Monday, December 31, 2007

Ski trip

I got home from Le Deux Alps about 8 last night. It was an amazing trip, full of fun food and ski.

Forever delayed

This has been a busy week, it all started at when at 4am on the 22nd December. My alarm woke me up to leave the house. Phil and his family wanted to arrive 3 hours ahead of time. I decided 2 hours was good enough (as indicated on the Manchester Airports website at least). Unfortunately my gamble for an extra hours sleep somewhat backfired on me. This was the busiest day of the year to fly and Thomas Cook staff weren't very good at keeping the queues down. It me 1 hour 10 minutes to check in then I joined the back of the queue for the security desk. I stretched across the airport from T1 departures nearly into T3. I had never seen anything like it and was convinced I wouldn't make the flight. Fortunately the airport staff dragged me out of the queue and I got into the fast lane. Once I was through security I literally ran across the airport to the gate. I walked on-board the aircraft 10 minutes before the scheduled take off, I shouldn't have bothered running. Thanks to fog in Lyon and the delays at Manchester we sat on the tarmac for an hour before take off.
There was a two and a half hour coach trip from Lyon to Deux Alps, the final hour of which was all uphill winding our way into the mountains. The coach rose though a series of hairpin bends, the bends were numbered!


Phil's family and Jules were staying in a hotel which was situated right at the bottom of the nursery slopes. Unfortunately there wasn't room for Phil and I, we were staying in a chalet about half a mile away. Unfortunately for us most of the distance was uphill. The chalet was located at the top of 5 flights of stairs. One of the reps at the hotel kindly gave us a lift up there (we would have really struggled with our bags otherwise) called the place Hogwarts because of the strange pointy roof. Apart from its position the chalet itself was actually quiet a nice place, it was designed to hold upto six people so felt pretty spacious with just Phil and I.

Ski Lessons

As neither myself Jules or Phil's mother hadn't skied for a while, we enrolled into ski school as level 1. Level 1 is not total beginners but not far off, for people who actually know how to put on their skis. I was amazed by how quickly the skills start to come back with a bit of tuition. Despite starting on the green nursery slopes (and falling over at lot) by the end of the week I was getting pretty good, god enough to have successfully (IE I didn't fall over) tackled a couple of Red runs.

Apres Ski

After about 4pm the light started to fail, the temperature dropped as the slopes moved into shadow at this point we were usually pretty tired having skied for most of the day so it was time to head back to the hotel. Ski resorts are out of the way places, up the top of a hill the only people there are people who want to sky or people who work looking after the skiers. Deux Alps is no exception; after skiing he only other thing to do is go for a drink or two, the so called Apres Ski. There were a few good bars in the town, Polar Bar (with its alpine pine panels and fireplace) the secret smithy's and club Avalanche. Phil and I went out most nights and visited most of the bars and clubs, I recommend avoiding French clubs they are stupidly expensive on drinks and entry. We actually made it into Avalanche for free after following onto a Neilson pub crawl.
Overall a really top holiday, I cannot thanks Phil's parents enough for inviting me it was an amazing trip.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Who's advice should I take?

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Martina bought me these guys for Christmas, I think they are fantastic :-)

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Snowman, originally uploaded by j0hncooke.

17:44 22 December 2007 22122007031 Phils sister Tina and her Ozzy boyfriend Jonny built this snowman outside their chalet

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Medication X

Took this on my camera phone as my cameras memory card was full.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How Cold!

Phil and I went to the unicorn tonight, it was a pretty cold evening we were both wearing our sky jackets and on walking out of the unicorn it was a good job because according to Phil's car it was minus 40C the average temperature for Antartica at this time of year!
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Saturday, December 15, 2007


I went to John Lewis to do more shopping today, bought the all important thermal underwear, just the job for skiing.
I also went to meet a mortgage adviser, something I kind of promised I wouldn't do but gave in to pressure from the estate agent. It actually wasn't entirely unhelpful looking into budgeting and costings was helpful. I am still going to shop around for deals nothing is binding. I certainly would think twice about using the in house legal services. One thing that was very strange was watching the adviser interact with the computer system. It was very similar to ours only as a windows application rather than all command line. It asked a lot of the same questions and even had some of the same foibles though.

This evening was very dull no-one was about about so i stayed home sorted out my accounts for Server room and watched some Dexter.

Friday, December 14, 2007


I felt very dopey at work today, sometimes people say I was there in body but not in spirit, well thats very much how I felt. Fortunately I had managed to get through most of the important work already. Also slightly fortuitous for me today was the Customers Christmas do. That meant that everyone could get out slightly early, I was extremely grateful to leave work at four. I meant I could get myself to TKMaxx to buy some things for skiing.

