Monday, 1 November 2010

Playing Catch Up - Starting University

In the spirit of trying to actually keep/get this blog going I have decided to do some catch up posts. (Some maybe just posted on the actual date in which they were intended too, as there are some drafts lying about.) This "Playing Catch Up" (PCU) post shall be about the start of University. As most posts are probably going to be about my studies, or should be depending on the project.

First the 'in a nutshell' background: Starting Uni is not new for me, I did this all a year ago while enrolled on a Computer Science course in Sussex. However it did not work out for various reasons and I have gone back to my roots and started an arts course, a Game Design course in Newport.

To start my first day I first had to find the bus stop from which the free Uni bus operates, now there are several stops down infront of the station, I was unsure as to which was the right one. However as I walked closer to the stop it soon became obvious. On one side there was a lot of people several generations removed from me with suitcases some not looking approvingly at the other side where there was a large gathering of people slightly closer to my generation. It was quite a funny sight while I was walking down the road and able to see both sides head on thanks to the curve in the street. For some reason the classic wild west music sprang to mind and it looked like there might be a face off in the road between young and old. Well if the younger people didn't either look terrified or apparently engrossed in various forms of technology. I probably looked like the former, as nerves had struck at this point and all I wanted to do was find someone else on my course. (My experience last time was not pleasant, as even though I made a friend the people on my actual course last time really didn't seem to be on the same wavelength as me at all and I didn't gel with them.)

This time however fate had dealt me a nice hand and as I squished onto the very crowded bus I ended up standing infront of a girl talking about Team Fortress and how she too wished she could find someone else on her course. I was about to turn around and introduce myself, but she was talking to what appeared to be a good friend, and I was also concentrating on not falling over. Lots of sharp turns and rounder-bouts are not your friend when you are standing up on the bus by the doors with only a small grip on the hand hold that's on the back of the seats. It was an interesting game of bus surfing on the way up to the Uni.

Once we got there I lost sight of the girl standing behind me, but I had managed to grab her name as she talked to someone else. (This would prove useful in the near future.) As the times of the buses are not always lined up with the timetable at Uni I had just under and hour spare before the first induction talk. Having already come to the campus for an interview I already knew a good place to go and grab a coffee, so that was my first destination. After refilling my caffeine reserves the search for the usual kinda stuff began from the toilets to the main reception, the shop, the cafe and the sports hall...all the places I needed or would like to know the location of in relation to one another. I must have looked quite lost as at one point I did find myself walking back and forth a corridor three times, but I had taken a wrong turn, thought I'd found a way out and stumbled into an enclosed out door area for smokers. (Which humorously was right outside the sports hall.)

Anyway after getting my bearings it was time to head to the induction talk. After finding a seat and feeling a little out of place all on my own the Dean came up to talk and introduce the names of a lot of staff members, none of which I was going to remember, but it was good to see the faces so I at least could spot them if need be. This introduction talk was by far better than the one I had at Sussex, was a little more encouraging in many ways, rather than saying that you will need to give 110% and always work and always do the right thing and don't do this or that....this time it was a little more chilled. The basic message was that the staff here are not here to get you to absorb information and regurgitate it, as it was a creative school it is you who are expected to be the driving force behind your education, they are here to help you on your way to discovering your own creativity and drive. The Dean accepted that not all the faces he saw before him today would be the same faces he would see upon graduation, or even next year for the welcome back talk. At the end of the day he asked us all to give it all we got, be the best that we can, and above all always ask for help and guidance if we needed/wanted it as he would like to see as many faces as possible next year. Sorry Sussex your regimented rule hand out and what felt like a telling off before the term had even begun was not as inspiring.

Anyway after a lot of other talking by various departments and people advertising parts of the Uni or services we were then all called up to meet our course tutors, one course at a time. This gave everyone a chance to see who was on our course. At first I was the only girl standing in a growing crowd of guys, I started to get a little nervous but thought that it wouldn't be that bad, just be like being at work again. Yet it was at this point I saw the girl that was behind me on the bus, and the girl I had seen post on the Uni freshers message board. So in a rare (in comparison to recently) moment of confidence I turned around and asked if she was the girl talking about Team Fortress on the bus. It turned out she was and all of a sudden we were chatting away as our new tutors led us to the computer labs for our course introduction talk.

That talk was rather amusing as again it was pretty relaxed, though we were given the distinct impression that there would be hell to pay if we messed about and didn't get our work done. We were after all here to further our career, and any mucking about at the end of the day would not do ourselves any favours, and more importantly it would make the head of course look bad. And we wouldn't want that now would we?! :) The sense of humour of the tutors here reminded me of my college tutor, and I was liking it already. I felt that I had made the right choice, it wasn't going to be easy, but I felt more 'at home' here in the first five minutes than I ever did at Sussex. (Shame we're moving to a new campus next year!)

Yet it is more about the course content and the people you are on it with, everything that is lined up for the next three years sounds so exciting and I can't wait to sink my teeth into it all. My confidence is back, it still fluctuates a little, but I finally feel that I am back on course again and heading in a direction that I actually want to go in rather than one that I should or have to go in.

Oh and the other two girls on the course, younger than me they maybe, but even after only a few weeks now they have become good friends and I look forward to getting to know them better. The guys on the other hand are a different kettle of fish....some may take a while to realise that girls are okay to talk to, some others could be a pain in the butt and a few could really do with finding out what a shower is for. But it is only early days and time will tell, always give everyone the benefit of the doubt and get to know them. :)

Time - There never is enough of it!

So that was a while ago when I last blogged?! I have ended up in a bit of a pickle you see, I have been very very very busy since that last half post. Yet what is frustrating about it is that I have not been short on things to blog about because of being busy and generally getting up to some interesting things.

My nice new shiny phone has a Blogger App currently installed on it, so that I can attempt to blog on the go, however I have many a draft saved now as blogging on the go means you get interrupted while writing, or I realise that my spelling and grammar are so off it is unreadable to anyone else!

