2013

It’s that time of year again! I try to do this every year on the first day of the New Year. This year, I couldn’t be bothered, I felt like a bit of a rest before it’s gone up.

Did you enjoy this year?
On the whole, yes. Did a fair few new things.

What did you do in 2013 you’d never done before?
Been to a games tournament, won a games tournament, driven to Cardiff (almost one whole year after starting work there!), gone to a Roller Derby game, kept the blog updated regularly.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn’t make any resolutions this year, but I did have a secret resolution to update the blog regularly. I’ve managed to put up a new post every two weeks all year long, only being late by a day or two a few times, normally due to illness. And I have managed to be early on at least two occasions, by more than five days, so overall I’m still ahead.

In 2014, I’m going to try and keep that up – blogging is fun. I’m also going to try and get my painting table cleared, and get running (again). If I put my updates on the blog, I’ll be more motivated to actually keep it all going. Watch this space.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
Some of our friends did, yes!

Did anyone close to you die?
What a morbid question this is. Thankfully, no.

What countries did you visit?
I visited Wales – I normally just work there. I also visited Nottingham, and while it’s not another country I’ll count it. I am not a globetrotter.

What would you like to have in 2014 you lacked in 2013?
Some calm.

What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
June 8th – I won the Cardiff Regional Championship! September 3rd – Freddy started school!

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Today’s meme is brought to you by the ‘winning the Cardiff DreadBall Regional’ dead horse, pre-flogged for your convenience.

What was your biggest failure?
Not being able to play in the Ultimate Regional. Not running.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
A few times, normal minor illness things. Nothing horrific.

Did you have to go to the hospital?
Nope, I am a healthy person. We went to hospital for Fred to have grommets put in, and again not long after for a biopsy.

What was the best thing you bought?
I didn’t buy anything this year, I think. Certainly nothing too big. I suppose the new printer will have to count by default.

Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Freddy’s behaviour improved a lot over the first two terms in school. His reading is shooting ahead, writing is catching up, and his silliness and outbursts are getting rarer and milder.

Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Freddy’s behaviour in the first term in school. It felt like there was no reason for it, and nothing we could do while he was at school to calm him down. About the only explanations we can think of is hospital visits or end-of-term tiredness. He sorted himself out though.

Where did most of your money go?
Into the mortgage, we didn’t really put anything anywhere else.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Freddy starting school. The Welsh Regional, and both of the Mantic Open Days. Getting my last DreadBall Kickstarter package.

What song will always remind you of 2013?
Lithuania’s awesome Eurovision entry, ‘We are the winners’.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or sadder? About the same.

ii. richer or poorer? About the same.

What do you wish you’d done more of?
More games! More games nights!

What do you wish you’d done less of?
I can’t really think of anything.

How did you spend Christmas?
Visiting family in Portsmouth.

Where did you ring in 2013?
At home, in bed, sleeping. We have two young kids and had to get to work after the new year!

What was your favourite TV programme?
We mostly watched Stargate SG-1 this year. Xena took a back seat because it was getting a little bit annoying with the Mongolian Amazons (and we had to sit around the computer, and the chairs aren’t good for Jen’s back).

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope. Well, Chris Grayling confounds me completely but I wouldn’t say I hate him.

What was the best book you read?
I don’t think I read a single book all year. It’s been a hard year to find time to read.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
I just don’t get any new music this year. My friends started a band, their last one was awesome, but I haven’t heard any of it yet. Check them out and tell me what you think, they are called The Disfavoured Party.

What did you want and get?
A tournament win!

What did you want and not get?
A proper National tournament, as was planned for the middle of November. The venue flubbed and we didn’t get it.

How did you earn your keep?
Writing software for a law firm.

What was your favourite film of this year?
The World’s End. Hands down the best.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I spent the day before at the Welsh Regional, and the day of my birthday just chilling out at home with my mum visiting. I was twenty-nine.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Winning another tournament. I’m getting to be a bit of a junkie… Never being late with the blog, not even the once.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Too many holes, best buy something new. Get the same as what I just threw out.

What kept you sane?
As in previous years, this question makes an assumption.

What political issue stirred you the most?
Privatisation of the probation service. When the keynote address at a conference discussing it declares that it’s a terrible idea, and the minister in charge hides an MOJ report about it while repeating “I believe it will work so I’m going to do it” (a direct quote) and the companies trying to get the government contracts are already being investigated for fraud while carrying out other government contracts in the same area… You have to wonder, is this really a good idea?

