Life – May 2019

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Fairly uneventful month…

 

Chiropractor

As I get older, I feel like my back pain is getting worse, I imagine going to the gym is both helping and contributing to the issue but who knows which side is winning out.
I colleague of mine recently went to a chiropractor and had good results so I thought I’d go and check one out myself.
https://www.surbitonchiropractic.com/ – This is the one I went with in the end, a really friendly american guy who has apparently been practising for years – the treatment and diagnosis was interesting, he says I have a disk bulge in my lower back, my right leg is slightly longer than my left, and a stiff neck.
He proceeded to knead my back like bread and try and roll my spine back in to place, and did his best agent47 neck snap on me as well – which, “Jesus Christ” actually just blurted out of my mouth while I was on the table. Never experienced a bone click like that – and regardless of the treatment efficacy, worth it for that experience alone.

I’ve not been back since, and unfortunately not seen much of an improvement – I only found out afterwards that Chiropractic is apparently a form of alternative medicine – and while i’m sure it’s more effective than homeopathy or anything involving chakras, I do think some of the logic seems flawed. Who knows, maybe it does work, but I don’t think I want to pay the extra £480 on 12x 20 min sessions to find out.

 

Eurovision

Had a little Eurovision party over at a friend’s place, which has always pretty much just been an excuse to sit around and eat/drink.
We thought we’d be exciting and make some gyoza from scratch – both vegetarian and pork versions.
Was a pretty fun little exercise, I don’t think I’ve made gyoza before so looking up some recipes online and adapting it myself was pretty fun, as well as trying our hardest to fold/crimp them properly. They came out pretty well in the end, and the gyoza meat mix works impressively well just for making mince pork patties in general.

 

Dental

Minor note – Had my first dental checkup in like 5 years which didn’t result in a filling or being told they need to amputate my mouth. Sometimes, it’s the little wins.

Keto begins

Countdown to my next short holiday in Barcelona began a few weeks ago, and I told myself I was going to burn some fat before going – my ‘eat whatever I want’ diet has been going pretty great for weight training and bulking up, I think I’ve certainly put on some muscle – however the bodytrax scales at my local gym also say that my body fat % is the highest it’s ever been as well, skirting around 18%.

So, it’s back on the keto for a month, it’s hard going, but im almost used to the lifestyle at this point, and it really is a good way to keep away from the sugar and sweets – though god is it upsetting when it’s the boss’s birthday and he brings in 48 krispy kreme donuts.

We’ve been on a mad hunt for sugar-free treats and ended up buying a bunch of sugar-free jelly, and ‘wheyhey’ ice cream which is basically carb free (all polyols).

 

 

 

Lights – Skin and earth tour 2019

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Had the pleasure of finally going to see Lights ( https://www.iamlights.com/ ) in London, I remember seeing the tickets go on sale for the last time she was in the UK but decided not to go for whatever reason (probably because I didn’t want to go alone) – wasn’t going to let that stop me this time, though to my surprise, Cordelia said she wanted to come as well despite only really listening to some of the music via my car stereo.

We got there pretty early and had to spend aaages waiting outside the venue, and then a further 2 hours or so waiting around the stage for the action to start.
The support act was a girl called Lizzy Farrall – who was lively and full of spirit, but unfortunately the audio levels were all over the shop – microphone turned up so much you couldn’t hear the lyrics, drums and guitar so loud they drown everything else out. Felt pretty bad for her honestly because she was asking us to sing along and nobody knew the lyrics (because nobody had heard of her) and even if we wanted to, we could barely understand anything she was screaming into the mic.

Finally at 9pm – ( right on time I might add, I hate when musicians make you wait for ages or don’t come out until everyone is cheering and screaming for 10 straight minutes) Lights came out and totally rocked it.
Was really an impressive show, the talent was real – I don’t even think she needed the microphone her voice was so powerful, and she was also performing while playing guitar or piano.
She played through more or less the entirety of the skin and earth album, as well as a healthy dose of songs from previous albums (Last thing on your mind, Toes, Banner, Running with the boys, up we go) and then some unexpected covers: Lovefool and Cher’s Believe – the latter of which turned the song from a dance song to a slower more powerful version and was honestly really cool to vibe to.

Life – April 2019

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Yikes! That was a crazy fast month! Practically in May now. Where did all the time go?

 

New House!

So I’ve moved out of my single room shared house place, and into a rented 2 bedroom house. A house! how exciting, I hope I get to own a house someday but jesus they are so expensive. The particular place we’re living in, I looked online and it’s probably around the £300k mark – which is a bit depressing considering how small it is. Ah well.

Price wise for us, not too bad at least? Relatively speaking? Rent is £1200 a month, which is actually the very lower end of non-shithole places in southwest london. The place came unfurnished, and as we didn’t have any furniture, it was a real stressful move in week because we literally had no bed, nothing to sit on, etc, literally all we had was kitchen stuff and a TV cabinet, I had to sleep on the floor for a good week or so, eventually after some shopping around, we hit up IKEA and basically bought everything we needed, and then I grabbed a new desk chair off amazon. The total price of all the furniture was maybe around £1300? Which isn’t toooo bad I think, considering how long they will hopefully last?

Here are some pictures! I’m basically fully moved in and comfy now.

