21 January 2018

On Leviathans and Small Treks

It has been three months and 4 days since my last cigarette.I started smoking not long after my 13th birthday, and smoked pretty much consistently since then. And I have pretended to try and quit before, each time a roaring failure because the love for smoking was stronger than the will to quit. But our new life has meant a big reduction in stress, and so, finally, the will to quit has grown stronger than the love for smoking. I still miss the action of smoking, taking a long drag on a cigarette, inhaling the smoke deep into my lungs and then feeling like a dragon as I exhale – but not as frequently as I used to. I now only think about having a smoke once every few days. I am sure as the months go on, the frequency will reduce even more until I no longer think about it at all.

What I don’t miss is struggling to breathe and smelling like a nightclub and coughing and having to find an ashtray and the constant constant constant craving and burning money. And this will motivate me to remain quit, even when I dream about smoking all night long.

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It is probably no secret by now that I am currently a tiny little bit obsessed with The Expanse series, both TV and books. I fell in love mid-way through the first episode of Season 1, but reading the books really cemented the obsession for me. I am only ⅔ through the third book now, but I had this epiphany last night about why I love the series so much – other than the fact that it is an absolutely brilliant space opera, of course.

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Each book, so far, starts with a number of different stories seemingly unrelated on completely different tracks, and things apparently spin out of control and then the stories start intertwining until they end in one beautiful point, and it reminds me of spiral galaxies or tropical storms or star aloes.

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(images not my own, found on bing search)

I travelled to Leicester for work this week, which gave me a good opportunity to try out the camera on my new phone.

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While I missing having a camera button on the phone, I am getting used to having to take a couple of extra steps to take a photo, and I am quite happy with the quality of the pictures.

14 January 2018

On beginnings and endings

I attended a work-related training course this week with some colleagues I knew from South Africa, as well as ones I haven’t met before, and it has been a great week of learning and introspection. I’ve been thinking for some time about changing the direction of my career a little, and this week has contributed to that feeling. Not quite sure where we will end up, but looking forward to the journey.

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It is with great sadness that I say goodbye to my beloved Windows Phone this week. Since the platform is end of life and has been put to sleep, I have no option but to switch platforms. I have been looking at different options for some time now, because I knew this was coming, but finally decided to go with a One+ 5T, which I picked up yesterday. My last dance with Android was not too successful, but that was a few years ago. This time, we are not stepping on each other’s toes as much, but I think a big contributor to this is the fact that Microsoft has released a large stack of applications for Android, including Cortana and a launcher that gives a similar feel to Windows Phone, so the environment does not feel as alien to me.

I am quite happy with the camera though, so this makes up for the weirdness of the platform.

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7 January 2018

Of Dragons and Puddings

It is perhaps no secret that the husband and I really love castles, and one of my favourite documentary series to watch is Dan Jones’ Secrets of Great British Castles. I watched the second season in December, and decided that, since we now live on the island, we have the ability to visit these marvelous castles, and our first visit was to be Cardiff Castle.

As I travel a fair bit for work, I have managed to accumulate some loyalty points with a hotel chain, and decided to haul us off to Cardiff for a quick getaway with a night in a hotel paid for by said loyalty points, as a way of celebrating my birthday at the beginning of the week. We were fortunate enough to be upgraded to an executive room with a fantastic view of Cardiff Castle and it was simply breathtaking.

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We spent some time on Monday walking around Cathays Park and surrounding areas, and had lunch at the wonderful The Owain Glyndwr.

We woke up on Tuesday morning to a very rainy Cardiff, so we postponed our castle exploration until later the day, and went to the movies instead to watch The Last Jedi again.

Luckily the weather cleared up while we were in the movies, and we got to explore the magnificent Cardiff Castle.

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It is well worth a visit, even if you just visit the house for its spectacular interiors, especially in the Arab room.

I visited the lovely town of Knutsford this week for work purposes, where I unfortunately did not take any pictures, but, as I will be visiting again several times over the next few months, I will surely have some more opportunities for photos.

We ended the week off with an outing to St Albans yesterday with our friends, where we had some pudding for breakfast at The Pudding Stop and then stopped for drinks at Ye Olde Fighting Cocks (which claims to be one of the oldest pubs in England) while walking around Verulamium Park to look at the ruins of the city walls and gate which can be found in this park.

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I end this week feeling incredibly grateful and wonderfully loved. I’ve had the best birthday I’ve had in years, and feel truly blessed to have so many friends who are willing to spend a day with us. It is these moments that make it easy to get through the darkness.

