Wednesday, October 28, 2009


My girlfriend and I went to Brussels last weekend for a short break. It's not an obvious holiday destination for a hip young couple, but it was discounted, and there is a recession on.

If you consider that the things Belgium is famous for are waffles, beer, and chips with mayonnaise, then it starts to make a bit more sense!

The bad stuff was that the exchange rate is almost painfully bad, the weather was positively Welsh, and lots of places open apparently when and if they feel like it, especially at weekends. That aside, we had a good time!

Ellen and I are veteran mini-breakers. You learn quickly that whatever you plan to do, you won't get to do most of it in just two days, so the only planned cultural visits were to a music museum and a chocolate museum. The former was obviously much more for me. I love seeing the weird, dead evolutionary branches of various intruments, and this place had eight floors filled with them. Seeing violinophones and things that look like a cello having sex with a piano reminds me of dinosaurs and dodos and all things stuffed in natural history museums.

The chocoate museum had a bunch of information about the origins of cocoa beans, preparation of chocolate, principal exporters, traditional methods and suchlike stuck all over the walls, but everyone was ignoring all that to watch the live demonstration of how posh chocolate is made, complete with free samples, by an elderly Belgian chocolatier. Win.

I wouldn't want to mislead anyone into thinking that we spent a great deal of time absorbing Belgian culture, because we spent a lot more time drinking it. It's not an exaggeration to say that nowhere around the centre had fewer than 50 kinds of beer available, and that most of those were delicious. I'm a born-again beer drinker, blond beers are ace. Ellen is a vodka/wine drinker by disposition, but jumped right in at the deep end with a Bush Tripel, weighing in at 10.5%. It was good, and now my girlfriend drinks beer! In fairness, she mostly drank girly fruit beers after that, but kudos to her, nonetheless!

It was an expensive weekend. However, once we realised that Belgians do not check tickets for anything, we were able to save money by not buying any. I used the Belgian metro for free for 48 hours!

Another cultural difference is that Belgians don't know how to queue. This is angering, and surprisingly shocking to a Brit. It was nothing that muttered curses weren't able to solve, though.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cardiff Half Marathon!

I finished! I didn't die!

The full details on my time are here. Long story short, I finished in 1:56:57. That's a personal best. Yesssssss!

It's not too late to sponsor me, just follow this link. Retrospective sponsorship has the benefit of knowing that I've done what I said I would!

My legs ache and my underarms are chaffed. What an unusual pain..


Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I tend to leave ages between blogs, the have brief periods where I blog a lot, just because of a waxing and waning level of enthusiasm. Also, because I've been doing proper band blogs on The Automatic's website (I haven't even done any of those lately so that doesn't hold much water..that's pretty much a lie, in fact).

I've sort of abandoned my year of doing new things, because I fell behind and I'd rather catch up than add to the list of half-finised projects I already have. I have a small notebook, which is gradually filling up with ideas for short stories which I actually want to write, that's the main one I want to complete. I continue to learn Esperanto, my interest in which has grown beyond a hobby into something else. It is more than a second language because of the movement around it, so mentions of it or articles about it appear frequently on the web. These have led me to develop a big interest in languages and to discover some cool podcasts as well - I have to recommend the "Stuff You Should Know" podcast from Their last edition was about zombies! I regularly meet with two other south-walian Esperantists, one of whom is denaskula (one who has spoken Esperanto all her life), so she's a handy person for a lernanto like me to know! We somewhat grandly call ourselves the Cardiff Esperanto Society.

My attempt at making air conditioning ended with mixed results. These included frustration, a wet floor, and the sense that thermodynamics doesn't want to be my friend. It sort of worked, but I couldn't find suitable copper tubes, and they were really quite important.

The Cardiff Half Marathon is less than three weeks away now (donate at, you know you want to. Go on, you'll basically be buying good karma) and I'm not really ready. I ran 8.2 miles two days ago (thanks, phone GPS) at my own leisurely pace and found it surprisingly bearable. I only stopped because I got hungry. That was, however, with quite a few random stops to enjoy the scenery and pet random dogs, so I need to up my game a little, maybe even use a performance-enhancing montage.

While I was on that run, I went up to Llanishen reservoir, sneaked through a fence and ran around there. It's quite eerie, but very beautiful and calm. Some kids were swimming in it, presumably unaware of the fact that reservoirs have a big plughole-type-thing at the bottom that can suck you down and turn you into a beverage. I admire their adventurous spirits, and I hope I don't end up drinking one of them. Next time I'll take a picture and post it!

Until next time, folks!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I've sort of, kind of managed to keep up my 1 activity a month for a year, but I'm a bit behind..