 

New Games + The Long long weekend

So I took 2 days off either side of the double bank holiday, which lead to a delicious 8 day weekend – though, I had nothing to do!
Thankfully, with a little help from some friends and family I suddenly had a plethora of games to play, literally spoilt for choice. I had been waiting to get my hands on some of these for a while so I literally spent the whole 8 days just vegging out and gaming, to the point where my eyes started to hurt.

Sekiro – Goddamn what a game, they really doubled down on the combat portion and as a result some of the things I really enjoyed about Dark souls got pushed aside, stuff like character customization and builds, or being able to choose weapon. The counter for this at least is some of the most fun boss fights and some really satisfying combat, it’s nice to not have to worry about a stamina gauge either. At points however the game does seem to devolve into boss rush mode, which I wasn’t really a fan of, mostly because it can be easy to get stuck on them. I’m currently about 20 hours in, and almost at the end I think? With just a small handful of bosses left. I really struggled on Genichiro Ashina but surprisingly managed to breeze through a lot of the bosses after that (and by breeze I mean only dying 1-5 times)

Resident Evil 2 (2019) – Turned out to be waaaay harder than I expected – I kind of had to play through on hardcore mind you, as the normal mode doesn’t even have ink ribbon saving, which just seemed sacrilegious – I think having ink ribbons and limited saves really enhances the survival aspect of the game, as you need that fear of dying to be properly immersed in the game – dying and having to repeat 15 minutes of gameplay and exploring is much scarier than dying and reviving at a checkpoint at the start of the room.
I’ve completed Claire A and have Leon B yet to beat, Mr X stressed me out so much that I actually ended up playing Sekiro to ‘cool down’. Really enjoyed the game though and certainly recommend to anyone looking for a legit survival horror experience, I still don’t think it beats the original REmake, but it’s certainly the best one in a long time for me.

Red Dead Redemption 2 – Coming into this game late, I can certainly see both sides of the arguments for and against it. Yes, it’s a really good game, the world is gigantic, the missions are fun and the stories are interesting, but the overanimation of many factors really bogs the game down and makes some things a bit tedious, there are also some really strange design choices and options missing for the player. I have no idea how far through the story I am, but i’ve just been run out of Saint Denis if that helps people who have played it. I do kind of wish there were more things to buy like in GTA5, after doing some heists and so on I’ve bought everything in the camp and have so much money I don’t really know what to do with it, it’s made a lot of activities like hunting seem a bit pointless.

 

TV

So many spoilers out there!
Avengers Endgame was awesome, and the recent episode of Game of Thrones was absolutely mad as well.
Likely going to see Detective Pikachu and John Wick 3 in the cinema next month as well.

In terms of anime this season, really slim pickings unfortunately, i’m only properly following One punch man s2 and some trash harem show (Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai), though apparently Attack on Titan is resuming now?

 

Quitting D&D for now…

I think i’ve had enough of playing D&D with my work group for now, I’ve always been a fast learner and playing D&D has made me realise that I am an incredibly impatient – like this isn’t news to me don’t worry, I already knew I was impatient but the severity only recently hit me as I sat twiddling my thumbs waiting for colleagues to choose who to attack and how. People who make me wait have always been at the top of my shitlist.
So, goodbye, Combo, the level 5 Human Barbarian
You had some good times, with your immense wealth, your 16 longswords and your disgusting damage numbers, you’ve done well, now it’s time for some retirement.

Life – Feb/Mar 2019

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I started writing this thinking I had plenty to talk about and it turns out I really don’t.

It’s kind of shocking how uneventful life has been lately, but sometimes boring is good too.

 

 

Budapest

Was great fun! Cordelia took me there as a birthday present, there wasn’t really enough there to keep us fully occupied for the 5 days or so we were there, but it was a nice change of pace to have a holiday where we can come back to the hotel and have a nap without feeling like we’re wasting the day away.

 

Another exam down

Passed my 70-740 Microsoft Exam, one of three for the Server 2016 qualification. It was pretty hard, I actually thought i was going to fail when I was mid exam, though I somehow managed to pass with 82%

 

Apex Legends

Oh my god Apex came from seemingly nowhere and has eaten maybe 100 hours of my life, I’ve never really seen the appeal of battle royale games due to my short experience playing Fortnite but this is completely different. It’s a shame i’m not very good at the game of course, maybe it’s my age catching up to me?

 

New home

I’m moving again at the end of this month, to a small 1.5 bedroom house, really looking forward to not having to share with other people, I can totally deal with cleaning up mess, but I fucking hate cleaning up after others. I’ll be sure to post some pictures after i’m moved in.

 

 

 

2019 – Budapest

posted in: blog, holiday | 0

So, initially I actually wanted to try and use my phone to do a vlog or video overview of my holiday, but I don’t think I really took enough footage to do this, coupled with the fact I don’t actually have any gopros etc, didn’t shoot any of my meals, and apparently I don’t even have Sony Vegas on my computer.

So instead, have a quick summary, some pictures, and some travel tips

 

Oh, I want to add that this is the first holiday in literal years where i’ve not taken my Canon DSLR with me, all these pics were just shot on my new phone, is it super obvious? I didn’t touch them in post either, I know the phone does some weird filters and stuff also so some shots aren’t artistically mine!