A sort of catch twenty-two really, as during the summer I had lots of time and consequently not much to blog about in terms of interesting activities. Of course there are many other subjects in which to post, and for which I could talk about. I realise that now after reading a *lot* of blogs over the summer. However I still feel I maybe lost in the direction and content of my blog. I know that it a personal one and also a Uni one now, yet there is the organised part of me that wants to have those separate. However that didn't work before as I never got round to updating the other blog, and I also realise that it just ain't a good idea. :)

Maybe it's time I actually started using that labels feature....I certainly have my Gmail labelled quite well that now when I get multiple e-mails in my Inbox I have a rather nice rainbow effect.

Whichever way around I do this I need to get into a routine, purely for myself as I want to write more regardless of readers, that and I also need a routine for working on my poor forgotten website. At least the web space is getting some use at the moment as my other half now has his domain registered to it as well. But it still doesn't feel right, especially with all the Dreamstone goodness sitting on my hard drive and not out there for the community to enjoy. (But that is another matter....)

For now I type this rather random thought dump out while wearing a Chi the Cat hat on my head from MCM Expo (thank you sis!) and feel that I should be doing something more constructive, like a proper post. Yet I fear this may continue on for a while as this week ain't gonna involve much free time, as always. Wednesday is my day off so I am going to make that my "Lets write a proper post and catch up on my blog day." :)

Saturday, 28 August 2010

A quick hello...

A very quick post to say that I have had a great week catching up with old friends, spending time with my Dad (however brief) seeing my mum and little bro, and finally catching up with my best-friends family.

As always there has been a lot of other things going on, a fair amount of stressful situations and encounters, however if it means things have to be in balance so days like today can happen then so be it. I have been happy and had a light heart all day as it has been so nice to see people and talk and just chill.

I wonder if everyone is as tired as I am now though. I think my brother maybe. :) But it is a good tired, one that should result in a good nights sleep.

(That is if I can stop playing about with my new shiny HTC Desire! - More on that and a proper post later.)

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Train Travel, Gaming and Gardens

As always I think that me and my friends could all do with shares in the train companies that we are all using on such a regular basis! :) Back from my Mum's now after a rather pleasant train journey, looking forward to catching up with people in the next week and a bit as they bounce around the country on the trains too.

I got the computer all up and running for my Mum in the end too, I just hope it stays running and she can make use of it now it no longer has the evil that is Vista on it! :) It was really good to be up there for a while and spend time with my little bro especially. Over the years I have not gone up there as much as I would have liked, always letting work get in the way. (A really silly thing to do at the end of the day as even though it was a job that I once liked - I should never have put it before seeing family - it was a crappy retail job at the end of the day!) Oh well that has all changed now, and I can't deny that the experience and time there was for nothing, made some good friends there and some good contacts to boot! :P

Anyway I spent a lot of time playing games with my little brother while I was there, he's still on the GameCube at the moment. (He appears to have a bit of a destructive side if his DS is anything to go by, so I think any newer console might not be the best of ideas just yet...) He loves the Sonic games though! I have played them a fair amount as well as I was on them non-stop on the Dreamcast, and then the GameCube when they first came out. There was something about raising the little Chao that made you carry on playing and overlook the annoying camera! However that's what he is doing at the moment and trying to raise a Chaos Chao, which looks something like this:
Image from: http://chao.hippotank.com
A little odd looking I know, and they are hard to raise but once you do they are great in the races and also immortal. It has tempted me to play about with the game again and go back to the Chao garden. I had quite a few powerful ones back in the day of the Dreamcast and Sonic Adventure 1. :) To think that they came about from an idea in NiGHTS with the Nightopian creatures (which looked rather simmilar to the normal Chao.) I'm sure it was one of the earliest ideas of this kind of gameplay - other than the Tamagotchi of course. I do remember being very curious as to why and how they were in the game to begin with. Yet these days there are whole games based on the idea of raising creatures like this - Spore being the first one to spring to mind.

Anyway it looks like I'll be dusting off the GameCube and trying to find my memory card as little bro seems keen to share Chao updates with me. :)

I do have to find the time first though...today was a fairly chilled day. I was supposed to be having dinner with my Dad and the other half of my family as it were. However plans fell through and I ended up having lunch with just my Dad. Which was nice as we got to have a good chat - which feels very adult to adult these days rather than parent to child. (Guess I am getting old after all!) :P We then came back to the house to find Mel in the garden so we joined in for a bit, Dad's been meaning to attack that grass and a few of the trees down there for a while. It is a big and never ending task! I meanwhile tried to encourage the climbing rose to stay on the trellis and not the privet bush and to attempt to get the honeysuckle to stay on it's own trellis and get the longer stems to start growing over the garage roof where they were intended to go...gotta keep and eye on that one methinks it's a troublemaker. :) However after picking some of the ripe blackberries from the rockery it was time for a cup of tea. I then stayed indoors as Dad was using the strimmer and Mel the cutting tools as they rained destruction down on the weeds - I thought best to stay out of the way at this point. Mainly as there isn't much room in the garden at the moment!

It did give me a chance to catch up with friends on Skype and make plans for some munter nights out in both cities that we inhabit. However the conversation got cut short when my Dad came in with an annoyed look on his face...there were wasps in the garden. At first I thought they were in the small tree that they had been taking down. (One that had seeded and started growing too close to the foundations of the house.) As it turned out these were ground bees and had been found under a rather large and overgrown area of grass. (This garden has been in need of love for a long time you see.) So Dad wanted to get rid of them - and thoughts best was to smoke them out for now - or at least that's what he's done in the past. However with three cats about the place there was an issue, as both me and Mel wanted to make sure that they were all accounted for indoors before a) a fire was lit in the garden b) a load of annoyed wasps/bees or whatever they are (no-one has gotten too close to the loud buzzing nest) come swarming out looking for something to sting.

Now herding cats is an expression that is most definitely true, it ain't easy! However with honey roast ham the job is made slightly easier. I was putting small pieces down in a path towards the door with the intention to lure them in and then close the door behind them. Mel's two cats followed suit, and aside from not getting two pieces of ham down fast enough at the same time so they had a small scuffle, they came in without much hassle. My cat, Pebbles, however was not as easy to lure. She is a fussy cat who has an air of Egyptian royalty about her. In other words she sits like the statues of old and has humans well trained to do her bidding as it were. :) She was out on the garage roof enjoying the evening sun, and was not coming in without a fight. She turned her nose up at the ham, came down for chicken but picked it up and walked off with it instead of following the trail. In the end she started to wonder towards the house when we were all in and the chicken was no longer being placed nearby, probably wondering where her food providing servants has gone. :) This gave me the opportunity to grab her and place her in doors, an action she will not forgive for a while. Well until she wanted me to open the tin of Whiskas for her. :D She is an adorable and affectionate cat and she was born in my kitchen around fourteen odd years ago now so is a little set in her ways.