Who was the best new person you met?
I met a lot of new people at tournaments, and in the Vanguard club leagues. All of them are awesome people. Some of these people I expect I’ll only see in Nottingham at Mantic Open Days!

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:
Stay cool.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
WEEEEEEEE are the CHAMpyuns, my freeeeeeeeeeeee-ends…

What is the best thing that you were given?
My awesome metal pitch. It’s so pretty…

What is the best thing you have given someone?
I am not a generous person. I don’t think I gave anyone anything. I gave a bit to charity this year… but nothing personal that I remember. Ah well.

2012

OK, let’s do this again. As usual, I post for the first few months of the year, tail off until December and then stick up this post to justify having a blog at all.
 
Did you enjoy this year?
Aside from massive tiredness caused by the most difficult teething ever – yes, I have. I’ve done a lot of crazy stuff and had a lot of fun. It’s about time.
 
What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
A lot of travel – visited the Caribbean, visited Eastern Europe, plaited my own beard, quit two jobs before my birthday. Programmed in Java. Went to Cardiff, shouted at a ticket inspector,
 
Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I was planning to make resolutions, but things got a bit crazy this year and I lost it. Hey-ho, never mind. I’m not even going to try this year.
 
Did anyone close to you give birth? 
I’m an uncle! My sister-in-law had a lovely little girl. So my kids have a cousin… My friends had their third child too, that’s exciting. A little scary. I’m going to try and visit as soon as they allow me to.
 
Did anyone close to you die?
Right after doing this last year, the friends who just had a baby girl lost a baby girl. She was only 12 weeks old and I didn’t get a chance to meet her. I’ve felt like a terrible friend all year for not visiting them more.
 
What countries did you visit?
For the first time in a long time, I’ve travelled far and wide. Quite literally far and wide – we went to Cuba as a family in June (it was supposed to be February but our daughter had an unexpected hospital stay after a routine surgical procedure), I went to a stag do in Romania (what happens in Romania stays in Romania) and I got a job in Wales. For the first time since I was a wee baby, I’ve been to Wales, and the first time ever I visited Cardiff City. My first time there was my first day on the job.
 
What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Sleep. I had a pretty good year so I’m not that keen on getting something.
 
What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Wow, so many… There’s the 30th January, when Izzy came out of hospital 2 weeks after her ‘in-and-out day admittance’, the 15th June where she celebrated her first birthday in Cuba, Freddy had two birthday parties, Christmas as ever was a blast with kids, starting a new job in March, starting another new job in June, the Romanian weekend at the end of September… it feels like a lot has happened this year that I want to remember.
 
What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Cuba! Cuba was amazing. Not much of an achievement, almost anyone can go if they want to. Quitting a terrible job and being head-hunted twice was a pretty big achievement too. I am impressed with my ability to survive in a Java development environment, although I’m not going to be making a habit of it.
 
What was your biggest failure?
This blog was a pretty massive failure.
 
Did you suffer illness or injury?
I’ve had tonsilitis a lot this year. Every month for about 6 months. Then it stopped. Very bizarre. If I have a lot of throat infections again next year, my GP may refer me for a tonsilectomy.
 
Did you have to go to the hospital?
As feared last year, Izzy’s tongue tie grew back and it was a proper day-surgery anaesthetic job to get it sorted. Except her tongue swelled up so that she couldn’t drink, and had to be kept in hospital for two weeks (pushing back our holiday six months). That was scary. Other than that, we took Jen to hospital because she broke her toe but she didn’t complain too much about it.
 
What was the best thing you bought?
DreadBall! I’ve taken part in a few Kickstarters this year, and so far two of those have vindicated the other two. DreadBall has a massive discount, and the Order of the Stick drive got me loads of cool extras. The other two I put in much less money, as they are higher risk things – they’re computer games, and not yet completed, whereas OotS was reprinting existing books, and DreadBall was a finished product funding it’s launch.
 
Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Really just the kids.
 
Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
My previous employers. A lot of politics happened in the office and it must have been clear that our small, productive, non-Scrum development team didn’t want to join the large, unproductive Scrum development company because within a month four people had quit. In less than six months, another two left and one more is looking to leave. Kind of fitting that on joining the company we were forced to choose a team name and the most acceptable suggestion was “Icarus”…
 
Where did most of your money go?
The house, another big chunk on our holiday to rebook it for June (£120 per person for a family of four – ouch!) Next year, it’s going to be rebuilding the bathroom and then hopefully I can save money towards the mortgage again!
 
What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Holidays! New jobs! Trains! Children! And most recently, DreadBall!
 
What song will always remind you of 2012?
I think that I’ve completely lost music this year. It’s all gone.
 
Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or sadder?
Happier.
ii. richer or poorer?
A little poorer. I get paid more, but I have to pay a hell of a lot to commute by train, and Izzy started nursery this year. So it evens out a bit.
 
What do you wish you’d done more of?
I don’t really know. I think I did everything that I wanted to. As always, I could probably be more organised.
 
What do you wish you’d done less of?
I think I do need to be more organised. Then I could do more with less sleep.
 
How did you spend Christmas?
We had a day in the house on our own, then a day at the in-laws with a ton of food – literally, a ton of food. At the weekend, my family visited to finish Christmas off. A very, very busy year and the kids were spoiled without us spending a penny.
 
Where did you ring in 2012?
I think we were at home again. I write this before the new year, so I’m as far away from New Year last year as I can be! My memory isn’t good enough for that.
 
What was your favourite TV programme?
I think we finally got into Firefly this year. That was pretty awesome.
 
Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Not that I can think of!
 
What was the best book you read?
I haven’t read many books this year, because I’ve been pushing through the Eragon series that I got for Christmas last year. If I’m not engrossed in a book, I find it very difficult to read it quickly. That’s why I finish most Discworld books in a few days, but Eragon took me several months and Eldest even longer. I’ve been pushing really hard to get through Brisingr so I can get onto some of the other books I got last Christmas, let alone the ones I got this year!
 
What was your greatest musical discovery?
I’ve not heard anything new this year. If I have, I’ve not been told what it is. I tend to only hear music in clubs these days and that’s difficult to really appreciate new discoveries.
 
What did you want and get?
Cuba! Romania! Travel! Excitement!
 
What did you want and not get?
Sleep.
 
How did you earn your keep?
Still programming, but I moved jobs twice. The first time, because my department was absorbed by a larger development company in the business group. Their practices didn’t suit our team, productivity died, and the upcoming projects would be less and less interesting. Too much politics involved, so I left.
Shortly after, my former boss (and his former boss) offered me a job in Cardiff, and my first escape was not as exciting as I’d thought – the big project that they’d told me about was outsourced, the career and salary progression opportunities were… not great. It didn’t feel like they needed me, and I had done more work in the first three weeks in Cardiff than I had in the three months at this mini-escape.
 
What was your favourite film of this year?
The Hobbit! Or the Avengers! Or Batman! It’s a hard decision… I loved all three. We only just saw the Hobbit, in 3D HFR super fantastic awesomeness, so it’s a little unfair to ask that question since it’s so fresh in my mind.
 
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I think I did nothing. I was twenty-eight, busy packing for our Cuban getaway.
 
What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I don’t really know. I’ve been really happy this year, overall. I don’t know about more satisfying, but in a position of absolute knowledge I would be infinitely happier if the misfortune suffered by friends over the last year hadn’t happened.
 
How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
“Do you think you need to get some new clothes now?” – everything is falling apart, and I may have to spend some money on clothes. That’ll be annoying, I hate shopping.
 
What kept you sane?
It’s been so longer I don’t remember what sane looks like?
 
What political issue stirred you the most?
I’ve not had time to look into most politics in detail this year. I don’t think I could even be described as ‘stirred’. I’m just going to keep my head down till the next election and hope we don’t end up with a choice between ineffective wanker, ineffective liar, or destructive xenophobic tosspots. Assign those labels to political parties as your personal opinions desire!

Who was the best new person you met?
I met a whole bunch of awesome people on the stag do in Romania – great guys, all of them, and a cracking weekend.
 
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
I always knew that I liked to keep busy, but I didn’t realise just how true that was until I got to a job where things were too quiet. It drove me nuts!
 
Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“Always move forward, going straight will get you nowhere” – partly because the rapid pace of the song sums up just how this year has flown by. Every time I look up, another month has flown by. Let’s hope things slow down a little when 2013 comes around.
 
