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An Olive Grove Facing the Sea
It's funny, I barely recognise myself.. which is, come to think of it, exactly what I was after six months ago.

My holiday has done me a lot of good. I barely thought of work at all while I was there, which is an improvement on last time, when I went into work during my week's holiday. In fact, I'm thinking of changing my arrangement so that rather than selling a week's holiday for money, I buy an extra week instead (an overall gain of two weeks on what I currently get).

And also, it's been rather neat, experience-wise. Let's see..

1. Furthest West I've ever been
Though I didn't quite get to see the Pacific, Seattle is still further west than I've been before, which was really neat. The eight hour time difference was rather.. odd...

2. Furthest North I've ever been
On the way to Cleveland, we flew over Greenland, and I got to see mountains and Glaciers.. It was really awesome actually, it was the sort of landscape I used to imagine as a child..

3. Furthest South I've ever been
The flight home took me via Texas, which is the closest to the equator I've been (though with any luck, I'll drag Naomi off to South Africa before too long, which should be cool).

4. Warmest climate I've been in
On my way home, the temperature in Texas was over a hundred degrees (not centigrade), which was quite the novelty.. Though it's possible that we had similar temperatures in Pennsylvania a few years ago, I'm not really sure..

5. Highest 'Thing' I've seen
Seeing Mt Ranier in Seattle was pretty cool.. it's a good three miles high, and dominates the horizon even from about a hundred miles away.

So all that was quite neat.. seeing Greenland was really awesome - it just makes me want to visit somewhere like that, just to see the landscape.. :o)

Ooh, also, I got to see Orcas in the wild.. It was awesome, they're one of those animals that I'd pictured in my head from an early age.. I used to have a little toy one, and I'd seen wildlife programs with them in, and it was really cool seeing them in their natural habitat.. They were swimming right by the boat, you could see them underwater, and then when they surfaced to breathe.. Ah, it was just really really cool :o)

And, in a related matter, I tried fish for the first time in my life. So over the last few months, that's coffee, carrots, potato, peppers, haddock... So now I can no longer say that I don't eat any vegetables or fish any more, which is quite an achievement. Which is really down to Naomi.. Jokes about her being my saviour (in general, and Jesus in particular) aside, being with her makes me want to better myself, which is a rather good thing.

It's really good actually, while the relationship certainly has its ups and downs, it never feels like things are in a rut at all, and the ups are so very very.... up.

In other, rather good news, I got the job I applied for. This means a promotion, a pay rise, and most importantly, moving to Cardiff within the next few weeks. Life certainly is getting busy right now - with any luck, after Chris's wedding, things will have calmed down a bit. Actually, speaking of that, Dan, I need to get in touch with you at some point in the near future regarding making appropriate stag-do type arrangements. I would very much appreciate your help with it :o)

But yes, I'm now a Band 5 at work (as opposed to starting as a Band 8, and getting up to Band 6 in October last year), which is equivalent to a lot of the managers. Really I should e-mail Vicki to tell her, since I'm catching her up now.. Other than her, I don't know anybody as young as me who's got quite so far in the company, and certainly not in such a short space of time. Moving up three grades in just two years - not bad at all!

Of course, the sad news now is that further promotion beyond this point is unlikely to come in the near future. Band 4 is proper manager level, and I really can't imagine getting to that for a good few years yet, so this is pretty much where I'll be for a while. Not that I mind - I rather feel like I've reached the level that's appropriate to my skills, and that I'm doing a job whose requirements match my qualifications. And there are always pay rises and bonuses...

And once again, it's not an IT job, which in a sense is a good thing. I don't think I want to work *in* IT, I just want to work *with* IT. So for producing reports and for quick analysis tools, I can still use lots and lots of coding and stuff, but it's all things of my own invention, rather than building systems for other people based on their specifications. Which is good. Not entirely sure what my old area is going to do for macro stuff, but if they'd put together a team for that sort of thing when I first suggested it (about a year ago), then this wouldn't have been an issue. And if such a team had been put together, maybe there would have been potential for upward progression within the area, and I wouldn't need to look for a job elsewhere.

Though that said, it's no coincidence that I'm moving to Cardiff, which happens to be where Naomi lives.. They could have built the office around me, and I think I'd still rather move across the country to be with her :o) It's all working out rather well, actually.. Hopefully once I'm settled there, I can get my guitar amp, and my four track, and my (music) keyboard, which would be rather groovy.. And since I'll be living in Wales, I might even get around to learning Welsh (which I've been meaning to do for, oh, about fifteen years now). Being able to count, pronounce the letters correctly, and read about twenty words isn't really enough.. But if I lived there, I could actually make an effort to learn it, and with TV programs in Welsh that should help somewhat..

I've been looking at flats in Cardiff.. Bear in mind that in Brighton, I paid £600 per month for a studio, and £650 per month for a one bed flat.. In Cardiff, a studio flat goes for about £300 per month, and a one bedroom flat for less than £400 per month.. At least with the places I've looked at.. Which means that I can basically pick anywhere I want, so long as it's nice, and conveniently located within easy reach of both Naomi and the central station.