 

Day 1 – Arrival, Airbnb, went for dinner and then went to sleep because I felt a bit ill

Day 2 – Walked around the park, saw Vajdahunyad Castle, did a loop around the outside of the spa, saw Heroes Square, home for a nap, Went out to catch the sunset over the danube, walked along the danube for a bit just taking in the sights, saw the Budapest eye, went to Caviar & Bull (£90 per person, most expensive meal of my life, #3 on tripadvisor)

Day 3 – Went over to the castle district, Fishermans Bastion (very cool), walked around trying to find some gardens before it started raining, went to Central Market to have a look around, was going to eat there but way too busy, went to a local hungarian place for Goulash, Went out to a huge ruin bar, there was a small food cart street nearby where we tried Langos (traditional hungarian snack) and some chimney cake

Day 4 – 6am Wakeup to go to the famous Budapest Spa (no pictures), went over to St Stephens Basilica, food at Meatology (#6 on tripadvisor) where I had an amazing pork belly burger, long walk across to the other side of budapest to see the church in a cave, dinner at a Thai place

Day 5 – Lazy morning, tasty BBQ beef sandwich at Smokey Monkeys BBQ (#11 on tripadvisor), went to the highly disappointing 3d museum (0/10 would not recommend) and then went over to see the parliament building before starting to make our way back home.

 

 

Travel tips:

  • Széchenyi Spa ‘Cabins’ are actually just a changing room that you can use to lock your stuff in, the lock seems pretty robust and so you’re probably safe, they say you need to have slippers but nobody called us out on it
  • Cash is king for smaller businesses, but larger restaurants and chain stores do all take card – the rate on ,my revolut card was actually much better than the exchange rate when we tried swapping cash.
  • Budapest is very walkable, but I do suggest grabbing some travel tickets, we used 10 in 5 days (each), the shuttle bus tickets are separate
  • Budapest is pretty affordable as long as you don’t go fine dining, most nice meals with a drink will cost less than £10 per person, if you want to go really budget you can easily do £5 per person per meal. We saw beer as cheap as £2 for a litre.
  • Whilst you can technically get lunch at Central Market, I’d recommend making a plan B as it was mental while we were there

Life – January 2019

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It’s been a busy but somewhat uneventful month, I’ve spent most of the last 2 weeks just grinding through.

Healthy Mind and Body

My new years resolution is to get a six pack, i’ve actually wanted one for as long as I can remember but it’s too difficult as I just love food too much, portion control is definitely not my strong point, particularly as i’m so good at cooking (if i do say so myself). I’ve been trying to control my calorie intake to about 1800 a day, hitting the gym 2-5 times a week and doing intermittent fasting where possible. So far there hasn’t been much change, but we have a body analyser thing at the gym, and i’ve ordered a tape measure, so hopefully i’ll start seeing some positive results soon – it’s a bit of a struggle though as work have ordered in free pizza twice in the last fortnight, and i’m a sucker for that.
I’ve also decided to push myself and go for another MCSA certification, picking up a CBTnuggets subscription which is a painful $84 a month – more than 4 times what I spend on gym. If it helps me get the cert then I guess it’s money well spent, and it does seem like a good resource, but it’s certainly not a cheap service.
I’ve been trying to claw time to do it by coming into the office early for half an hour, doing half an hour over lunchbreak, and then half an hour after work – followed by 90 minutes of gym, and then coming back home to collapse due to exhaustion – on days I need to cook dinner or go food shopping as well I want to cry.

 

Cordelia’s birthday

it was the gf’s birthday last weekend, we went to the dino golf down the road, basically an 18 hole minigolf kind of thing with luminous green water features and animatronic dinosaurs, they also play the jurassic park theme practically on loop, it was goofy, cold and pretty expensive, but good fun all the same, I won in our group, kind of made me miss playing Albatross 18.
We went to a chinese restaurant in kingston for dinner called Yimchai which was actually surprisingly good, there was a good authentic selection of food and the taste was pretty spot on from what I had. We’ve already booked to go again at Valentines. I got her a silver pendant with a garnet hung in the middle – her birthstone, she seemed to like it.

 

 

Other smaller things:

  • We’re going to see Dragonball Broly film tomorrow, which should be a laugh
  • Mum bought a house, going to help on the weekend.
  • Got back into Payday2, great game, so much content, I just wish I had people to play with as the randoms can be a bit trash.
  • Had to get my tyres and some bulbs changed for my cars MOT, £250ish in total, painful, but then I spoke to a friend who said that a single tire cost him £100 and considering I had all 4 done, I guess I got off lucky due to my car.

 

Life – December 2018

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And so 2018 comes to a close.
This year was fairly uneventful as they go, aside from the 3 holidays

 

Christmas!

Christmas was a little weird this year, as my parents sold the family house and are a bit all over the place right now, I woke up on christmas day alone in my room – unsure whether or not I should open the few presents I had, or bring them to my mum’s place or leave them or what.
I ended up opening up – I got a really nice superdry rucksack, a superdry tshirt, Codenames pictures (boardgame), a steam gift card, a mug, a Yakuza series tshirt, a comic book by hiimdaisy, a bunch of cash (because buying presents is hard), some chocs/biscuits, a glass chopping board which looks like a chipset, and some socks.

