3 guys, 1 boat

Been on the boat since last Monday so I haven’t really had time to post. I just want to get something short out to say that I’m having an absolutely brilliant time.

I’d forgotten just how fun it was to spend time with Ben and Kevin. There have been several times in the last week where I’ve laughed so hard my stomach hurt. Seriously, this puts a whole new take on the last year at uni. I can only think of one or maybe two occasions in the last year at uni when I have laughed so much I’ve cried, and both of those we’re when Josh and I were revising.

Lots to talk about… last week we had 5 of us on the boat. Can’t say how good it was to catch up with Sam, and he was really great to have around. Once they’d left on Thursday it was just the 3 of us.

So far we’ve been to the cinema three times, broken a rope (twice), had the headlamp fixed (thanks super Steve), had the propeller shaft fixed (thanks again super Steve), boated in the dark (thanks to the broken boat), lost the tiller pin and bought a new one (my bad), celebrated Ben’s birthday over three days in Rugby at Frankie & Benny’s, over listened to Michael Jackson, not cooked birthday brownies (tomorrow for sure…), over used Tesco toilets, abused McDonalds free wifi, been through 3 epic tunnels, been rained on too much (although today was sunny) and had too many inappropriate conversations…

I’ve got plenty of pictures to share once I have time to upload them and they’ll probably tell a better story than I could.

Looking forward to the boat trip with my university friends in a few weeks and after that it’s not long before uni starts again :)

  • Happiness. 9.5 out of 10
  • Tiredness. 2 out of 5
  • Last Meal. A Chinese take away from a Leighton Buzzard
  • Song of the day.  The King Blues – I Got Love (seriously, I love this song beyond the bounds of usual lust)
  • Thought for the day. We are dangerously close to talking about the thing we’re not allowed to talk about.
  • What I’m Doing Now. Relaxing after a hard day’s boating!

Never mind the Balloch

Ye alrightie laddie! Been up tae bonnie wee Scotland tae see me cousins.

Mum, Dad & I left home on Thursday evening to drive to Scotland in the car… yes, we are crazy. Car journeys fly by when you’ve got Douglas Adams reading “Life, the universe and everything”, and I may have had a bit of a nap. I also spent the time writing my Guilfest blog. We slept in a Travelodge in Preston on Thursday night. Big breakfast Friday morning at the service station filled my stomach nicely. Last few hours in the car took us into Scotland and to where auntie Janet lives which is in the rather unfortunately named “Balloch” (say it aloud and you’ll see).

We arrived just in time for lunch and I got the tour of the grounds (including climbing all the appropriate trees, of course). The house and grounds are huge. 13 acres of grounds including a tennis court and 2 horses. The house has too many rooms I care to count, but certainly enough for 2 adults and 5 children (plus another family staying over).

I don’t get to see my cousins Sam, Emma and Nathan very often, and even less since my uncle died in 2004. It was brilliant to see them all again, much taller and changed. I could mention that nostalgia word again, but it was just so good to catch up that I felt it was almost like starting again. Sam and I have both changed in the last few years with Sam moving and me going to university.

The rest of Friday it was good to relax and just absorb being back in Scotland after so long. On Saturday Sam took me swimming in the morning before we all headed out to the highland games in the afternoon. The highland games are basically an excuse for old men to dress up in kilts or try and run the 90 metres. Sam and I took it as an opportunity to ride the funfair rides and eat ice cream :)

In the afternoon we went for a stroll up this hill called the dumpling. You get a really good view of Loch Lomond from the top, and on Sunday we went for a closer look right down by the shore.

All the time Janet provided us with delightful culinary treasures: cakes, scones, chicken, etc. By the time we had to leave on Sunday afternoon I’d managed to persuade Sam to join me on the boat trip, which was great news!

The boat trip starts on Monday in Stourbridge (just south of Birmingham) with 5 of us on board. Ben and Kevin (who are good friends from sixth form), Matthew (very long time friend from back in primary school) and now Sam. We’re travelling through Birmingham for the first two days. Then on Thursday Matthew and Sam leave at Tamworth leaving Ben, Kevin and I to take the boat the rest of the way into London, finishing in Uxbridge. There’s lots to tell you about the boat trip, but I can explain as we go along.

