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2013: Highlights of the year!

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December 31st, 2013 Posted 8:59 pm

As I’ve pretty much given up on my blog this year, here’s my 20 highlights of 2013 (in no particular order):
1) My holiday in Derbyshire in June.  We saw lots of nice scenery and Crowdecoate/Buxton was my favourite part of Derbyshire.
2) My holiday in Ibiza in late July/early August.  Highlights were the sunset cruise, Es Paradis, the hippy market/Ibiza Town coach trip, and going on a pedalo and a lilo.
3) My appraisal at work going well this month – if I keep up my current level of progress, I could be promoted to middle-weight Java Developer in August 2014.
4) Going to some good events with the IVC social club this year, especially curry nights and quiz nights.  Also I started a Meetup spinoff group in April which has been very successful.
5) Having an extra week off work in September (unpaid leave).  I went out for daytrips, including to Cromer and Sheringham and had a nice meal at The White Horse.
6) My sister Sarah’s surprise 40th birthday party at The William IV pub in September.
7) Joining local tech groups on Meetup, such as SyncNorwich, SyncDevelopHER and Norfolk Developers.  I went to my first meetups in October.
8) Getting a new mobile phone – Samsung Galaxy S4 in August. It’s the best phone I’ve ever had!
9) Having my bedroom redecorated in a lavender theme in August.
10) The University of East Anglia 50th anniversary open day in September – it was good to revisit the campus where I studied 10 years ago.
11) Meeting up with my friends throughout the year – going to Zaks, going round Gemma and Naomi’s houses.
12) A new Co-op opening at the end of our road in August.  This makes it a lot quicker to do our shopping!
13) Getting a new Wifi printer/scanner in August.  It’s much faster than my old printer.
14) Started exercising each morning as of November.  I use the Just Dance 2014 game on my Nintendo Wii for this.  I find it helps me to be much more alert first thing in the mornings and I have more energy.
15) Seeing the snowdrops at Walsingham Abbey in February.  This is by far the best snowdrop walk I’ve ever been on.
16) Attending the AIVC (social club) national conference in Cardiff in April.
17) Taking part in the Lord Mayor’s Procession with the IVC social club in July.  This was the first time I’d ever done anything like that, and it was great fun!
18) My cousin Shane’s wedding in July.
19) All the events, meals and parties in the runup to Christmas.
20) My main Christmas present this year was an iPod Touch.  I’ve transferred all my songs and I’m currently getting used to it.

I decided to keep my review of the year concise and positive, but overall, 2013 has been a very good year.  I feel like I’ve grown in confidence in many ways, and I feel happier in myself.  I feel like I’ve got a better idea of the things which I enjoy doing.  2014 looks set to be a good year – I’ve got my 30th birthday coming up in February, then in early April I’m going on holiday to the Lake District to see the daffodils in the Grasmere area for a week, and in July we’re going to the Yorkshire Dales for a fortnight. :D

Posted in Annual Reviews

Finally an update, and my holiday in Derbyshire

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July 15th, 2013 Posted 11:21 pm

Gosh, I can’t believe it’s been over 2 months since I last updated this blog! I don’t think I’ve ever abandoned it for that long.

On Saturday 18th of May, I went to Blickling Gardens with my Mum and stepdad Terry.  We saw the last of the bluebells and there was a new seating area in the garden.  I took several photos and we also had a drink and piece of cake in the tearoom.

At the end of May I attended a quiz night at The King’s Arms pub with the IVC social club.  I really enjoyed it and our team came second! :) Before the quiz began, I had a Chinese takeaway.

On Tuesday 4th June, I went with my friend Kay to see the Rocky Horror Show at the Theatre Royal.  It was the first time I’d been to the theatre ever since my grandmother used to take my cousin and I to see the pantomime each Christmas! We dressed up for the evening and it was good fun.  We also danced the the Time Warp a couple of times!  There was plenty of audience interaction during the show too.

In July I went on holiday to the Peak District for 2 weeks.  We stayed in a holiday cottage in Crowdecote near Buxton, Derbyshire.  I went with Mum and Terry although my sister Sarah came to stay one weekend.  I’ll talk more about the holiday in a separate post as there’s a lot to get through.  I really enjoyed the holiday, and I think it’s a much nicer part of Derbyshire compared to where we stayed in 2006 (Matlock area).

A couple of Fridays ago I went out for a meal with my work team, as one of our colleagues was leaving the company. He was on a 1-year work placement as part of his university course. We went to a French-Caribbean/Creole restaurant called Chez Denis – I’d never been there before but it was really nice.

Last Saturday I took part in the Lord Mayor’s Procession with my social club! I was on the carnival float with about 5 other people from my club, and we were passing though the city centre in front of thousands of people! The journey was about a mile and it took a couple of hours in total (with about 70 floats). Years ago I think I would’ve been too shy to do anything like that. Afterwards, we had a meal in a nearby pub, and later in the night we watched the fireworks.