We went to my mums sister’s place this year, and had a lovely dinner, followed by some gambling (went from £2 to £7, yay) and jackbox, Hailey was being a bit of a diva this year and got into a strop because nobody was paying enough attention to her, and someone thought it would be a good idea to buy them instruments (harmonica, keyboard and a recorder) so my ears were ringing by the end of the night just because of all of the noise.
Boxing day morning me and brother just hung out, we were trying to find something to play, try doing a bit of Resi6 and promptly ended up buying Lethal League Blaze instead, which we blasted for a few hours. The eve was spent at an Aunt on my dads side, and was mostly uneventful, my cousin recently bought Jackbox 5 so we went through and played all of the games in that, some of them were really good but we didn’t really have enough people for it to be a party.

 

Ham house Christmas walk

Cordelia booked us on a ghost tour of Ham House – it was mostly uneventful unfortunately, though the interior was nice. I wasn’t really expecting much, but it was purely a ghost story kind of walk, rather than a haunted house kind of experience. I remmeber going to a ghost walk a long time ago as a kid and they had actors burst out of coffins and all sorts, but the Ham House ghost tour was just “sometimes you can hear this….” followed by everyone going silent, and nothing happening. Bit disappointing, especially given the high price of admission (£25 pp)

 

 

Book Club Christmas Dinner

‘Book club’ threw a Christmas dinner on the weekend before Xmas, it was all surprisingly organised, with teams for mains, dessert, drinks and decor – I was on the mains team, but the host ended up preparing basically everything so my only real role was to deal with the turkey – which was almost a disaster, the turkey I bought and had been defrosting for 2-3 days was still part frozen, so we ended up having to source a replacement. I was taught how to rub butter underneath the skin of the turkey, which was a very odd sensation, literally crawling in it’s skin – all turned out to be good in the end though, however it was much harder and more tiring to carve than I expected.

 

 

10 Years since Warwick University

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Just came back from our big 10 year anniversary reunion meetup, we rented a house on the border of Wales and England for the weekend and went to reminisce about easier times, drink lots and just try and forget how old we’ve become.

It was really good fun and so nice to see everyone again, getting the entire group together, at times it really did feel like nothing had changed, everyone still split into their smaller groups, the heavy drinkers downed their drinks, the usual suspects were useless at boardgames and ring of fire as normal.
Christina and Ian did some ‘organised fun’ which actually turned out to be really good – a quiz featuring general university fact knowledge, a ‘what happened next’ round with pictures, a university era ‘name that track’ round, an elaborate lab / bakeoff setup where we had to try and recreate a university favourite cocktail from their individual components, and a round where we had to write our first opinion of someone, and then we went around and guessed who they all related to etc.

The house was nice, if a little dusty,  I do wish there were more bedrooms though, we had 13 beds and only 4 bedrooms – I narrowly missed one of the better rooms which unfortunately meant I had to go into the room with all of the noisy people. I retired early on the first night due to too much alcohol, and was promptly woken up at 5am by a combo of incredibly loud snoring courtesy of Ronak and Sonal – I actually anticipated people would snore so I had already put my earplugs in but it was genuinely a case of as soon as they fell asleep, I got woken up. After 5 minutes of thinking if I could fall asleep in that noise, I ended up having to relocate to the lounge and sleeping on a spare duvet, thankfully not as bad as you might think, but the floor was pretty hard.

On the second day we went for a hike in the forest, really hilly around that area, and it had been raining the previous day, so conditions were pretty ripe for people to slip over or get coated in mud, thankfully no major casualties, though after half an hour of walking we did decide to take a shortcut down a very steep slope which ended up in a few of the girls falling over (Liz and Annie). Later that night we played Codenames (infamous ‘sport 3’ incident courtesy of Sonal) and Murder in the Dark which was really fun but slightly ruined by Luke and Ian being too drunk and basically just trying to ruin the game for everyone else – we were basically all just stumbling around in the pitch black trying not to grope each other.

I thought i’d take this opportunity to also list some of my personal favourite memories from my university days:
– My first night drinking on the piazza with a bunch of strangers
– Sprinting full pelt through the cryfield corridors
– Corridor slip and slide (even if Jamie ruined it)
– The first time I went to Oceana in birmingham
– The outdoor slip and slide
– Waiting for Gemma in her room and her appearing in a towel and screaming
– Roaming around cryfield and going into someone’s garden, after heavy snow, with Gemma
– Playing around with Ben’s DJ setup and learning how to do a basic mix
– Playing Halo with Duncan and learning the MLG map callouts to be able to understand and play with him better
– Many nights playing Rock Band/ Guitar Hero
– The entirety of the Ibiza holiday, which I still remember vividly – from our ridiculous long walk to take the girls home, to water party, to London bar and Kate teaching Phil how to pick up girls, to getting way too drunk in the russian bar and being woken up by a european guy trying to sober me up with a glass of water.
– Ed having to ‘Wait’
– Royal Fish Bar and their battered chips
– Visiting the girls house and laughing at how ridiculous their hallway shower was
– Ronak’s house party, drinking too much and passing out in the biomed bed, waking up mid coma to see Gem half dressed
– Walking up that damn hill every morning to get to lectures
– Many nights in ‘Crash’
– playing Mao in one of the first weeks with Tim, Luke and others
– ‘Sitting in the dark and talking about our feelings’
– Going to a halloween house party dressed as an ensemble of tetris blocks
– Seeing ‘Drag me to Hell’ at the student cinema and us all pissing ourselves laughing and screaming because of how loud it was
– Frog Disection during labs
– Playing with the liquid nitrogen for my final year project
– Ronak’s bed in the tree
– Eventually heading over to Gemma for a long talk on the night I broke up with Frances, after aimlessly walking around Leamington in the cold dark. It was a shitty night, but im glad I had someone to talk to.
– My 21st birthday party,. where we somehow made an absurd mess after deciding to antique people with flour
– Standing outside the kitchen window one night, and scaring the shit out of Ian – his double take after he saw me outside in the dark is something i’ll never forget.
– The few times I heard others having sex in the house – gross but hilarious and something I suspect I won’t forget.
– Archery Club
– The random time we were invited to play Octopush in the swimming pool
– Pub Golf night
– The ridiculous room pranks, from the alien egg in Ian’s room, to ronak’s room being filled with plastic spoons, to entire rooms being relocated to common areas.
– Trying to freeze duncan’s toothbrush in a block of ice

