30th December 2005
Friday - 5.15pm : I'm so tired! I have a perfectly good excuse though. At 2.40am I was awoken by the phone - a certain somebody had sent me a text message asking if I was awake. I replied that I now was. The next thing I know the phone is ringing.
It was my friend Tim, who loves to phone me in the early hours of the morning after a few drinks. It doesn't happen often, but despite the timing, it's always a joy to hear from him. I spent quite a while giggling, as I usually do when he phones me. We talked for around an hour about all sorts of things and, as usual, it took us half of the phone call to actually say bye, because we'd get side tracked with something else. After we finally did say bye, I put my head down on the pillow but just couldn't get to sleep. It didn't matter too much as I'm always in good spirits after a phone call with Tim. At least he didn't fall asleep on me this time! (That's a whole other story.)
We had snow early yesterday evening. It continued to snow until the early hours of the moment, but can you believe it had completely disappeared by morning daylight. I did take a few photos last night, but because the snow was still coming down and it was dark, they didn't come out very well.
So how was 2005 for everyone else? I have to say, overall, I had a pretty good year. I was going to do a month-by-month review of my year, but this would be an extremely long entry. So here's my brief review of things I did in 2005...
I saw no less than 3 comedians do stand-up on stage: Jack Dee, Ken Dodd and Lee Evans. I saw Mark Owen do a gig in Birmingham and a few months later I got to meet him in Telford. I saw Will Young play live in Shrewsbury, My Girl Sleeps in Birmingham, Rob Thomas in Manchester, and James Marsters at Islington Carling Academy and St. James's Church (twice!). I also attended James's album launch in Coventry (where I got a kiss and the tightest hug in the world!), saw him at Collectormania and was in the 2nd row for his 'Words & Music' performance at The Mermaid theatre in London. I also went to see Anthony Head & Alexis Denisof talk at Collectormania. I went to Thunder Sunday at Rockingham to see some motorracing. I went to Heathrow for the weekend for the Serenity² event, where I had a fantastic time with friends and met Nathan Fillion, Morena Baccarin, Jewel Staite, Christina Hendricks, Sean Maher, Summer Glau, Jonathan Woodward and Neil Roberts. I ended up in Casualty (ER) after a bad nosebleed and gave a home to a poor little kitten called Leo.
That was about as brief as I could get!
Anyway, that's all from me for now and possibly for this year. I doubt there will be an entry tomorrow night, since it'll be new years eve. If I don't see you before, have a great new years eve and a wonderful start for 2006!
P.S. - Also, thanks to Dad for buying us a camera tripod to share.
27th December 2005
Tuesday - 7.45pm : I've been so lazy over the past couple of days. I've done nothing in particular, other than watch TV movies, listen to music and eat chocolate. So earlier on this evening I decided to make a small effort to actually do something like my free time.
I made some envelopes (Exciting, I know!). Well, something had to be done with the leftover wrapping paper. I managed to make 3 before my attention turned to something on the TV. I've got some flower wrapping paper that I've had for ages and have never used, so I might just make some envelopes out of that too. I guess I could make some gift tags and I don't know what else. It's amazing what uses you can find for wrapping paper.
Our neighbours had some bad news yesterday. Their dear little cat Tiggy (who was the spitting image of Mika), has been knocked down and killed on the main road. Everyone was quite shocked because we didn't think the cats went down that far. It'll be strange not seeing him run through the garden (he was timid when outside, just like Mika) and following Charlie and Ginger (our neighbours' other 2 cats). Apparently, there was barely a mark on the poor little fella, so I hope it was instant and he didn't suffer. It makes me glad my 2 are indoor cats.
Just one recommendation from me today...
If you like writing/receiving postcards or letters then visit Postcrossing - The Postcrossing Website. The aim of the project is for people to receive postcards from around the world. It's well worth checking out if you're a fan of mail.
25th December 2005 - Christmas Day
Sunday - 10.15pm : Christmas is over for yet another year and I think I'm ready for bed already. The amount of food and drink I have consumed has made me quite tired!
