The Haunted House

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Weekend away for our anniversary

This weekend we went away to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We was going to go to the Peak District, or Yorkshire, but Amanda was sent to Bridgend in Wales to cover for someone at work. So instead of Amanda driving all the way back from Wales and then traveling somewhere else, we decided to spend the weekend in Wales. After work I got the train to Birmingham New Street station and got a train to Bridgend via Bristol Parkway.

The hotel just outside Bridgend.

The hotel was really nice. We got it at a good rate because Amanda's company uses it regularly for putting up staff. The hotel had a very oldie worldy feel to it inside and our room was massive. They also had a very nice restaurant they we went too on the first night. We didn't really have much planned for the weekend except to relax so we decided to go for a drive on Saturday morning and see what was around.

Coety Castle

As we drove around we found some ruins for a castle, so we parked up the car and went for a walk around the grounds.

The castle was great, that's one of the things I like about the UK is its really old buildings. We spent about an hour here and took loads of photos. Unfortunately it was very cloudy and very cold.

You can't go to a castle without taking a stupid photo.

After the castle we saw signs for the coastal town of PorthCawl. It was only 5 miles away so we decided to see what was there. We parked in a car park near the waterfront and went for a walk. There were literally hundreds of surfers out that day. I think they are mad. It was a very cold day, so the water must have been freezing. But they probably got some good surfing done as the water was quite rough.

As far as towns go Porthcawl is very depressing and bland, so we didn't stay very long. We just walked up and down the coast taking some photos and then got back in the car.

Taking 5 minutes out so Amanda could answer the phone.

On the way back to Bridgend we both needed the toilet so we stopped at a holiday caravan park. I can't remember the name of the place but it looked like a good laugh. It reminded me of the holiday parks I used to go to on holiday with my parents as a kid. We probably even went to this one, but I can't remember. We went into the club house to use the toilet and the place reminded me off the club out of Peter Kay's phoenix nights, were everyone was sitting around tables drinking beer watching the stage, in this case the afternoon football.

As we headed back to the carpark we passed an amusement arcade so Amanda wanted to have a go on the fruit machines. She loves playing these things so we spent about an hour there.

For the rest of the weekend we just relaxed at the hotel and got some well needed rest as the previous week had been very busy at work. We left around mid day on Sunday for the long drive back to Belper. The weather was really grim, it just rained all day, as you can see in the picture below as we were about to cross the River Seven bridge.

Great British weather.


Friday, September 23, 2005

Blame the 3rd party software

Someone just sent me this picture that made me laugh. Their Sony PSP handheld crashed and displayed this blue screen of death. It's the bottom line that made me laugh "Blame the 3rd party software, it cannot possibly be our fault!'. Good ol Sony :-)


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents

I was reading the BBC news site earlier on today, and they had an article about an online book you can read on blogging. The book is called 'Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents'. Its covers all the basics about blogging, from getting started, to the best way to write through to security and anonymous blogging. It's only about 46 pages so worth a read. There is an online HTML version of the book, or you can download a PDF version. Here is a snippet from the main page of the website:

Blogs get people excited. Or else they disturb and worry them. Some people distrust them. Others see them as the vanguard of a new information revolution. Because they allow and encourage ordinary people to speak up, they’re tremendous tools of freedom of expression.

Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest.

Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help them, with handy tips and technical advice on how to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation. It also explains how to set up and make the most of a blog, to publicise it (getting it picked up efficiently by search-engines) and to establish its credibility through observing basic ethical and journalistic principles.


Go-Karting with work

Yesterday my boss gave us all the afternoon off work to go Go-Karting. I guess this is some kind of team building exercise, and it worked as we had a great time. We went to Birmingham Wheels for the race. It is an outdoor track and we used single engine karts. We all split into teams, there was 10 teams, and I was in team 2. We had 3 people per team. The race lasted an hour and a half and each team would have one racer out at a time. The teams had to decide when to do driver changes. Most people opted for 10 minute sessions as this gave everyone a few goes on the track. My team didn't do to disastrously, we came 5th.