 

 

Life – Oct 2018

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Ooops.
That awkward moment when you forget about your blog for 3 months.

God, time goes fast though huh? We’re almost towards the end of the year and I’m going to be a very old man soon.

So uh..
Whats happened in the last few months?

 

Parents have sold the house

Obviously not our choice or decision, but one which had to be made, I’m going to have to head back in a few weeks to clean up the last of my stuff so they can properly move out.
I don’t live at home anymore anyway, but mum is moving to Orpington while dad is staying in Essex.
I’ve not actually seen the new house, but it’s only a 2 bed.

 

My stuff broke

Not having great luck with tech this year, I had a hard drive suddenly die on me, then my keyboard, and my power supply did some really funky stuff as well, where it just wouldn’t turn on, and then after a few days started working as normal – I decided to RMA it anyway because it’s still in warranty, I’d rather take my chances with a new unit than keep this one which has stopped working in the past.

 

I gamed my heart out

Yikes, probably one of the main reasons why I forgot to blog post, I’ve just been so overwhelmed with games lately.
We absolutely binged Monster Hunter World for a good month, and that was some of the most fun I’ve had in years, it was great being able to play with everyone again into the early hours of the morning, and it’s been so long since I’ve played a game that I’ve actually taken time off work to get more hours in.
Unfortunately a lot of the hype has died down now and there’s only 2 of us playing (down from 6), which is a real shame as I still enjoy the game, but playing with randoms isn’t as much fun – I guess my own expectations have gone up as well and I get more annoyed with people who have no idea how to play.

Since then, I’ve also been playing the fantastic Hat in Time DLC, and more recently have started up Opus Magnum, and The Surge – both of which seem really good and will probably keep me occupied for a fair while.

Oh I guess there was also God of War which I finished, and I’ve been playing some Spiderman and Yakuza 6 on PS4 as well – all courtesy of my brother who buys too many games.

 

Other stuff

uhhh…
– I sold my Sega Saturn for a hundred something quid
– I spent 2 weeks commuting to Watford for work (emergency on-site cover)
– We had a small LAN party thing at work
– I went Axe Throwing and came 2nd place in our group of 12
– I became a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
– I went to a trampoline Park and realised how unfit I am

 

 

 

Life – July 2018

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Been a while since one of these, so long that i’m not really sure what to put in here.

Meeting old friends

Managed to catch up with some of my oldest friends, people I’ve known since secondary school / college. We unfortunately don’t really meet up as much as we should so it was a nice change. It’s mad how quickly everyone can drift apart in such a short time, similarly it seems crazy how much things can change in only a few years. We had a lovely dinner at Patty & Bun (still the best burger chain, imo) and then had a nice little romp through central london.

 

Back to studying

Been working hard towards finally getting some microsoft certifications, i’m currently aiming for an MCSA in office365, mostly because it’s the shortest path to getting qualified. After a few weeks of study I passed the 70-346 exam this week, meaning I just need to pass one more to become properly certified.
On the plus, technically by just passing one exam, you turn into a microsoft certified professional. Yay.

 

Games

Man, i’ve had hardly any time to game lately, I honestly have no idea where all my time is disappearing to, I suppose between full time work, trying to study for exams and cooking/cleaning and doing normal living stuff, doesn’t leave me much time to do what I want.
I’ve finally managed to finish off the holiday photos from my recent Taiwan and Dubai trip, so hopefully I can claw back a little more time there.
I’ve borrowed the fantastic God of War from my brother, which I wasn’t actually expecting to enjoy as much as I am, I thought it would be another overrated Dark souls lite style game but i’ve really enjoyed just exploring the world they have created. It surprisingly feels a lot like the gameplay of the recent Tomb Raider games, but with the combat mechanics more closely matching a (easy) souls game, I love that it gives itself leeway to throw Kratos to different environments as well – though saying more would be spoilers.
I’ve been really missing Rainbow6 siege but it feels like I just don’t have the time nor reflexes for it anymore, perhaps this is a sign of getting old? I feel like I just can’t be bothered to play games that frustrate me to a huge degree.
I picked up Titan Quest as my mind numbing game, something to do while listening to music to just unwind after a day at work. I totally forgot how long it is, I’m coming towards 10 hours now and i’m still at the start of Act 2, and i think there are 3 or 4 including the DLC. I’m playing a warrior with some fire enchants and am currently around the level 15-20, if anyone wants to team, let me know.