I’ll be able to blog on the boat this year because we’ve bought a wireless dongle for the internet. Still, I expect the updates might fluctuate slightly, so consider the last few days of posts a pre-payment to the steady lack of posts in the next two weeks.

I’ll end this post here because it’s already very long and I’m getting tired. Hope to write here again soon.

  • Happiness.8 out of 10
  • Tiredness. 2 out of 5
  • Last Meal. The obligatory Chinese from the takeaway where the boat is moored
  • Song of the day. Dizzie Rascal – Bonkers
  • Thought for the day. Isn’t it a bit early to be planning Christmas?
  • What I’m Doing Now. On the boat with Mum, Dad and Sam. Mum & Dad are leaving in the morning to go to work and my friends arrive in the afternoon to start our boat trip!

PS (written on Sunday evening)…

Special Post #18: No signal

sorry this post is almost 2 days late, I’m on a boat!

Some may say I’m a bit of a geek. OK, so I know my may around a computer, but there has always been a chink in my technology armour: mobile phones. Put simply, I never got them. I never saw the point of having a mobile phone on a day-to-day basis. They we’re only for emergencies and to let your parents know you were safe. All through secondary school and sixth form I never had a mobile phone, much to the confusion of everyone I knew who couldn’t see how it was possible. I simply didn’t need one. Anyone I wanted to talk to I saw at school everyday, and besides, we weren’t allowed to take phones into school anyway.

Finally, at the end of my a-levels I saw the need for it. Once I’d finished school it was a way to get in touch with friends. But even then I hardly ever used it. In fact, my first £5 credit lasted me the rest of the year. 2009 has been an entirely different story. My phone has quickly become a vital lifeline to know what’s going on and where people are. Now I face the position next year when I’m living in my new house where we won’t have a landline, then my phone will be even more important.

I still prefer to talk to people online, whether it be using Skype, Facebook or Instant Messaging. But sometimes, like when you’re out and don’t have a computer, it’s your only choice.

So this week I moved from a Pay As You Go (PAYG) service with T-Mobile to an O2 contract that means I can use my phone more without paying more. Because I was changing my provider from T-Mobile to  O2 I had to unlock my phone because it was tied to T-Mobile so only their SIM cards worked on it. I don’t really know what I’m talking about, but this seems to be right.

So to unlock my phone I rang T-Mobile and they said it would cost me £15 and take 28 days. So I, not knowing any better, agreed. When James got up he told me the error in my ways and said I could get the phone unlocked at this shop in town for less money and it would happen instantly. So I did. It cost £8. Unfortunately I couldn’t then undo my T-Mobile request, so I still had to pay £15 for something I no longer need. But that’s life, I learnt a valuable lesson (literally).

By Monday my old T-Mobile number should have been ported to my new O2 contract, and I’ll be ready to roll! Until then I’m carrying around 2 phones, one with my old SIM and one with my new SIM. From no phones to two in just one year!

UPDATE: My contract is now all up and running with my old number, good times.

my next post is about my weekend in Scotland, stay tuned!

Special Post #17: More mash & cider

the highly anticipated second part of my Guilfest post

Every year Guilfest provide all the crew with free food. In exchange for 1 meal voucher you can choose from a selection of hot and cold snacks ranging from pastas to curries. However, presumably due to the credit crunch, we got one option: mash. But where’s the choice, you cry? Here’s the menu:

  1. Choose your mash:
    1. Traditional mash
    2. Cheesy mash
    3. Carrot and potato mash (what are the others if this is potato?)
    4. Cabbage mash
  2. Choose your topping:
    1. Gravy
    2. Cheese
    3. Onions
    4. Beans
  3. Choose your little something extra:
    1. Meaty balls
    2. Veggie sausages
    3. Veggie chilli

Now considering the whole van was veggie, what was in the meaty balls!? It pays not to think too much. I don’t know what was worse, the fact that I felt compelled to eat there because it was free or being served by a 20-something man wearing a flowery apron and no shirt.

I managed to consume a few of these “meals” before I had to eat some meat. Fortunately Sally, the manager of the smaller tent I was working on, supplied chocolate, pasties and even bacon sandwiches in ample proportions.

Other than trying to find, buy and consume vast quantities of mash in 30 minutes, I also tried to see Motorhead. That venture was very crazy considering the thousands of people who turned up to see them. I managed to get quite far into the crowd before it was time to go. Also had a look at the rock cave tent.