Pebbles - Who didn't like me taking a photo as it meant I wasn't stroking her. :)
In the end all the cats were in doors and the windows were shut in the attempt to smoke the buzzing nest out. It looks like for the most part that is didn't work - so will have to try again tomorrow and I would also like to double check what they are, as if it's bees they need relocating, if it's wasps they are going to need disposing of and in the unlikely event it's hornets we'll have to call someone. The latter probably isn't true as we would know about it by now! But with that garden I experience has taught me never to rule anything out! :)

However tomorrow my fiancé is coming down for a visit and I don't think he wants to be around while a nest full of things that sting gets disturbed. So it may have to wait, but in the mean time I get to see him, which is a very good thing as it has been a while and we are overdue for a date and Toy Story 3 still hasn't been seen by either of us. :)

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Computers, can't live without 'em.

There is something to be said for the age of no computers, as they are sure to give you a big headache at times! Don't get me wrong I love tech/computers/games as much as any other geek. They are incredibly powerful tools and can make lives better and even save them. Yet when they go wrong there is the hassle and possible expense that you have to go through to get them fixed again.


I am currently visiting my mum and my little brother, it is good to see them, and it's been nice to play some of the old Sonic games again with my little bro and I also offered to sort out Mum's computer. Her partner uses Linux as he believes Microsoft to be an immoral and evil cooperation. Which might well be the case, but they do still have a lot of clout in the OS business and a lot of software is still more compatible with Windows than other OS, notably Linux. (Which is also not exactly user friendly as I have discovered today!) Each to their own when it comes to computers it is what you use and what you are used to at the end of the day. I have mainly used Windows so have a preference for it, I know others that use MacOS so therefore have a preference for that, all is fair. However the evil that Vista is another matter entirely! :)

The computer my Mum has was given to her by my sister, and it came with barley any RAM a copy of Vista and data on it from the previous owner and no Administrator control. So as I am no longer using my copy of XP I bought for my machine ages ago I said that I would install it on the computer up here. (We couldn't downgrade the Vista as the key had been used on another computer without our knowledge and MS weren't willing to help with this.)

So today I formatted the machine and installed my copy of WinXP however I then had an issue of it always booting from the DVD Drive instead of the hard drive. So of course this required a boot into the BIOS to change the settings. I am not familiar with this as I have not done it much, however my fiancé is, so bless him, he helped me over the phone. (Not the easiest of things to do when you don't have the computer screen in front of you!) I now feel a little more confident in doing this in future though having gone through it several times! As not only did I have issues setting the boot order there was issues with the hard drive priority as well. My sister put the hard drive from the very old 1998 computer in there was there was still data on there that was wanted and the computer died a while ago. Yet while I was upgrading the RAM earlier today forgot to make note of which hard drive was which, so sorting out the boot priority was a little bit of trial an error. I now have it all working though! :D

However next week I shall be reformatting the PC back home and my laptop, as my PC is changing it's purpose and my laptop is getting slower with all the unwanted software still on it from Sussex. So starting from scratch on it before new Uni starts. :) It does mean there will be an awesome set up of computers in my house soon! Not sure on the exact details yet, but I do know that there are plans to have a media server PC that will have all our music on and be on the network for the laptops/PC's/PS3's to pick up. :)

Anyway for now I am downloading the GIMP and OpenOffice for Mum to use on her new(ish) computer as she is used to them and it is certainly cheaper than getting Adobe or MS alternatives! :) For now dinner and another coffee...

Monday, 2 August 2010

Half Asleep and Organising

So I have spent most of the day curled up on the couch watching TV feeling like I was half asleep. Didn't get much sleep last night and was woken far to early this morning! The trouble tenant is proving to be a right little pest today and is not only playing music far to loud far to early, he is also late on his rent. Which means I have to go play landlord before the day is through.

This has meant that I have not really been with it all day, until a few hours ago, when I decided to tackle some paperwork. (I can now see my desk at last!) Then to also see if I can get some computer stuff done...

I am off to visit my Mum tomorrow, and there is a computer there that needs a little attention, and it has reminded me that I should really finish getting my laptop and desktop in order. The main priority being the laptop. I have been trialling various bits of software over the last several months, and along with all the stuff that I had to install for Uni it feels like the laptop has got a little clogged. So today I have started the long task of backing up all my personal data and making sure I still have all the software discs needed to re-install everything after I re-install the operating system. Yet the backing up of my documents is taking a while, I'm not sure how I ended up with nearly 200GB of data. A lot of it is music, photo's and archive documents to be fair from college and Uni. But still...watching the progress bars has been fun! :P

In the meantime it has reminded me to actually post a few things on here, as I had one or two things lying around in draft that I hadn't quite finished or was waiting for other sites to update so I could link to them first. So for now I need to finish off backing everything up and then pray that I can get everything installed again. The good thing about having two computers lying about is that if something does go wrong there is still a way to Google the problem. :)

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Only one week has passed?

Time has flown! The last week has gone by very quickly, yet at the same time I struggle to remember the start of it as it also feels like a month ago.

I spent last weekend visiting the beach and staying in the caravan with the family dog. An activity that is not enjoyed as often as I would like, but one that is treasured a little more due to it's infrequency. Even though it was raining/grey the sea was still warm and me and my sister still paddled and swam. :) However the rain got more persistent on the Sunday so we travelled home, to glorious sunshine!

On Tuesday I did manage to catch up with my best friend Angie, and we spent the day shopping. Mostly window shopping, but I did treat myself to a bathbomb from Lush, a new pair of jeans from the sales and some wonderful cheese from a great delicatessen that I will be visiting every chance I get. :) (Thank you Angie for taking me there!) Most of all it was nice to spent some time with Angie and talk as our busy lives don't always coincide as often as we would like sometimes.