 

Gym switch

I’ve officially left the Easygym, and will be starting up at the Virgin active at the start of next month. You don’t know what you’ve lost until it’s gone, it used to feel like a chore but since I haven’t been able to go, I’ve been really itching to just pick some heavy shit up and put it back down again. Y’all know how it is, right?
The new gym will have a steam room and a room full of punching bags and stuff, which sounds fun. One more week to go.

Mayfield Lavender

posted in: A day in pictures, blog | 0

On the Sunday, we went to the nearby Mayfield Lavender farm, a huge field of growing lavender bushes. We wanted to go last year actually, but time restraints meant that by the time we got around to visiting, the Lavender had mostly been harvested. It was pretty busy when we went, not surprising I guess, for a hot Sunday with the sun in the sky. They forgot to charge us entry to the car park, so I spent the money on getting a small tub of Lavender ice cream instead – which, I’ve never really eaten lavender, but it somehow tastes exactly as you’d imagine.
Would definitely recommend a visit for those nearby, though those scared of, or allergic to bees should probably steer clear – we were wandering through the lavender bushes and somehow found ourselves in the middle of a really overgrown field of it, and there were bees fucking EVERYWHERE. That buzzing around your head, coupled with the thought of there being no escape, even the most direct route out was a good few minutes walking through thick lavender and involve kicking bees out of the way as you move through, I never realised I was so scared of bee’s until that point.

London Zoo nights

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For the first time in a while, it feels like I actually had an exciting weekend.

An old good friend had some spare tickets to the London Zoo ‘Zoo Nights’ event, which can basically be summarised as a trip to the zoo but adults only and all of the stores sell alcohol, and then some additional neat stuff like live DJ, street food stalls and just a generally more chill atmosphere.
I’ve never actually been to London Zoo before so that was really cool in itself, it’s not a huge zoo but big enough for us to have a wander about for 3 hours or so before the park started to close in on us – like a Fortnite dome but with security guards and zoo staff who want to go home.
It’s kind of mad how efficient and calm everything can be without children, it was like a huge congregation of civil adults, queuing and positioning themselves in ways to not block the exhibits for others, and even though there was a bag search, the entrance queue went by in a flash, many of the stalls were card only as well, again I presume in an effort to keep things moving swiftly.

 

Travel tips for Taipei / Taiwan

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We found constant conflicting information during our research for Taiwan, and many details are omitted, even forum posts on tripadvisor for certain subjects were being closed off without real answers, so here are some travel tips and infobits that you might need if you ever decide to visit Taipei.

 

Do I need to know Mandarin to visit Taipei –
It certainly helps, but I only know the number system and ‘thank you’ in Mandarin and we just about got by. It would have certainly helped and made us feel a lot more comfortable, but there are many places to eat/order where you can just point to pictures and thrust cash at staff. The younger generation can speak some broken english though your mileage may vary, especially depending on how touristy the area is. English numbers, small, large, etc are generally understood universally. Most staff behind counters at MRT stations speak very good English, similarly anywhere with a visitor centre/tourist info.

 

How much money per day in Taipei –
Food and metro system are generally very cheap, some average sample costs of things we would commonly eat/do are below, though some souvineers like pineapple cake are quite expensive, similarly any designer shopping is quite expensive as a lot of it I think is import. A number I saw being thrown around was 1000 TWD per day, and i’d say that sounds about right. Most attractions in taipei are free anyway.

Sit down restaurant (mid-range) = 600 TWD for 2 people
Most expensive restaurant we went to (Premium buffet) = 1600 TWD for 2 people
Bubble milk tea = 50 TWD average
Shaved ice dessert with mango = between 100 and 200 TWD
Food from street vendors = Between 30 and 100 TWD
Deep fried chicken breast = 70 TWD
Tray of sushi from metro = 100 TWD
Most Metro journeys = 16-20 TWD
Long metro journeys = 50 TWD? (Ximen to Tamsui)
Most buses = 8 TWD
Express Train from/to airport to/from Taipei Main = 160 TWD

 

How’s the wifi in Taipei? –
Free wifi on metro trains, stations, many department stores.
Which is just as well because my data roaming wanted to charge me £3 per MB.

 

Storing luggage in Taipei station –
Really easy, and there is an abundance of lockers available. There are loads dotted around the high speed rail area, and even some in the metro mall.
Prices are 70 TWD for 3 hours, if you collect after 3 hours, you have to pay before it’ll release your luggage.
Locker sizes go from backpack size to fullsize plane luggage.
There were english instructions on ours, but the general directions are – Fill locker, press number on keypad for locker, put money, close locker, take password receipt. Unlock: Press number for locker, enter password, pay remaining balance.

 

Paying for transport –
Near everything accepts Easycard, you can grab them from vending machines at airport and taipei main, or buy one at info counter. 500 TWD, 100 of which is deposit.
You can use the easycard on buses, trains including Pingxi line and airport express, Maokong Gondola, and I think some shops accept it too.

 

Taxi fares –
Are metered as far as I know, pricing starts at 70 TWD, we only took 2, but an example we did was Lovers bridge in tamsui, to Tamsui main station, which is about 10-13 mins drive (4km) and cost about 200 TWD iirc.
Fares to go to Jiufen from the nearby train station is fixed though I can’t remember how much i’m afraid, much cheaper to take the bus.

