Cross about the country’s trains


Since I have been living in Nuneaton for the past year, I have been commuting to Birmingham almost every day. One of the major factors which influenced our decision to buy a house in Nuneaton were the good rail links to Birmingham and Leicester, and it is true that on paper at least, the train service looks quite impressive with two trains in each direction every hour.

Unfortunately, the reality is somewhat less impressive. The evening services in particular are frequently so crowded that there isn’t even standing space for all the people who want to get on, and if I had been given a pound for every time I was wedged into the vestibule area unable to move and with a businessman’s armpit in my face – well, I wouldn’t quite have enough cash to give up work yet, but I would certainly be able to order Tim’s Christmas present :P

It was influenced by these experiences that I wrote the following complaint to Cross Country trains a couple of weeks ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Meet the ducks


It has been a long time since there has been a duck-related update on this blog, which is a shame, because there are actually rather a lot of beautiful ducks in our new house.

Daisy Read the rest of this entry »

My name’s Radio and I’m addicted to Farmville


On the theme of Farmville, I read this interesting article about it the other day, courtesy of Vlad Dolezal. As an avid player of Farmville, I was intrigued to read it. Read the rest of this entry »

Hello World



I haven’t blogged very much recently. There isn’t a very good reason for this, apart from the fact that I have now reached Level 56 of Farmville.

Twelve months ago, we were busy agonizing over whether or not we were going to get the mortgage on our house. Now it seems hard to remember a time when we didn’t live here. We have installed a lot of ducks.

So many things have changed over the past year. I’ve learnt to ride a bike. I’ve even suffered my first puncture, and currently bear the scars from falling off it for the first time. I’ve become slightly addicted to wrestling, developed a strong aversion to milk in my coffee and discovered the purpose of deep fat fryers. I’ve survived a business trip to Germany, drunk enough wine to go up entire dress size and come to terms with the fact that I am incapable of makin my own sandwiches. I could go on…

Of course, some things still haven’t changed a bit. Don’t ask me whether I have started learning to drive yet. It’s good to still have one or two unachieved goals on life’s to-do list :P

Auditing continues to slowly gnaw away at my will to live. April and May disappeared in a blur of mediocre hotels with lumpy mattresses and over-priced breakfasts. The low point came when I found myself eating porridge in Victoria station at 7am, despite the fact that I neither like porridge nor had a train to catch. Crazy times! All hopes of a payrise may still be in vain, but my annual appraisal passed off without incident a couple of weeks ago, which was nice :) Apparently I am “reliable and capable” which, for an accountant, is high praise indeed; on a level with Simon Cowell telling a wannabe popstar that they have the X-factor. People in general have commented that I seem a lot more confident these days. Confidence is a difficult thing to measure, but I reckon that the frequency with which I turn red and shake is reducing.

Esperanto continues to be, well, Esperanto. My right hand is thinking, “Why the hell did I volunteer for that?!” whilst my left hand is already signing me up for something else I don’t actually want to do ;) We’ve been to some fun renkonti─Łoj this year though; a bizarrely successful JEB meeting in Cardiff, a sunny British Congress in Llandudno and more recently, a very civilised seminar with John Wells in York. In August, Babel and I are going to Toulouse for a fortnight; partly to visit some friends of his and partly to attend FESTO. In preparation, I am halfheartedly failing to learn French.

I won’t promise that I will blog more regularly from now, but I may try :)

Travels in Esperantoland


I was fortunate enough to have two weeks of over Christmas (mostly because I’d accumulated so much overtime throughout the rest of the year) and it was really lovely, both to have so much time without auditing and to have chance to celebrate Christmas with Tim for the first time in our own home :) The days before Christmas Day itself went by in a flurry of last minute present buying (once we’d got them under the tree, it looked like Tim had bought me twice as many as I’d bought him, so I had to go out on a last minute spending spree!), as well as a burst of last minute food buying, which resulted in us venturing as far as the hell that is Coventry in order to stock up on last minute food. On Christmas Eve we went to tea at my parents’ house and pretended to be continental by opening all our presents to each other on the spot. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Esperanto Day


Okay, so Zamenhof Day 2009, the 150th anniversary of the birth of the creator of Esperanto, was technically yesterday. But yesterday I was rather busy and didn’t have time to blog about it, so what I thought would be cool would be to blog about it today, now that all the excitement is over, with links to all various pieces of Esperanto publicity surrounding the event :)

Tim got things off to a good start at the JEBsite, with an excellent post about who Zamenhof was and why he created Esperanto. As mentioned in Tim’s post, the most exciting part of the day was that, following a letter campaign from Esperantists who probably didn’t really believe this would ever happen, Google used the Esperanto flag as their themed doodle on a significant number of their national sites. Sadly the UK page wasn’t one of those which sported it, but others, including the German, French and Chinese, proudly displayed it for 24 hours, and you can see a collage of the different pages here Read the rest of this entry »

A weekend in Nuremberg


I still feel absolutely exhausted today after a rather crazy weekend. It seemed like such a good idea to book it, back in May, when I hadn’t even started looking at houses never mind decided to buy one in Nuneaton, and when I was blissfully unaware that I would be spending the following week working away from home in Oswestry.

