bits n pieces

Weekly Twitter Updates 2012-09-16

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September 16th, 2012 Posted 10:00 am

  • There are so many good programmes on tonight – X Factor, Dragon's Den, Mock The Week… #
  • I'm really happy this morning as I've been told I've won a prize in the staff photography competition. I get my prize at 11am. :) #
  • I was the runner-up in the staff photography competition and I won an eco-friendly wind-up torch/lantern :) #
  • This is the photo I entered into the competition: #
  • I just unlocked the Conditionals & Control Flow badge on @codecademy! via @codecademy #
  • #cakeandbaketicketexchange Does anyone have 2 tickets available for the Sunday? @CakeandBakeShow #
  • Can anyone help me with this question? -> Adding an additional search button for the jQuery Autocomplete plugin #
  • My colleague is so zonked out he had to go home, lest he type "Google" into Google and destroy the internet! #
  • I feel like that right now, but I'm just going to tough it out. It's been a long, hectic week. :S #
  • I had a hairdressing appointment in my lunch-hour yesterday, then in the evening I had a social clubnight. #
  • Now tonight I've been invited out, but I don't really feel like going but I have to. I've got a long busy day ahead of me tomorrow as well. #
  • I just unlocked the PygLatin badge on @codecademy! via @codecademy #
  • RT @JoJoBuzz: Have a #SuperSunday you wonderful Tweeters. #PositiveTweet #

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Enjoying my new job

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September 9th, 2012 Posted 4:30 pm

I’ve been in my new Java Developer job since late July (ie since when I came back from holiday) and I’m enjoying it now.  At first I was nervous about whether I’d be good enough at the new job and whether I’d enjoy it as much as my old one, but my manager has said he’s pleased with my progress so far and I’m feeling a lot more settled now.  In the next week or 2, I’ll be doing a Java refresher course.  At first they said I’d need to travel to London to do a week-long course, but now they’re saying I can do a distance-learning course based in my office.  The course will be on a CD-ROM and I’ll be able to study at my own pace, and if I get stuck I’ll be able to ask my manager for help.  There will be a test at the end of the week to check what I’ve learnt.

4 weeks ago we had a heatwave and we went to Sea Palling beach for the afternoon.  3 weeks ago we went to Somerleyton Gardens, and we also took my step-dad Terry’s grandchildren with us.  We had a nice walk around the gardens, the maze and the house.  We also had lunch in the cafeteria – I had egg and cress sandwiches.  A couple of weeks ago I went to Sandringham Gardens with Mum and Terry, which was good as I’d never been there before.

A couple of Tuesdays ago, I met my friend Kay during my lunch-hour and we went to McDonald’s.  I hadn’t seen her for a long time, so I gave her a belated birthday card and present.  The following day, I went to a quiz night with the IVC social club which was held at The King’s Arms pub.  They actually let you order food from outside and they provide the cutlery, so I had an Indian takeaway (chicken korma and egg fried rice).  The quiz itself was good although it went on for a long time – it started at 8.15pm and went on until almost 11pm! Last Monday evening I went out with my friends Naomi, Sarah and Gemma for a meal at Frankie & Benny’s.  I had my usual Cajun chicken burger and fries.  I tried a different ice cream sundae for dessert this time – Cookies & Cream Collision – but it wasn’t quite as good as I expected it to be.  There are several other new sundaes I can try next time I go.

Yesterday was an exciting day as we booked a holiday in Ibiza for July 2013.  I’ll be going with my sister Suzanne, her husband Paul, my other sister Sarah and my nieces Anya and Emily.  Suzanne first went to Ibiza with one of her friends when she was 16, and we’ll be staying in the same hotel that she stayed in back then.  This is the hotel where we will be staying. :D  It’s 11 months away as yet, but I’m already getting excited!