Longer term, I'd be looking to buy somewhere once I've sorted out my debts.. with an increased income and decreased cost of living, together with having eliminated the £40 per week cost of going to Cardiff, I ought to be able to start getting that sorted, and saving up for a deposit on somewhere that I can buy (just as soon as I can figure out what the market is likely to do). But that's getting a bit ahead of myself - for the time being, I just need to arrange some weekend viewings of flats in Cardiff, and pop up there to sort things out ASAP.

And then there's the current job.. If I'm right, I have just 105 contracted hours remaining, before I'm gone. Which means reworking a lot of the systems I've designed so that they can be used by anybody. This will be tricky - I'll actually need to plan the whole thing like one big project. I mean obviously I'll probably work ten hour days for the next few weeks anyway, since in this flat there's not much to do (practically no TV reception at all, and no Internet), but still, there's so much stuff that needs doing. And then I can wash my hands of the whole thing, which will be rather odd..

I have to think about Frisbee.. I mean, I'll be working in Bristol, so in theory I could go play for Bristol Plastic Factory. But then again, I'll be living in Cardiff, and I rather like the idea of playing for a Welsh sports team. After all, I'm getting much better at singing the national anthem ;o) It's quite a difficult choice, because I don't know what either team is like, except that Bristol are good, and I've not seen Welsh teams at many tournaments. So if I go to Bristol, I might not get pitch time because I'm not as good as them, but if I go to Cardiff I might not get pitch time because they don't play much. I shall have to investigate.

It'll be weird not playing for the Mohawks any more.. but still, once a Mohawk, always a Mohawk.. There will always be reunion tournaments, and my catchy nickname assures me a lasting legacy ;o)


Okay, so all that was Saturday night / Sunday morning.. it's now Sunday evening, and I have work in the morning.. lots of music to face, since I have to actually tell my boss that I'm leaving, along with all the people that I help with things.. it's kind of neat - lots of people who think I'm at their disposal 24/7 to fix things and build stuff for them (no names mentioned) will find out suddenly that they have to do things themselves.

Spent today sorting out the old flat, moving out the last of my stuff, and cleaning the place. So now I have my microwave and toaster and kettle here and stuff.. but sadly, I don't have the surface space for any of it, since my kitchen is so very very 'compact'. Bring on Cardiff, where I can buy luxury at half the price..

It feels weird leaving that place.. it really had started feeling like home, much more so than the place I lived before (even though I was there for three years). I guess it's to do with the fact that it's the first place I ever had to myself, and it was right by the sea, and stuff.. Whereas this place doesn't feel at all like home - rather, it feels like an extension of work, like, somewhere to sleep between periods of time spent in the office. With no Internet and barely any TV, there's not much to this place..


And now Monday morning, when I'm at work and can post this..

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I'm on my holibobs from Fri 26th Aug until Fri 2nd Sept, so may prove tricky when it comes to arrange a stag-do for Chris. Mallen reckons as best man, you should arrange it entirely yourself (this may not be entirely true).

Chris was talking about how Rachael's hen night is the weekend before the wedding, and that he'll have the house to himself then.

He suggested something like quad biking (twice, so I think he wants to do that ;o), and said that a pub would be good. With that in mind, all that remains is to find out exactly how many people will be going. He said that there's only one person from work, and a few from uni, so it shouldn't be too hard to organise.

I think we should make it to Crendon at some point, personally, and go drink in the Churchill Arms. And possibly break into school property for old times' sake (and sit in the library or something, as we did...)

As for Mallen, I don't think there's any harm in being helped out - it's not like this is some mighty quest that I have to complete alone or something... I would've asked for help from him, except that the last night out he suggested we all go on was to a strip club, after he came back from the land of lady boys.. Which, while appropriate to the event itself, wouldn't be entirely appropriate to the people going ;o)

a good place to live in cardiff is the roath area, as it's quite cheap and only about 10 min bus drive to central station/ 20 min walk from town centre. Student capital though!

That's exactly where I was planning to live :o)

aha! well definitely good then. I only really know houses, there are some really good ones on Flora street. we will be neighbours :o!!

I'm going up there on Saturday to look at some places on Richmond Road, should be good.. :o)

So where abouts are you then?

Arabella street. it's just off the albany road, in fact its about 2 mins from tesco metro/the george pub. the george is a fantastic pub as well.

Ah, so very much just up the road then.. :o)

You and your middle of nowhere places...

I'm glad it's all played out this way though, it'll do you so much good to be outside of work. That sounds odd, but outside of the current work-sleep cycle. I have no idea how big Cardiff is, big/small enough to feel like home? When it's all sorted I'll come down and see you, not like I have anything planed for the rest of my life ;o)

(though with any luck, I'll drag Naomi off to South Africa before too long, which should be cool).

Yeah, you're gonna have to *drag* me kicking and screaming all the way back to the place I call home :oP

After all, I'm getting much better at singing the national anthem ;o)

But if I lived there, I could actually make an effort to learn it, and with TV programs in Welsh that should help somewhat..

Rather than making cracks about you moving to Wales being a bad idea after all, I've decided that we'd both be far better off if I just decided on a positive course of action. So...I'm just going to have to make sure that I find plenty of ways to keep your mind off all things Welsh, aren't I? ;o)

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