Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Archive for the category “Thoughts”

Final Quarter

Somehow, we’re already nearly in the final quarter of 2016.  A lot has gone on this year, but yet again we’ve a dichotomy when it comes to time.  The year seems to have raced past, and there’s a feeling of not having done much. But if I list all the stuff I’ve actually done already, it’s hard to believe I’ve managed to fit all of it into that seemingly-tiny timescale.

In short, it’s all very odd.  I’m not complaining, but it’s still strange.


There’s a lot lined up for the remaining three months, but equally, there’s a bit more free time. I actually (currently) have a couple of free weekends! (And a weekend away by myself, which should be good)  I’ve still got some bookings to put in for December, but they can’t happen ’til the first week of October anyway.

What I’m hoping is that in this last section, I get to do some stuff that’s been lined up for a while, if only so I can get it all out of my head. Of those bits, the largest thing is my writing projects. I’ve started them, but I want to make more progress, take some time out and braindump things a bit – that’s the main goal of the away weekend next month, almost like a writing retreat for a couple of days.

There’s also the ongoing projects and interests of this year – finishing the year’s Solo Dining project and seeing more plays. I’ve got three or four lined up already, I’m not going to book any more – well, unless something spectacular comes up!

So yeah, plenty to do, but a bit of time to myself. Seems like a plan to me.

Advertising Standards – Feedback

A while back, I wrote about OpenTable and the dodgy wording of their Dining Points loyalty scheme. At the time, it had just been referred to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority), who were investigating further.

Last week, they came back to me – and while it’s still informal, OpenTable are supposedly changing the wording on the screens, to make things clearer about how the Dining Points scheme works.

It’s still not a situation I’m entirely happy with, because it can still be easily misinterpreted, and there’s a lot of inherent dodginess in the entire thing.  But at least it’s progress.

It’s still with the ASA, following on from my own responses, but it’ll be interesting to see whether anything else comes of it.

Still Not Moving

Come November, I’ll have been in my current house for 4½ years. For me, that’s pretty scary – it’s already the longest I’ve stayed in one house since I left home.  (For long-term readers, I lived in Manchester for longer, but that was split between three houses)

I’m also now signed up for another year, so that’s even scarier.

As I’m sure I’ve said before, my current location (between Milton Keynes and Bedford) isn’t my dream place by any stretch. It’s suited my needs, but that’s been more by luck than judgement.

There’s been two key reasons for staying here (and a subsidiary third) which are pretty simple to explain.

The main reason is how easy it is to get away from here. I’m on the crux of two major roads – the M1 North-to-South, and the A421 for East-to-West. Plus I’ve got two easy rail routes for London and the like. It opens things up for social and fun stuff, but also work-wise, gives me a lot more variety/locations than I would’ve thought.  (Of course, the irony is that for two years of that, I’ve been working from home, or on my shortest commute in decades!)  An hour’s drive (which I still consider as an ‘easy’ commute) covers a massive distance – and a two-hour drive covers a huge dollop of the country.

Secondary to that is that I simply haven’t found anywhere that I more want to be.  There’s some places I’d move to, but there’s no real desire or urge to do so. (Also known as the “Yeah, it’s nice. But…” verdict)  Previously, there’s usually been a good reason (or at least a reason) to move, and at the moment there’s just not. So I don’t bother.

Connected to that is also the increase of credit-checking when it comes to new rental agreements. I don’t think it now would cause me any great problems, and my current landlord would provide a decent reference  – but equally, if I don’t have to test the theory, why bother?


So here I am, and signed up ’til November 2017. No real plans to move – and even more bizarrely, I’m actually OK with that.


Earlier this year, I saw Faustus at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London, with Kit Harington playing the lead. (My thoughts on it are here, for reference)

Faustus image

The weekend just gone, I saw another version of Faustus, this time the RSC’s version at the Barbican Theatre.  It was a more traditional version of the play (for the most part) and really interesting to compare the two.

RSC Faustus

What I hadn’t realised (due to being pig-thick) is that it shares a lot of the cast with the RSC’s version of the Alchemist, which is showing at the same time – well, on the same days – and which I saw the previous weekend.