 

Weather / indoor things –
Weather reports are not to be trusted in Taipei, we went during supposed monsoon season, and despite it being forecasted to rain every day, we got a few spatterings and one major downpour over 9 days. There are plenty of metro malls (attached to Taipei main station) to visit, you can also waste your time in Hyper gamer in Ximen, The miniatures Museum of Taipei (1-2 hours) or just grab an umbrella/poncho like everyone else does.

 

Travel Tips for Shifen / Pingxi and Jiufen which would have been useful to know:
– Pingxi is both a town and a district, while you can ride the pingxi line to Pingxi itself, the lantern experience most people describe can easily be had at Shifen, which has the waterfall as well.
– Approx 40 mins to Ruifan Stn from Taipei Main Stn, and then 20ish mins to Shifen, i think
– Cost from Taipei Main to Shifen was only 61 TWD
– Lantern cost anywhere between $100 and $350, ours was $200 but they charge based on colours and include photography and paint for you
– Shifen waterfall walk is about 30-45mins maybe? There are toilets and food/drink along the way
– Bus to jiufen from Ruifang Stn is route 827 or 788, catch it from next to the police station – Exit main entrance and take a left at the Wellcome supermarket, police Stn on opposite side of road. Bus itself takes about 10-20 mins
– The train to taipei from Ruifang will be written just past the main gate, the train might be flagged as a North destination line even though it goes to Taipei.

 

 

Other notes
– There are still squat toilets at some places, might want to practice or read up on technique
– Stand on the right, walk on the left
– The Taiwanese are surprisingly good at queuing in an orderly fashion
– Wufenpu shopping district is the best for cheap clothing

Ian’s wedding

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So the third wedding i’ve been invited to, and yet another reminder of how old I’ve become. This one for one of my university housemates Ian and his now wife Alice whom he met after we left uni (he did a 4th year).

Wedding itself was up in warwick so we headed up in the morning, and gave it some extra time as it was actually snowing really heavy around London – of course the snow quickly disappeared and we ended up an hour or so early – oh well, at least we were guaranteed a parking space.

It was a pretty nice venue, an all-in one huge functional hall, bar, dance floor and hotel/rooms situation all in one building, actually really good for weddings I have to say. The ceremony was nice, thankfully no hymns or songs and so we got to skip that awkward bit and just generally fast forward a lot of the procedings in general – not that I don’t enjoy a special day etc but lets be real we’re all just sitting there to see you say “I do”, so that we can cheer and go back to drinking and celebrating.

Nice little glass of champagne on exit, and we soon got a tip-off that the brides father had put money on the bar and so free drinks for us there too.
Was starting to get a little drunk as we hadn’t eaten lunch yet and i’m admittedly quite the lightweight. Luckily dinner came along just in time, a nice little prawn salad, leg of lamb dinner, coupled with rapid fire quiz gameshow thanks to small boxes of random trivia left on the table – actually kind of a genius way to get everyone to socialize and oh so very Ian (who is basically pub quiz king). I don’t know how much thought actually went into the table seating but actually quite good as we had a few loud people to compensate for the more introverted people on the table.

Dessert, more drinks, cake cutting, first dance (way better than I could have done) followed by a night of drinking, dancing, and meat/bread/cheese/cake buffet.

Made the mistake of driving home afterwards, I was sober enough but underestimated how tired I was, and unfortunately Cordelia was drunk to the point of being K.O instantly upon sitting in the car. The 2 hour drive home, in the dark, with heavy snow, while tired, is one of the worst drives I’ve ever had to do – and this is coming from the guy that used to have to drive across the country in the middle of the night for work.

All in all, a fantastic wedding, and I suppose one of many to come.

 

Close friend wedding status:

Schoolfriends: 1 of 4
Uni housemates: 2 of 6

Life – Jan-Mar 2018

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Oh jesus, where did the time go!

Things which have happened over the last 3 months (that i can remember)

 

Go-Karting!

Got to have my first Go-Karting experience with work, we went on a weekend after a team meeting, an indoor track around the London docklands with teamsport racing. After a super edgy introduction video which almost seemed to border on satire, we were off to the track – 2 sets of 12 or so people.
I was literally first off the bat for the qualifying round, and was surprised at how fast those little karts can go – obviously no idea how to take the corners and so span out on the tight U bend on my first go around. The steering on those things were really heavy, and at parts, the track had little bumps and so it would feel like the kart was on the border of losing traction and just exploding.
The qualifying round arranged everyone by time and then separated drivers into basically a fast league and a slow league – I placed somewhere towards the end of the fast league, so still in the top half at least. My forearms and hands were already aching after the first race, and so wasn’t looking forward to the second.
Started 2nd from the back for the second race, and while I didn’t break any speed records, consistency let me gradually overtake most of the pack to finish at 4th place.

 

Mayfair Meals

Valentines and my Birthday were made special with visits to Mayfair for dinner. Never really had much fine dining before, and after those 2 meals, i’m not really sure it’s for me. For V day we went to the Athenaeum hotel restaurant, Cordelia had recieved a red letter day for a 3 course meal for 2. Similarly my dad took me to Coya in Mayfair which is a peruvian restaurant. The food at both were good, no doubt about that, however for the price we paid and the amount of food we received I couldn’t help but think we could have gone somewhere else and really eaten ourselves to a coma. We actually went to have a second dinner in Chinatown after Coya because we weren’t quite full but didn’t want to spend another £60-100 for a few more tapas size dishes.

