Category Archives: Cambridge

Shepreth Wildlife Park (Again!)

I’m on holiday!!!! Well, for an extra day either side of Easter weekend. It started out such a lovely day so we headed off to Shepreth Wildlife Park. Unfortunately, in typical Cambridge fashion, the sky turned grey and it started to rain. But it didn’t ruin the fun, just reduced the quantity of pictures. Probably a good thing.

First we had lunch, we were ravenous. I had a burger. They do good burgers there. No peas so I had to have beans, which was a bit weird. It’s Easter holidays, screaming kids everywhere!

Then we headed to the tiger pen. I love how they just sit there being EXACTLY like domestic cats! I’m sure it would’ve preferred to be off slaughtering a springbok or something but it seemed relatively content playing with a rubber ball and then spending 20 minutes cleaning:

Then we went to see the otters! These are may favourite, they’re such attention whores:

Meerkats!

Feeding time at the otter pen:

One day I’ll go there on a warm, bright, sunny day and remember to take my camera. I forgot it last time!

Once we were done, we went to the hedgehog hospital. It wasn’t open to the public but they did accept my donation of cat food. They wanted the meat one, not the fish one. I will remember this next time when I take a huge pile of food!

I’m in a really good place right now!

That’s a bold statement huh?! Especially for someone who hasn’t blogged in ages! I’ve noticed a pattern over the last 12 years I’ve been blogging, when I’m feeling good, I blog less. Now that’s not really all that great for two reasons; One, when I look back through my old journals/blogs, I often see negativity and think my life has just been a big bundle of misery and Two, it doesn’t present the best online persona as someone who’s just angry all the damn time. So, in the interest of balance, I’m writing a nice, positive blog.

So, why is being in a good place such a big deal to me? Well, anyone who’s known me for longer than a 6 month period will probably know I have depression and have done for quite some time. I’ve become quite good at hiding it and not making a big old hoohah out of it, not out of shame or anything, just trying to not let it define me and not letting people judge me for it. But I also know it’s probably never going to go away and because of that I make a really concerted effort to enjoy the good times. I’ve also become quite good at maintaining my moods and heading bad ones off when I feel them coming. I have a lot of tools in my box and I feel more on top of it than I ever have before.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know that last summer I had a vasectomy. It was a horrible experience, the operation was a disaster and the recovery took ages. It really fucked with my head and my body. A couple of months ago, I went to see a reflexologist about my sinuses. During treatment she hit upon a sore point in my foot. I hadn’t told her about my op at this point. She mentioned it was the groin area trigger point but more specifically, the vas deferens. Reflexology works, as I understand it, by unblocking energy blocks. By releasing stuck emotions, energy, “stuff”! I don’t know how it works, but it does. It actually really does. I have felt absolutely amazing since I started monthly treatments. It feels like it’s cleared away a whole ton of crap!

When I started dating the missus, she was doing her yoga teacher training. As the amazing, wonderful, supportive partner I am, I read loads of the texts she had to and learned quite a lot about the body from a non science angle. The recurring theme throughout all of these things is that the feet are incredibly important. They are for grounding. They affect every part of your body. Look after them! I also have a strange obsession with the two world wars and have read tons about them. A recurring theme from the soldiers in the trenches is look after your damn feet! And I don’t think that was just to avoid trench foot!! On some weird subconscious level, they knew the feet were key to their survival.

So, yeah, if you feel like crap and the docs can’t help, try reflexology. The worst that can happen is you get to sit down for an hour and have someone massage your feet. Oh boo fucking hoo! 😉

Off the back of that, my general confidence is quite high at the moment. This is mostly brought on by work. I’m doing really well, my projects are going well, I’m doing some interesting stuff, I have a client budget ($1m) that allows me to be quite creative for the first time in ages, I’m learning some new software that I think will change the face of ERP systems for the future. I’m just really enjoying what I do at the moment. It’s fun. I stated on my LinkedIn profile that I’m probably the number 1 consultant in the UK at what I do. And I think that’s fairly accurate. That puts me quite high up the ranks for the global market too, something which has been kinda affirmed for me which I’ll go into later in this post.

Before I go on, the last thing I want to cover is the bread making. This has come to a grinding halt. One of the downsides of enjoying work is I’ve been caning the hours for the last 6 months which in turn has accelerated my RSI downfall! Basically, my wrists and shoulders are fucked. I’ve been using computers excessively for 27 years!! I basically can’t really knead dough at the moment. I’ve asked for a mixer with a dough arm for my birthday in July and then I’ll continue. In the meantime, I got this really great wrist strap that has a metal bar in it that forces my arm into the correct position. It’s amazing. It hurt like crap at first but I’ve settled into it now. I’m having regular massages, doing regular foam roller exercises and when I get back from my holiday to Spain next month, I’ll be buying a new office chair. Hopefully all of this will keep the RSI at bay for a bit longer so I can continue to work in IT. It was literally so bad I couldn’t sleep, but that seems to have gone away now which is great.

