Monday, May 26, 2008


It seems so unfair that even long weekends, like this one has been, seem to go by so much quicker than the working week. Still, I've had a good weekend and made the most of the nice weather, which lasted albeit just for Saturday. At the moment it is pouring with rain outside and it was raining earlier when I went out and the sky seems to have adopted and refused to let go of a shapeless overcast grey.

I had a day off work on Friday and had a new cooker delivered in the morning. The old one, which had been here even before I moved in was really at the end of its usefulness. Indeed, it rather spectacularly although not too seriously, caught fire just over a week ago. After that I refused to use it at all, which meant that last week was interesting in trying to get by with just the microwave for heating food. Lots of salads! Anyways, the new cooker is nice, has a separate grill, which the other one didn't and I am sure that will be useful. It looks nicer too, silver instead of white, which I found impossible to keep clean. I had a few jobs to do in the afternoon and a trip down to Bletchley, which is never the nicest of places to go, especially not on a warm, grey afternoon!

Saturday was the only day when the sun has shone all weekend and despite that there was still quite a stiff breeze, which took the edge of the temperature somewhat. Nevertheless it was pleasantly warm, especially in a sheltered spot. I took myself off to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR), which runs for about 10 miles between Cheltenham Racecourse and Toddington. Getting there was an expedition in itself as due to weekend engineering works, it was on the bus to Oxford and then trains from there to Didcot Parkway and on to Cheltenham Spa.

This was the first time that I'd been to the GWR and as heritage railways go, I wasn't that impressed. However, it was their 'Cotswold Festival of Steam' and thus lots of engines in steam - a roster of eight steam locomotives for the day, which is quite impressive. I won't go into all the details as I doubt anyone reading this is a steam buff but needless to say, I had a really good, if long day out.

Also arrived on Friday was a DVD that I ordered from Amazon about a week ago - volume 7 of the wonderful British Transport Films (BTF) collection currently being released by the BFI. These are excellent two-disc sets collecting together some of the best of the BTF output with a mixture of documentaries, information films, publicity and safety films. They're nicely packaged with an accompanying booklet which gives a background and context to the individual films. As an historical record they're interesting and particularly from a railway enthusiasts point of view they bring vividly to life a railway that has long since disappeared in the name of progress.

Today has been a fairly quiet day, catching up on some reading and coursework and listening to the new Indiana Jones soundtrack - seeing the film this weekend.

Just a short week back at work as I am off to York on Friday to the National Railway Museum to the 1968 and all that event. Looking forward to this very much as the last big scale event I went too at the NRM was Railfest in 2004 and this promises to be every bit as enjoyable. Just hope the weather is a little better by then, even if it is just that its stopped raining!

Monday, May 19, 2008


At the beginning of this year I set myself eight specific goals that I wanted to achieve by the end of 2008. I didn't mention them on here nor will I go into them into that much detail now as I feel they are personal to me and I don't want to discuss them openly. Looking at these eight goals now I feel disappointed at what little progress I have made. The fact that I have made some progress I should be pleased about.

One of my personal objectives was to become less inhibited by that little voice that always holds me back from doing things and stops me from being as open as I feel I should be. Recently I've been thinking more about this and it struck me today that one thing I need to change is my willingness to cave in to other people's demands and wants. I am not strong mentally it seems and I find it hard to say no to things that I don't want to do or don't agree with. I rarely, if ever, argue with anyone because I am a defeatist when it comes to arguments, convinced that I will lose before I even start and moreover I'd do anything for the quiet and easy life. There have been occasions, mainly through work, where I have been pushed into a corner over something and then all my frustration and anger comes out but it is futile really becasue it isn't constructive and certainly doesn't deliver any benefits to me.

All to often I feel pressurised into doing things that I really don't want to do or go along with what other people want because I feel that it will please them to do so. I don't often push for what I want. I've been thinking today that I have this idea that I must justify myself and must be accountable for the decisions I make. Well, certainly that is true for some things but amongst friends, do I really need to be able to justify myself? If I don't want to do something can't I just say so?

