m not sure how longer I’ll be doing them for), my weather forecasting page has over 2,000 followers – other blogs/pages are hit and miss.

I made some important purchases too – some Rokit speakers that just sound gorgeous, along with a Microsoft Surface that has increased my ability to study when on the train, etc, although it isn’t the wondrous panacea that I was expecting.  Oh yeah and I bought some sequinned green shoes, and sparkly green meggings.

The surprise of the year was getting out on my bike!  Yes I rode my bike.

I’ve definitely become more boring during the last year, and more sober (most of the time!).

I actually went clubbing more in 2015, mainly due to my main dancefloor compatriot being free from studies at last.  However I didn’t have any ‘wow’ moments.  All nights were within the boundaries of good but none were fantastic.

In fact that would sum up my year quite well.  A lot of it was ok or good.  It was rarely fantastic.  Those wow moments were missing.  Maybe it is something to do with my personality of always wanting more, not being able to settle for what I have.  But I’m not convinced that is the case – I didn’t even get a thunderstorm, except the one I went chasing.

My year ended rather frustratingly.  I did have a couple of offers for NYE, but I instead chose to stay in by myself.  I don’t like NYE and it kind of made sense.  I made a pie…it was disappointing.