After I did the 10k run in April, I let May run away until I was stuck for something to I knitted a scarf! That's May sorted. Never will I have to pay for woolens again, that skill is in the bag - unless, of course, I want something that looks good and doesn't itch like a disease!

June: this was boxing, in theory. Just boxing training, a little bit of pad work. Well, I re-joined the gym, and it hurt, and one of the circuits I do involves hitting a punchbag, but it's not really boxing training. I've booked in to be trained twice, but something's come up both times. That's still ongoing.

My plan for July is to do some piece of creative writing, but I feel I'm drifting from the original objective, as this would not be something actually new to me..they're my rules, though, so I can change them, right?

Esperanto is still the best thing I started. I'm getting sucked deeper in all the time. I even started a version of this blog in Esperanto..

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I'm suffering. I live in country with least predictable weather in the world. I find it grimly amusing that instead of preparing for everything, we're prepared for NOTHING. I'm dying slowly of sleep deprivation because of this fucking heat.

Uuuuurgh I can't be bothered with any long-winded set up. The point is, I'm building my own air conditioning. The ingredients: a fan, some rubber tubing, some copper tubing, two large plastic bottles and some very cold water. I'll let you know how it goes.

If anyone knows of a poorly-guarded walk-in fridge, let me know.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Papa's got a brand new shiny thing!

I went for a Blackberry 8900 over an iPhone. It feels good, especially as I have an iPod touch anyway..really damn shiny. It's been years since I had a camera phone!

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Sunday, May 3, 2009


I didn't manage to think of anything specific to do in April for my year of new activities. To be more accurate, I didn't start anything in time to do it for a whole month! I did a 10k run in Frenchay (near Bristol) on the 19th, so I'm counting that as my activity. I'm cheating slightly, but I made some effort and sacrifice, and it's my thing anyway so I'll make up the rules as I go along!

My time was 52:49, which is four or five minutes faster than I've managed previously.

It's now May and I'm still not bloody sure what I'm doing for this month!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Everyone who has ever eaten in a curry house must have noticed that the hot hand-wipe things you get at the end of a meal go from being untouchably hot to freezing cold within two seconds. This allows you a tiny window of time in which to clean your face and hands while the thing is at a comfortable temperature.

Can anyone explain to me why this is? How can they go to below room temperature (they definitely do go below room temperature) from hotter than the sun so quickly? I understand thermodynamics enough to know how a fridge works, so if anyone can explain this in layman's terms, that'd be great..

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Catholicism and vegetarianism mutually exclusive?

I was raised a Catholic - a fact that I haven't let bother me much at all for a long time. Still, I got to thinking. One thing I remember either from what mum told me or from RE lessons is the principle of transubstantiation. The short version of this idea is that when Joe Catholic receives the Eucharist (wine and wafer), he is literally ingesting the body and blood of Jesus H. Christ. Somehow, the outward appearances (and smells, tastes, other perceptions) of wafer and wine remain unchanged (I'm not writing to challenge this belief, I'm sure many people who read this will do that for me).

So, at least once a week (more when you include feast days), the devout Catholic will eat meat, or at least believe himself to be doing so. Therefore, you can't be a faithful believer in Catholicism and be a vegetarian. Or not a cannibal.

This leads me to conclude..what the fuck???

Monday, April 6, 2009

April's thang

I have man-flu. I'm not being too much of a wimp about it, although my Y-chromosome is screaming at me to start feeling sorry for myself and milk it for all it's worth! I'm not one to put everything on hold just because I'm a bit ill, I just ignore it and carry on, but I wish I had my sense of smell back. If you can't smell, you can't really taste, either..I ate a spoonful of cayenne pepper last night just to unblock my nose and experience a flavour, but I'm back in a world in which everything tastes of cardboard now. Very frustrating.

It's April now, which most people will have noticed last Wednesday. This means I have to pick another activity to try (I outlined in my first blog my intention to try a new thing every month). By my own (admittedly loose) guidelines* for working through this 12-month hobby-buffet, I need to stick with an activity for the month. I went to Yoga with my girlfriend yesterday, so I could do that again..I'm not sure how I felt about it. I enjoyed it, but whether or not I want to make it a regular thing, I don't know. It was like origami using humans! I just realised that it's totally impractical, so decision made! The class we went to is on a Sunday. Next Sunday I'm at Ellen's parent's for Easter, and the Sunday after I'm running 10k in Bristol for "fun", so I'd only manage it once more this month.

I'll have to think about this. Suggestions welcome, folks..


For my one-a-month activities program, my rules are:

1) The activity or project should be cheap or free.

2) It should happen/be worked on regularly.