I’ve also booked a weekend break in Bruges and Lille with my friend Naomi, which will take place in December.  We will be going to see the Christmas markets.  So I’ve got plenty of things to look forward to. :D



Weekly Twitter Updates 2012-09-09

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September 9th, 2012 Posted 10:00 am

  • I just saw the Twitter fail whale! I hadn't seen it for such a long time! #
  • I've got a big day ahead of me tomorrow. In the evening I'll be meeting my friends Naomi, Sarah and Gemma for a meal at Frankie & Benny's. #
  • I had a nice time with my friends tonight. A good end to a frustrating day at work! #
  • I'm doing an online survey and it actually asks if you have a TV in your bathroom/toilet?! Who on earth would do that?! o_O #
  • …there's even an option for having your main TV set in your bathroom/toilet! LOL! #
  • It gets worse, now it's asking if we have a personal computer in our bathroom/toilet!!! #
  • This is going to be one of those days, I just know it! 2 bad things have happened already and it's only 9am! #
  • Tomorrow we'll be going to book a holiday in Ibiza for next May! :D #
  • It's been a good day today. We've booked our holiday to Ibiza for next July, going to San Antonio Bay! :D #

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Weekly Twitter Updates 2012-09-02

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September 2nd, 2012 Posted 10:00 am

  • It's been a good day today! :) For the bank holiday tomorrow I plan to have a quiet day at home and bake some chocolate viennese fingers. #
  • Back to work tomorrow! #
  • I just unlocked the Date and Time badge on @codecademy! via @codecademy #
  • At a pub quiz night – it's going on for ages! #
  • I had a nice chicken korma earlier though. #
  • Just had a nice Chinese takeaway with my sister Sarah and niece Anya. They came round ours for tea tonight. #
  • via @youtube <- The 1st time I heard this song, I really thought it said "Politicians be creatures!" lol #
  • …but it actually says "Politicians be preachers!" Creatures sounds so much more apt in this case though! #
  • Well, I've given my advice & that's the best I can do. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink! #

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Weekly Twitter Updates 2012-08-26

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August 26th, 2012 Posted 10:00 am

  • I just unlocked the jQuery Effects and Plugins badge on @codecademy! via @codecademy #
  • Looking forward to this long weekend! :) #
  • It's really annoying when icons don't do what you expect – eg I'd expect the cross in Outlook to delete the current email, but it doesn't! #
  • I'm talking about the new online version of Outlook which will soon replace Hotmail. #
  • I can't believe Neil Armstrong has died! :( #
  • We are now on the way to Sandringham. I'm looking forward to seeing the gardens. I haven't been there before. #

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Weekly Twitter Updates 2012-08-19

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August 19th, 2012 Posted 10:00 am

  • We've just had a nice couple of hours at Sea Palling beach. :) #
  • It's 30 degrees C in my bedroom now! Eek! At least I spent the early afternoon outside sitting in the shade. #
  • The X Factor was good tonight. I can't stand Mel B though, she was so horrible to almost everyone! #

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Weekly Twitter Updates 2012-08-12

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August 12th, 2012 Posted 10:00 am

  • The chef in our staff canteen has a good sense of irony – the daily Olympic special is always the least healthiest menu option! #
  • I really don't understand why some people put QR codes on banner ads – if you're currently on your computer why would you use your mobile… #
  • …to scan the QR code, when you could just click the banner on your PC? #
  • I'm looking forward to the meteor shower tonight. Also we'll be able to see the international space station at 21:59. :) #
  • We didn't see any shooting stars last night, but we did see the space station go past. Maybe we'll see shooting stars tonight if we're lucky #

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Weekly Twitter Updates 2012-08-05

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August 5th, 2012 Posted 10:00 am

  • I've finally started writing my blog about my holiday. Look out for it in an hour or so! #
  • I just unlocked the Sliding with jQuery badge on @codecademy! via @codecademy #
  • I was on the way to a quiz night but then I got a phone call saying it's been cancelled. :( #
  • I've got an awful feeling I've messed up this local server installation beyond repair and I'll end up reinstalling it. #
  • I'm trying out the new version of Hotmail (called Outlook believe it or not!) It's got a nice and clean layout. #
  • I just unlocked the Tabbed Menu badge on @codecademy! via @codecademy #
  • I just unlocked the Collapsible Message Panels badge on @codecademy! via @codecademy #
  • It's been a nice evening – I went with Mum, my stepdad Terry and my grandmother for a carvery at The Oaklands. #
  • Afterwards I showed my grandmother my holiday DVD and photos. #
  • I've just booked a Christmas weekend break to Bruges and Lille with my friend Naomi. :) #
  • It will actually be the first time I've been abroad in 5 years, so I'm looking forward to it! #
  • I just unlocked the Unit 1: Python Syntax badge on @codecademy! via @codecademy #

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My holiday review

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July 29th, 2012 Posted 7:03 pm

For the middle 2 weeks of July, we were on holiday in Brampton, northern Cumbria.  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 kept a paper diary during the holiday, but it would take too long to type it all out, so I’ll write a summary of what we did each day.