I am not going to mention specific examples of what I mean because that isn't fair and it isn't anyone elses fault but my own. I need to say what I feel and what I want and not just assume that going along with what someone else wants is always the best action.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Okay, I haven't posted on here for a while and I guess its time I did some sort of update! Had an enjoyable day at Collectormania just over a week ago and saw Iron Man at the flicks in the afternoon with Derek and Carla. I am not sure what I made of Iron Man to be honest. I thought it was okay and fun for the most part, certainly not one of those movies that you need to think too hard about. I liked Robert Downey Jr although I did struggle to warm to his character. Before the film was a trailer for Indiana Jones and much like Iron Man, it didn't really blow me away, although I got hooked by the music! I love John Williams' Raiders March - he does marches so well! I am looking forward to seeing the film in Brum at the end of the month. It should be a fun weekend as on the Friday I am going to the National Railway Museum at York. Although I managed to get a bargain set of fares on the train, the cost of staying over in Brum is expensive. Still, its not often that I go away so why not make the most of it?

I've also seen the trailer for Star Wars: Clone Wars, which also left me feeling completely underwhelmed. Oh dear... There is no question of not seeing it, I just won't go in with any high expectations. It looked to me to be rather light on plot and character development and heavy on visual effects and big battle sequences. Nothing wrong with that I guess but it does get tedious in my view if that is all the film is going to be.

I am still waiting to hear if/when I start my permanent job. I say if, although I don't know why there should be any doubt about it. I think I am nervous because of my bad experiences last year and have this fear that they're going to tell me that they've made a mistake and sorry the job isn't mine. I wrote before on here about how I felt dissatisfied with what I was doing. I've sort of got over that phase by focusing on things that I am doing out of work and trying to make the most of my time in the office and getting to know the people I am working with better. I find it hard to get to know new people - I am not a great conversationalist and I don't much enjoy small talk.

Out of work I am fearing that I have begun to take on too many commitments. Already I run a web site for one of the railway clubs that I belong too and recently joined the committee of another. Now, I've volunteered myself to run another web site, although I took it on the strict understanding that the input from me would be limited. Then, there is my OU studies, which I should really devote more time too and the possibility of studying for a Diploma in Insurance through my new job. Not to mention my volunteering at Bletchley Park, which I still hope to start soon... When am I going to fit all this in?

One thing which I really need to work on is my time management and being more disciplined in getting things done. I sort of had the right idea last Monday - the Bank Holiday - deliberately getting up the same time as I would going to work and using the extra hours to get to grips with my OU coursework. After that, it all went downhill and so the plans for doing some housework and those other boring tasks, slipped back a day. I find that I let hours drift by, not through doing nothing but by diverting myself into doing things which don't really deserve a priority like a sudden decision to have a declutter and move a pile of magazines and stuff from one place to another! I start things and never finish them because I either lose interest part way through or find something else that I perceive as more interesting to get done. I really need to learn to focus on one thing at a time and see it through. I do spend far too much time surfing the net and before I know it, there is another couple of hours gone. Then I am too tired/bored/disinterested to be doing the jobs which I should have got done.

Exercise is a case in point. I made a promise to myself that when I got home from work I would do ten minutes a day on the exercise bike. Its not much but I rationalised that ten minutes would be nothing, it would be done and out of the way and by getting into the habit I would gradually want to do more. I've failed to achieve even this simple objective nearly everyday because I dread doing it all day, although really it is hardly a chore, so that by the time I get home, I find other things to distract me - a sudden job that must be done. So instead I put off doing any exercise and then by the time I realise that I haven't done it, like now, its too late and time for bed! And thus the self-defeating circle continues. Does any of this make sense? If I know what the problem is and understand that I am doing, why can't I simply overcome it?