The morning began with present opening, although my parents seemed to had started without me! We still carry out the tradition of hanging a stocking to be filled by Santa, but the stocking is hung on the bedroom door handle. I opened my door to find mine lying on the floor. Inside was A National Geographic 'Walking With Lions' DVD, a little model car and plenty of chocolate.
I took my parents their presents (some CDs for Dad and a couple of books and perfume for Mum) before opening my own from my family and friends. I got The Michael Palin Collection DVD boxset (16 DVDs, so that'll keep me busy for a while!), a silver cross necklace, a load of bath stuff, a nodding dog, Black Hawk Down on DVD, Bryan Adams' Anthology CD, a Robbie Williams calendar, more chocolate, £25, a set of 3 photo albums and a cat keyring and magnet.
Both Mika & Leo were happy enough playing with the wrapping paper. I think Leo was wondering what on earth was going on at first, but once he saw Mika playing in the wrapping paper he began to join in. They even started scrapping over some of the paper, I'm not sure what was so special about that one bit!
As usual, Nan & Granddad came over for the day and my brother came for a few hours. He and his other half always come up for a couple of hours, but don't usually have Christmas dinner. This year Jo (my brother's wife) had to work and wasn't finishing until around 2pm, so Andrew stayed for Christmas dinner and she came after work.
Christmas dinner is my favourite meal of the year, so, as usual, I piled the food on my plate - roast turkey, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, carrots, mashed swede, peas, pigs-in-a-blanket (cocktail sausages wrapped in bacon), gravy and cranberry sauce! (There was sprouts, roast parsnips and bread sauce too, but I don't like those). All washed down with a glass of wine or two. As always, we had a choice of pudding. This year the choice was Christmas pudding, mini chocolate eclairs or mini meringue things. I went for the mini chocolate eclairs and could have eaten lots more of them, if only I wasn't already stuffed from the meal. Then came the Christmas cracker pulling.
When everyone had gone home, I got the Draughts (Checkers) board out and challenged Dad to a few games. I won 6-1! I was happy to leave it at 2-1, but Dad was intent on winning another game. He turned the TV off so he could concentrate more, but it didn't help one bit. I don't think it helped that I'd start giggling when I could see he was beat. After the 7th game he disappeared to check his email. I think it'll be a while before he agrees to play Draughts with me again!
So that was Christmas this year. I hope everyone has had a wonderful day. Thanks to family and friends for cards, presents and greetings. Also, thanks to Karen, Liza Marie, Graeme, Mark, Andrea, Nick, Dawn, Jean-Luc Picard, Marie and Cassie for commenting.
24th December 2005 - Christmas Eve
Saturday - 8.45pm : Christmas presents wrapped. Stocking hung. Vegetables peeled and chopped, ready to be cooked tomorrow. Booze opened and consumption started. Have I forgotten anything? I hope not!
I had a day out with my parents today. We went to Talyllyn Railway for a ride on the "Spirit of Christmas" train, which went along the full length of the track. Included in the ticket price was a buffet. The food was lovely and there was plenty for everyone. Free drinks thrown in too! We got to meet Santa too. He was at one of the little stations we stopped at. He came to talk to everyone and gave the little kids some presents. Nice of him to take time out of his extremely busy schedule today to say hello.
I asked if we could take a detour on our way home so I could take some more photos. So we went across the moutain road towards Llanidloes, instead of going our usual way home. Clouds had been lingering and mist was haunting the hills, but I wanted to at least try and get some photos. (My poor parents, I've dragged them all over the place over the years, just so I could take photos).
Anyway, I'd best get going. I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas and Santa brings them what they wanted! (Don't forget you can track Santa tonight at the NORAD Tracks Santa website!). Thanks to Karen, Liza Marie, Marie, Andrea, Mark, Margalit, Jaki, Graeme and Nick.
23rd December 2005
Friday - 9.55pm : Happy Mad Friday! As is my Mad Friday tradition, I went out for some food and drinks with a friend this afternoon. I walked down to Sarah's house where we swapped presents before heading to one of the pubs in the village.
At the pub we had a meal before 3 games of pool (which I won 2-1) and listening to some festive songs. Can you believe that a lad came and told us to hurry up with the pool and complained about the Christmas songs? What a Scrooge! We then headed to the other village pub, where we had more drink and talked about nearly everything under the sun!