On Friday evening Josh came down to the festival and I managed to get him in for FREE! Not bad considering his ticket would have cost £100. And it was a VIP ticket which got him to the very front of some of the stages, something I would use for my own advantage later on :)

Each day finished at about 11:30pm and then Tolley gave us a lift back to the house. Me constituted of Gibbo and Tonks most days, who stayed in the house too.

On Sunday, after all the complaining about the mash, we finally got a decent dinner: BBQ! I had a burger which went something like this: bun, beef burger, gammon, mushroom, pineapple, salad, coleslaw, bun. With a sausage on the side, yummies!

The King Blues played in the Rock Cave on Sunday evening, and those keen-eyed will have noticed their songs appearing on my song of the day a few times in the past. I got right to the front with my VIP pass and was practically standing on stage, such a great view it was unbelievable. They played most of my favourite songs, although I missed a bit of it because of the whole changeover every 30 minutes thing. But as the Rock Cave is right next to our tent, I could run back and forth in no time using the backstage link.

During The King Blues set it was funny to see random people running on to the stage and one even stage dived. I liked that the gig was big enough to have a really vibrant atmosphere, but small enough that the band enjoyed having randoms on stage without security worrying too much.

After the festival finished at 11pm on Sunday we had to pack it all away. Yes, all 7 stages. All put into cases, loaded into trucks and taken back to the union. One bus was strictly filled with beer. 15 cases in all. Needless to say a drinking session ensued once we’d all got back to the union at about 4:30 in the morning. By 5:30 we headed back to the house and had a bit more to drink. I hate going to sleep after sunrise…

You can look at all the pictures I took of Guilfest here. And see my video of The King Blues gig on YouTube here. I’m more than looking forward to doing it all again next year!

tomorrow is a great post called ”no signal”

Nostalgia ensues

I used to think that nostalgia was a type of nausea that you got sometimes. It’s an interesting word. In the last week I think I’ve found the real meaning of nostalgia: remembering fragments of the past that give your current situation or direction a new meaning or purpose. A bit deep I know, but there’s nothing like a bit of nausea to give you a new perspective.

On Tuesday me and Lauren went climbing in Mile End, now a common event. It’s pretty much my only exercise (except Guilfest) nowadays. We’ve also got into the habit of exchanging money for chips at the local fish & chip shop  (just to counter all the exercise we’ve just done). In the evening I met up with Matthew. Wow, now that was a blast from the past. We went to a pub with loads of his mates and caught up on everything we’d missed since our last encounter at Christmas. I think he’s one of my friends who’s definitely changed in the last year. I find that comforting because I think I’ve changed too and we then have so much more to talk about. I’ve also managed to coerce him onto the boat trip for a few days which will be banter.

On Wednesday I did something you should never do, go back to my sixth form college. I’d been back before, but this time was different, it was the last time I’d return. Met up with Ben & Kevin at the station and we walked to school like the good old days. Ben & Kevin are two of my friends who have definitely not changed in the last year, which I’m not sure if I find comforting or difficult. It’s comforting because I know what to expect, but at the same time there’s nothing new.

We saw our old form tutor, Mr Sims, and our old, old form tutor, Mr Brown. It was great to catch up and talk about how the school has changed since becoming an Academy, a lot worse apparently.

Victoria invited mum, dad and I to dinner which was very welcome and I got a peak at Victoria’s music collection ^_^ She also had ample supplies of cider for which I am very grateful :)

I have to complain about mobile phones at some point, but I’ll save that for next time. Speak to you all soon, bye!

  • Happiness.8.5 out of 10
  • Tiredness. 3 out of 5
  • Last Meal. Full English Breakfast at a service station in Preston
  • Song of the day. The King Blues – I Got Love
  • Thought for the day. “Look! Black sheep… oh, their cows…” (Mum in the car)
  • What I’m Doing Now. Travelling to Scotland in the car to see my cousins who I haven’t seen literally in years. More nostalgia will ensue…

PS come back tomorrow for more mash & cider

Special Post #16: Mash & cider

when I first wrote this post it was very long, so I’ve spit it in two. You’ll get the first part now, and then come back for part two on sunday. Also, to make up for the long gap without a post last week, there will be another post tomorrow entitled “nostalgia ensues”. What can I say, I’ve got lots to say!