On Thursday evening I went to an Indian restaurant (Passage to India) with my social club, which was nice. I always have chicken korma as that’s my favourite Indian curry. It was a banquet with 4 courses for £11, although the funny thing was they count the curry and the rice as 2 separate courses, even though they’re served together!

The weather has been very hot and sunny over the last week or so, and I’ve spent some time out in the garden.

A fun filled Spring

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April 21st, 2013 Posted 9:42 pm

As promised in my last blog entry – here is the link to the photos I took whilst on the snowdrop walk at Walsingham Abbey.

March was a fun month for me – in spite of the cold weather (winter seemed to drag on until early April this year!) I did lots of exciting things.  On the 1st of March, which was a Friday, I went 10 pin bowling with the IVC social club for the evening.  I don’t tend to do well at bowling, but I find it fun nevertheless.  The following Friday, I went to Middleton’s Steakhouse Grill with the club. It’s a brand new restaurant, located in the same building where Malaysian Delights used to be based.  It’s been redecorated, and the food was very nice.  I ate all of my steak and chips because it was so good.  I would like to go back there one day.

The day after my meal at Middleton’s Steakhouse, I went to Cinema City with my Mum to see the film Silver Lining’s Playbook.  I enjoyed the film, and the cinema had been completely refurbished since I last went there on a college trip about 12 years ago! (We don’t usually go to Cinema City, it’s one of the art-house cinemas which tends to show older or more obscure films.  We had missed Silver Lining’s Playbook when it was on at the main multiplex cinemas earlier this year, so that’s why we saw it at Cinema City instead).  After the film, we went to the Riverbank Chinese buffet restaurant for lunch.  Sunday 10th March was Mother’s Day, and my grandmother came round ours for tea.

On Tuesday 19th March, I went out with several people from the IT department at work to celebrate the launch of our new magazine websites.  The entire web team, members of the QA team as well as the project manager were all invited.  We started off with drinks at The Glasshouse straight after work, then we had a curry at the Spice Lounge.  I had my usual chicken korma with egg fried rice for my main course, and pistachio kulfi ice cream for dessert.  I didn’t bother with naan bread this time as I don’t usually manage to eat it all.  After the meal we went for drinks at the Tap House Brewery pub, but it wasn’t really my kind of place, so I only stayed for one drink.

For the Easter weekend (end of March), I held my belated birthday party with my friends on the evening of Good Friday.  We had a meal at Frankie & Benny’s and then went bowling at Hollywood Bowl.  This time we booked the bowling lane a bit later than normal, because in previous years we’ve sometimes found that the meal overruns.  However, this time round the service at Frankie & Benny’s was faster, so we arrived at Hollywood Bowl in good time.  We had garlic bread for our starter, and then I had New York Chicken and fries for my main course.  For my dessert I had a sherbert dip sundae, which was very nice.  The bowling was good too.  Unfortunately Kay didn’t come this year as her mother had recently passed away, so we thought we would take her out for a meal on a separate date, probably in a couple of weeks’ time.  Kay’s mum was in her early 70s, but her death came as a big shock to everyone.  I felt sad as she had always been nice to me, especially back in the days when Kay and I were still at high school and I’d go round hers for tea and sleepovers.

On Saturday 6th April, I organised a meal to the Merge buffet restaurant with the IVC social club.  There were 5 of us, but I don’t think the food was as good as it was when I went there in November last year.  Some of the food looked like it had been left out for hours as it had a skin forming on it.  So I just stuck to the more popular dishes (which are replenished more frequently) such as chicken curry, sweet and sour chicken etc.  I had ice cream for dessert, which was nice.  However, one woman texted me the next day to say that she had been sick and she thought it might have been something she’d eaten.  This has put me off going there for a while.  I think I’ll stick to the Riverbank buffet restaurant in future.

The following Wednesday, I went round Naomi’s house for tea.  Gemma, Kay and Naomi’s sister Sarah were also there.  This was the first time I’d seen Kay since her mother had died, so I felt sad at times.  We had roast chicken for tea, and then we decorated some cupcakes and watched the film Mall Cop.

Last weekend I went to Cardiff with the IVC social club.  It took us about 6 hours to get there although we did stop at a restaurant near Birmingham on the way there for a meal.  It was the national conference weekend and I went along to discuss creating a mobile phone app.  We also learnt about setting up Meetup groups to attract new members to our clubs.  It was very interesting, and apart from the meetings there were several social events such as a quiz night on Friday evening, a boat trip on Saturday afternoon, a 70s disco on Saturday night and a carvery for Sunday lunch.  It was all good fun.  It was raining quite heavily on Saturday afternoon so when we went on the boat trip, we couldn’t go out to sea as planned, so we just stayed in the bay area.  I still enjoyed it though.  We all wore waterproof jackets and trousers to stop us from getting too wet.  The Saturday night party was good, although 70s music isn’t really my sort of thing (it’s before my time) and I felt rather tired from all the travelling and excitement, so I didn’t stay until the end.  The hotel room was very nice, and the food in the hotel was good, especially the breakfasts and the carvery.