It was a good afternoon. Something we should do more often... if only I didn't have to work afternoons! (Talking of work - I've now finished and don't go back until the new year).
From one friend to another...
I had a surprise in the post yesterday. My friend Ellie, who is currently in New Zealand having the time of her life, sent me a 'Christmas update' letter telling me all about her trip. Sky diving, black water rafting, glacier hiking, bungee jumping, seeing penguins and sealions up close, and making lots of new friends - it doesn't get much better than that! I'm so glad she's having such a good time... if only I could join her!
From a human friend to a feline friend...
Believers in Santa may want to hang out at the NORAD Tracks Santa website on Christmas eve. Every year NORAD tracks Santa on his journey around the earth delivering presents to everyone on his 'Nice' list. I don't know about you, but I'll be hanging up my Christmas stocking tomorrow night in the hope that it's not still empty come Christmas morning.
20th December 2005
Tuesday - 9.25pm : I got home from my mini-Christmas in Melton yesterday. I had a good time. As always, it was great to see everyone again and get away for a bit.
My first port of call was Graeme's house. I gave him his Christmas card and present and talked him into joining in with my 'mini-Christmas before Christmas' by getting him to open the present. I gave him the Firefly DVD boxset and I think I've managed to convert him into a 'Browncoat'. I knew he'd like it, after all, he's liked the rest of Joss Whedon's work. We sat and watched the 1st episode together before it was time for me to get going.
Then it was time for me to take my Santa sack of presents up to Lisa's. The presents in the Santa sack were all for Harley. He loved unwrapping them and I loved watching his face as he did so. I gave him a Thomas & Friends Colour in Play Mat and a big box of Duplo Lego. Harley is a big Thomas the Tank Engine fan, so it was the play mat that he was most interested in at first. So we opened it up for him to colour on while Lisa opened her bag of presents (a couple of Dresden Files books and a few bits & bobs). As always, I gave Gareth a box of chocolates.
Saturday afternoon, the four of us went into town for some lunch and to do a little shopping. Santa Claus was appearing in the shopping centre, so we took Harley to see him. I think Lisa was more excited than Harley! Harley sat down next to Santa, but wouldn't look at him or talk. Harley is obviously on Santa's "Nice" list though as he got given a present in the shape of a Christmas book.
On Sunday it was time to honour the tradition of going to Lisa's nan's for Sunday lunch. It was delicious, as always. In the afternoon Harley & I made Lego towers while Lisa had a rest. The only problem was that everytime our tower fell down somebody (not me!) would have a screaming fit until I started rebuilding the tower. He settled down after a while and came for a cuddle on the sofa (See, he's my best mate!).
On Monday it was time for me to come home, but not before we visited the paper craft shop. Lisa picked up some bits & bobs and I splashed out on a rubber stamp saying "Sunshine Kisses & Rainbow wishes" and a magazine. The train home was a nice journey with no delays or any problems. I was greeted at home by not only my 2 adorable cats, but also by our neighbour's cat Ginger!
Talking of cats - Here's what Leo was up to before I headed to Melton on Friday morning.......
I haven't the foggiest why he felt the need to sit in the bin in the living room. He won't be able to fit in there soon at the rate he's growing (Can you see the size of those paws?).
I have plenty more to say, but this entry is getting longer and longer so I shall leave it at this. Thanks go out to Kati, Graeme, Sarah, Sueellen, Karen, Liza Marie, Jolynn, Marie, Andrea, Me, Myself & I, Mandy, Cassie and Dawn.
15th December 2005
Thursday - 7.00pm : This will be my last entry... until at least Monday, anyway! I'm off to Melton Mowbray tomorrow to visit Lisa for the weekend and I'll be popping by Graeme's too. I couldn't borrow Santa's sleigh so close to Christmas, so Dad kindly offered to give me a lift to help me take everything over there and I'll catch the train back.
I had to run out into our back garden earlier this evening. The moon looked beautiful and I wanted to capture it. I didn't quite get the shot I was after, but I think this one came out fine anyway.
