Hasta La Muerte, Motherfucker


Over the last month, the car has had a complete set of new tyres (admittedly, bought two at a time) as it was definitely That Time Of Year when it’s a good plan., with the onset of winter with added rain, snow and ice. It’s been at least a year since the front ones were changed, and longer since I did the rears, and while they’re still well within the legal limits, I know they were nowhere near as good as they could/should be.

The front ones got changed a couple of weeks back – something I was really pleased about while I was driving last weekend. At that point, the road conditions were vile – heavy rain, standing water, and one particular section of motorway surface that could best be described as interesting – and the car stayed solid on the road, which is something that some others certainly weren’t.

I avoided using eTyres this time – partly because I’m not convinced of their services etc., but also because they didn’t stock the tyres I’d decided I wanted to try out.

Having looked around, I opted this time for Michelin Cross-Climate tyres, which seem to be a good option for going across the full range of road/weather conditions I’m likely to hit in the coming months. I’ve also never had a full set of the same tyres on a car, so it seems like it should be interesting.

The rears got changed today, and the change has been significant, even in the short time I’ve driven on them today. I’m pretty sure it’s not just a psychosomatic thing, the whole vehicle felt more rooted to the road, more stable.

We’ll see how things go. This morning was also the first serious frost of the year – I was driving through snow on the M1 yesterday –  and I’m pretty sure we’ll have a few more days like it in the coming weeks. I’ve got the best part of a thousand miles to cover over the next couple of weekends (not including the usual weekly travel) so by the end of that, I’ll know a lot more about how the car feels with the new setup.

Taste of London – Winter

Earlier this year, I went to the London Taste festival in Regent’s Park, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

When that finished they started also talking about a Winter festival, I got a ticket for it ages back, and went up to it today.

The Winter one was at Tobacco Dock (same place as Meatopia, earlier in the year) but on a larger scale than Meatopia. I’d never realised that Meatopia uses less than half the space available in the Dock, which meant that on occasion it was a bit disorienting, to be in places I thought I knew, but turned out to be on the other side of the building. Most confusing.

Taste is interesting – it’s less focused than the other ones I go to, there’s more varieties of food to try, and it’s driven a lot more by restaurants showing off what they do. For that, it’s really good – nice to have variety, and ranges of food from curried stuff through to meringues, as well as a big range of street-food type stuff, tacos, sliders, burgers and the like. It’ss a lot smaller than Summer Taste (which is fine) and a lot of fun. I got to have a fine range of foods, and had a great day.


Durham Lumiere 2015

Two years ago, I went with friends to see the Lumiere exhibition in Durham – which was ace.

This year, it was back, and so were we.

While it’s organised by the same people, and has some of the same artists, it was utterly different – and still brilliant. The weather this time was absolutely rotten – my coat still isn’t dry – but still it was great. The theme (if there really is one) was more about science and maths this time round, with the main ‘showpiece’ projection onto Durham Cathedral this time, “The World Machine” being more about the birth of modern cosmology from the 12th century until the present day.

One of the big draws this year was Mysticete, a projection of a whale on the river Wear, visible from the bridge above. Done by the same people as the Elephant last year, it was ace – and so clever, being projected onto a water-spray. (although with the heavy rain they could probably have just done the same onto the rain)  Sadly, because of that weather it got cancelled on the Sunday, but it was well worth seeing. (we were there on the Saturday)

Image (c) Durham Chronicle

Image (c) Durham Chronicle

We got to see a good portion of the exhibits – although not all, by any means – and really enjoyed it. Some of the stuff was really magic and fun, other bits were ‘just’ excellent.

As per the last one, I will definitely be going again when it’s next on.   I may also visit the one they’re doing in London in January 2016 – I hope that’s as clever and fun as the Durham ones are.

2015/16 – Business and Work

At some point in the coming year, I’ll be changing contracts. That’s just par for the course (although I’ve been in the current one for a year now) so it’s not a worry.  I’ve mentioned it before in relation to finances and so on, but this post is going to be more focused on the work side of things.

One of the bigger changes within this year was that I’ve also gone back to working through my own limited company, instead of through PAYE Umbrella companies, which means I’ll be better off in the long run.

