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Thursday, 31 October 2002

Drove the 100-mile trip to Galway City to look for engagement rings - didn't find one but had a nice day out anyway.

Our last night in the hotel and one of the owners congratulated us for the night before and opened a nice free bottle of champagne - can't complain!

Wednesday, 30 October 2002

Today we spent driving around the Sky Road, the boundary of the Connermara National Park and through some incredibly dramatic and beautiful scenery. We also bought presents for both Robert (a tin whistle), David (a lovely Irish lass) and both Mums (some handmade pottery).

Back to the hotel for afternoon tea and then we went back out to find Alcock & Brown's landing^Wcrash site after the first transatlantic flight. Interestingly, the monument (in the shape of a wing) is about 2 miles from the landing site which is in the middle of nowhere. As the sun set, we carried on to see the ruin of the Marconi building which ferried telegrams from the UK to America until it was burnt down by the IRA in 1922. The road back to Clifden was narrow, bumpy, unmarked and dark - and great fun to bounce along :-)

Hmm, 2 hours to go... need to think of something to say!

After a quick drink in the bar we went up for dinner and a 1/2 bottle of wine - as fate would have it, they didn't have any 1/2 bottles of the wine we wanted so got a full bottle for the same price. After dessert, I decided it was now or never and, realising that once I'd started I wouldn't be able to stop, stood up and called for the restaurant's attention. After introducing myself and Mel, I got down on one knee and asked Mel to marry me...


After a quick round of applause and everyone singing "For he's a Jolly Good Fellow" we drank up and headed down to the bar for a celebatory drink.

Tuesday, 29 October 2002

Nice full Irish breakfast before deciding to walk into Clifden - not much to do and see, but a nice walk and picked up some interesting leaflets from the Tourist Information. After an hour or so we looped back to the hotel, but carried on and walked a short 6km walk around the D'Arcy Monument (to the founder of the town), Clifden Castle (the founder's home - now derelict) and back along the beach road.

Got back in time for complimentary afternoon tea ("oooh, aren't you nice" ;-)) and a rather atrocious game of table tennis.

Another nice dinner, preceded and followed by drinks (not free this time!) in the bar. Irish musicians were in the restaurant and the hotel owner and the barmaid did a duet on the piano and flute in the bar. It was only a shame it was too smoky to stay for longer...

Gulp, only 24 hours left...

Monday, 28 October 2002

Got a little bit of sleep on the seats on the ferry (no cabin, unfortunately) but next to the window was too cold to really get comfortable. Surprisingly wasn't that rough considering the attrocious weather that the coast's been suffering over the last couple of days, but we still arrived in Rosslare about an hour later than planned: 8am.

The drive up was slow, but steady - we only had to stop once for more sleep (about 30 mins) and that was around lunchtime. Had breakfast just outside Rosslare in a carpark; took the opportunity to clean our teeth and have a shave so we at least felt a bit more human.

Stopped off at Waterford which was, to put it mildly, all shut (Irish Bank Holiday today); so carried on up through Galway City (with the weather getting increasingly worse) and then into the Connemara. The scenery on the final 50 miles from Galway City to Clifden was breathtaking: impressive mountains towering high, with fairly small bases next to loughs and bogs.

Arrived at the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel around 4pm and although not an old castle (it was only built in 1812), it's still impressive enough with only about 80 rooms and a bloody noisy parrot!

We planned to flake out and sleep until dinner, but Wendy in the bar invited us down for a champagne reception at 6.30pm; so a quick shower and change later we sat in the bar with the other guests drinking free champagne for an hour and a half... this is going to be a good holiday :-)

Met a group from the Midlands who were here for a return visit, very loud and bubbly - great fun. (Is that the people or the champagne? It's a little hazy ;-))

After dinner just went back to bed and collapsed... being up for over 36 hours and driving for over 10 of those is a little too knackering for my tastes.

2 days to go...

Sunday, 27 October 2002

Tried to shift our body clocks for the long night ahead: got up early, had a big breakfast and then went out to do some shopping. Lunch a bit later than we'd hoped and then back to bed, before getting up at 4.30 for Stargate and Scrapheap Challenge and some tea.

Just after 8pm we set off in the car (with almost no problems) towards Pembroke Dock in SE Wales. The traffic didn't turn out to be that bad and so we arrived at the docks at about 12.45am - with time for an hour's snooze on the back seat of the car before the ferry departed at 3am.

Friday, 25 October 2002

Left work at about 4ish due to the machine room being powered down over the weekend for all the systems engineers to descend on the kit and do maintenance. When Mel got home we went out into town to collect my glasses (it's great being able to see again), had a bite to eat in one of the new eateries in Festival Place and headed out to MFI to buy a kitchen - which we did. Festival Place is a typical modern shopping mall with very little character, but row upon row of bland, ubiquitous clothing and mobile phone stores.

We're really looking forward to having the new kitchen fitted: it's not as nice as the one we originally planned but is a lot cheaper - which won out in the end ;-)

Thursday, 24 October 2002

Sub-carpenter dude came around in the evening to collect their door catalogue and understand which front door we wanted. He also happily explained that yes, they did fit kitchens: including the tiling, electrics and plumbing and would outsource the gas to someone who's CORGI registered. No price yet (they need to see the plan) but are almost certain to be cheaper than MFI.

Wednesday, 23 October 2002

Carpenter dude didn't come round when he was supposed to, but did leave a note saying "sorry he had missed us". Very peculiar.

Estelle Morris resigned in the evening - apparently this is "surprising" - wasn't everyone calling for her resignation only a week ago?

7 days to go...