Cool Money (starring James Marsters) arrived on Tuesday, so that evening I settled down to watch it. It may not be some big blockbuster, but it's the kind of movie I enjoy watching. It's a true story about a man called Bobby Comfort who, after deciding to go straight, ends up helping to pull off the heist of a lifetime. It's well worth watching, even if you're not a James Marsters fan.
My Serenity DVD should arrive in the next few days, so look out for me raving on about the movie (again) next week.
Well, I know what to get Leo for Christmas now - an ornithology DVD! We were watching a Iolo Williams (local celebrity and expert on birds) programme the other night. As soon as the part about the red kites at Gigrin Farm came on, Leo sprang to his feet at was pawing at the birds on the TV. Even when the birds disappeared, Leo sat real close to the TV and just stared at the screen (I told him he'd get square eyes!). He pays more attention to the birds on the TV than he does to the ones just outside the window!
12th December 2005
Monday - 10.35pm : Mika has been getting into the big brother mode today. No, he's not been spying on people, he's been very brotherly to Leo. Dad accidently stepped on Leo's paw causing Leo to miaow loudly. Upon hearing Leo's cry, Mika went running over to Leo and licked his paw for him, and seemed to be making sure his adopted little brother was ok. A little later Mika was giving Leo a wash before dinner time, of course it only lasted 5 minutes before the scrapping started, but then that's brotherly love for you!
I'm off to Melton at the end of the week, so I should have some new photos to show you after the weekend. The plan is to visit Gra on Friday afternoon, give him his Christmas card/present and generally spend some time with him. Then in the evening I'll be heading over to Lisa's to spend the weekend with her, Harley and Gareth. Obviously I'm taking presents over for them too, so it's going to be like a mini Christmas! I might see if I can catch up with some other friend's while I'm there, it's been a while since I've seen a couple of them.
I'll get to see Lisa's Christmas decorations too. We won't be having any this year, unless they're well out of reach (and maybe sight) of Leo. He's into chewing everything at the moment, poor little fella is teething. I can't even begin to imagine what would happen if we had a Christmas tree... I'm guessing Leo would either end up being the fairy on the top or he'd pull the entire tree down!
11th December 2005
Sunday - 2.45pm : I've been having a quick sort out of the Photography section, deleted a few pages and tidied the whole thing up. I've been meaning to get it done for a while and now it's finally been done. I mustn't neglect the rest of the website!
I picked Sarah up last night and we popped to town for a take-away, before coming back here for a DVD or two. We'd not had a movie night for ages, so it was good to get back to the old days. Sarah had brought along her scrapbook from when we went on a World War One history trip with high school (to Belgium & Northern France), it was nice to take a look through it. I remembered a few things I'd forgotten in the years since the trip. We'd both love to go back again.
We decided to watch Mindhunters, starring Christian Slater, Val Kilmer, Jonny Lee Miller and LL Cool J. It's about a group of FBI agents who are sent to a remote island to be tested on their psychological profiling skills - their task is to track down a ficticious serial killer. The problem is they realise there is an actual killer on the island and they need to find out who (or maybe, which one of them) it is. It's a thriller and I enjoyed watching it. It was great to try and work out who the killer was and who the next victim would be. Sarah and I were almost in competition at guessing what was going to happen and who was going to be next.
After the excitement of Mindhunters, we had some fun watching the season 5 'Smile Time' episode of Angel (It's the puppet episode - possibly the funniest episode of the season!). It was a good evening , hope to do it again sometime soon.
Anyways, I'd best get going. I've got Christmas cards to write and sent, else they'll never arrive in time. Thanks to Sarah, Marie, Graeme, Katie, Andrea, Liza Marie, Jaki, Lisa E, Jolynn, Karen, Nick, Chloe-Lynn (Good to see you back!) and Miss M.
7th December 2005
Wednesday - 8.45pm : I didn't get much sleep last night. I think I managed around 3 hours tops. Why? Well, I have enough trouble sleeping anyway, but last night it seemed that the 2 cats decided to play musical beds (but without the music). It wouldn't be a problem if I slept with my bedroom door open, but I prefer to have it shut, so last night involved a lot of scratching, tapping and miaowing at the door. I'd then open it and either one cat or the other would walk in (or out), or just sit there, which was even more anoying. I wasn't happy! (Maybe I should get a cat-flap fitted in my bedroom door...)