The rest of the week was then taken up with gardening, the most notable achievement of which was getting the paths done of course. Yet the other, which I forgot to mention, was the de-weeding of the driveway. Weedkiller had been used, yet there was little to no effect on the persistent plants. So a little bit of elbow grease was called for, so I decided to attack it with a combination of tools, mainly being my gloved hands. A few hours and a sore back later the driveway was weed free! It also helped me to distract myself as my Nan was in hospital and I was getting stressed waiting to hear the news that she was okay. Hopefully that will not happen again, but if it does gardening like that is a good way to relieve said stress and knacker you out enough so you sleep quite well.

This weekend however has been spent taking a small brake from the house and the garden and spending time with my other best friend Louise. Who is now also engaged! :D This does all tend to happen at the same time it seems. I am so happy for her and her husband to be, having known both of them for some time, they make a good couple. :) She drove all the way up to see me, we'd arranged this visit a while ago, and by chance it just happened to be after she became engaged.

So Saturday was yet again spent shopping, but this time most definitely window shopping as we were looking at wedding dresses. Now this is a whole new world to me, having never been a girly girl, and it is intimidating and scary, and there are many bridal shops that I am now going to avoid as they are also very snooty! (I am still much more at home in model/game/tech shops!) However we did get to try a few things on, and we now both have a good idea of what we would like to wear. Which is a good thing, as it now means we can start making plans on how to make our dresses. Or more accurately how Louise is going to make them as she  offered as a wedding present to make mine. (Though brides-maids dresses are going to get interesting as we are each others, and I did cry when she asked as I thought it was a great honour.) She is a lot more organised than me when it comes to wedding things, mine is much further away at the moment, and unlike her I have not set a date yet, but I began to realise how many things are needed to be done. This scares me slightly and makes me want to just say "Let's elope!" (Which is not happening as both my father and husband to be are not in favour of this idea!) :)

Anyway it was really nice having her down to visit and I really do miss her and my friends back where I used to live. However it isn't that far, and I am where I am for very good reasons. Waving her off today in the car I felt that she still did live round the corner, I'm not sure she felt the same with the long drive ahead of her! :) But in this day and age everyone is around the corner in some fashion thanks to the internet, and with friend like her I am reminded that all my friendships are special. They take so much time to develop yet can be so easily spoilt or broken by sometimes the silliest of things, so the friendships that do last deserve all the effort and time I can possibly give them.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Time in the Garden

Being adult and taking on the house has in this case also meant taking on the garden as well, it is a huge project and would have not been possible without the wonderful help of a very dedicated person. (Who shall be known as Mel on here.) Today is a great achievement as today the gravel is done!

You see the front garden used to be lovely with fantastic rose bushes which were known to bloom even in snow. However years of neglect and some harsh winters turned the front (and back for that matter) garden into a state. Now for a while Mel has been working on the front garden in her spare time. She is the one responsible for getting it to the current state and I have arrived in time to help get it finished off. (The sooner it was finished though the sooner we start on the back together.) One of the main bugbears of this project has been the gravel, as it's easy maintenance when set up, however it not the simplest of things to put together.

For starters the area needed clearing of not only all the plants, but also the roots, and then a rather large amount of soil needed shifting too. At a guess about a ton has gone from the front as it needed levelling and bringing down a few inches as it was too high along the wall of the house, as that can cause no end of damp issues. This was mainly done back in April, where my visit with my wonderful boyfriend proved timely to help shift a large chunk of that soil. Since then the garden has been transformed by Mel, who put down all the weed membrane, sorted out the boarder gravel and potted all the plants; some flowers, some herbs and some experimental things. However the paths that run along the in-between the two flowerbeds that separate the house from the front hedge were a collection of gravel that was here more than twenty years ago and subsequent top ups. Yet there was no weed membrane underneath, and being run down there was all sorts of things mixed in with the gravel. The hair clips I understand. The odd bottle cap or two? Around here fair enough. Yet the amount of glass? I realised that passers by must have really been using our run down front garden as a rubbish bin. So to save money on getting more gravel Mel started to sort through it. This was a very time consuming and long job, one that was driving her slightly insane.

As I have now taken over the running of the house and garden I decided that enough was enough, sorting was going to take far too long, and we are running out of summer months. Some shopping around later, and a quick phone call to a local supplier a ton of gravel is delivered for an extremely reasonable price! Me and Mel then set to work finishing off the paths! This was still back breaking as the gravel was placed on the driveway and the gate to the garden is up the hill...yet a lot of spade and wheel barrow work later the paths were laid.

The sense of achievement enough justifies paying out a little bit of money that I did that and saving our sanity, as sorting out that gravel was a little wearing. :)

Now it's time to move onto the side of the house and then to start clearing the back garden, most of which is being started next week while I am away sadly. Yet as always there is always something to do, I am just ecstatic that at least one part of the garden now looks more like a garden should do. :)

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Settling In

The months roll on and I never seem to have time to do everything. Which is worrying seeing as I am not working or studying at the moment...I wonder how I'll fit everything in when I start working and studying again? Although I always say that and I always find a way somehow, after some trial and error that is.

Right now though it has been a busy couple of months, and I haven't spent nearly enough time near or on a computer doing my own thing. Other than the usual quick drop into the social network sites I belong to I haven't really been online. There has been so much to do with all the moving around!

I did manage to fit all my belongings into the removal van in the end, with plenty of room to spare actually. (Though I think that may have changed now as I have acquired some more appliances and furniture since moving.) It was an interesting journey down as well, we were travelling slowly in the old van so instead of the usual four hours it took just over six, that was with a few stops to stretch legs on the way though.