20 December 2017

Year in Review: 2017

I am still a little flabbergasted by the fact that I am alive in a year that sounds like a SciFi date. And, of course, if one reads the news, we are actually living in a dystopian novel at the moment.

I tried to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, and got to write quite a bit of a story that, when I started sounded like an alternate future, but 10 days in started to resemble the current reality too much that I simply could not continue. I am still not ready for a world where Trump is president, the 1% is blatant about their distaste for the 99% and Putin is fast on his way to becoming world emperor.

But, some good things happened this year too, and I think I am going to focus on those things instead.

The Big Move

While we started our very own Great Trek in October 2016, we only really settled this year. We had some touch and go moments this year, as we were not sure if our offspring would be able to join us (as they were not covered by my visa), but it worked out in the end. They received an unconditional offer from Reading University to study Art and were granted a Tier 4 student visa for the duration of the course. This means our youngling can stay with us for the next 4 years, at least.

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My husband’s father has had to return to South Africa though due to some family complications, but we found him a lovely place to stay and he seems much happier there – he did not do to well with the UK winter.

We have now been in the UK for more than a year, and finally feel like we live here. Some things were super easy to get used to, while other things took a while longer.

The move would have been a lot harder if we did not have friends who lived here and we are incredibly grateful for them. They are now all family.

Sights

In between settling and sorting out family things, we have managed to see a few sights this year.

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We have had a few visits to London, but have also visited Bodiam Castle, Stonehenge and Brighton.


Music

This is one of the main reasons we chose Europe, and the UK, as our new home – it makes it so much easier to attend concerts. And, in my first year here, I have managed to see two of my all time favourites live: Einsturzende Neubauten and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

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We also travelled to Germany for Wacken, and we got to see so many amazing bands, including Apocalyptica, Amon Amarth, Powerwolf and Saltatio Mortis.

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And were in the fortunate position to take our youngling to see one of their favourites, the Gorillaz.

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I’ve discovered the joys of Spotify this year, and we now have a family subscription which allows me to listen to music more frequently than I have in the last few years. Spotify also allows me to scrobble to Last.fm, which means I have some stats of my last year’s listening habits. No real surprises with my top tracks or top artists, really

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Favourite new find for the year:

Because, apparently, I really love history and music involving history Smile

Books, Movies and TV

Thank goodness for Goodreads and giving me the ability to track what I read.

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So I have only completed 13 books so far this year, I am pretty happy with having read a little wider. I started re-reading the Terry Pratchetts last year already, and that theme has continued this year, including Good Omens in preparation for the upcoming television series. I started reading the Skulduggery Pleasant series last year, and managed to squeeze in a few more this year. I also read the Handmaid’s Tale finally, and then started watching the series on Channel 4. So many articles have been written about how appropriately timed this show is, much better articulated than I can even attempt.

But the biggest new find for me this year has been the Expanse series. I watched Season 1 of the series on Netflix towards the end of last year, and was hooked instantly. I rewatched the season twice in a very short span of time and then got sidetracked into other things, until Season 2 was released on Netflix towards the middle of this year. I binged season 2, and then decided to give the books a try. Despite some limited reading time, I practically inhaled the first book of the series, Leviathan Wakes, and have since purchased the second and third books in the series. I am just about finished reading the second book, and hope to have both book 2 & 3 completed before the end of the year (I have 10 days to go, so no pressure). To say that I am a little obsessed with this series at the moment is a slight understatement.

There have been a few other interesting TV series this year, most notably Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I was looking forward to the new Star Trek series, but I just could not connect to it, no matter how much I tried. I will probably give it another try at some point in the future, but for now, it is shelved.

The husband and I rewatched Suits, That 70s Show and The Good Wife. We also really enjoyed the Marvel offerings, especially the Defenders.

I haven’t really been to movies as much as I would have liked this year, and unfortunately missed seeing Thor: Ragnarok at the cinema, but did thoroughly enjoy The Last Jedi and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I am really so happy to live in a time when we are getting new Star Wars stories.

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Phew, what a year. I am sure I have forgotten many things, and will try and be a little better at keeping track next year.

3 May 2017

On dreams

The inspiration for my domain name and onilne name is not, as many think, the Rammstein song. Instead, it is this one:

Tomorrow, after being a fan for more than 20 years, I finally get to see this band live. Live. In the flesh. I may just explode.

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