I’ve had a fairly quiet weekend, catching up on a backlog of emails as I’ve been so busy for the last few days.  This afternoon we went for a walk at Burlingham Woods to see the daffodils and I took some photos.  I did want to go back to Blickling Gardens, but Mum and my stepdad Terry said they wanted to go somewhere different as we’d been there so many times in the past.  As it turned out, Mum was called into work this morning so by the time she came home in the afternoon, there probably wouldn’t have been enough time to go much further than Burlingham Woods.  The variety of daffodils wasn’t as wide as I expected, but it was still nice to get out for a hour or so, and it was a sunny day.

My birthday celebrations

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February 27th, 2013 Posted 8:56 pm

The first 2 months of 2013 have been a busy time for me. On Friday 15th February I celebrated my 29th birthday. I had booked the day off work so I decided to bring some cakes into work on the Thursday. It was the first time I’d taken cakes into work since I’d began working for my current company, so everyone was pleasantly surprised.

On my birthday itself, I went to Burlingham Woods to see the snowdrops in the afternoon. I took lots of pictures using the new camera I’d got for Christmas. In the evening I went to Mambo Jambos for a meal with Mum and my step dad Terry, as I usually do on my birthday.  At Mambo Jambos I had my usual favourite – Memphis chicken with fries, and a mint sundae for dessert.  When we came out of the restaurant I was so full up! It was really funny because once I’d finished my first drink I decided to order a vanilla milkshake and it arrived at the same time as my dessert (a mint ice cream sundae). The milkshake came in a huge glass, exactly the same as the sundae glass and I must have looked so funny with 2 big sundae glasses in front of me! :-) I really enjoyed the day. My main present this year was a Toshiba tablet computer. It has Android Jelly Bean and I’m really enjoying using it. In January, we had WiFi installed in our house in readiness, since the tablet is WiFi only.

In early January, I attended a meal at Zizzis with the IVC social club.  This was a nice start to the new year.  Towards the end of the month, I organised a meal at the Riverbank Chinese buffet restaurant with the club.  There were only 3 of us, but I think that was probably due to the snowy weather we had at the time.  There was supposed to be a 4th person, but for some reason they didn’t turn up on the night.  It’s not unusual for people in our club to say they’re coming to an event and then not turn up, so I’m not taking it personally.  It was still a very enjoyable night and I got on well with the other 2 people who had come along.  On the 17th February I had a meal at The Rushcutters.  I hadn’t been there for many years, and I tried one of their roast chicken dinners.  The food was OK, but nothing extra special, and the service was a bit iffy (we had to keep prompting the waitress to serve our table!).  They also didn’t have the dessert I ordered, but the one I did end up having was nice.

Last month I had my annual appraisal at work.  My manager is pleased at how I’m doing in my Java Developer job, although there are still some things that I need to learn, that will come with time.  Also at the end of January, I did some overtime one Saturday afternoon in order to get a new website launched.  It’s the biggest project in which I’ve been involved since I began my Java Developer job, so I was really pleased that everything went smoothly.

I have been on several walks recently – in early January, we went on a woodland walk at Cringleford.  Then a couple of weeks ago Mum, Terry and I went on a snowdrop walk at Spixworth Church, but unfortunately we didn’t see very many snowdrops.  It was still quite early in the snowdrop season and a lot of them hadn’t flowered yet.  In addition, the walk was spread out across several different woods.  We couldn’t find anywhere to park in order to visit the other woods, so in the end Terry got fed up and we ended up driving home!  Then on my birthday we did the snowdrop walk at Burlingham Woods (as mentioned above), which was better.  This Sunday just passed, we visited Walsingham Abbey for the first time.  It is the most famous snowdrop walk in Norfolk and now I can see why.  The woods were carpeted in snowdrops – I’d never seen so many snowdrops in one place before! :)  Later I will be uploading the photos I took during the walk.

2012 – An exciting, if challenging year

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January 30th, 2013 Posted 9:48 pm

So, I’ve finally got round to doing my review of 2012, and January is nearly over!  Oh well, better late than never!

Overall, 2012 was a very good year – I achieved my dream of getting a job in server-side web development. I’ve been in my Junior Java Developer role for 6 months now, and even though it has been a steep learning curve and I was very nervous to begin with, I’m really enjoying it now. :)

The year got off to a bad start as I had a bad cold (bad enough for me to need time off work), and the website I maintain for the IVC social club was hacked, so I had the hassle of fixing it.  I improved the security and fortunately the website hasn’t been attacked since then.  January wasn’t all doom and gloom though, as it was the month in which I discovered Codecademy’s Codeyear challenge – I signed up to this and all throughout 2012 I received weekly interactive programming tutorials on subjects ranging from JavaScript to Python.  It has been good fun and I’ve certainly learnt a lot from it, even though I’ve fallen a few weeks behind as I was so busy towards the end of the year.  The good thing is that I can complete the course in my own time.  Another happy January event was going for a meal at Yellows with the IVC social club.