What is the best thing that you were given?
Time with friends. Old friends, new friends, the whole mess of them. Great to spend time with people, individually, at a party, for a purpose or just to hang out.
I love that John (indirectly) gave me the chance to come to his stag do in Romania, and Sam gave me the chance to go to Cuba.
 
What is the best thing you have given someone?
I’d like to think that the holiday I gave my family was pretty awesome. I know Freddy remembers it and I hope he does for a long time. Izzy won’t remember, but she can tell her friends when she is older that she celebrated her first birthday there. That’s worth a good story.

2011

Ha, well I certainly couldn’t miss a post today, could I. Not after writing a review for 2009 and 2010, anyway. I’ve noticed that most years, I get one big thing and nothing else matters. Freddy in 2008, the house in 2009, and the car in 2010. Taking into account my daughter was born this year, what do you think I’ll be thinking about the most?

Did you enjoy this year?
Yes, a huge amount. I have a small baby again, Freddy continues to get more and more grown-up, and I’m getting more interesting challenges in work.

What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Had two car accidents… Had a daughter… bought a very flashy phone… went to a strip club… I usually spend a week writing this review, so I can remember the things that happened and add to them. No time, this is being done on the fly!

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My resolutions for this year were:

  1. Go swimming once a week
    Failed. I think I went swimming twice.
  2. Paint for forty-five minutes a week
    Kept it up for quite a while, but failed halfway through the year and never caught up lost time.
  3. Save money, overpay at least a month on the mortgage
    Done! And saved enough to pay for a trip to Cuba next year!
  4. More pictures on this blog!
    Well, when I posted, I posted pictures. But I didn’t post much.
  5. Spend no more than £5 a month on games
    Made it through half the year, but one computer game can knock out 7 months of the budget in one go. £5 is a little too low with the price of things nowadays.
  6. More games and games nights.
    Nope. I managed a few games of Warhammer, and dragged myself to Games Workshop and Cut and Thrust to try and get into it, but I just don’t plan ahead enough.
  7. Blog on A Year of Frugal Gaming once a month
    This is the one I’m most disappointed about not keeping. It’s not my blog, and feels like I’ve let other people down.

I will make more for this year, but with a great big holiday sitting in February, I need to consider what my resolutions will be, and work out what I want to do. More details to follow.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
As I mentioned many pregnancies last year, they all popped through this year. Old friends, cousins, and of course we had our baby in June.

Did anyone close to you die?
No, but a lot of my friends lost someone very, very close to them.

What countries did you visit?
None. City-wise, I went to London, Southampton and Portsmouth. I feel like I’ve been travelling less and less as I get older – never more than 110 miles from home.

What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
More of my resolutions complete. I’m also eyeing up some large purchases in the house – we’re going to begin bending it towards what we want, rather than what we bought.

What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I would be very, very bad if I couldn’t remember the 15th June – the day that Izzy was born.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Having a daughter. She loves me.

What was your biggest failure?
Failed to keep any resolutions.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
I managed quite well through the year, only a slight hiccup in June (stress before Izzy was born dragged the immune system down) then a nasty attack of tonsillitis kept me right out of the real world for a whole week in December. Otherwise, generally managed to keep myself good.

Did you have to go to the hospital?
Check ups for the new baby, and to actually get her out (though that wasn’t the plan). Also to get Izzy’s tongue-tie cut, twice. And it might have grown back.

What was the best thing you bought?
My new phone. Although it was free on a contract. And I bought the flights to Cuba this year, but won’t actually go until February.

Whose behaviour merited celebration?
The kids, and many many other people.

Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Stanislaw Burzynski, for reasons that link will make apparent. Google (or Bing) for more, there’s lots out there. If you’re going to take advantage of cancer sufferers for financial gain, you have to accept that people will call you on it – the correct response is not to threaten legal action.

Most of our government, for more selfish reasons.

Where did most of your money go?
Mostly house stuff. A big chunk on our holiday, and it’ll totally be worth it.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Elizabeth! And the fact that she can digest with vomiting!

What song will always remind you of 2011?
Jessie-J, Pricetag. I heard an awesome live version in the car on my way to Portsmouth. Alongside that, I loved Swede Mason’s Masterchef Synaesthesia (Buttery Biscuit Bass). Find it on Youtube.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or sadder?

Happier.
ii. richer or poorer?
About the same.