OK, so I made a snap decision and decided I couldn't wait until February for the Serenity DVD, so I ordered the region 1 DVD instead and I should get it before Christmas. I know I should learn patience, but what with the Serenity Squared event a few weeks ago, I'm still on a bit of a Serenity trip. So what with that, the Cool Money DVD (starring James Marsters) and whatever I get for Christmas, I think I'll be having a nice week or so off work this Christmas.
I really need to keep off any shop websites between now and Christmas (unless I'm buying presents for other people). I think I've spent enough already and the month has only just begun! My car is having it's MOT next week too, so that's more money already spent. I just hope it gets a clean bill of health.
It was the annual Santa Run on Sunday. Each year the Santas aim to break a world record, raise thousands of pounds and have fun (often visiting the pubs along the route). People come from all over the place to join in and this year even my brother did it! Now I wish I'd gone down and joined the crowds to watch. Maybe I could talk him into doing it next year too, but I guess I'd have to do it then as well. We'll see.......
P.S. - More thanks to those of you who welcomed Sarah to the world of blogging.
5th December 2005
Monday - 9.45pm : Just a short post from me today. I've only really got a couple of recommendations, plus it's quite difficult to type when a cat (Mika) is sitting on you.
Talking of cats, here is the first website I'm recommending tonight:
Cats Christmas Tree Decorating 101 - Find out how to decorate a Christmas tree, instructed by 2 cats, and find out if the tree survives Christmas! Why not take a look around the rest of the website too. It's a great website, especially if you love cats!
My second recommendation is my friend Sarah. She has just started her own blog and it's lacking some visitors, so please pop over to see her and say hello! I've known Sarah since we were both knee-high to a grasshopper and we're still friends (despite her putting toothpaste on my face while I was sleeping and other such things!).
One more recommendation, but this time it's not a website. Next Monday will see another Robbie Williams single being released. It's called 'Advertising Space' and will be available on CD and DVD. It's Robbie's tribute to Elvis, it's a beautiful song and it's well worthy of the UK Christmas number 1 (and so much better than that irritating Crazy Frog!). 'Advertising Space' is one of the best songs off Robbie's latest album, Intensive Care. It certainly had me singing along to it the first time I played the album.
4th December 2005
Sunday - 7.15pm : Dad and I decided to go to the cinema in Shrewsbury this afternoon. As I mentioned yesterday, I fancied seeing Keeping Mum and I thought it would be one Dad would enjoy, so that's what we saw. It was brilliant, very funny and the best British film I've seen in a long time. A lot of it was filmed on the Isle of Man, which impressed Dad no end (he visits the island most years, once, if not twice, a year), and even I recognised a few places. Anyway, I'd definitely recommend Keeping Mum to anyone.
While I was in Shrewsbury I popped to Toys R Us to pick up the 2nd part of Harley's Christmas present. I got a pretty good deal too. If I chose the bigger size of toy (I can't say too much, you never know who's reading!) it meant I could get another box free. So it means Harley will have 3 presents to open from me. I'll also have presents for Lisa and Graeme to take over to Melton with me too - I'm thinking of commandeering Santa's reindeer and sleigh to carry me and the presents! Do you think Santa would mind? I'd have it back in time for Christmas eve!
Talking of Toys R Us and Christmas presents... Why oh why do parents take the kids Christmas shopping with them?! Christmas + children + a huge store full of toys = Nightmare! They get in your way and run around all over the place, and the kids are worse... They want it all!
Way back when I was a child (it's not that long ago really), Toys R Us was a store I could only dream of going to. I'd see the adverts for it on the TV around Christmas time and would just long to go there. Unfortunately, we didn't have one anywhere near us then, but if there had have been I couldn't imagine my parents taking my brother and I there, for the fear of being bombarded with "Can I have this?", "I want one of those!" and "Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!". Instead, my brother and I were asked what 1 big present we would like (and, due to financial restraints, it would have to be under a certain price). I was happy enough with that. We'd have a flick though a catalogue and pick something out.