February was a much better month.  I got some new glasses as I had an eye test and it was also my birthday.  My main presents were an ice cream maker, a Wii Trivial Pursuit game and a DKNY watch.  In the morning I went to Burlingham Woods for a snowdrop walk and took some photos, and when I got back home in the afternoon I played my Trivial Pursuit game for the first time.  In the evening we went out for a family meal at Mambo Jambo’s, as is tradition on my birthday – I really enjoyed this and the food was even better than in previous years.  Also in February I had a meal at The Swan in Horning, which was organised by the IVC social club as a thank you to everyone who had helped out over the last year.  I went to the cinema to see the new Muppets film and we also went on a snowdrop walk at Horstead House.  I also had my first appraisal at work – this was when I was still in my Web Developer role.  I received positive feedback in my appraisal and my manager was very pleased with my progress, in fact the only negative thing he said was that I need to be more assertive and speak up if I believe someone is making a bad decision.

In March we tried out the new “Number 89″ menu at The Oaklands, which was good albeit rather expensive.  We had an introductory 50% off voucher so it wasn’t so bad.  We haven’t eaten from that menu since then – we normally opt for the carvery instead.  I had a meal at the Rare Grill & Steakhouse with the IVC social club, which was really nice.  My stepdad Terry got me a new bookcase as I was running out of space on my shelves.  The bookcase is kept in the spare bedroom.  Later in March we went to Blickling Gardens for a daffodil walk where I took numerous photos.  I was very busy at work and I was asked to do some overtime in the evenings and weekends putting together mobile websites.

April was an exciting month – I had my Easter break from work and I had my belated birthday party with my friends at Frankie & Benny’s and Hollywood Bowl.  I also attended 2 cake-making courses with my friend Naomi, which was fun.  At the end of April, a vacancy was advertised at work for a new Java Developer.  After much debating, I decided to put in an application.

In May, my Dad came home from Thailand for 10 days to see me and we visited several local places together, including Sheringham. This was the first time I’d seen my Dad in about 2 and a half years – the last time he came back to Norwich was October 2009.  After a nerve-wracking 2 week wait, I was invited to an interview for the internal Java Developer job.  I also had to complete 7 separate programming tests as part of the selection process.  A few days later, my manager called me into a meeting room to say that I had done very well in the interview and the tests.  He offered me the Java Developer job, but at Junior level as I didn’t have any commercial experience of Java programming (it’s what I’d learnt during my Computing Science degree course 7 years earlier, and this was my first opportunity to use my Java skills).  To celebrate getting the job, Mum, Terry and I went out for a meal at Zaks one evening.  One sunny weekend we went to the beach at Cromer for a couple of hours.

June was a very good month with lots of happy events. In the first week of June, it was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend (celebrating 60 years on the throne).  We had a long 4-day weekend as the Monday and Tuesday were declared national holidays.  I watched a lot of the celebrations on TV and on Monday evening, there were celebrations at our local recreation ground – we went along just before 10pm and there was a live band, beacon-lighting ceremony and a fireworks display.  Overall I really enjoyed the long weekend as there was plenty of things going on.

I attended 3 parties in June. The first was a joint birthday party organised by 2 members of the IVC social club and it was held at Thorpe End village hall.  The second party was the annual IVC summer party, which was held on the Horning paddle steamer.  I really enjoyed it as we got to see some nice scenery, the buffet was very good (especially the chocolate strawberries!) and there was a good disco.  I think it’s one of the best parties I’ve ever attended!   The 3rd big party was my friend Kay’s friend Rachel’s hen night. We had a meal at Yellows (part of Norwich City Football ground) and then went nightclubbing.

Also in June there were a lot of changes at work.  My manager left the company to start a new job elsewhere, and we had a leaving meal at Figaros.  3 new web developers and 4 contractors joined our team.  At this point I was still in my old job and I hadn’t yet began my new Java Developer role.  I did find all the changes unsettling at first, with so much going on at once, but after a couple of months I got used to it and I began to feel more confident again.  In June I also arranged a cinema night with the IVC social club – we saw Men In Black 3, and one evening I went round my friend Naomi’s house for tea and to watch a film.

In July I went on holiday to Brampton, northern Cumbria with Mum and Terry.   We stayed in a holiday cottage (it was actually more like a bungalow) just outside Brampton.  This holiday was a bit different to previous years, as we were further north compared to when we used to go to the Lake District, and we went in July instead of August.  It was just me, Mum and my stepdad Terry this year, whereas for the last few years my sister Suzanne, her husband Paul and my nieces have come with us.  We were not far from Hadrian’s Wall and the city of Carlisle.  I really enjoyed the holiday.

