Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Advanced Warning

We're off to the Land of Hobbits on Sunday, and won't be getting back till the middle of October - therefore posting will be non-existent until then (how will you be able to tell the difference from when I'm just being rubbish at updating?).

But I will hopefully then be able to give you a travelogue of our trip - the current plan (although it is nice and fluid) is to pick up the campervan in Auckland, bimble around the region, visiting rellies, then, after a jobs fair on the Saturday (don't worry - not applying for jobs as yet, but just to see what the market is like), heading down to the Waitomo Caves, then across to Lake Taupo and the region (the bottom of which includes the park which houses Mount Doom...). Then along to Napier, and down to Wellington. We'll stop there for a couple of days (depending on timing), go to the Weta Cave, and scout potential areas to live. Then the ferry across to Picton on South Island, down to Christchurch, where we'll meet up with an ex-colleague and his wife, then down to Dunedin, where Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen are playing. Then back to Christchurch, return the van, and fly home.

This is a rough idea of the route (you'd think that working for a GIS company, I'd be able to get maps to do what I want, but GoogleMaps wouldn't play in the time I've got left in my lunchbreak, so it doesn't show the wiggle down below Taupo to get to Mount Doom) If you click on the picture, it will take you to a bigger version where you can read the names :-)

See you in October!

Monday, 15 September 2008

Perfect Saturday

It doesn't come along often, but I really felt that last Saturday was a perfect day. We had a lie-in, our first in ages, and it was lovely to be able to sleep off the effects of early rising, late nights and being busy! Then, with the sun shining down on us, we went out to a nursing home on the south side of Bristol, there, along with the other members of the Longwell Green Orchestra, to serenade the residents. We set up in the courtyard of the nursing home, so that those who were bed-ridden would be able to have their windows open and be able to listen to us as well. The skies were blue, the air was warm, and there was just enough of a breeze to ruffle the pages of music. We were all relaxed, which meant that we played some of the best music, even managing to get back together again when we had got half a bar out (I don't think anyone noticed!) As we got to the end of our performance, playing a medley from Grease, some of the more sprightly residents (encouraged by the nurses) even got up to dance! It was all I could do to concentrate on playing and keeping my embouchure as I kept on wanting to grin.
Then back home for a quick and easy supper, and the Last Night of the Proms, followed by a televised broadcast of "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue".
Just brilliant.

Thursday, 11 September 2008


Where is the year going? It is a bit scary to think that the schools are back, the students are preparing for uni, and we are on the downhill roll to Christmas...

We had a very exciting weekend last weekend - we were up in Leeds visiting the Leeds Armoury. Part of the big excitement was that their Medieval curator had spent about 7 years cultivating a friendship with the owner of Weta, culminating in them bringing over a major chunk of the existing LOTR/Narnia collection (the arms/armour rather than the full costumes/monsters). That was bouncemaking enough, but what we had also discovered was that Peter Loyd, the head swordsmith had come over as well to do a talk on the making of the weapons, running from the design through to the finished pieces. This talk turned out to be free, but with limited seating (i.e. you had to book in advance), and at the end of it, not only was there the chance to have a chat with him, but they brought out of the collection for us to *hold* (though not take away or take photos of - hiss!) a centaur's helmet from Narnia, one of the Orc shields (one of the ones that looks like a claw), one of the stunt swords, and (which made us all go POING) the full size version of Sting (i.e. the one which Elijah Wood had, rather than his mini-me)

So I have now held Sting - and it is a glorious work of art as well as a weapon (couldn't do much cutting with it as it hasn't been sharpened, but I'm sure that it could still do some damage!). Only bummer is that when I bounced about it at work, everyone looked at me like I was mad...

Leeds itself is somewhere I have not visited before, and I was very pleasantly suprised. I was expecting concrete towers, graffitti, and a general "it's grim up north" feel; the reality, at least around the Waterfront where the Armoury is, was one of modern, well designed architecture, light and (not suprisingly!) water. We also found a *fantastic* Thai restaurant - just opened - very tucked away (we only realised that it was open because there were a couple of lights on - the rest of the shops in the arcade were shut). The food was amazing, the service perfect (though as we were the only people in there, it would have been hard for it to be bad!), and very reasonably priced. I did take away their menu so that I could give them a bit of publicity - however, I don't have it on me right now - details to follow...

Edit... The details of the Thai restaurant are:
Thai Khonkaen Restaurant
8a/10a Market Street Arcade

Definitely worth a visit if you are in Leeds at all...

Monday, 1 September 2008


Well, we've moved house, scrubbed out the old flat to the point that it stinks of bleach (but, hey, the Dettol Mould and Mildew remover does what it says on the tin, and has (fingers crossed) saved our deposit), and we've got the internet back (through a Vodafone dongle - which is actually nearly as speedy as the broadband, so I'm not going to complain too much!)

The new place is growing on me - I still feel a bit wobbly about being forced to move; every other move we have made in Bristol has been through our choice, I've had a real kick to get out, and the flats stopped feeling like home before we left. This time, I loved our flat (despite the mildew problems...), but the landlady's behaviour, particularly with respect to not paying the mortgage, meant that we had to get out; if we had been evicted in four or five months time, then we would have had real problems in getting a short term let before we emigrated.

Sadly none of the rings turned up in the move, so I now have to accept that they are gone for good. Still waiting for the insurance company to make me an offer...

I'm also starting to get very excited about our holiday to New Zealand - we are flying out on the 21st Sept, so with less than a month to go, I figure I'm allowed to get bouncy, particularly as we are going to be there at the same time as Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen, and I have booked tickets to go and see them play. The holiday is a precursor to emigration - we are going round in a campervan scouting out places that we might like to live.