It seemed like less of a good idea at 3.45am on Saturday, when my alarm went off :( Well, strictly speaking it was Tim’s alarm, because in a moment of madness, Tim had volunteered to get up and drive me to Birmingham airport. I had no idea how long this would take from Nuneaton, and there’s always the potential for us to get lost when I’m in charge of the navigating, so in all honesty we could probably have had an extra half hour in bed and I would still have got to the airport for 5.30 as required.

I feel rather guilty for having abandoned Tim for the entire weekend in order to go on holiday without him… especially because it was the weekend before his birthday… and in particular because today is his birthday and I’m not at home because of work :( He claimed he didn’t mind though, and he would have been thoroughly miserable if I’d brought him with me, because I was going to visit the Christmas markets in Nuremberg, and Tim is not exactly a big Christmas market fan!

We flew from Birmingham to Munich with Lufthansa, which would have been quite a pleasant experience were it not for the fact that Lufthansa have switched from hard cheese to soft cheese in their regulation cheese sandwich, and soft cheese is a rather revolting thing to try and eat at 7am in the morning. Especially when it’s a Saturday morning, because the best sort of Saturdays are those which don’t start until midday :P Read the rest of this entry »

Twenty six


Today I’ve hit the grand old age of 26 :) I suddenly feel rather old, though not as old as my mother was trying to make me feel earlier today when she got slightly confused and started telling me that I was now in my second half century!

It’s been a rather nice weekend. Yesterday was a quiet day – we did our housework in the morning (how terribly grown up!) and then in the afternoon Tim’s sister and her little boy came round to visit for a couple of hours. By 7pm it was exactly the sort of wet and windy November evening when one wants nothing more in life than to stay inside a warm and cosy house watching X Factor :P It was therefore exactly the sort of wet and windy November evening when one wants nothing less in life than to set out for that most godforsaken of hellholes more commonly known as Coventry. That was, however, precisely what we had resolved to do. Things in life which are worth braving Coventry for are few and far between, but they do exist; Ikea is the main one, but this weekend we had a different motivation in the form of a meeting with fellow Esperantist R, whose band were playing in one of the city centre clubs. Read the rest of this entry »

Long time, no blog


Alas, my poor blog has been somewhat neglected of late! It’s not been intentional, I just seem to have been rather busy for the past few months, and have got out of the habit of updating it.

The last posts I wrote were about the IJK in Liberec, and an awful lot of things have happened since then. We had a truly hideous time at the UK in Bialystok which I still intend to blog about at some point in the future because I still feel bitter about wasting a week of my holiday (and a not inconsiderable amount of money) going somewhere so ugly and pointless. Fortunately the pain of the experience is burned onto my brain so deeply that I suspect that this time next year, I will still be able to blog about it as if it were yesterday! Read the rest of this entry »

A weekend in Prague


We had decided to leave at 09.30 to be on the safe side, knowing that we needed to catch a bus and a tram to get to the main coach station, but unfortunately when we stuck our heads outside the door we were greeted by a torrential downpour. We had no choice but to trudge through it to the bus stop, but as we stood there waiting it fortunately eased of slightly. The main problem was that the bus we were waiting for didn’t seem to arrive, and when we eventually figured out how the Saturday timetable worked, it emerged that there wasn’t going to be a bus until 10.25. I was worried that this wouldn’t give us enough time to catch our coach, so we reached the decision that we were going to walk into the town. Initially this went as well as walking a couple of kilometres pulling a suitcase can be expected to go, but no sooner had we arrived in the town centre when the storm broke again and we proceeded to get absolutely drenched.

And when I say drenched, I mean drenched! The rain was coming down in sheets and I was soon soaked to the underwear. We were all thoroughly miserable, but I couldn’t think of any solution to the problem other than us continuing to walk onwards for another 15 minutes, at which point we would hopefully find the coach. It was at this moment when Babel, who I assumed was not speaking to me because I had failed to organise this segment of the journey satisfactorily, piped up with the suggestion, “Why don’t we just take a taxi?!”. Read the rest of this entry »