Following my holiday in July, I started in my Junior Java Developer role.  I also had a one-to-one meeting with my new manager to discuss the job and my training.  I was very happy to get started in the new job, although I was a bit apprehensive at times as it was a steep learning curve.  One evening I went to the coast with my sister Suzanne, her husband Paul, my niece Emily and their dog Lily.  Firstly we went to Winterton to walk the dog along the beach.  It was still quite warm and sunny.  Later we moved on to Hemsby where we visited the amusement arcades and bought some donuts.  It was the first time I’d been to the coast in the evening for several years and it was very good.

August was a very hot month, much hotter than July.  One Sunday we visited Sea Palling beach for the afternoon.  I hadn’t been there before.  Over the next few weeks we also visited Somerleyton Hall (including the gardens) and Sandringham, both of which were enjoyable.  I also went to a pub quiz night and takeaway organised by the IVC social club.

I had a busy time in September.  At the beginning of the month, I had a meal at Frankie & Benny’s with my friends Naomi, Sarah and Gemma (Naomi organised it this time).  I booked a holiday in Ibiza for July 2013 with my sister Suzanne, her husband Paul, my other sister Sarah and my nieces Anya and Emily.  I’m really looking forward to it.  I went to the cinema with my friend Kay to see the film Ted, which was really funny.  We also had a meal at The Glasshouse.  At work I won a prize in a staff photography competition, for my photo of a bee in a daffodil.  Later in the month, I went out for a family meal at The Dove restaurant.  One weekend I attended the Cake & Bake Show in London with my friend Naomi – we stayed in a hotel on the Saturday night and we also visited Harrods and Chinatown.  In the last week of September, I did my Java refresher course at work.  I completed the course successfully and it greatly improved my confidence on the job.

October was a month of meals!  Firstly I went for a meal at Zaks in Poringland with my friend Kay.  Then later in the month we went out for a family meal at the Thai restaurant near where I live (which is so expensive that we rarely ever go there!)  Towards the end of October, I went to the Sakura Japanese restaurant with the IVC social club.  It was the first time I had ever been there but the food was very nice.  I continued to feel more confident at work and began to take on more complex projects.

November was a good month for me.  On the first Saturday of the month, Mum and I went to the fireworks display at Earlham Park.  The following day I went to the cinema with Mum to see the new James Bond film Skyfall.  The cinema was very busy so we had to wait a while to get into a showing, but the film was very good with plenty of action.  We also had a meal at the Riverbank Chinese buffet restaurant.  The following Saturday, Mum, Terry and I went to visit Bridewell Museum.  It was very interesting, as it was all about the history of Norwich and the old industries in the city. In the evening, I was invited to a meal at Merge to celebrate my niece Emily’s 14th birthday.  Merge is a buffet restaurant with a wide variety of cuisines – Chinese, Malaysian, Thai, Korean, Singaporean etc.  It was the first time I’d ever been there and I really enjoyed it.  The next day (the Sunday) we had a carvery at The Cottage to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday.  We hadn’t been there for quite a while, so it was good.  In late November it was the Christmas lights switch-on in Norwich city centre.  We decided to go to Patisserie Valerie for a meal and a piece of cake while we were waiting.  Also in late November, I had a meal at Wagamama’s with the IVC social club.  It was a Japanese restaurant – I’d never been there before, and I tried a chicken katsu curry.  The curry was spicier than I expected, but it was nice enough.  November was also the month when I began working on a website for a new TV channel – the largest project I’ve been involved in since I began my Junior Java Developer role.

December was a very busy month with lots of Christmas meals and parties.  For the first weekend of December, I went on a coach trip to Lille and Bruges with the IVC social club and my friend Naomi.  We visted the Christmas markets and I really enjoyed it.  There was a wonderful festive atmosphere which helped me get in the mood for Christmas.  The first party was the IVC social club’s Christmas party at the Mercure Hotel, which was a dinner-dance.  One evening I had a Christmas meal with my colleagues in the IT department – this was held in the staff canteen.  I had another Christmas dinner with the IVC social club, which was held at The Glasshouse. A week later we also had a Christmas buffet at The Lamb Inn, which was open to the whole IT department.  Thursday 20th December was my last day of work before the Christmas holidays. That evening, I met my friends Gemma and Naomi for a meal at Bella Italia on Riverside.  The next day, I went to a Christmas curry organised by a colleague from the IT department.  There were only a few of us, but it was good fun.  It was an Indian meal at Ali Tandoori, and I had my usual chicken korma with egg fried rice.

My main present this Christmas was a new camera – 14 megapixels and 30 times zoom.  I’m looking forward to using it more when I go on my walks in the Spring.  I also received several CDs and DVDs, a onesie, a new nightdress, some chocolate selection boxes and a couple of books.  Mum and I went round my sister Suzanne’s in the morning, while my stepdad Terry cooked the Christmas lunch.  We spent the rest of the day at home – just the 3 of us – as usual.

For New Year’s Eve, I went to a party with my friend Kay.  It was held at the Norwich City football ground, like last year.  It was a fancy dress party and I dressed up as a 70s hippy.  I bought the costume especially for the party.   It was a fun night.