After the racing we went into Birmingham for some drinks and went to a Mexican restaurant. I had piri piri chicken for a starter and duck enchiladas for the main. It was very tasty. I left about 9.30 to get the train back to derby, but I was so tired I fell asleep on the train and missed my stop and ended up near Sheffield opps.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

29th Birthday and Wedding Aniversary

Happy birthday to me.
Happy birthday to me.
Happy birthday dear meeeeeeee.
Happy birthday to me.

Today is also Mine and Amandas 2nd wedding aniversary, so we are going to Makeny Hall near Duffield tonight for a meal. This is the same place we had our wedding reception. Can't wait. Just need to get through the last few hours of work so I can go home :-)


Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sharon and Marks Wedding

This weekend we went up to Oswesty near the north Wales border to the wedding of our friends Sharon and Mark. It took us a couple of hours to drive there, but we got a little confused after parking. The invitation said the wedding was at St Oswolds church, but when we got there we found out that there was 2 churches of the same name. We walked to the first one, and no one was standing out. We found this lady and she told us that we was at the correct church (luckily). She informed us that Mark was in the pub with everyone else. So we joined them and had a nice pint of LandLord bitter. Just what you need before a church service.

The Parish of St Oswolds Church in Oswestry.

Being completely non religious I thought I may burst into flames as soon as I entered the church, but luckily I was spared this indignity for the day :-) At about 12.45 we was all standing out side the church, including the groom, When Sharons wedding car pulled up. She was early!! As soon as mark saw the car he rushed inside the church so he couldn't get a glimpse of her dress. We all quickly followed him in. The bride is normally late, so this was a complete shock. I must add that Sharon looked amazing in her wedding dress, I think Amanda was even crying at the point when she Sharon walked down the isle.

Great looking wedding car.

The wedding went very smoothly and took just under an hour for the service. The vicar was quite humorous and made a few jokes during the service. This makes a nice chance to the usual stuffy services. I think this probably also helped Sharon and Marks nerves. I can quite relate to how they were feeling as I got married 2 years ago.

Sharon and Mark after the service.

After the service everyone went outside so the photographer could take the photos for the wedding album. Everyone was jostling for space to get photos of the couple, I even got in the official photographers way a few times, but I'm sure he is used to it.

Half way through the photos there was a break in the clouds and we had some blue sky, so I quickly grabbed the camera from Amanda and took the above picture of the church. I like shots like these.

Once the photos were finished eveyone made their way to the hotel were the reception was. This was held at the Lion Quays hotel just outside Oswestry. The hotel was very good. They had only finished building it this year so everything was new. We had a room booked there for the night. All the rooms even had nice flat panel widescreen TV's in them, which makes a change from the crap TV's you normally get.

We all sat down for the meal around 4pm. The food was very nice. There was vegetable soup soup for the starter, followed by chicken in redwine sauce with oyster mushrooms. Then profiterols for dessert. After the meal it was time for the speeches. These got off to a rough start as the microphone kept on cutting out. I really don't think this helped Marks nerves, but he delivered a good speech with all the usual mushy sentiments. His best man was next who was even more nervous and he kept on fluffing his lines and jokes. Can't say I blame him though, I hated doing a speech at my wedding. The nerves were horrible.

The wedding cake.

The evening party started around 8pm. This was a typical wedding party, a cheesy disco, Lots and lots and lots of alcohol and a buffet. The buffet was really nice, it was bbq'd burgers chicken and sausages etc. Very tasty.

Today after nursing our hangovers we decided to have a drive around after checking out of the hotel. Seeing as we was up this way, we thought we should see whats about. We decided to cross over into north Wales and went to a town called Llangollen. This was about 20 minutes away. The town is centered around a river. We saw signed leading to a steam railway so we walked over to check it out.

On the way to the railway I spotted this strange shop. They sold bizarre chairs and mushrooms carved out of wood. I like the fact they painted the caravan in the background the same color and pattern as the wall behind it.

View over the canal to the steam railway.

It was very cold today. When we packed our suitcase for the wedding we forgot to pack coats. For the wedding I was wearing a suit, but I wasn't wearing this the following day and only had trousers and a t-shirt so we was very cold.