It starts with an interesting premise – the actors light a match each, and whoever’s match burns out first plays Faustus.

The rest of the play sticks closer to the original – or at least as I understand it, not having read it yet – than the Harington version, although it did also still have some very odd moments of dance, which I can’t quite explain. Still good, but slightly barmy.

The staging is quite minimalist (or at least appears that way) but is also quite complex in how things are done. I guess some of that is because of the requirements of running two plays with very little time between performances, so there can’t be anything too complex – but they’ve made the best of it, and it’s pretty inventive all round.

All told, I enjoyed it a lot – more than the Harington version, even with the barmy bits – and it’s certainly left more of an impression with/on me than that one did.

Holiday Prep

At the end of the month, for the first time in years, I’m taking a week off, and going down to Cornwall.  Being self-employed, it’s not a cheap option, and I seem to be doing a ton of preparation in order for it to happen, but it’s all paid for and so on, so it’s definitely happening.

I’ve been spending time organising everything in the last couple of weeks – booking in a delivery of shopping/food for once I’ve arrived, sorting out a carer for the cats while I’m away, paying off some of my domestic bills early (rent etc.) so that it’s all going to be smooth, and I’m not stressing while away about things I’ve forgotten. It’s been a mess of to-do lists and so on, but I do feel like I’m on top of things.

In the meantime, I’m also writing some bits for here that’ll auto-post while I’m away, and organising a bundle of other bits too.

I’ve only been to Cornwall once before, and that was before I was driving at all, so it’s going to be interesting this time – and covering a lot of miles.  There’s a list of things I want to see/do, although that’s *not* a to-do list where I feel I have to check off everything – I’m pretty sure I’ll be going back again, so that’s all fine.

So yeah, while you wouldn’t necessarily notice it, I’m going to be away for a while.  Enjoy.

A busy week

Suddenly, it’s a week since I last updated anything here – and there’s a good reason (or ten) for that.

Mainly, the good reason is that I’ve been sodding busy.

Since last I wrote here, there’s been (in no particular order)

  • Driving to Marlow for a late lunch at the Hand and Flowers
  • Driving to London (Saturday at ungodly o’clock)
  • Visiting Meatopia – on the Saturday, along with several friends
  • Seeing The The’s “Infected” film at the ICA in London on the Saturday evening
  • Staying overnight in London
  • Visiting Meatopia on the Sunday, just me, but ended up meeting several other people, as well as starting some business discussions (Win!)
  • Driving home from London, having walked 20 miles over the two days
  • A vaguely normal Monday, with added shopping and faffery
  • A normal Tuesday working, then meeting friends and going to the cinema to see Hell or High Water – heartily recommended
  • A semi-standard Wednesday, and then cinema to see Morgan – also recommended, for different reasons, and thoughts on both films will follow
  • And tonight, being at the Milton Keynes Geek Night, just to top things off.

So yes, not much going on at all.

It’s been pretty positive all round, but it has left me feeling like a stunned monkey. So there’ll be more writing as and when I get round to it.  I’m back in London this weekend, but look like having one day that’s (currently) quiet, so that’s at least vaguely promising…

2016’s Smaller Target

Following on from my decision about next year, and doing the Shine Moonlight Marathon (which is a much better name than the Night Walk, IMHO) I’ve also set myself a smaller challenge for completion by the end of 2016.

You guessed it, I’m going to walk a half-marathon distance. Not sponsored or owt (although if I do it, I might just chuck some money Cancer Research’s way anyway) but a bit of a reality check, a “can I do this?”.  I know the answer to that is “yes”, but it’ll be interesting to have some quantifiable evidence of it before I plunge into doing the full 26-and-a-bit miles.

I’ve certainly done days with more than 13 miles of walking, so this plan should be utterly doable. Indeed, it might even be easier than usual, if it’s done in one dollop rather than two 5-ish mile walks interspersed with breaks, food, stopping/starting, standing in queues etc.  I don’t know – and that’s why I want to find out.

It’ll also hopefully give me a rough outline of the time to aim for on the full event.  I’ve got a target time in mind, but again want to check whether that’s even vaguely feasible when faced with reality.

I’ll write more about it once it’s been done, but it’s definitely a goal for now…

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