Overall, 2012 has been a good year.  My biggest achievement was getting promoted to the Junior Java Developer role, as I’ve always wanted to get more involved with server-side web development.  Other highlights of the year were my birthday, my summer holiday, and going on cake-making courses.  2013 looks set to be an exciting year, especially as I’ve got 2 holidays to look forward to – one in the Peak District and one in Ibiza.

 

Posted in Annual Reviews, General

Happy new year!

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January 1st, 2013 Posted 5:37 pm

I can’t believe 2012 is over!  I’ve had a really good Christmas holiday.  :)

I have been to several Christmas parties and meals over the last couple of weeks or so.  The first party was the IVC social club’s Christmas party at the Mercure Hotel, which took place on Saturday 8th December.  This was the same venue as last year, and I really enjoyed it.  We had a 3 course meal followed by a disco.  There was a mixup with the desserts on our table which was a bit disappointing (so we ended up with lemon tart instead of cheesecake), but overall I enjoyed it more than last year’s Mercure party. :)

On Wednesday 12th December I had a Christmas meal in the staff canteen with my colleagues from the IT department.  The canteen organises these Christmas meals at lunchtime and at teatime, but this year we decided to go to the teatime session.  It was OK, although the food isn’t as good as what you’d get in a proper restaurant.  The only annoying thing was that I didn’t like either of the starters on the menu, so I had to sit there doing nothing while everyone else on the table ate their starters, which made me feel a bit awkward (and bored!).  The main course and the dessert were nice though.

The following Tuesday I met my friend Kay for lunch at McDonald’s and we exchanged Christmas cards and presents.  On the same evening, there was the IT department’s Christmas buffet at The Lamb Inn (formerly Henry’s).  I felt like I had a cold coming on, so I only stayed for an hour and a half, but the food was much better than I expected.  I also enjoyed speaking to my colleagues.

Thursday 20th December was my last day of work before the Christmas holidays.  In the evening I met my friends Gemma and Naomi for a meal at Bella Italia on Riverside.  Unfortunately Naomi’s sister Sarah was ill with a heavy cold, so she couldn’t make it.  I hadn’t been to this restaurant before but it was good.  I had a beefburger and chips for my main course, and for dessert I had a cookie dough lava cake, which was nice but rather sickly!  I also exchanged Christmas cards and presents with my friends, and it was also Gemma’s birthday so I gave her a birthday present.

The following day (the Friday) I went to a Christmas curry organised by a colleague from the IT department.  There were only a few of us, but it was good fun.  It was an Indian meal at Ali Tandoori, and I had my usual chicken korma with egg fried rice.  The quality of the food was very good, and there wasn’t too much either (at some restaurants I find the servings are too large for me and I have to leave some!)

I watched several films over the Christmas period – Elf, Nativity, The Snowman, the sequel The Snowman & The Snowdog, Ice Age 4, Ice Age Mammoth Christmas, Mercury Rising and Minority Report.

On Christmas Day I woke up at about 8.30am to open my presents.  My main present this year was a new camera – 14 megapixels and 30 times zoom.  I’m looking forward to using it when I go on my walks in the Spring.  I also received several CDs and DVDs, a onesie, a new nightdress, some chocolate selection boxes and a couple of books.  Mum and I went round my sister Suzanne’s in the morning, while my stepdad Terry cooked the Christmas lunch.  We spent the rest of the day at home – just the 3 of us – as usual.  I really enjoyed my Christmas meal, although it feet like my stomach was going to explode afterwards! Then I sat down to watch Top of the Pops.  The large lunch made me feel really sleepy and I had to take a nap in the late afternoon/early evening! Mum and Terry both fell asleep on their armchairs in the lounge.  When I woke up in the evening I listened to some of my new CDs. We spent most of Boxing Day round my aunt and uncle’s house, where we had a buffet.

Last night I went to a New Year’s Eve party with my friend Kay.  It was held at the Norwich City football ground, like last year.  It was a fancy dress party and I dressed up as a 70s hippy.  I bought the costume especially for this party.   It was a fun night – there was lots of dancing but not much food, but I had a takeaway before the party started, so I wasn’t hungry.

I go back to work tomorrow, after nearly 2 weeks off.  It will soon be time for me to write my review of 2012 – I will probably do that at the weekend as it always seems to take me several hours!

Happy new year to all my readers! :D

Christmas is just around the corner!

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December 15th, 2012 Posted 9:12 pm

It’s been an action packed few weeks, especially in the run up to Christmas.

A couple of weekends ago I went on a coach trip to Bruges and Lille with my friend Naomi and the IVC social club.  We visited the Christmas markets and it was good fun.  We had to get up very early on Saturday morning to catch the coach at 4.30am and then we got the ferry from Dover to Calais.  From there the coach took us to Lille where we spent several hours wandering round the stalls.  It got rather wet and cold in the evening so Naomi and I went to a nearby shopping mall.  At the market I had a delicious chocolate crepe, and we also went on the ferris wheel which gave us views all over the city.  At about 9pm we got back on the coach and we checked in to our hotel in Lille for the Saturday night.  Naomi and I then went out for a meal at the nearby McDonald’s.  It was a very tiring day, but it was good fun.