The railway was cool. You don't see many steam trains these days so I quite liked seeing this one. When one of the trains pulled up and released it's steam, I was surprised at how much billowed out over the platform.

At about 2pm we decided to go and get a cup of coffee and then drive back. We got back around 5pm.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Meal around Neil and Carolines new house.

Tonight we went around to Neil and Carolines new house for a meal. They moved in just over a month ago, and now they have everything unpacked you can actually get into the dining room :-)

They cooked a nice Thai red curry. I love Thai food, definately one of my favourite cuisines.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Elaines Birthday

Last night we went out for a meal with Elaine and Andy as it is elaines birthday today. We went to a resturant in Derby called Pierre Victoires. The food was really nice, I had Lamb :-) Yummy.


Monday, September 05, 2005

Holiday in Turkey

Me, Amanda and my sister Charlotte have just for back from our summer holiday in Turkey. We arrived in Bodrum airport at 4am in the morning on the Monday. To get to our hotel we had a 2 hour coach transfer to Kusadasi. We stayed in the Tusan Beach Resort hotel. The hotel was 4 star and very comfortable, although the rooms could do with a little modernizing.

We got a few hours sleep and then got up for breakfast. We didn't want to wander too far from the hotel as we were still quite tired from the traveling. Unfortunately because we went to the hotel in high season, we couldn't get a sun bed by the pool on the first day as you need to get up quite early to reserve one, so we decided to goto the beach instead. The beach was very nice and the water was warm.

First day at the beach.

Amanda and Charlotte both went to the shop and bought inflatable lilos for the sea water. Luckily they pumped them up for you in the shop, or they would have made me do it.

On Tuesday morning we managed to get sun beds by the pool, so we relaxed there for the morning.

The swimming pool at the Tusan Beach Resort.

In the afternoon we decided to get the Dolmus bus in to Kusadasi to have a look around. The city centre was quite busy and their were plenty of shops all trying to get you to go in and buy the vast range of fake clothes they have.

Amanda and Charlotte window shopping.

On Wednesdays in Kusadasi they have a huge covered market. We decided to go along and see what we could find. We got their nice and early so it wasn't too busy. Amanda bought a pair of jeans. They were fakes, but they are made to such high quality it can be difficult to tell the difference.

Stall selling spices and tea.

Once we had finished in the market we went for another look around town, as Charlotte had her eyes on a pair of shoes, so we wanted to try and haggle them down in price. You have to haggle for everything. They suggest a price, and you offer half that, then you both haggle to a happy medium. I'm no good at it, but Amanda is a haggling genius. I swear she must have a degree in it. Must be all that northern air she breathed as a kid.

Man selling pretzels in the street.

Whilst we was in town we decided to book some of our excursions, we booked a boat trip, jeep safari and quad biking. On Thursday we just relaxed by the pool. Amanda and Charlotte went and had a Turkish bath and massage, I wasn't to keen on this so I stayed by the pool and drank beer. We was all inclusive so you could drink as much as you liked. On Friday Charlottes boyfriend Jamie arrived. He was only joining us for a week before he had to go home and join the Army to train as a plumber.

On Saturday we was meant to go for a boat trip, but the coach never picked us up. We went back into Kusadasi to the tour operator, and it turned out they had just made a simple mistake and not added us to the book. They were very apologetic, so in the end We decided to go to a water park called AdaLand which was only a few minutes away from out hotel. The park was great, although I'm sure some of their slides would never pass UK safety standards. On one I wasn't actually touching the slide as I came hurtling down at what felt like 100mph. I declined to go on the other 2 slides next to it, as I had already got winded. They also had some smaller tunnel slides that you go down on in flatables, these were good fun.

My favorite slide at the waterpark was a kind of huge twisted half pipe, were they drop you off one side on a rubber ring and you slide down and up the other side and slowly slide down this funnel bit into a pool.

Another attraction they had at Adaland was a rafting circuit. This had quite a powerful wave machine, so they made you wear life jackets and helmets. The rafts were for 2 people, so I went in one with Amanda. But unfortunately she wasn't very strong at rowing, so we kept on spinning around as you really need to people to steer it. It was a bit of a disaster really, but was good fun.