 

Room Hunting

I’m unfortunately having to move houses again, my current landlords recently got married and thus want to move back into the house to remodel and live in it.
Really annoying for me as, even though I hated the house and everyone inside, it was very convenient for work and personal life, close to a train station and supermarkets, had a drive, large room, and came with furniture for me to use. I initially thought i’d use this opportunity to find a flat or something to try and live on my own, but jesus christ the costs for a 1 bed flat or studio apartment around here just made it not viable at all – typical costs for a room in a shared house at £600 to £700 including bills, while a solo flat would be upwards of £1k excluding all bills (of which, probably like £100 pcm for council tax and then another £150+ for bills and internet).
So, after 2 weeks or so of searching, I found another room, still in a similar area but unfortunately a bit out of the way.
The room was actually originally going for £700 but was recently discounted to £675, I said i’d take the room if they’d let it go for £650 and to my surprise the landlord agreed.
I’m still waiting to sign documents, and i’m slightly worried that im going to get some shitpiece bed or that there won’t be any furniture at all (the room was unfurnished but property keeper said he could source me some furniture), time will tell, i’ll post some pictures after i’m moved in – it’s a huge converted lounge room with a fireplace though.
With any luck, this will be the last time I have to move into a shared house, hopefully by this time next year i’ll be considering moving in with gf or maybe even getting a place of my own – though i’ve had thoughts about moving away from London just due to how insane the housing costs are.

Goodbye 2017

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For me personally, 2017 has unfortunately been more eventful than I would have liked.

I can easily say that 2017 may be the worst year of my life thus far: I lost a 2 week holiday, I thought my girlfriend was going to die, and more recently some family issues at home has unfortunately caused all manner of depression.

I was kind of hoping on 2017 to be a lucky year, almost all major events in my life revolve around the number 28, and so my 28th year on earth was to be no exception – it is a shame however that the major events were almost all bad ones.

 

For the more positive stuff, I attended the 2 weddings and i’m sure there will be many more in the next few years, I got closer to old friends, and strengthened bonds with new ones, I took a gamble on cryptocurrency and won, and added one new country to my visited list (Denmark).

 

As far as 2018 goes, my goals are:

  • Consider buying a house
  • Get some IT qualifications
  • Continue to hit the gym, attain a 6-pack
  • Win the lottery and retire

 

Mengs guide to trading cryptocurrency

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Step 1 – Pay lots of money and Acquire Cryptocurrency

Step 2 – Watch the price drop

Step 3 – Cry and have anxiety for a while, watch other crypto’s rise in price while yours falls

Step 4 – Trade your crypto for another one

Step 5 – Watch your new crypto start to fall in price while your original begins to rise

Step 6 – Cry again

Step 7 – Come back in 6 months and realise how much money you could have had.

 

Real talk, I am not an expert on buying or selling cryptos AT ALL.
Infact, literally every single time I have bought or sold, I have made a massive mistake
Here are some times I traded, obviously nobody can time the market but If I hypothetically just waited like a week before making some of these decisions, I could have been up by £30k or more

 

January – Bought bitcoin at the peak, proceeded to watch it fall 30% over the next week

February – Bought Monero instead of more bitcoin

Summer – Traded bitcoin for Ethereum at it’s peak, Ethereum then dropped in price and bitcoin exploded in price.

Autumn – Traded Monero for Ethereum, Monero proceeds to explode in price whilst Ethereum doesn’t do a whole lot

December – Traded Ethereum for IOTA, Ethereum proceeds to increase by 50% over the next 3 days.

 

And so, my actual guide? Look into what the coins are, understand how they work, and then make an educated guess on whether it’ll take off or not. Buy some of your chosen coins and then hold on for dear life and be careful about trading or selling. Assume that any money you invest into crypto’s is going to be gone because mentally you’ll be better off that way. I’d also recommend trying not to check the price too much unless you are considering selling or buying more – keeping a close eye on how your bet is doing is a surefire way to just give yourself anxiety.

i’d also advise not doing what I did (on every occasion) and buying during an upward rush.
If the price is exploding, it’s going to come down soon, give it a few days and you’ll (probably) find yourself with better rates.

 

Good luck.

Life – November 2017

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I’m still alive! I just have nothing to report!

Being an adult is impossibly boring compared to my university days.

 

Days out:

Went for a day out to bushy park to photograph the autumn colours.

Also went for a day out to Enchanted woodland in Syon Park – which was a bit of a disappointment compared to last years Magical Lantern festival, but still interesting and a bit different. That said, I don’t think ill be doing it again next year.

 

 

Health:

Mentioned last blog post that my car was making screechy noises, turned out to be the brake pads as expected – about £130 to repair, so not great but it could have been worse i guess.
My poor teeth on the other hand didn’t do so well at it’s last checkup, and they had to drill 3 more holes, fml.
I also went to the opticians to try and work out why I was getting so many migraines, and whilst im not sure it helped, they did identify that I needed a more up to date prescription, so I grabbed some nice new hipster glasses – as my last pair were over 7 years old from before I even started university. They look super hipster, especially if i’m wearing my hat.

 

 

 

Games:

Started playing Witcher 3 after grabbing it on sale (I think it was the GOTY edition for £15?), also started playing Battlerite a fair bit again after the new free to play updates came out – Having a knowledge advantage is quite a lot of fun, there are loads of bad players, and I have no problem taking advantage of them.

 

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