Guilfest is an annual festival held in Stoke Park just east of Guildford town centre. It is very much a family festival with camping facilities available. There are two main stages for bands to perform on. This year headliners were the likes of Motorhead, Brian Wilson (former Beach Boys), The Happy Mondays and Will Young.

Every year University of Surrey Stage Crew (USSU) help run the smaller stages. They provide equipment and operators. Overall about 70 stage crew helped out this year, from driving trucks to and from the union, rigging lights and speakers to helping setup bands on stage and operating lights and sound. My job as video equipment officer was pretty moot at Guilfest because there was no video. Instead I spent the weekend rigging lights on several stages, then once the festival had started, I helping with changing over bands on one of the smaller stages (Surrey Advertiser Stage). I also did the sneaky bit of light operating which was good fun because I don’t usually get to operate for bands.

We stated work about a week before the festival testing all the equipment that was going and putting it into piles according to which stage it was going to. Gibbo and I first went down to the union on Tuesday evening to help out. Tested a few cables and got the plan low-down for the week.

On Wednesday it was an 8am start to move all the kit to the smaller stages on site. We then spent the day rigging lights. I got the job of putting lights in the roof which meant using a 2-storey scaff tower, very fun. In the evening we all had Nandos in town and Gibbo showed me that if you lay a ketchup bottle flat horizontally then when you come to use it, the ketchup just falls out. Amazing! If his pulling advice is as good as his ketchup advice, we’re onto a winner! After getting back from Nandos, the cider was out and we stayed up until stupid o’clock chatting about random things.

Thursday was another 8am start. Bad times. But the thought of going up a 3-storey scaff tower soon woke me up. I spent most of the day rigging lights on stage 2, which did take the whole day. Once the sun had gone down, I helped focus some lights on the smaller stages before going home to more cider and another night of endless talking.

Friday was the first day of the festival. It didn’t start until 12pm which was enough time to finish programming the lights and checking the sound worked. What ever would we do if it didn’t work? Luckily we didn’t have to find out and our tent started showcasing bands at 3:45pm. Tonks and I we’re the primary changeover crew for the Surrey Advertiser, which I found worrying since neither of us had ever done a changeover before. Needless to say that after our first one we were 15 minutes behind schedule :S

We soon got the hang of it though, and with the help of a cancellation we were right back on track. We had to do a changeover every 45 minutes and they we’re supposed to take 15 minutes. That gave us loads of half hour chunks to wander around the festival, eat, watch bands or sit backstage and relax.

more mash & cider coming soon!

Everything but Guilfest

Where we left off… After moving into the house the rest of Sunday was spent sussing out the local Chinese, the first of many visits me-thinks. Phil came round to share the joyness and we had a good time chatting well into the night.

The next day I visited the local co-op, good, but expensive is the verdict there. Better off going to Tesco, but you’d be in for a 40 minute walk, with shopping, and it would probably start raining at just the wrong moment. Monday evening Will cooked Fajita’s and we watched Top Gear. What more could you want.

On Tuesday I got up quite late thanks to another late night talking to Gibbo about the world. I’ll be honest, I see Gibbo as a different person. I think this goes back to the fact that everyone puts on a persona when you first meet them which is a guard to who they really are. I think the most interesting part is peeling back those layers and finding the person underneath is actually very different. Me and Gibbo had a lot to talk about and it was really good to get to know him as more than just a member of stage crew.

So, yea, on Tuesday we went over to the union for the first time to see the progress on preparing the kit for the Guilfest festival.


The union was a bit of a state. Anyway, we ate in Channies (good to be back, albeit the food hasn’t got any better). In the evening mum and Victoria came over and helped me unpack more of my things into the house. We also went shopping… and got cider :)

Wednesday was an early start for Guilfest, but I’ll mention all of that in my Guilfest special post, coming soon.

  • Happiness.8.5 out of 10
  • Tiredness. 3 out of 5
  • Last Meal. cereal :)
  • Song of the day. Michael Jackson – Man In The Mirror
  • Thought for the day. 1 in every 4 people suffers a mental illness. If your closest 3 friends are ok, it must be you…
  • What I’m Doing Now. Getting ready to go climbing with Lauren in Mile End