So, all of this positivity and great feeling tied in with all the treatments and the self maintenance I’m doing has helped make me feel really focused and “in the zone”. I’ve been able to look at my life objectively, especially important as my career may come to an end sooner than I would like, and I’ve made a decision that I think is one of the most important decisions of my life.

*drumroll*

We’ve decided to move to Australia!!!

Well, we’ve decided to apply for our visas to move to Australia!

Moving to Cambridge has been the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. I’ve really hated it. I’ve tried to love it, really. When we came back from Aus last time, we decided not to move there because it wasn’t the right time and things weren’t in the right place and we came back committed to making Cambridge work for us. It just hasn’t happened. The move last year certainly helped, but it’s not been enough. On top of that, I actually don’t think moving anywhere else in the UK will be all that much different. The country is full and suffering. The government sucks. I will never be able to afford a house here. My career has gone as far as it can. The weather has been appalling for the last 3 years pretty much. The cost of living keeps on rising. It’s just full of hate, hate and more hate. I’m almost ashamed to be British at the moment.

I watch a lot of those relocate down under programs. I know it’s not all fairy tales and cake, the Aussies can be quite brutal, but I’m from the North, I can take it! I’ve been looking into the visa process and everything really is lined up right now for me to apply and get a good point score and hopefully sail through independently without having to rely on sponsorship and be tied down with restrictions. I’ll be writing up the process on a dedicated page so I can track everything, as much for my own benefit as it is for clarifying it for other people should a search land them here. But what I’m hoping for is a generally better quality of life, I want to live by a beach, I want a short commute to an office, I want a good group of friends, I want some fucking hot weather and BBQ’s and to do outdoor activities. Seriously, it feels like the government have turned off the gulf stream just to keep us inside and controlled by the TV! I want to do even better work in my career, I want to have the money I spend on rent be on a fucking nice place not some utter piece of shit that’s falling apart. I want space. I want community. I want busy. I want tranquil. I’m sick of going to country parks for some peace only to find them now overrun with screaming children and their feckless fucking parents!

I’ve been doing a lot of investigating and I think Melbourne is the place for us. Sydney is too hot, expensive and busy. Tasmania is too isolated, economically stagnant and cold! Melbourne, and particularly St Kilda, gives me beach and city, cafes, culture, retail, people. More importantly, it’s an absolute breeding ground for the type of work I do. It’s incredibly specialised and whilst the software I support is used heavily in Aus, the main area of the business partners is around this area of Melbourne. I got in touch with one of them and was given an incredible recommendation following the work I’ve done with them over the last 5 years. As I mentioned above, my global reputation is clearly doing quite well. So I’m trying to arrange a couple of interviews when we go on holiday there in January.

In the meantime I’ve got a lot to arrange to apply for the visa. I need to pass the English test with a high score and I need to get my skills certified as I don’t have a degree. All that takes 6 months but should be done when I get back in Feb. Then I can file for my visa and if invited, it’s another 4-6 months for the approval. Once approved, I think we’re going to go and activate it so it’s good for five years and then really have a good hard think about it. I just figure that as now is the best time for the visa application, it makes sense to apply and get it. Then make the final decision later. No point planning for something so incredibly uncertain. Of course, if one of these companies decides to offer me a sponsorship/immediate job offer then I’ll go straight away! We’ll see…

It’s a really slow application process but I’ll keep the blog updated as it progresses. I’ve told everyone I think needs to know and now it’s a case of fingers crosses while I fill in the paperwork and jump the hoops. Wish me luck!

Shepreth Wildlife Park

This weekend we went to Shepreth Wildlife Park. It was awesome! Ridiculously cold and it rained hard but awesome nonetheless! I’d never been before, despite passing it countless times on the train to London and whenever the stopping train called at Shepreth I’d say to myself “Oh, I must go there one day!”!

So off we went. No sooner had we stepped outside the gift shop when we saw this little chap, a prairie dog:

Then we saw a horse:

A deer:

Some chickens:

You could go and pet them but I was a bit scared of the muntjack (yeah, I know, lame) that was also in the pen.

Then we saw a big fat pig, eating off the floor, too busy to look up!

After a bit of wandering about peering in empty cages (all the animals were hiding from the icy wind in their huts) we came across the best bit. Meerkat Manor! These guys were awesome and put on a lovely little show for us!

Then we saw this little chap:

I’d never seen an otter before (despite growing up in sticksville) and I was surprised by a) how small they are and b) what a racket they make. There were two pairs. Apparently they hold hands when they sleep so they don’t drift off!