I’m pretty much sure that I’ll be sticking with contracting for the coming year at least. There *may* be a perm role somewhere out there with my name on it – but I’m not convinced, and not looking for it.

In fairness, I have had some good perm roles (or as they’re sometimes known, “proper jobs”) along the way. However, it’s also valid that every single role I’ve fucking hated (or has involved working for an utter shitwhistle) has been a perm role. The last couple in particular have left me not wanting to go back down that route for the moment.  (And yes, that could come back to bite me on the arse, I know)

So for now, I’m aiming to stick with the contracting.  Along the way I’m also looking at developing some of my own stuff properly – like the writing post, I’ve got a huge number of ideas on the go, but unlike the writing post, I’ve got a goal, a target, and a particular product/concept to focus on.

There’s a timeline for that, which is the end of this 2015/16 process. At that point, there’s a conference and exhibition going on, where I want to be able to have a product I can launch and discuss with the target market.

That’s the goal, and the plan. Things may arise to change those aims, but for now it’s looking promising.


2015/16 – Writing

This post has been nagging me – I’d written the title and post-dated it for publication, but been stuck on what to actually, you know, write.  And then I did it again.

It’s somewhat ironic that the post about my plans for the coming year’s writing has been published blank/empty not once, but twice.

So – third time lucky.

I’m not honestly sure what will happen with my writing plans over the next twelve months. There’s a couple of options (as well as the fallback point, of “do nowt” or “fail”) which is never a good start, as it leaves me in a quandary from the beginning.

The thing is, I’ve got lots of ideas. Loads. I just haven’t yet clicked on how they could stick together. Or even if they could adhere at all. I’m missing that bigger picture, the whole that all these parts could/should/might fit into.  Or maybe each one is a different tale, and I need to focus on one or two of the better concepts, and just develop those. Maybe that will allow the others to rest, or maybe to develop along in their own timelines. Maybe.

I’ve definitely got two concepts which are kind-of similar, but separate. They fit into different moulds, different methods, so I could do both at the same time. Or I could focus on one and then the other. Or. Or. Or.

And that’s what’s sticking me up at the moment. Too many ideas, not enough drive.

I’d love to be ironic (or meta) enough to be able to write about a writer that is stuck on the writing, so that it’s turtles all the way down. But that’s beyond me.

I think the plan for the coming year will be to do just one project, focus on it, see if it works. If it doesn’t there are others waiting in the wings. If it does, there are others waiting in the wings.

Between now and 2016, some of it is just going to be brain-dumping stuff onto paper/keyboard as a record – perhaps that’ll help too.

So yes, I think that’s the plan. But now, which to choose as the first one. Which to choose…


2015/16 – Getting Out More

As things stabilise more here, I’m looking at what I want to do in 2016 – and in particular towards taking some breaks. This year has ripped past, and I’m renownedly shit at taking holidays at the best of times.

So part of the plan will be to do some weekends away, as well as a couple of longer breaks.  I’m looking at places/destinations at the moment, so that I can book them before the end of this year. That way I can have them as immovable events when it comes to going to a new contract in 2016.

I’ve already booked up a couple of weekends away, and it’s all looking pretty promising. And continuing on from last year’s side-project about being more comfortable with eating on my own, there’s more places booked and going to be booked on that score too. Details of those will follow as and when through the year though…


As people should have gathered, I’m currently doing a bundle of plans for the coming year, as well as continuing to make changes to my general life, health, fitness and so on.

One of those changes is – yet again – cutting down a lot on my caffeine intake, and seeing how things go.

My caffeine intake is highly cyclic, I cut it down (and sometimes out) for a while, and then it slowly goes back up again. And lo, another cycle continues.

Anyway, this time round I’m working on it again, and so far it’s fairly successful. I’m drinking a lot more water, and the Diet Coke intake is commensurately much, much lower.

What’s annoying, though, is that even with a massively reduced intake, it hasn’t affected my insomnia at all. It’s annoying because just about every person who has ever pointed out I drink too much Diet Coke (or caffeine in any other format) has said it explains my insomnia.

But nope, even when I’m just drinking water – and have been for a couple of weeks – my sleep is still atrocious. Indeed, sometimes even worse than usual.

It really is bloody annoying.

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