3) I have to carry on with it either until it's finished or for a calendar month, whichever comes first. I don't have to stop after a month, neither.

It's been fun, I'd recommend this everyone.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I don't want this blog to become a front in some cold war of the sexes, but apparently, what I want won't matter if I keep writing about the things that piss me off.


I noticed the post-Homer Simson archetypal "idiot dad" in some advert ages ago and didn't think much of it. Fair enough, it worked to comic effect in whatever ad it was, and some people are a bit daft. The teasing was gentle.

Since then I've noticed the "idiot dad" croping up more and more and more. The following products have adverts involving moronic men who have to be bailed out/ruthlessly patronised by a partner or child:

Glade air fresheners
Oven Pride
HM Gov's "Act on CO2" campaign

I don't really care that men are potrayed as over-confident, ignorant, blustering fools by these campaigns - they're only adverts. What pisses me off is the feeling that the whole thing would not fly if women were stereotyped equally negatively, equally often. They'd be off the air quite fast, I think. [I've just found out that the Oven Pride ad has had a number of complaints]
It's just equality I'm after - either we all take the piss out of each other, or we take the piss out of no-one. I'm fine with the first one.

The irony of the "idiot dad" adverts is in the outmoded attitude present in every single one - that a woman's role is as a home-maker.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Alcohol and me

This is just a blog to fill in while I research another rant. Said research mostly involves watching television, so the whole process is pretty easy..

I'm not about to tell you all I'm an alcoholic, it's not like that! I've decided to do some runs - a 10k in April and the Cardiff Half Marathon in October (schedule allowing). This means training and preparation, so for the month leading up to the 10k I've all but forsworn alcohol. I've done this before, during the month before the Bath Half Marathon, and it definitely helped!

It's pretty weird when you're used to drinking something every day to suddenly stop! A good way to start stopping is to give yourself a hangover and put yourself off drinking for a day or two. Probably not recommended by a Doctor, but almost nothing fun is. Mostly, the habit is the thing to overcome. I haven't been out on the razz since I started, so it's been quite easy not to feel too weird without a bevvy.

I've noticed I've got more drive to do things in the evening, rather than just watching telly or a film. I've yet to act on this, to my shame. I've found mornings less difficult too, which is pretty good for me! If you have a long, stressful or tiring day, it is difficult to know what to replace booze with..anyone else de-boozed before?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Yummy mummy

It means MILF! Call a spade a spade, ladies. I don't know why this does my head in so much, but it really does!

Maybe it's for this reason: there's something contradictory about wanting to be fuckable, yet feeling the need to disguise it with hideous, twee euphemisms. It's a turn-off..I'm going to get a lynching for this, aren't I? "Why do you resent women for wanting to keep their figure after giving birth?" and all that. I'll be disappointed if I don't get a bollocking from someone for this, to be honest!

Bye bye.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The manifesto/this year

Part the first:

I have founded this blog as a replacement for my badly neglected livejournal blog. A secondary motive for the change is to put some distance between myself and a username chosen in my early teens, which has somehow stalked me all the way into early adulthood..

The Manifesto, my vision for this blog, tantalisingly promised by the title - doesn't exist. I've tried that before and I just end up failing hopelessly, so I'm just going to write whatever I want to write, exactly whenever I feel like it! If you think that shows a lack of discipline, then: a) you are correct, and b) go away.

Part the second:

This year! It's been fun. The nearest thing I had to a new year's resolution was (is! I'm keeping it up) to try something new every month. For Christmas, I got a trumpet from recession-busting European supermarket, Lidl. True story! Cheap, German-made brass instruments make excellent gifts. I spent January making farty sounds and finding out why the spit valve is called the spit valve. I can now eke out the Family Guy theme tune (to my own amusement and absolutely no-one else's!). It's fun to make loud noises.

In February, I had a go at oil painting. I got into a lovely calm state when I was actually painting, it's a relaxing and focussing process. I 'm pretty shit at art, though. I tried to paint Peter Griffin (can you see a pattern emerging?), and his face is a mess. I just slapped on more paint to cover my mistakes, so he's bulgey and misshappen, like a freakish cartoon elephant man.

March: I've been learning Esperanto. I said I would do this years ago, so I'm making good on that. I'm not doing it so much for practical reasons, but because I think it's a good idea, and fuck it! Why not? Having said that, after completing an email course and reading a few extra bits over the month, I've had comprehensible conversations with a Pole, a Spaniard, a Brazialian and a Frenchwoman, all in Esperanto. Mostly, I've learned that stamp collecting is still in in Europe, and that Brazil is hot.

I might try boxing in April.