So yeah, Christmas shopping in a toy store is a nightmare!
I chose to watch Pirates of the Caribbean last night and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Johnny Depp seems to be able to lend himself to almost any character, from what I've seen. Mackenzie Crook is in the film too. I was fortunate enough to meet him down in London last year. A lovely bloke and shorter than I thought he was!
Commenting thanks go out to Jean-Luc Picard, Karen, Liza Marie, Graeme, Marie (Serenity is a film based on a TV series called Firefly by Joss Whedon), Paul Sveda, Katie, Me, Myself & I, Andera, Dawn, Mulligan and Vanessa.
3rd December 2005
Saturday - 3.45pm : I'm considering making a trip to the cinema in Shrewsbury tomorrow afternoon. There's a couple of films just out that I fancy seeing. First of all there's Keeping Mum, starring Rowan Atkinson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith and Patrick Swayze. It looks quite funny from the scripts I've seen and Rowan Atkinson is usually good for a laugh. The other film I'd like to see if Mrs. Henderson Presents. It stars Judy Dench, Bob Hoskins and Will Young, and it looks great from the clips and trailers I've seen for it.
I've been meaning to mention Serenity over the last few days. Serenity is now available for us UK fans to pre-order over at Amazon (UK). It's not released here until the end of February 2006, but it's well worth the wait, believe me! Obviously it helps if you've already seen Firefly, but don't worry if you haven't, because there's a bit of a catch-up sequence at the start of the film. The US fans are lucky, because they can pre-order Serenity at Amazon.com and get it in time for Christmas as it's released there on 20th December. I'll be pre-ordering the UK version as I'm trying not to accumilate too many non-region 2 DVDs. It means waiting longer, but, as I said before, it's well worth the wait.
Talking of DVDs, I think I might watch one tonight. I bought a couple last weekend, so it will be between Pirates of the Caribbean and I Robot. I'm not sure which yet, so any suggestions would be welcome.
Anyway, I'm going to get going. Leo has come for a cuddle and is purring like a lion (I'm not sure if lions do pur - probably not - but he's purring so loud I'd imagine that's how a lion would pur!).
Thanks to Karen, Liza Marie, Graeme, Marie, Pickle, Margalit, Andrea, Mark (Nope, the chinese take-away doesn't deliver, but it's handy if your parents just happen to be driving past!), JustSue (The concerts are all next year, I just hope I won't be booking any more tickets between now and the end of the month!), Lissy and Kati for comments.
2nd December 2005
Friday - 8.15pm : It's been nearly 10 years since Take That split. They've recently released a greatest hits DVD and CD and they'll be doing a tour next year... and I'll be going to see them! When they split, I never imagined I'd get to see them live again. I know it's not the 5 of them, but then there was only 4 when I saw them back in August 1995, Robbie Williams had just left. I can't wait... I'll have to dig out a Take That t-shirt and see if it still fits!
Mind you, I nearly didn't get a ticket! I was online when the tickets went on sale this morning and I kept getting put in a queue by Ticketmaster. Then I'd either get an error page or I'd find out the concert I was trying for was sold out. So I'd try again for another date. The Birmingham NEC dates sold out, so I tried Manchester. They then sold out! Thankfully, more dates had just been on sale, including one for Birmingham. So I put myself in the "virtual queue" again. Around 20 minutes later I was the proud owner of a ticket to see Take That at Birmingham NEC on 26th April. It only took an hour and a half! I should be grateful though, I've heard that some people tried all day and still had no luck. It didn't help that tickets for The Rolling Stones and The Strokes went on sale this morning too.
James Marsters fans might want to head over to James Marsters Live. Why? Well, for a start, there's some fantastic photos of James at the 'Words & Music' event taken by the talented Gwen. There's also a video of James rehearsing backstage at the Carling Academy in Islington and, more importantly, a DVD of the 'Words & Music' event is now available to pre-order. Of course, I've already pre-ordered mine!
Christmas is nearly sorted, just a couple more presents to get and I'm done (I'm also skint, but never mind!). I've also bought myself a couple of presents, but shhh!