TKmaxx was recommended to me at lunch time by the shopkeeper of the small sports store in Wilmslow. I went in with Paul to try and buy a sleeping bag. He was planning to stay at Woller's that evening and needed something to keep warm. He was up in for the final Gypsies Playground practice before the Christmas ball concert on Tuesday. We went to the Bollin Fee for their (in)famous beer and a burger meal. It was actually pretty tasty, I recommend paying the extra £1 for the flame grilled chicken burger over the breaded one. It was nice to see Paul, chatting about Radiohead and life in general.

After work I headed to TKmaxx. I was prepared for the worse queues, or a total lack of products. Luckily Friday night turned out to be a good time to go. The place was busy but not excessively so. I manged to find a ski jacket, pants and a few other bits pretty cheap. While I was searching I got a phone call from one of the people at freedom inviting me to the Christmas do. I was really nice to be invited but I had already arranged to go and see a film with Martina.

After shopping I headed to Northern Moor to Pick her up, she had been tutoring a child in German. We headed for some food in Rusholme. We ate in Kebish, a small restaurant take away. The food was ok, I had Lamb tikka and a narn, Martina has Alu Gobi which was very tasty.

We went to see "We Own the Night". I thought it was ok a little long and drwan out I think Martina liked it a lot more. Focusing on Bobby a prodigal son who was enjoying his life as a bar manager of an up and coming night club in 1980s New York. Unfortunately his club becomes the center of a drugs investigation led by his estranged brother and father. The story then becomes a coming of age one for Bobby as he steps up risks his life then loses his freedom before eventually joining the police force and stopping the Russian mob. There were all sorts of subtexts which Martina liked but I thought was pretty overdone.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Its been a long day for me, I arrived at work at 6.30 this morning. It was cold and dark, no time at all to be awake working.
After work I headed to the gym lifted some weights in the hope I would find it relaxing. It felt good to be in the gym, it was empty as well. The usual calm December before the storm of January.

Phil dropped a crazy one on my this evening. He invited me to go skiing with his family to the French Alps. It means I wont be able to spend Christmas with my family and that I will miss the next Lan Party but in the end this is a really good opportunity to do something different at Christmas.

I must admit though I am a little apprehensive about skiing I have been before. I went to Andorra on a ski trip at school, but that was (and I am showing my age here) 14 years ago! I will definitely have to make sure my insurance will covers me!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Must be the wind or something but the last two nights I have seen broken umbrella's lying in the road. Phil drove over one last night and I saw one on the way home from Martina's.
I went round to practise some Japanese, I should not have bothered really I am coming to the conclusion than my mind is unable to digest foreign languages. I found it incredibly frustrating I have difficulty remembering even the most basic of phrases and grammatical structure. I think that it must have really pissed her off because she had no patients for my mistakes tonight. I doubt even extra practise would make any real difference I will always be a British guy with a strong regional accent attempting to speak Japanese, Much like the pigeon English which find so amusing myself.

Today hasn't been the greatest really the whole house thing is becoming a chore. It seem very difficult to find anything in my price range, let alone consider all the things people tell me. There seem two schools of thought, people like Nick and Bruce think a lot about making improvements and having a projects. A few others are more keen to get shiny new property somewhere that needs no work that is a nice place to live. I think I fall somewhere in the middle, I an not as a hands on as Nick or Bruce but I would like to put my own authority on somewhere rather than have something totally new. It all very confusing, I will ahve to sit and have a long think about the whole thing. No doubt the estate agents will be on the phone again tomorrow.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Mrs. Robinson

Yesterday was a very long day. It started out reasonably well. I had to drag myself out of bed bleary eyed to get to work for 6am. All software updates at the moment have to be undertaken out of working hours. So that means if I need to take the system down to upgrade the databases I need to get in hours before the call centre open do the upgrade and have everything up and working. For various reasons the last few upgrades haven't gone very smoothly. Touch wood, I had everything done and working this time so that when I go in Monday morning there will be no issues.

I had booked a couple of viewings on Flats for the afternoon. Bruce offered to come with me to check. I looked at another place in the same road, very similar to one I saw last week. It hadn't been modernised so needed a new kitchen and bathroom, plus central heating, it did however have a loft conversion which gave a lot of extra room. The owner / vendor showed us around the place, it was a strange experience.

It was a foul day and we got soaked walking to the next viewing, which was doubly annoying given the owners were out. So not for the first time I wasted 10 minutes stood outside their door waiting for an answer that never came.

I was feeling a little tired by the time I got home, the early morning starting to get to me. My parents are no help, they only offer dark warnings about how much money Ill lose if I choose the wrong place and no encouragement about my house buying. I went for a nap as I was planning to stay up for the boxing.

I got about 10 minutes rest before Paul rang me, he wanted to tell me about his Belgium trip and have a chat about the Radiohead boxed set. It was nice to hear from him, sounds like he enjoyed Belgium. Apparently Woller nearly didnt' make it back, after leaving his passport in his room.

After the call I was wide awake so I went to play on Mario for a bit, I managed to beat Bowser. I felt great only now the next aims is to collect all of the star. I have 40 remaining, and as I have completed most of the simpler worlds that leaves all the hard ones, so it might take some time!

