Time to settle down

G is for Guitar and “Get a life”

Many of you will know that I am a keen musician.  I blame this partly on my parents, who insisted on taking me to a brass band concert before I was even born.  I didn’t stand a chance.  Church helps too, there’s always music there.  And so it was that I started taking up musical instruments left right and centre, starting with the piano, moving on to cello, and not stopping thereafter.  The list isn’t exactly endless, but it’s fairly sizeable.  The main problem with this, though, is being able to afford the instruments themselves, which don’t come cheap, especially if you want something decent.  So for many years I have had to get by without certain things, in some cases just the accessories, but in some cases the instruments themselves.  I’ve never owned a saxophone, for instance, much as I’d love to.

My first bass guitar was a pink (probably used to be red, but faded in the sun) Squier with a warped neck, which made playing anything but open strings uncomfortable and bone-jarringly out of tune.  Still, for £100 it wasn’t bad, considering it came with a whopping 80 watt amp.  The bass was replaced several years ago, thankfully, with a wood body Aria (I’d give the actual model, but since it’s a “Research and Development” model I think it’s more of a one-off, so comparing it to the mass-produced model that resulted from it might not actually be particularly useful).  The Aria is a dream to play, and has a lovely warm tone to it.  The amp, however, was always pretty ropey, so it wasn’t a huge tragedy when it stopped working.  It was something electric, I know that much, and it just played a very loud humming noise while it was turned on.  So I left it turned off, gathering dust in the garage.  Until just before we moved, when I took it to the dump.  Sad, but somehow very therapeutic at the same time.

The Great Migration

D is for Down South

Well, here I am in sunny Somerset, sitting on the sofa in our new home! Right now I have no internet, so I’m writing this offline and will upload later. It’s quiet, light, homely, and generally makes me smile. We’re back in the countryside! Yay!

This week has been pretty exhausting, preparing for and accomplishing the enormous upheaval of moving across the country. Monday was spent packing. Since Ellie isn’t able to do any heavy lifting at the moment that left me to pick up the slack, which meant I was off to the recycling centre mid-morning with a car chock full of odds and ends that no longer worked and needed chucking out. So it was goodbye to my old bass amp, which hasn’t been working for years (and to be honest it wasn’t a great amp at the best of times), farewell to two CRT monitors (which was a little sad because both of them worked, I just couldn’t find anyone who wanted them), my first Mac went out too (dead motherboard, too old to do anything with anyway), plus a dead printer and a dead microwave. It was heavy work, carting each item to its appropriate recycling container, but in some ways it was quite therapeutic, getting rid of a whole load of ‘stuff’ that had been cluttering the house.

Playing silly games

C is for Cars and Carriages

Now, it may appear from this post that I have nothing better to do with my time at the moment than waste countless hours sat in front of a screen twiddling knobs and tapping incessantly on keys without really achieving anything productive.  And they may be a modicum of truth in that hypothesis.  However, I can assure you that the time I have spent playing has been (for the most part) well-chosen and has not adversely interfered with the normal running of my life.  It has of course been lots of fun.

First of all, I recently acquired something I have wanted for years – a steering wheel.  No, not for my car, but for the computer.  And since all my games are now on the PS2, it had to be one that I could plug into that.  An hour or so on eBay and a handful of reviews culminated in a purchase of a Logitech Driving Force EX steering wheel, which was plugged in and tested as soon as I was able (i.e. the evening of the day it arrived – see, I didn’t skip work for this), driving my current favourite game: Gran Turismo 4.

Last night at the Mini club

B is for B-roads and Bye Byes

(Sorry this post is a little belated, I’ve had a lot on and haven’t got round to writing this up).

Ahead of our cross-country migration at the end of this month, I’ve been having to schedule in some goodbyes.  Significant amongst my friendship groups is the Colchester Mini Club, both the cars and their drivers.  I’ve been a member of the club for as long as I’ve owned a Mini, which is several years, and last Wednesday was my last opportunity to go to a club meeting.  It was a night of fun and excitement, even if it was tinged with sadness.

Something else that made that night a little more difficult was that my Mini was going to be there.  I’ve been going to the meetings each month in the Escort for a while now, while Neddy was off the road for the winter, but there was a very different feel on Wednesday evening driving there knowing that I was no longer a Mini owner, especially given that the car was going to be there anyway, belonging to someone else.  Selling a Mini really is like selling a close friend, and there’s a lot of emotion surrounding it.

I’m going slightly mad

A is for Alphabet

Bank holidays always seem to creep up on me and take me by surprise.  I can’t quite put my finger on why, but where most people live for their days off and eagerly anticipate any excuse not to go into work, the novelty has never really hit home for me.  As such the day never really gets noticed in my diary, and it usually takes someone to remind me that it’s happening for me to realise that I don’t have to do any work that day.  Maybe it’s because I work from home.  Maybe it’s because I’m just not very observant.  Maybe it’s because I don’t do enough with bank holidays for it to be special enough to look forward to.  Maybe.

Anyway, on Monday it was a bank holiday, and since Ellie had reminded me of that fact I just about remembered not to do any work.  Which was a good thing, because we’d arranged to go round to Anne-Marie’s house to watch Takin’ over the Asylum, a BBC series from a couple of decades ago starring a very young David Tennant, set in a loony bin mental health hospital with a would-be DJ trying to get a hospital radio station up and running.  It wouldn’t work today, of course, which explains why it was never repeated, but now that’s it’s on DVD (mainly due to David’s popularity, no doubt) it’s become a quick favourite among Tennant fans.  So Anne-Marie made us invited us to watch it with her on Monday.  All of it.  All 6 episodes of it.  And it was hilarious.