Then we saw a couple of Lynxes which were lovely:

Then it hammered it down and I put my camera away but we saw rabbits, fish, tigers, a mountain lion, some birds. Yeah, it was awesome! Def go back in the summer. They have a lovely little picnic area we will take advantage of I think.

Overdue Update

Hello! It’s been a long time. I have been super busy the last couple of months but I figured it was time for an update. So, what have I been up to?

Cambridge Big Bike Ride

You may have seen the banner on the bottom of the site for the Cambridge Big Bike Ride. It was essentially a sponsored ride with two routes, an easy one and a hard one. I decided I’d give the easy one a go and see how quickly I could do it. Then the missus decided she wanted to give it a go too. Then we decided we’d do it for our own charity. We chose Action For M.E. They sent us bibs!!

We were quite excited in the days leading up to it and then when we woke up, it was raining. So we set out in our his and hers macs!



It was a really interesting course, mostly because Cambridge is a weird town with a bizarre star shaped infrastructure. We went through Milton Country Park which was very muddy and I totally trashed my bike! It got caked in mud! I wasn’t much better off. It just kept on raining. As is the case with wearing a mac and doing anything remotely energetic, you get a right sweat on so off it came and I ended up just being soaked to the bone. Eventually though, you get over yourself and it’s just funny. Evident by my picture crossing the finishing line!



On the way round I had my GPS tracker enabled. Go here to see the route. You can even view a 3D flythrough which is quite exciting! GPS data fly’s all over the place in some areas, presumably because it can be so fucking remote in this town there’s often no signal. Initially I wanted to blast my way round, I think I could’ve done it in about 45 minutes but cycling with the missus was way more fun and we just took it slowly and gently. It was very enjoyable and I’m keeping my eye open for more rides. In the end we raised over £300 for the charity which is a fantastic result!

My Vasectomy

Whilst verging on the boundary of TMI, I decided to write about this to offer support to anyone else who might need it. I decided at a very young age that I didn’t want kids. I’ve been waiting a hell of a long time to get a vasectomy on the NHS. I was told I had to be over 30. So I waited! Earlier this year my brother got one and he’s only 24! So I signed up for one too, as you do! A few days after the bike ride I went into the surgery. I was told they were trialling a new keyhole surgery, no stitches, quicker healing, less pain. It was so new the doctor was still training. I was his last sign off. It was a very brutal operation. He clearly didn’t know what he was doing. What should’ve been 15 minutes took an hour and I think I just went into shock by the end of it.

Following the op I was expecting the usual feelings of regret that a lot of people talk about. The sudden realisation that I can’t have children. I’m now less of a man. Etc, etc! I haven’t had any of that. For the last 7 weeks I’ve just been struggling with the trauma of the initial pain and the healing. About two weeks after the op I got a haematoma, which is like a bruising on the testes. That hurt like hell! To make that worse, I was due to move house but was ruled out of doing any heavy lifting for another month. See below for how that turned out! I was also told not to cycle or exercise for a month too.

I have depression. I’ve had it for many, many years. The best aid I’ve found for it isn’t popping pills but to exercise. I do this a lot. Regular walks, gym exercise, bike riding. I have had to sit on my arse for 7 looooooong weeks. Add to that the stress of moving. It has not been fun. Yesterday I went on my first bike ride. I was very nervous and scared of injuring myself again. It was ok though. Today I feel fine. I’m going to start lengthening my routes and I’ll be taking up more exercise during the week and just getting back on track. I was caught completely off guard with how much this was going to affect me the way it did but hopefully it’s all moving forward from now on.

My advice for anyone who is interested. Don’t get seen to by a fucking trainee! Don’t get it done when you have other things to do in the following two months. Don’t do it if you’re not very good at doing nothing. However, if you’re really convinced it’s the right thing for you to do, then go ahead and do it. The world needs to stop the fucking endless over population!

Summer of Grunge

If you read this blog regularly you will remember this post where I talked about getting back into grunge. This summer we were lucky enough to get tickets to see both Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder solo in Manchester. It was two fun road trips and we also managed to squeeze in a visit to see my brother and hang out with my niece and nephew, who are, in my opinion, cute as fucking buttons!

Anyway, both gigs were amazing. Pearl Jam came out to Release Me and right from the very first “Ooooh” I knew it was going to be a good gig. As I said in the previous post, I’m getting a bit sick of seeing bands who can’t play or sing live even though the record is good. Ed can fucking wail! We got some really great seats to see Eddie Vedder solo and he was note perfect!

Surrounding all of that we’ve been listening to some really old CD’s from that time, all the PJ stuff, the SG stuff, Alice In Chains, Nirvana. It’s been a great summer!