Saturday 7th July: We left the house at about 7.45am to begin our journey.  We stopped at a Little Chef in Lincolnshire at about 10am for a snack.  In the mid morning we were held up by some roadworks, but we arrived in Brampton at about 2pm and we did some food shopping before arriving at the cottage just after 2.30pm.  We spent the rest of the day unpacking and settling in. (We never feel like doing too much on the first day of a holiday after the long journey!) The cottage had 3 bedrooms, and I was in one of the twin bedrooms which had a vanity basin. The scenery around the cottage was nice – there was a stream and some woods just behind the back garden, but unfortunately these were fenced off (we weren’t sure if this was because it was a very steep hill or because it was owned by someone else).

Sunday 8th July: The first full day of the holiday.  We walked around Brampton town centre and I took several photos.  As it was Sunday, most of the shops were closed, but we went to a pub (The Howard Arms) for a drink.  We were going to have lunch there but they said they don’t start serving food until 12.30pm, so we moved on to the White Lion and had a roast dinner there instead.  We spent the rest of the afternoon back at the cottage where Mum watched the Wimbledon tennis final.

Monday 9th July:  In the morning we went for another walk round Brampton town centre now that the shops were open.  We visited the tourist information centre and picked up some leaflets about the local area and maps of local walks.  We bought some chocolate truffles from a confectionery shop and then we visited Talkin Tarn (a lake) just outside Brampton.  We went to the on-site tearoom for lunch – I had Cumberland sausage with potato wedges and beans.  I had a mango milkshake which was very nice – I’d never tried one of those before.  For dessert I had a “thunder and lightening” English Lakes ice cream which had a mixture of vanilla, cinder toffee and chocolate.  After lunch we walked around the edge of the tarn – it was mostly flat land with some woodland.

Tuesday 10th July: It rained very heavily so we had to find somewhere to go that was under cover.  In the morning we went to the town of Haltwhistle and then we had lunch in a cafe.  Afterwards we visited the Vindolanda Roman fort and museum.  (There are several Roman forts along Hadrian’s Wall  – I’ll explain more about this later)  The museum was very interesting and I learnt a lot. We also walked around the excavation areas but it was very cold and rainy.  In the evening we went back to the cottage to get changed and then we had a meal at the Howard Arms pub in Brampton, where I had a chicken korma with poppadoms, and ice cream for dessert.

Wednesday 11th July:  It was another wet day so we didn’t go out until mid-day.  We went to the Roman Army Museum (run by the Vindolanda Trust like the fort we visited yesterday).  It was all indoors and there were several interesting videos to watch, including a 3D film.  After walking around the museum, we had a snack in the tearoom.  In the evening when we were back at the cottage, we watched one of the DVDs that I’d brought with me – The Hangover.  It was quite funny and I enjoyed it.

Thursday 12th July: We had a very busy day today as the weather was mostly nice and sunny.  We set off from the cottage at 9.30am.  Our first destination was Walltown Craggs near Greenhead village to see the highest part of Hadrian’s Wall.  The wall was built by the Romans in AD122 and it marked the northern frontier of the Roman empire.  It is a common misconception that Hadrian’s wall marks the boundary between England and Scotland. This is not the case; the wall lies entirely within England, and south of the border with Scotland by less than one kilometre in the west at Bowness-on-Solway, and 110 kilometres (68 miles) in the east. The wall was originally 3 metres wide and 6 metres high when it was built, but in medieval times many of the stones were robbed to build castles, churches and houses etc.

Later we visited the ruin of Thirlwall Castle.  From there we came back to the cottage for lunch, and then we drove to Lanercost church and priory.  Then we walked along the River Irthing.  Afterwards we drove to Naworth Castle, but it wasn’t open to the public so we just took some photos of the exterior.  It was very impressive.  Finally we went to Brampton and walked to part of Brampton Ridge which is at the foot of a former motte and bailey castle.