After the long journey we really did just dump all belongings into the house as the van needed to go back and my sisters new car needed picking up. It was then the week long job of unpacking everything. The first day of which didn't go too well as I got very grumpy and stressed, yet due to the amazing sister and fiancés I have the house started to feel and look like a home soon enough. Yet that week feels like a lifetime ago now as there has been so much going on or happening in-between. I went back to my old flat to clean up a bit and see a few people then I was back on the train home, yet before I could even make a dent in my nice new proper bed I was off to the middle of no where to help my sister move. She has a new job that is rather exciting and cool (something to do with lasers and physics) and she now lives in the countryside. Which meant a small little flat and nothing open on Sundays. (Also no internet!) I ended up staying with her a couple of days to help her settle in, but also to chase up and doing shopping while she was at work as everything shuts about 4pm before she can get back. It is a lovely little village she lives in though, wonderfully quiet and so far friendly helpful people, the library especially was very nice and a good internet source. :)

An hour on the train and I am back home, though this time I am now void of a cooker, a fridge and a freezer through one thing and another. So storing and preparing food became interesting for a few days, and if it weren't for the helpfulness of some other tenants here I would have been very hungry! Yet there is always something to do around here, and I have spent a lot of time on the house, popping into town, pottering about in the garden and trying to unpack the last few awkward boxes. Even though I don't really know anyone up here it has been nice to have some time to myself and see family a bit more. (Including my best friend and her family, as I have known them all my life.)

Yet I still am finding it hard to find time to work on some of my personal projects. Which is slightly vexing, but at least this time I know it is not down to my own lack of motivation and lethargic feeling that seemed to be a permanent cloud over me in my old house, it really now is down to time to do everything now. I suddenly feel all adult and the mortgage isn't even in my name! :)

The thing about blogs...

The thing about blogs is keeping up the habit of writing in them often. Yet also keeping it interesting. Even if no-one is reading it is still nice to personally read back on entries. At least it is for me anyway, as I do write differently when I perceive that someone else might be reading it. I find it helps with what I now know to be my dyslexia, it is more of a symbol based blindness rather than a grammar/spelling one, however these areas can be the ones that suffer due to the amount of work my working memory has to do to ensure that I am translating these symbols (letters) into meaning as I read/type. In other words my brain needs a little more RAM. (At least that's the way I like thinking about it!) :)

Anyway going slightly off topic....I started this blog originally to chronicle my path to my chosen career. Something that has taken a small detour recently with all that has happened at Uni and leaving my city. So maybe that is why I have not had the urge to write or update as much, as I do feel that the blog has lost it's purpose ever so slightly as I have. Yet this detour in my overall plans is part of that journey, I took a wrong path and now I am on my way back to what is hopefully the right one. (This is a repeating problem in my life, I appear to have to do things twice before I get them right!)

So the solution to this? Write about my day, get into that habit of typing up at the end of the day what I have done. It should also serve to remind me that spending the day on the couch taking advantage of Sky TV and all it's channels it not a productive one! I have a small sense of Deja Vu as I type this though, but as this is the second time I might actually get it right this time. That and if I can do this at least twenty times it should become habit. So lets give it a go....some back posting first I think - time to dust off those drafts and actually get them posted! :) Even if it is just for me to read at a later date. :P

Monday, 19 July 2010

VQ Awards 2010

On the 23rd of June I was in London attending the VQ Awards Day at the Royal Horticultural Halls with my sister and fiancé. I had been nominated for the award by City College Brighton and out of 250 people I was part of the 9 finalists in my age group. Making me the South East Learner of the Year for my work on the Games Development course. This in itself was wonderful, and I felt very privileged to think that the judges chose me and my work above all those others.

However on the day after me and the other students there were awarded our certificates the presenter, Arlene Phillips, began to talk about the National Winner for my age group. I'm standing by the side of the stage listening to her speech when my heart starts beating faster as it dawns on me that I remember hearing that speech before at the City College internal awards ceremony....in a state of disbelief I start making my way back to the stage after realising that is it is me that she is talking about, that and the event organisers were waving me over at this point. I am then on stage accepting the National Learner of the Year from Lord Baker and I am then expected to make a speech! I vaguely remember mainly thanking my family, my fiancé and my tutor for all their help and encouragement. That and mentioning that it takes decent teachers to bring out success as you see with me and all the other students here today. (A rare occurrence of my confidence in public there!)

Me with Lord Baker and Arlene Phillips.

The whole experience was a bit of a blur, and then there were photo's afterwards on the stage, after which I took a quick exit to the nearest cafe (all the pubs were busy due to the football) for a big coffee! :)

All the VQ Day Winners. One Industry Insider Award, Two National Awards and 19 Regional Winners.
After a coffee and a little bit of food it was off again to go and visit my colleges PR guy who had arranged for me and Julie (one of the regional winners from my college) to meet Caroline Lucas as the college is in her new constituency. We were to meet her on the lawn area outside the Houses of Parliament where the news reports are usually aired from. She had been in Parliament all morning, trying to get a word in edge ways, as it were. :) She was very friendly and took a genuine interest in both my and Julie's achievements.

Juile, Caroline Lucas and Me.
This made it onto both the City College and Caroline Lucas' websites which is quite cool, I don't think the college was expecting not only two winners from the hundreds that were nominated, but to also get a national winner also...

For me I have to re-iterate how much of a surprise it was, as I also won the Digital Arts Student of the Year for the internal college awards at the end of the year I thought that my awards winning was over and done with by this point! That and I had been doing so badly at Uni that I have ended up pulling out of the first year and changing courses...well I suppose it goes to show that I was not on the right course at Uni really. After having done so well at college to then fail at Uni... I know at the end of the day the two ways of learning are very different, and there is always an adjustment period between college and Uni. I did also aim to do a course that I was not prepared for and wasn't appropriate for my existing skill set.

Overall I am ecstatic to have got such a good start on this chosen career path, ignoring the needed and useful blip that was my first Uni course, the next chapter in my education should prove to be even better. As I now know what I can achieve if I truly put my mind to it, and this day just serves to re-mind me that I must always put in all I can as it certainly pays off.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Busy Times

Ah okay so I have not posted in a while, I believe I have a few drafts that I need to publish, so there might be some catching up to do. :)

However for now I just wanted to post a quick update:

I am moving in exactly a week, so have been caught up with all the organisation and work that it requires. I am still looking forward to it, however I am getting slightly sad to leave all my friends behind. However as I said last night I don't want to hear 'goodbye' just 'see you later' as it's not like I'm leaving and never coming back! :)

Anyway I have been up to a lot the past month one of the highlights of which was a visit to the Bluebell Railway. Here is a quick look at the photo's from that day:




It was an amazing day and I would love to go back again in the summer if I get the chance. As it would be nice to take my little brother with me next time. :)

I shall have to write a proper post about that day when I get the chance. Which will most likely be on the many four hour train journeys that await me in the summer. For now though I have to finish packing and hope that all my things will actually fit into the removal van!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Month of May

I blink and the months march on! I am not sure where the time is going at the moment....