My Birthday

I had a birthday. I am now 31. It is shit! I appear to aging at an alarming rate! I feel like I should be doing grown up things like getting a mortgage, having a corporate career, investing. Nah, fuck that!

Moving House

As I mentioned above, I had to move house. I was planning on doing everything myself. Then the doc signed me off. I put a Twitter request shout out thing and we got some fantastic helpers over two days who came and helped us move all our crap out of a big house into a smaller house that costs more. Go figure! The house is lovely, the lettings agents are not. Finickity bastards! It wasn’t clean when we moved in. There were pubes on the bathroom floor. When reporting this to the agents, we were told our standards were clearly higher than theirs. I’ll say it again, PUBES!!!! FROM SOME OTHER DUDE!!!! Jesus! Cambridge is a filthy place full of some really filthy people. After 3 years here I still don’t really like it. I miss London.

The Botanical Gardens – We finally went to the Botanical Gardens. It’s been awful weather this summer but the sun came out for the day. I have some pictures that I will post later this week.

Future Projects

I think I’ve got my writing bug back. As you can see! I’ve had some ideas for things I want to do over the coming months.

Bread – I love making bread. I bought a book with 70 recipes from around the world. I’m going to make them all. I’ve just ordered 11kg of assorted bread flour. I’ll be blogging my journey!
Gaming – I really need to finish this so look out for parts 3 and 4 by the end of the year!
Her Fearful Symmetry – Remember I blogged about The Time Traveler’s Wife? Well, I’ll be doing the same for this book. Starting to read it this weekend.
Photography – I’ve cancelled my subscription to a photo mag I was reading. It was stifling my creativity. I hope to get back to actually taking pics and blogging them.

That should keep me on for now I reckon! Suggestions welcome!

Milton Country Park

Time for another photography post!

Yesterday we went for a wander at Milton Country Park. I love it there, there’s something new every time I go. This year, inspired by Springwatch, I went to see if there were any cygnets. I saw a couple of swans but they were out in the lake so I couldn’t get any good shots of them.

Saw some ducks though:

Tried out my new polariser filter thingy. Think I’m missing a step on adding exposure time.

Saw a bunch of grebes but they’re so fidgety it was hard to get a shot that wasn’t blurry. Stay still!

Then, as we were heading back to the car park, I saw on the other side of the lake a couple of swans that looked like they were nesting. So I went over to investigate. I hit jackpot! I counted SEVEN CYGNETS! I had to be really quiet and was careful to keep my distance (long live the zoom lens) but I got some lovely pictures.

Look at this dude stretching out his wings! Awwww!

They were seriously cute! I’ll definitely head back there in the next couple of weeks to see how they’ve grown. Apparently a group of cygnets/swan eggs is known as a clutch and the usual size is 4-7 at once. I wonder what the parents thought when they got their ultrasound back and found out they were having SEVEN!!

Madingley Cemetary

Hello reader(s)…today I have news and pictures.

So first up, my news. I can haz a driving license!!! Yes indeed. After about 100 hours of lessons over a period of 13 years with two driving tests, I finally passed and am legally allowed to drive. Makes you feel confident as another driver huh?! Cue obligatory happy picture:

Once the missus got home I took the car out on my own. I didn’t believe people when they said this but it was actually quite liberating. I feel freeeeee!

So, this weekend, I drove us to Coton/Madingley. We parked at the garden centre, walked to the American Military Cemetary and then back through Coton village. It was really nice.

So now for the pictures:

Cambridge Botanical Gardens

I went to the Botanical Gardens. I love it there. Making the most of my yearly membership. Will definitely renew it next year!

Autumn has fully taken hold in the space of a fortnight and the colours are just amazing. In a previous life when I was emo, sad and pretentious I used to proclaim that Autumn was my favourite month because everything was dying and there was “so much beauty in death”. Lame!

That said, it is still an incredible season and I hope you enjoy these pictures. And hey, in case you weren’t aware, this is happening all around you. Just look up from the glowing box in your palm once in a while 😉

My brand new niece!

I already have furry children as well you should know and now I have a furry niece. Although thankfully, not too furry!

The missus’ brother and his missus got a dog this year. A Hungarian Vizsla to be precise. She is beautiful but also very gangly.

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce Fleur… (all shots taken on Midsummer Common)

Click for a larger version of this action shot!

She is a very friendly and quiet dog. Got on with all the other dogs really well. This one was my fave. He is called Augustus!

It was a bit of a grey and overcast afternoon but a lot of fun. I was hoping for some sun so you could see her coat shine but as we left it started to rain. Typical!

I wanted to give Augustus’ owner my details in case he wanted copies of the photos but I had no easy way of doing this so now I have designed and ordered a pack of business cards! They will be delivered shortly. Go me!