Friday 13th July: We woke up early and we drove to Scotland, which was about 20 miles from Brampton.  I took a couple of photos of the “Welcome to Scotland” sign, we drove through the border town of Langholm and then we visited Castle O’er Forest.  It was very quiet in the forest and we didn’t see anyone for miles. We walked up to an iron roundhouse fort and took some photos and a video. It was peaceful but it was also a bit eerie as we were the only people there.   There was a river called the White Esk but unfortunately there didn’t seem to be any access to it, so we couldn’t walk by the river.  In the afternoon we drove back to Langholm and walked around the town.  We saw a point where 3 different rivers meet.  We went to a cafe where I had a white hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows on top, and a slice of Victoria sponge cake.  Later we walked through a war memorial garden which had lots of pretty flowers.  We walked through the woods by the river for a few minutes.  On the way back to the holiday cottage, we stopped at Hollous by the river where I took some photos from the bridge. It was a very pretty river with mini waterfalls.

Saturday 14th July: We spent the day in Alston, which is the highest altitude market town in England.  It had cobbled streets and a market cross.  Many of the buildings were built in the 16th and 17th centuries.  Mum and I bought some jewellery in a local shop.  We went to a pub called The Angel for lunch – I had half a roast chicken, chips and vegetables, with pancakes and ice cream for dessert.  The service in the pub was very slow so we were in there for an hour and three quarters.  After lunch we went for a walk by the River Tyne.  It was very pretty and there were a couple of waterfalls.  Afterwards we drove to the other side of the town and visited the narrow guage railway where we picked up a steam train timetable.  We then visited a small museum called The Hub, which had old cars, bikes, motorbikes and other forms of transport.  It also had old machinery and old photos of the local area.

Sunday 15th July: We drove to Brampton for Sunday lunch at The White Lion.  I had roast beef like last week, but this time I had blueberry cheescake for dessert.  After lunch we went for a drive around the local countryside.  We stopped for a few minutes at Banks Turret, then we visited Birdoswald Roman Fort.  There was a small museum and visitor centre to look round and then went outside to see the fort and sections of Hadrian’s Wall.  We also walked onto a bridge to see a nearby stream.  Later on we tried to look for the Crammel Linn waterfall but unfortunately we couldn’t find it (the signage in this area isn’t too good).

Monday 16th July: We spent the day in Carlisle.  We caught a bus to Carlisle in the morning and we arrived in the city centre just after 11am.  We visited the cathedral and the castle.  I enjoyed it but there wasn’t as much to see compared with Norwich Castle (many of the rooms were empty and there weren’t many exhibits).  Afterwards we went back to the cathedral grounds where I had egg and cress sandwiches, Victorian lemonade and a piece of caramel shortbread for dessert.  Then we wandered around the Carlisle streets and some of the shops for a while before catching the bus back to Brampton.

Tuesday 17th July: Today we went back to Alston for a trip on the steam train.  When we first arrived we bought some cakes from the award-winning bakery in the town.  We then headed to the South Tynedale Railway and caught the steam train from Alston through Gilderdale, Kirkhaugh to Lintley Halt.  We saw some pretty scenery on the train journey.  We got off the train at Lintley Halt and went on a scenic 4 mile walk back to Alston.  At Kirkhaugh we diverted from the footpath and followed a field down to the riverbank where we had a picnic.   When we returned to Alston town centre we bought some locally-made biscuits and jam.

Later in the afternoon we drove to County Durham to see High Force waterfall. It was very spectacular and I took a video and several photos.  In the evening we got a Chinese takeaway in Brampton, which we ate back at the cottage (I had my usual chicken curry and egg fried rice).

Wednesday 18th July: We went to Gilsland Spa Hotel for lunch.  I had fish and chips and raspberry roulade for dessert.  I also had a raspberry milkshake.  I think this was the nicest meal I had on this holiday.  While we were in the restaurant, some ladies told us about the gorge at the back of the car park.  So after lunch we followed the pathway to the River Irthing amongst the trees.  Eventually we came to a bridge walkway, where the river was flowing really fast like a raging torrent.

Thursday 19th July: We spent most of today on the Hadrian’s Wall trail.  We started off at Walltown Craggs like the first Thursday, but this time we walked much further. We had brought a picnic with us which we ate part-way through the walk.  We also walked around Steel Rigg where there was a pretty lake and woodland.  The wall wasn’t quite as high here as it was at Walltown, but we saw a milecastle along the way.  By the time we finished this walk it was early evening.  By the time we got back to Brampton all the local cafes were closed, but it was too early for a meal at a pub so we bought some sausage rolls from the butchers.