So voting today, cast my vote as I like to use my right to vote, although I'm not sure what good it will do in the long run....

However it is now May which means the month of my birthday and just so happens to also be the month that Sub Focus and Pendulum are performing for which the tickets arrived today via Recorded Mail. :)

I am also now starting to sort out the long list of things that require doing before moving house and sorting out Uni related issues. One of which actually telling Sussex Uni that I am now departing them! :) I however got a ton of paperwork done today and sorted out old Uni folders and such, a knock on effect of which was getting another box packed and I now require more boxes. As I appear to have used up all the ones lying about the house....

Getting very excited about the Newport course now - as nice as it is to have a bit of a break I think I am also starting to go stir crazy. For the first time in six years I have free time - it's like all those missed days off have all turned up at once! It is nice, and it's not like I am short of things to do, I have plenty of projects that need my attention. (Blogs and website being the main ones!) However I am finding it odd that for the first time in my life I don't have to be somewhere at a certain time for a set period of time....yet am going to enjoy this downtime while I can, the workload that awaits me is going to more than make up for this brief respite. :)

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Times are Changing

Since my last post (which felt like a month ago!) a lot has happened. I can now mention things without fear of jinxing it or upsetting people. (I hope!) However I shall start near the beginning to avoid confusion (mostly my own!). :)

So I have not been getting on well with my University course for some time now, it was very different to the Diploma I had just done at college - and I knew that there would be a lot of programming within the course before I started. However I did not count on there being THAT much programming on the course and the expectation that everyone had come from a reasonably strong computing/mathematics/programming background. I was getting good marks in some areas of the course, but the amount of work that I just couldn't hand in as I just couldn't get my head round it mounted up fairly quickly. Then being told that I was suffering from various ailments, as it were, did not help. One such issue with my brain turned out to be Dyslexia, most notably symbol recognition, which means that I have a tough time with letters, words and numbers and the order in which they are supposed to go in to say things correctly. This went a long way to explaining my frustration with programming, as I was fine with the concepts behind it, was more than happy to to decipher code and put it together to create the desired result - it was the learning of the coding language and the writing of it that caused no end of upset with me.

After much talking to tutors at the Uni as well it soon became apparent that the course was set up to produce competent games programmers not designers or anything else. Now I know that a degree in programming is something to be proud of and can get you many places, however I began to realise that it wouldn't really get me to the places that I would like to go. I also really started to miss the more creative aspects of something like the diploma I had just done, as that course was the first time that I loved going to a place of education for many years having not done well at college all those years ago. Also the nail in the coffin for that course came when one of the lead programming tutors said that I should have probably not been accepted on the course with the background I had and that they were now thinking of changing the entry requirements so that a computing background was a necessity. (That and the budget cuts, protests, thefts and general stressed atmosphere I didn't feel comfortable at the Uni any longer - the right place for some in the past, just not the right place for me now.)

So while thinking about all the work that I had to hand in before the Easter break and only making small progress on it I started to have a look around at other Uni's out of curiosity, falling out of love with Brighton in the last year or so for one reason or another I was also looking around at places that I had been or different. Which was when I remembered that a friend of my best friend had graduated from a design course in Newport Uni and was now working for a games company in France after achieving a fair amount of fantastic things during the course of her degree. This then made me take a peak at the website for the Newport School of Art, Media and Design, and then take a look at the BA in Computer Games Design, which instantly caught my eye. Having family back in Newport also made my brain tick over and then realise that I could go to Uni there move back to somewhere I knew and not have half the financial worries that I have down in the South. After much research and chatting with the recent graduate of the course I decided to give it a shot and get a UCAS application in for the course (as it was Route B on the applications I had just under a week before the final deadline.) Thinking that if I didn't get in I could always stick in out where I was, move back anyway and rethink things or go back to what I was doing before I caught the education bug again.

The UCAS application went well, and I then got asked into an interview at the Uni for which I had to prep my portfolio for. Now this was a little out of date, having mainly stuff from the diploma to show and some coding pieces I was proud of and very little sketching. So I decided to concentrate on the digital side of things and use my laptop to show things off but also use the sketchbooks from college to show of design ideas and thought processes. (Taking out the older sketches from my portfolio in the processes which on reflection was not a wise idea as it was the only criticism in the interview.) The interview day rolled around and it was a wonderful sunny day and the campus was relaxed and pretty and had the most fantastic views across some very green welsh countryside. The more I heard about the Uni and the course on the day the more I realised that this could really be the place for me. Going into the interview suitably nervous I was very happy to realise that I got on with the two tutors interviewing me (at least I think I did) and that I impressed them (aside from the lack of sketching!). Travelling back home again after that was almost heartbreaking as I really just wanted to stay at the Uni and start there and then! However I had to go back and then play the waiting game with the post that would provide me with the answer either way for my suitability for the course.

This game ended a couple of days ago, and I am very pleased to say that I have an informal acceptance letter for the course that I am now very excited about. My partner has even said the course is tailor made for me and what I want to do, and the way in which is run and put together is even better. As at the end of the day I was a course that I enjoy, can sink my teeth into and be good at and succeed in it and from it. This course so far looks to be what I was looking for, and as I know by now with me it appears that I always having to do things once before I get them right the second time. :)

So this means that I am moving away from my home for the past nine years back to a place that I spent nine years in as a child. My fiancé is also accompanying me and I already have family and friends that either sort of live up there or are more than happy to come visit, but it's still a big change and it is still leaving behind people I know and a place I have become very familiar with. Though there is that phrase 'familiarity breeds contempt' I guess but I would not swap the experiences I have had in this city or wish to leave it behind completely. Yet this upheaval and change is needed as it's a chance for me to get back on my feet and take that one step back to then take two steps forward as it were. :) Now however is the issue of packing and sorting things out - and there is a lot of sorting to be done! Yet for once I am moving at a more leisurely pace than I have done before  and currently my excitement over a mini-fresh start is overcoming the nerves and the upset of doing all that sorting and packing. :)

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Interesting Times (Again!)