Something really funny happened: We had to be downstairs for breakfast by 8am on the Sunday morning, ready to check out of the hotel by 9am in time to get the coach to Bruges.  Unfortunately Naomi and I overslept so we didn’t get out of bed until 7.55am!  Naomi had set her alarm for about 7.15am but I was in such a deep sleep that I didn’t even hear it!  Apparently she switched the alarm off (I’m not sure if it had a snooze button) and fell back to sleep again.  I woke up naturally later on, and I then asked Naomi what the time was, and to my horror she said 7.55am! She had only just then woken up properly.  It was a big rush to get washed and dressed ready for breakfast.  At about 8.20am, someone called my mobile phone but as I was in the bathroom I couldn’t answer it.  Then about 5 minutes later the room phone rang, and it was the chairman of the club wondering where we were!  I had to explain that we’d overslept, and that we’d be down for breakfast in a few minutes.  Thankfully there was still enough time for us to have breakfast – I think we got down to the restaurant at about 8.30am.  As I expected, Naomi and I were the last people to have breakfast.  Several members of the club asked what had happened.  For the rest of the day I was the butt of jokes about alarm clocks – when we were walking around Bruges later that day, the chairman of the club laughed and said “Did you get an alarm clock from the market today? I think you might need one which hits you over the head to wake you up in the morning!”  That really made me laugh.  I never normally sleep through alarms, but I think I must have been so tired that I went into a really deep sleep.  At least I didn’t feel tired on the Sunday though!

I thought that Bruges was a very pretty place.  They had horses and carts taking people on a tour of the city, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to go on one of them.   We saw the river and also we passed several chocolate shops on the way to the marketplace.  There were actually 2 separate market squares, and one of them had an ice skating rink in the middle.  I had a chocolate Belgian waffle from one of the stalls.  Out of the 2 cities I think I preferred Bruges  – I liked the architecture and chocolate shops!  It was a sunny day, in contrast to the Saturday which was rainy and cold. I brought home lots of chocolate – I’ve got enough to last me at least a month!  Overall I enjoyed the trip and I’d definitely go back again if I had a chance.

As I didn’t update my blog in November, here’s what happened: In early November, Mum and I went to see the fireworks display at Earlham Park as usual.  This time we only saw the main firework display and not the family one, as I wasn’t feeling so good that day (don’t ask!) so I didn’t want to stay out for too long.  The fireworks display was very good as usual, and it was all set to music.  After watching the fireworks, we went to the music stand for a while to listen to the live band.  I enjoyed the evening, even though it seemed colder compared to previous years.

The day after the fireworks display, Mum and I went to the cinema to see the new James Bond film Skyfall.  It was very good with plenty of action.  We had to wait quite a while to get in though – I’d never seen the cinema so busy before!  When we bought our tickets, they said we would have to wait as the next 2 showings were completely full!  Fortunately, they had a new showing every 30 minutes or so.   We also had a meal in the Riverbank Chinese buffet restaurant.

The following Saturday, Mum, Terry and I went to visit Bridewell Museum.  It was very interesting, as it was all about the history of Norwich and the old industries in the city.  The last time I’d visited the museum was on a school trip when I was about 7 years old, so it was good to see how it had changed (and of course there was quite a bit that I couldn’t remember as I was so young the first time round).  On the way home from the museum, we stopped at the Harley’s Cafe for a milkshake and piece of cake.  In the evening, I was invited to a meal at Merge to celebrate my niece Emily’s 14th birthday.  Merge is a buffet restaurant with a wide variety of cuisines – Chinese, Malaysian, Thai, Korean, Singaporean etc.  It was the first time I’d ever been there and I really enjoyed it.  I had been sad about the recent closure of Malaysian Delights, but I think this Merge restaurant is even better, as there is so much choice.

The next day (the Sunday) we had a carvery at The Cottage to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday.  We hadn’t been there for quite a while, so it was good.  Afterwards we went to Godfrey’s where I bought some Christmas decorations for my bedroom – I got a fibre optic Christmas tree, some lights and a light-up polar bear.  My bedroom looks very pretty with all the lights on.

10 days later (in late November) it was the Christmas lights switch-on in Norwich city centre.  As the lights weren’t being switched on until 7pm and I leave work at 5pm, we decided to go to Patisserie Valerie for a meal and a piece of cake.  I had a smoked salmon salad for my main course (which was nice although they gave me far too much salmon!) and then Mum and I shared a slice of black forest gateau for dessert.  The lights switch-on was good, although it was rather cold standing around waiting.  There was the usual burst of fireworks as the lights were switched on.

Also in late November, I had a meal at Wagamama’s with the IVC social club.  It was a Japanese restaurant – I’d never been there before, and I tried a chicken katsu curry.  The curry was spicier than I expected, but it was nice enough.  I still think I prefer chicken teriyaki though, so I’ll order that the next time I go to a Japanese restaurant.