Friday 20th July: This was our last day, so I felt a bit sad.  We spent the afternoon in the area around Gilsland Spa.  On the way there, we stopped at the Lanercost gift shop to get some gifts and goodies. I got a Hadrian’s Wall mug and book (yes I like the wall!), plus some Kendal mint cake. When we arrived at Gilsland Spa we took the Irthing Gorge path behind the hotel, but we still didn’t manage to find the elusive Crammel Linn waterfall.  Even one of the locals we spoke to didn’t know where it was! It was still a good walk anyway, which took us though some pretty woodland and we saw the River Irthing.  We tried several different pathways to find the waterfall, but all we ended up with was muddy jeans so we had to go back to the cottage and get changed before we returned to the Gilsland Spa Hotel for our final meal of the holiday.  As it was the evening, they put us in the bar area instead of the bright and airy coffee shop that they put us in for lunch 2 days earlier. This time I had a chicken korma for my main course and chocolate sponge cake for dessert.

Most of the Saturday was spent travelling back home. I went back to work on Monday and I had a one-to-one meeting with my new manager.  I told him about the work I was doing before my holiday, and he told me what progress had been made on this while I was away.  We then discussed my new Junior Java Developer job – I explained that before my holiday, I had been told that the IT director was trying to arrange a Java refresher course for me.  Unfortunately no further progress had been made with regards to arranging this course, but I emphasised that I was still keen to start the new role.  My manager then said that once I’d finished my other work he would get me started on some of the Java work.  I managed to finish my work on the corporate website bugfixes by Wednesday afternoon, so then my manager gave me the task of installing a copy of the content management system on my local machine.  I then read through the documentation and my manager gave me some Java/Velocity/XML code files to analyse, so I could see how they fit together.  Once I’d done this I asked a few questions to help me understand more about how the program works.  My manager then set me the task of building my own Polopoly element using a combination of Velocity templating code and XML.  I completed this on Friday morning and I was then shown how to deploy my work to the local webserver.  Overall I think it’s gone quite well so far, so I don’t think I’ll find it too difficult to pick up this new job.  A lot of the programs can be based on existing code, so you don’t always have to write things from scratch, which makes it a lot easier.

For the last few days I’ve had this weird sense of not being able to relax fully – I’m not sure if it’s because I’m subconsciously nervous about my new job, or whether I’m feeling a bit edgy about all the changes that have taken place at work recently (see my previous post for details of all the changes).  I hope I’ll feel more settled once I’m back into my usual routine.

I’ve had a hectic week since coming back from holiday – due to the heatwave I needed to buy some new dresses to wear at work.  On Tuesday evening I managed to buy one new dress.  On Wednesday 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.  We were hoping to see the sunset but unfortunately the sun set over the land and not the sea, so I was a bit disappointed as I was hoping to take photos of the sun setting over the beach.  It was a good evening though – I hadn’t been to the beach in the evening for several years.  Then on Thursday evening it was late-night shopping so I bought some more new dresses.  So it turned out that Monday and Friday were the only evenings I had free.  This coming week should be more quiet, although I do plan to go to a music quiz night on Tuesday with the IVC social club.  It will be the first time I’ve been to a club event for about a month.




Weekly Twitter Updates 2012-07-29

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July 29th, 2012 Posted 10:00 am

  • Here's a link to my holiday photos on Flickr: #
  • Check out – the local social network. Here’s how it works via @streetlife_uk #
  • It felt weird going back to work today after having 2 weeks off. The weather is also much hotter now than it was during my holiday! #
  • It's weird on the internet looking back on things (songs, adverts, shows etc) that used to scare you as a child. #
  • There's some horribly noisy people on this bus! #
  • Hopefully I'll be going to the beach with my sister Suzanne this evening if I can be ready on time! #
  • We've just had a nice evening walking on the beach at Winterton then we went to Hemsby. #
  • I'm not that interested in the Olympics, but I'll watch the opening ceremony at least. Mostly because I like fireworks and stuff like that! #
  • It's funny how so many people can make such ignorant comments online, when a quick Google search would've set them straight! :O #
  • Sadly, some people seem to revel in being ignorant! #
  • As the Olympics is a global event it would be kind of strange if the opening ceremony didn't include people from different cultures. #
  • I've just had a quiet day today as I didn't get to sleep until nearly 2am last night! #

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