Yep as always I am living in interesting times, which kinda sucks as it means that I have not had the time recently to finish off the New Zealand blog and photo's. Between bouncing around the country to see family, attending Weddings, troubles at Uni and general life issues clogging up my very confused head I feel that there is never enough time to do anything. That and I'm probably not organising it well enough...

Anyway have had some long hard thinking to do about things recently and have had to come to some difficult decisions about things. Also have had to take a good long hard look at myself and the way I do things, as I have not been the best of company recently to those close to me as I have been so stressed. That stress over some pretty major things is understandable the stress over stupid minor things is not, and I need to learn to not let things get to me so much and just get on with what's important.

One such important thing is due in next week and I am very nervous about it, there is a lot of work to do and so far today I have not been very productive. I think I maybe trying to do too much at once again, as I always do! I am dying to work on the New Zealand blog as well as the Dreamstone site, yet there are other things that need to take priority, such as this new project that I can't do into too much detail about yet. I would like to say again that there is never enough time....but as I said I really do think that it is my poor management of it that is causing that feeling. (oops!)

However this means that a full update on goings on is not possible at the moment as I am just waiting for the washing machine to finish before I jump in the shower and get all the day to day things done like cleaning and food shopping before getting on with things that I have been putting off for one reason or another and also chipping away at this new project that needs all the attention I can give it right now as it will change everything for me.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

New Zealand - Two Years Ago

Okay so I have just figured out why I have been looking over and organising the photo's from New Zealand and uploading them onto Picasa, it was almost two years ago to the day that I was over there. It feels like no time at all has passed, yet at the same time it feel like a lifetime, it has been a very busy and eventful two years.

I still want to be back there, and I intend to go as soon I have finished my degree (as I can't go during - unless I take a year out to work over there....now that is an idea!) However to be realistic I wish to go over there when I graduate as I don't want to leave it another ten years until I go back there again. (I went there as a child as my half-brothers Dad is from Auckland.)

It is odd how some of the people that live in New Zealand want to leave like my brothers Dad and yet me, my Mum and Nicola all want to go there. I guess some people don't want to stay where they grew up, or just like a change of scenery. (Seeing as New Zealand has the prettiest scenery in my opinion no wonder I want to go there - it's probably what makes winters more depressing seeing all the ads on telly for the beautiful country!) :)

Anyway I have now uploaded a few more New Zealand albums to Picasa, I really wish I had taken more photo's alas the camera was on loan and I didn't have a big enough memory card. The last time I was there all the photo's were on film, so I would have to scan that lot in, and that in and that takes a lot of time... :)



Meanwhile here is a sample of the photo's from Devonport and the trip up to the top of North Head. After getting the photo's up I shall get the travel journal typed up, that way I have a digital and a paper copy of that wonderful trip.

However now I need to actually get up and do something productive today, just sat and had a good chat with Nicola thanks to the wonders of Skype, she has gone to bed to get up early tomorrow to be proactive (different time zones) I should follow her lead. (The being proactive not the going to bed, as it's three in the afternoon for me!)

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Aotearoa

The project work of my choosing has not quite happened as for some reason I found myself organising my New Zealand photo's and getting them up on Picasa while listening to Shapeshifter, although I suppose this is one of the projects I have been meaning to do for a while. I have wanted to type up my travel journal and upload the photos to the realm of internet for a while. Not for anyone in particular to look at, just so that the record of my most dearest trip is recorded other than on my computer hard drive. :)

I also like using Google features to show where I was and where the photo's were taken, mainly for my reference say for when I take my fiancé over there and I can show him where I went and my favourite places, but for anyone else that wants to take a peak and go were we (me and Nicola) went. I am also, I have to admit, playing to my over organising side with it all as I already trialled putting up the walks in the snow and the trip to Bath on Picasa and Google Maps and found it quite fun in my organising way, so doing the same for the trip to New Zealand is therapeutic and also reminds me what I am working for. (A chance to visit again or live over there.)

However it has now chewed up a rather large chunk of the evening and I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone, for now I must sleep it is getting quite late. Actual work will need to be done tomorrow as I have things that need to be done for the choices I have to make about my career and my immediate future.

Interesting Times

There is a quote that is said to be a curse, the origins of which are disputed, however it is said that to wish ill on someone you should wish 'May You Live in Interesting Times'. It is one such phrase that me and my fiancé agree we must have become burdened with from a previous life. Although you could also argue that life is never simple and no matter what there is always something going on. Also to be honest I would be perfectly bored if there was nothing going on, however it would be nice to have some quiet time every now and then. :)

This week has yet again been a cumulation of too many things happening all at once...

I sprained my ankle rather badly while out with my flatmate, hobbled home by myself and put ice on it, but at the time I knew that it was going to hurt. Which it did and has done for the last week...to spare all the details it has been a rather stressful week. Between the tooth infection, tummy upset, antibiotics, sinus infection, depression, family fires, coursework stress, important decisions and of course the now yellow and blue ankle I feel that interesting times doesn't even begin to describe my life at times.

I was looking forward to a week of finishing off coursework and looking forward to the Easter holidays where I could work on projects I actually enjoy. :)

It has taken a week for my body and mind to overcome everything, and I fear that I cannot remember most of the week... I have learned one thing though, a hot bath can do wonders when you have aches and pains and a fuzzy head. Good talks with family and friends also help, and the support of a wonderful fiancé is something I never want to be without.

I have however not got any coursework handed in, having not finished any of it, however I have a lot of thinking and decisions to make on that front. I need to re-evaluate where I need to be to get to where I want to be. Choices that need to be made that may not be easy ones...

However today is not the day to dwell on such matters, a nice meal has been had courtesy of the flat mates, and a good long chat with my best friend of twenty years has been had, and I now feel better than I have done all week. I am now spread out inside the music bubble listening to Sub Focus' new album and getting on with some project work of my choosing. As next week is going to involve a lot of talking to various people at Uni with one thing and another.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Gaming and The Internet

So this evening I have been very bad and have been staying up till near 4am in the morning watching an internet series about internet gaming.