I’ve been very busy at work lately – I’m currently working on a website for a new TV channel that will be launched next year.  All the Java elements have to be completed in time for the Christmas holidays, so that the testing can take place in January.  It’s been a bit pressured at times, but I’m enjoying working on this project and I think I’m on target to meet the deadline.

I’ve got several Christmas parties and meals to go to over the next couple of weeks.  I’m off work from the 21st of December and I go back on the 2nd of January.  I’m really looking forward to Christmas.  This blog entry is getting rather long, so I hope to do another update just before Christmas, to tell you about my Christmas meals and parties.

 

Good times

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October 28th, 2012 Posted 8:20 pm

I’ve done a lot of exciting things over the last 6 weeks.  At the end of September, I did a week-long Java refresher course at work.  I found this really helpful, and I feel a lot more confident doing my Java programming now.  I’ve already completed a few projects, and now I’m waiting for them to be fully tested and deployed to the live webserver.  Last month I also won the runner-up prize in a staff photography competition at work.  I submitted several photos to the competition that I’d taken over recent months.  I wasn’t expecting to win anything though, as a lot of the other entries looked so good I didn’t know if I could compete with them.  So imagine my surprise when I arrived at work one Monday morning to see an email in my inbox saying that I’d won a prize and that they’d like me to take part in a presentation with the chief executive to be handed my prize!  My winning photo was of a bee in a daffodil, that I took in Spring 2011 at a garden in Aylsham.  :) My prize was an eco-friendly wind-up lantern/torch.

On the 13th of September I went out for a meal at The Dove in Poringland with Mum, my stepdad Terry, my grandmother and some relatives who were visiting us.  I had never been there before, but it was very nice with a varied menu.  I had Thai green chicken curry for my main course.  I enjoyed it and I’d definitely go back there again.

On the Friday evening of the same week, I went out with my friend Kay.   We had a meal at The Glasshouse then we went to the cinema to see the film Ted.  I enjoyed the film as it was really funny.  In fact it was one of the funniest films I’d seen in ages.

Towards the end of September, I went to London with my friend Naomi to the Cake & Bake Show at Earl’s Court.  There were hundreds of stalls to look round, and thousands of visitors. It was a long day and quite tiring, but I really enjoyed it and I’m glad I went.  Many of the stalls gave away goodie bags and free samples of cakes and cake-making equipment, icing, cooking chocolate etc. So I think the entry price was definitely worth it.  The show was on a Sunday, but we travelled to London by coach on the Saturday and stayed in a hotel overnight.  When we arrived, we checked into the hotel, then we went for a walk around the local area and bought some salad for lunch. Later we visited Harrods (I’d never actually been inside there before) and it was nice, but very expensive so we didn’t buy anything. Amazingly, it was £5.50 for a muffin and £7 for a milkshake! Afterwards we went to Chinatown. I’d been there once before about 10 years ago. I really enjoyed it.  We visited a Chinese food shop and I bought some noodles and sweets to take back with me. I like trying sweets from different cultures. The sweets are very different to what we would normally have in England. In the evening we had a Chinese takeaway which we ate back at the hotel.  I had lemon chicken with egg fried rice.  Since coming back, I’ve baked some cupcakes and some chocolate orange cookies, using some of the freebies I collected at the show.

I’ve been out for several meals lately.  In early October, I went out for a meal at Zaks with my friend Kay.  A couple of weeks ago, I went to the local Thai restaurant.  Even though it’s only just around the corner from where I live, it’s a very expensive, award-winning restaurant, so we only ever go there on special occasions once every few years. Some relatives were visiting, so that’s why we decided to go there. I really enjoyed it. :) On Wednesday we went for a carvery at The Oaklands, which was good as I hadn’t been there for about 3 months.  Then last night I went to the Sakura Japanese restaurant with the IVC social club.  Some people in our group chose from the barbecue menu, which meant that they cooked their own meat and vegetables at the table.  I did consider that, but I would’ve been a bit worried about making sure my meat was cooked properly, so I decided to order something from the standard menu instead.  I had peri peri chicken with rice, which was really nice, followed by vanilla ice cream for dessert.  I enjoyed it although I think I still prefer the Shiki Japanese restaurant I visited with work last year.  Unfortunately I haven’t been back there since.

Weekly Twitter Updates 2012-10-14

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October 14th, 2012 Posted 10:00 am

  • I've just baked some chocolate orange cookies – yay! #

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Posted in Twitter Updates

Weekly Twitter Updates 2012-10-07

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October 7th, 2012 Posted 10:00 am

  • I haven't felt like updating Twitter for a couple of weeks now, so I'll just quickly go through all the things I've been up to lately. #
  • Last weekend I went to London with my friend Naomi to go to the Cake & Bake Show. I enjoyed it and got lots of goodies! :) #
  • I had a busy week at work last week, doing an intensive Java refresher course. It's overrun slightly so I'll continue tomorrow morning. #

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Posted in Twitter Updates