On Sunday we went on a jeep safari that takes you through the country side and up a few mountains. The views were amazing, although it was quite worrying that on one side of the road you have a 400 foot drop down a cliff face with no safety barrier.

One of the jeeps in our group.

Halfway through the safari we stopped off at a restaurant for lunch, and then drove to beach. This was a beach that the Turkish use for their holidays. They must have though it quite strange to see all us there.

View from one of the moutains.

Random photo of Charlotte. Was a quick snap at the bar but I like how it turned out.

On Monday we finally went on the boat trip. The coach actually picked us up this time. We went to the harbor at Pigeon Island and got on our boat. There was probably about 15 people on our boat, so there was plenty of room to spread out and sun bath.

Pigeon Island.

The boat stopped off at a few different bays were we could swim in the sea. The water was nice and warm.

A boat moored in a secluded bay.

At one of the bays you could climb up a cliff face. I didn't go as I was quite happy swimming in the sea, but Amanda did and she took the picture below.

On Tuesday we went on our quad biking trip. Every holiday Me and Amanda do we like to do quad biking. We first did it on our honey moon in Tunisia, and we enjoyed it so much we always try and book it. The trip lasted 3 hours and we was totally knackered after that. We also got completely covered in dust. We must have looked like complete tramps when we got back to the hotel.

Amanda, Charlotte andMe on our quad bikes.

In the afternoon I started to feel a bit ill and started running a temperature, so I stayed in bed all evening, and Amanda went out for a meal with Charlotte and Jamie. I was still ill the next day, but I went down by the pool and sat in the shade. Luckily towards the end of the day I started feeling a lot better. I think it was because I got too much sun on the boat trip. I mistakenly assumed the sun cream I was using was water proof, so didn't re-apply it after I got out of the sea. Opps.

On Sunday Me and Amanda went on a trip to a set of ruins called Ephesus. The trip started off with a trip to a pottery factory. They had a demonstration area were they showed you how the pots are made. They asked for volunteers, so Amanda quickly raised her hand.

Amandas first attempt at a pot didn't turn out too well, as you can see below.

But on her 2nd attempt the guy running the demonstration showed her what to do, and the 2nd pot turned out quite well.

I think Amanda has found a new career path if ever she gets bored if I.T.

After the pottery factory we traveled to the first site. The first ruins we saw was the Temple of Artemis. But to be quite honest this was crap. There was hardly anything there except a few broken parts of a pillar.

After this we went to the main Ephesus site. The ruins here were much more impressive. If your into your Bibles and Jesus stuff, then this city is talked about in the book of Ephesians. It was very hot at Ephesus, so it made the trip quite difficult as you was in the scorching sun for 2 hours trying to listen to the quite who had to speak in English and then German.

The 2 photos below are of the entrance way to the main library. This looks very impressive when you are there.

On our last day in Kusadasi Amanda thought it would be a good idea to spend the rest of our holiday money on clothes. Typical eh! So we trapsed around the shops. We came to one place called Brothers Boutique, and the guy in there was very friendly. Naturally they gave us the hard sell, but Amanda fought back with her haggling super powers. The guy in the shop treated it as a game so it was very funny to watch. I even got some very good fake Quicksilver tops too at a good price.

Amanda Haggling over some tops.

Late on Sunday night we had to travel back to the UK. Our flight from Bodrum was at 1.30 in the morning. We was very tired and didn't really enjoy the flight. But it was good to finally land. Because we flew back to Stanstead Airport Me and Amanda had to stay at my parents house for the rest of the night, then we drove back to Derby in the morning.

The holiday was really good, and I recommend you try and go there too. You can get some great bargains in the shops and there are lots of excursions that you can do. This is the 2nd time Me and Amanda have been to Turkey and I'm sure we will end up going there again in the Future.


Back from Kusadasi in Turkey

At 4am this morning we landed at Stanstead Airport, back from our holiday in Turkey. I am absolutely knackered, and have to go back to work tomorrow morning. I shall add a more detailed entry about the trip with photos over the next couple of days.