This is what I have been watching from episode one to the most recent release: The Guild. I've encountered in passing a few times, one of my geeky friends cosplayed the main character, but I didn't really look too much into it, at first I thought it was just another one of those Flash MMO games. How wrong could I be, my sort of gaming friend showed me the video 'Do you want to date my Avatar?' yesterday and suggested I watch the series. I did, all of it just now in one go. I now desperately want to see the next season I hope it's on it's way! :)

However it did get me thinking, as I haven't really played any internet games since I didn't have the internet. Me and my geeky friends used to play Guild Wars, as couldn't afford the net I used to join people in my local internet cafe to play. We would get Chinese food, snack on Oreo cookies and play until closing, so there would be a good 3-4 hours after work of gaming. However I soon realised that without that 'dedicated' time as it were for playing I soon stopped and haven't really gone back to in since. Tried World of Warcraft, didn't really get into it although I loved my character and the sense of humour in the game. I guess I maybe a bit bad at sticking to the one game, I tend to have many on the go at once, and with everything else I like to do and have to do yet another 'obligation' of playing an online game enough to make it worth while doesn't appear to interest me as much. Which I find slightly odd as I was a little different as a teenager and was addicted to an online game that was text based, yet I suppose I had no other gaming outlets at the time.

I think I also feel that I missed out the internet explosion a little, I was one of the first people to get access at home when I was at school, a fair amount of time ago now, and I felt quite privileged to have it. Now the internet is everywhere, and for all the good it does and can do there is also such a dark undertone and negative stereotypes that surround it. I guess my lacking of enthusiasm might also go back to when I was a teenager, I was addicted to the internet back then along with a particular internet game, mainly due to the social side of it as I didn't have much of a social life in the 'real world' back then. I guess in the back of my mind is the thought that I put too much time and effort into something that, at the end of the day was important and fun to me then, but is not something I want to be shouting from the roof tops about today. 

At the end of the day I just don't like the idea of getting caught in that trap again and not putting effort into areas of my life that will hopefully lead to something a little more worthwhile, by which I mean the means to provide myself with a roof over my head and the ability to travel. :) That and as odd as this sounds I feel that I just don't fit in with the internet culture, not in a I'm too old for it way, but the same way that I don't feel that I fit into the music scene associated with the music I like, or the cosplay scene, I am a geek that feels out of place around other geeks! :) Either that or I am just interested in to many vastly different things that I always like jumping between each one as I have developed a magpie like nature and am easily distracted. That and I have to admit I feel guilty for spending time with one hobby/interest as I am neglecting the many others I appear to have. At the end of the day there is an overruling part of me that doesn't like to get caught up in these online games and the often fake social worlds that come with it. I have seen it first hand with a friend of mine, they can't function in the real world with real people any more as all their social interaction is done and has been learned from by staring at a computer screen, and that just doesn't seem healthy.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Trip to Bath

So this weekend just gone I decided to up and go to Bath to visit my sister. I forgot how good impromptu journeys were, it has been a while since I have done one. There is also something to be said about a long train journey to focus the mind when you have lots to do.

Saturday was spent wondering around Bath, and being shown the sights by my sister, and I have to say I quite like the city.

The photo's sort of abruptly stop during the walk around the Abbey as we got distracted by the shops. (Which according to New Look's window displays there are 1000 to choose from in the city.)

The Sunday was then spent chilling out in the cleanest student house I have ever seen, and trying to get some work done and also catching up on things.

Monday was spent on the train, or more accurately on a very cold platform for a fair bit of due to a few flakes of snow on the tracks causing disruptions with the trains.

However the train journey was quite a good one, especially after the experience on the journey up there, where sardines would have had more room. After changing at Southampton for the long stopping journey back I managed to get a table, and get out the laptop and get a head start of some of my work that had been piling up. During the long journey I had one of those wonderful 'Eureka' moments with this annoying piece of written work that I had been struggling with.

When I got back home a long while after originally expected I did a quick trip to the post office to pick up some missing Ebay parcels. Two puzzles produced by Waddingtons based on scenes from the Dreamstone. What was odd though was the fact that they were still factory wrapped, complete with price ticket! (£2.95 for reference) I however picked them up for 99p, and intended to open them up and actually put them together as they are puzzles after all. :)

Sunday, 10 January 2010

A new year a new decade...

Well then it's now a new decade and the start of the century is now behind us. There was certainly enough reminders on TV about how it's the end of an era type thing. It certainly made me think how much has changed and how much has happened in the last ten years, in some respects it has gone by really slowly, but at the same time I could have sworn that it was only yesterday that I was celebrating the millennium with my best friend of now twenty years. The perception of time is a funny old thing. :)

My sister came down over Christmas, as it was going to a quiet one for us for a change, however she stayed for a bit longer than expected, what with the unpredictable weather and random bank holidays. I was still a fair bit ill during her stay and therefore this Christmas was a bit of a blur, at least it wasn't the stress filled blur of working in a busy retail shop during this period. :)

To re-cap what I do remember though was a very nice Christmas dinner cooked by my partner and lots of lounging in front of the television, I then felt that I must have slept for a week before New Years, as we'd decided to have a small gathering in the flat again this year. (A lot more enjoyable that the busy and expensive town centre.) We got in nibbles and a rather large amount of alcohol, most of which was consumed on the night thanks to some interesting drinking games. However the highlight of New Year was a surprise proposal....

Bod asked me to marry him, we were a little tipsy, and he hadn't planned to ask there and then, he'd been asking randomly every now and then the past few months and I withheld my answer until now. He was hoping that he could propose on the Bluebell Railway in March, as he knew that it would make me melt even more. :) Yet as things turn out we got engaged on the New Year and happily told all our family and friends there and then, yet some repeating of the news was required the next day due to the alcohol consumption by all. :D

As such I have been rather distracted this past few weeks, I'm thinking clearly for the first time in weeks though as I have now also left work, and actually rested properly. I feel that I have got back my 'get up and go' attitude that got up and left without me at the end of last year, yet it appears to have slightly bad timing as snow covers all right now. :)


2010 Snow in the South
I have to say that I do almost prefer the way things looks in the snow, but I think that maybe the novelty of it still, and also the challenge of traversing it without falling over. :)

Anyway I and many others are now waiting for the country to thaw out a little as many things are severely disrupted. Flight and trains are the main concern in my household at the moment as I would like to return to Uni at some point and my flatmate is due to fly out to Norway on a Uni trip soon. So as pretty as it all maybe we are wishing for things to return to normal.