Phil picked me up around 7 and we headed to Gilmore's flat. He paid for the Mayweather Hatton fight so we were planning to eat play some Nintendo then watch the boxing. We ordered Chinese from the same place as last time and an hour later tucked into yet another huge Chinese meal.

Andy and Emily got me a birthday gift too, which was really incredibly nice of them. They bought me the Nintendo Zapper and Crossbow game for the Wii. It was really quite fun shooting things :)

It got to 2.30am and both Phil and I were fading fast, we found out the actual fight did not begin until 4am so we decided to make tracks. It was a shame not to see the fight but I wouldn't have made it. I was sad to learn Hatton was knocked out in the 10th round when I woke up.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Radiohead 2008 @LCCC

I managed to bag tickets to see Radiohead next June, its going to be great, Phil Paul myself and Martina. I cannot wait.

Talking of Martina, it was her birthday today so I joined her and her friends for a Birthday curry.I was with Martina (German) three French guys (Etienne, Damien,and Romen (i think not sure how to spell)) a Spanish girl whos name I didn't catch, Michael a Chinese man and a French girl Paige.

Etienne followed me to Rusholme I dont think he knew the way, it went pretty well and we made it OK. I found a side street to park on unfortunately he had a great deal of trouble parking up behind me. There was plenty of space but it was wet and misty difficult to see properly.

I took them to the Spicy hut because I think its tasty and pretty well priced. Damien surprised me for a thin guy he eat like Bruce stiffing away two starters, a Pasanda and desert! An eating machine! I had my usual Chicken k Sizzler with Jalfresi sauce

Martina seemed to enjoy her vegetarian dish. After the meal she opened her presents and made an origami hat for Etienne. It was a different evening for me enjoyable but I did feel somewhat out of place, I was the only person there who didn't speak at least two languages fluently. Is strange when I was at school I never realised how wonderful and useful languages were, though I blame this partially on the terrible quality of language tuition at my school. OK I realise I could and should have tried harder but its was difficult with the emphasis on punctuation and grammar rather than speaking and listening.

That aside it was a very fun evening, great food nice company and something different which I always good fun.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Down is the new up

I had today off work, initially I was supposed to be heading to Antwerp to visit Marianne that however long ago ceased to be a possibility. I went to view a couple of flats I had seen on right move. It was the first time I properly viewed a place, even the house I stayed in at university was chosen by the other housemates.
It was a pretty weird experience wondering around someone else's house and being prompted for a commentary by the estate agent. I wasn't entirely sure what I was even meant to look for. I guess it would have been a good idea to take someone like Nick along.

I arrived home about 1 to find my Radiohead boxed set had arrived, it was very exciting. A whole new CD a booklet and LP version of the original in rainbows CD. I hate to sound disappointed but the second CD sounded more like Amnesiac to Kid A. The booklet was also somewhat disappointing, the artwork was well below the work done for previous albums, it didn't speak to me.

I spent the afternoon looking at more houses on the net and listening to Radiohead, then went to Japanese class. Class was very hard, we had a Japanese girl Yukiko who we got to ask questions of. Only one problem she could barely understand our broken Japanese and when she twigged she asked us questions back!

I was really exhausted afterwards, but Bruce asked me to the pub so I though hell why not. He was a bit down apparently a couple of his colleagues have decided to move on and its making him think hard about his future. We talked about that and I told him about the flats I viewed. Then Julie came and chatted to us a little she is going to the British museum in London to see the terracotta army. It sounds like a great thing to go and see I think I might have to go and check it out myself sometime before it heads back to China.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Salmon Pasties

Every year the customer goes on a company outing, as usual this ment a trip to Parrs Wood then a few drinks afterwards.
I go invited to make up numbers, I was unfortunatly awful at bowling and embarrassing came last and second to last. Never mind I did manage to have a go on House of the Dead and was a bit more successful.

Dinner came in the form of fast food from the in house Wimpy. So los of Chips a few bergers and a rather ramdom salmon pasty. One of the call centre manager rather too exception to the salmon pasties. He remarked that the call centre would function better if they were hadned to the staff and on scoring a strike exclaimed "Salmin pasties".

After bowling we headed to the Slug and Lettuce in Didsbury. After a round of drinks someone suggested we try out some drinking games. First one was word dissasociation in which you have to say a work totally dissasociated with whatever the last person said. While ths game sounds easy after a few drinks things get a little difficult.

Next stop was the Picture and Piano, the alcohol had already started to bring out a series of work tensions. I mainly kept out of it and drank down afew more beers. When time was called at the Piano the we designer suggested retro bar in Manchester. A short taxi ride later and a few more beers and my head was beginning to swim. I remember thinking it was a good idea to try and find a club though that didnt work out and we ended up in a curry house.

I ended up sharing a cab back to with the IT manger my head was swimmming and I was out the moment my head touched the pillow.