Tuesday, 22 October 2002

Teachers promised "reduced workload" with the recruitment of 50,000 new "senior" classroom assistants who'll be able to take lessons, supervise classes etc. Hang on though, doesn't this mean that the amount of teaching a teacher does is decreased so they can concentrate on the paperwork? That'll go down well...

On a vaguely related note, it seems that Estelle Morris made the same promise to resign as David Blunkett if their targets weren't met in June 2002. Oops :-)

Monday, 21 October 2002

Back to work: relatively quickly fixed the multiple problems which had plagued the intranet last week. Tried to order a repeat prescription from the doctor, but they'll only make out prescriptions for a month's worth of any drug - how crap is that? Not only do I have to find time to go there and pick up the prescription, I've got to go to a chemist and pay £6.50 (or however much it is now) for the honour of being able to live for the next month. Lovely.

Slightly more depressingly, Mel got upset when she got a phone call saying her grandad had been rushed to hospital ill; fortunately he should be OK.

Sunday, 20 October 2002

Really bad migraine: in bed all day :-(. No obvious trigger though.

Friday, 18 October 2002

Finished the course and so managed to get out of London at a quiet time. Had a bizarre conversation with 'niki' on Oaktree in the evening - not, however, my-ex.

Thursday, 17 October 2002

More of the course. On the train worked on a quick version of perldoc for Perl/EPOC - trouble is the real version could probably work quite easily. Hopefully, once it's tidied up I'll do a new release of Shell5-Utils; including the new wrappers that I've been sent and I promised to bundle (but haven't :-().

Met Mel in town and went to the new Wetherspoons for tea: it's nice; modern like the Blackpool one but not as big and soulless as the one in Macclesfield. Also, a nice heated terrace to the rear.

Got home to find that Castle have launched the teaser campaign for the Iyonix PC - lots of good reception on the newsgroups too.

Wednesday, 16 October 2002

Unfortunately, the other arm on my glasses just pinged off whilst they were in my hand, for no good reason. So I've got to get a second arm replaced in almost as many months!

Tuesday, 15 October 2002

IBM Learning Services' new building in London is part of a PriceWaterhouse Coopers' building - so they only moved in two weeks ago: no network connectivity (not even Intranet); lots of building work; no real sign and no real reception. Did, however, get free food and drink. The course itself was also promising.

However, I can imagine that travelling to London and back every day (especially if not on flexitime) would be incredibly soul destrorying: from the oscillatory march like cattle through the tile-lined tunnels of the Tube to the steady gaze at the platform information at Waterloo followed by the mad dash to the platform when its location is finally revealed.

Monday, 14 October 2002

Phone call in the morning saying that, if I want it, I can go on the WebSphere Application Server course (v4 Advanced Edition) that I wanted to go on which starts, oooh, tomorrow.

The rest of the day was rather frantically preparing for this: making sure work gets done and I know where I'm going.

Sunday, 13 October 2002

Everyone felt a little worse for wear this morning, but we went on a long walk down by the canal and then up past the pub before lunch.

Pretty horrible weather for the drive home though :-(

Saturday, 12 October 2002

Went into Rugby (for Dunelm) and then Coventry (for Matalan): buying curtains, thick jumpers for Ireland and various other bits and bobs. Robert bought David a present as, for some reason, he thought he was contributing to the one from me and Mel!

Later both Rick and Kelly arrived and, after dinner, we headed out to The Crown to drink their booze and generally have a good time. Rob, Jenny, Matt and Abby arrived later. Even stayed long enough to get the whole pub singing "Happy Birthday" at midnight :-)

Got home and reminisced about being 17 again and all the emotional turmoil which goes with it - of which we saw plenty tonight.

Friday, 11 October 2002

Worked at home today and started feeling a lot better, before traipsing up the A34/M40 for David's birthday weekend.

Thursday, 10 October 2002

Once again off with the same cold.

Tuesday, 08 October 2002

Did a "Store channels" on the ex-ITVDigital box and picked up some of the new channels broadcasting in 16QAM rather than 64QAM. Made a real difference to the reception on our dodgy aerial setup: I can't wait until Mux 1 switches, and then we're left hoping that ITV will see the light about changing their multiplex.

Monday, 07 October 2002

Had a day off work to go to Kettering for no particular reason... Afterwards, stopped off at my parents' for a quick tea before finishing the long day with more time on motorways.

Sunday, 06 October 2002

Warm day so went when we popped into town we were only wearing TV shirts. Which, given my throat is still incredibly sore, was possibly not the best idea in the world.

Allen stayed over in the evening as he has a seminar in Winchester tomorrow - the finished den colours look very soothing and warm in an evening; and I think he liked the finished article.

Thursday, 03 October 2002

The BBC have announced the latest channel line up and launch date for Freeview. Interestingly, Sky Travel is listed as an entertainment channel rather than "Other", like TV Travelshop; which surely just adds to the rumours that it'll be replaced by a Sky One "Lite" by launch.

Tuesday, 01 October 2002

Off work ill - the cold caught up with me. But by the end of the day I was feeling much better so should be back in tomorrow. The VPN to work also started working again so I could check my email - I was glad I did. Mike Jewson was also at home ill and his wife told him to come and look at the TV: one of the CBBC presenters was CBBC wearing a "modified" CICS 30th Anniversary T-Shirt. Very bizarre.

Tried to sort out a B&B for our Ireland trip's one night stopover in Dublin. Failed. The carpenter dude also failed to come round and see which front door we'd like - never trust to lackies what the boss should do.

Halifax sent the username and password for their online banking, which was surprisingly quick. Attempted to logon but had to close the browser whilst it was asking me to accept the T&Cs. However, my "service is suspended" (presumably because the first logon sequence didn't complete successfully) and they now have to send me a new password by post. Still, the security doesn't quite seem as onerous as NatWest.

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