What do you wish you’d done more of?
More of my resolutions. More games of Warhammer.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Watching DVDs. We’ve burned through almost all of DS9 and Voyager this year.

How did you spend Christmas?
In Portsmouth with my parents. Then a week doing almost nothing, and finally a long car drive back to Bristol with the car absolutely filled to the brim with toys.

Where did you ring in 2011?
At home, as is normal now. I went out at midnight to chat with some neighbours, then went back to bed.

What was your favourite TV programme?
I wouldn’t say favourite, but the only new thing we watched this year was the Big Bang Theory.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope.

What was the best book you read?
I just finished reading Snuff, I thought that was awesome. I liked PG Wodehouse (Code of the Woosters) but I think that may have been last year.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
Swede Mason, Tim Minchin and Jessie-J. I don’t really follow music so that’s about it.

What did you want and get?
A daughter! I know everyone says that they don’t mind, but I’ve got one of each now.

What did you want and not get?
A daughter on my birthday. She was due the day after, but turned up 4 days late.

How did you earn your keep?
Still programming.

What was your favourite film of this year?
Didn’t see any new films. Next year, I will be watching at least The Hobbit. We must start getting to the cinema again!

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 27 – I was probably ill, and waiting on tenterhooks for my wife to give birth.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I can’t think of anything other than actually completing any of my resolutions.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
”OK, those clothes are literally falling apart on you.” I can see 2012 as the year I need to buy a new wardrobe before my fashion concept is “it was good enough for the monkeys…”

What kept you sane?
Dark, quiet rooms when everyone is out. I can really appreciate not doing anything these days.

What political issue stirred you the most?
Mostly the phrase “we’re all in this together”, except that obviously we’re not. For example, Occupy movements and public sector strikes are seen as selfish, and not being all in this together, but the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. “All in this together” also means not chipping in and helping our European neighbours sort themselves out, when their possible collapse will deeply affect us. I don’t know what the right course of action really is, I just feel like the Prime Minister doesn’t either. All I know is that we’re not all in this together.

Aside from that, my obsession with media-watch blogs has kept me very very interested in the Leveson Inquiry. I really hope we get what we need from it.

Who was the best new person you met?
Does Izzy count?

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:
Keep your mouth shut.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“I’m having trouble trying to sleep…” and the rest of it, by Green Day. I think the song is called Brain Stew.

What is the best thing that you were given?
Aside from the baby?

A new job role – away from websites, and more into infrastructure things. Bigger challenges, more room for personal growth.

What is the best thing you have given someone?
I gave Freddy a sister, and my family a holiday (coming soon!)

2010

As promised last year, I’m going to try and post a review of the past year on the first day of the new year. This is how 2010 shapes up for me (see 2009 here).

Did you enjoy this year?
I did, quite a lot! Freddy stayed out of hospital almost the entire year, only visited a tiny bit for a double-check – and it turned out to be exactly what the GP had suggested.

What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Played RuneQuest, drove a car without an instructor in it (ooh!), drove on a motorway, made new year’s resolutions, went on a medieval re-enactment weekend.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I kept some. I proved (to myself, at least) that the secret is to have a plan of action, not just a goal. Goals don’t meet themselves. So my resolutions then (described in full here):

  1. Filing
    Done! This had a weekly target to meet, and I made myself ‘catch-up’ if I got behind any week. This is by far the most successful of my resolutions.
  2. Dark Elves
    I set vague targets that I never really tried to meet. Hence, I had to re-evaluate what I could realistically do, and toned down from ‘paint everything’ to ‘paint the Corsairs’, which itself isn’t complete (but is very very close!)
  3. Driving Licence
    In the eleventh hour, I completed this one! I passed at the beginning of December, after failing twice this year (and once last year). Finally, a driver.
  4. German
    I always planned to do this once I’d cleared a couple of other things off my list. I never cleared enough space in my week to do it.
  5. Star Trek Cards
    Done! Selling things just means you have to do something, and get organised to do it. I very much enjoy the television I bought with the proceeds, too!
  6. Family Tree
    There’s still a little more to find out (I need to confirm my records dive, after all) from grandparents, but I feel good about the progress on this one. Even though it can never really be called ‘finished’.
  7. Wargame Tools
    Scrapped. Abandoned. Lost my motivation, and quit.

So ones to take on to next year – Dark Elves, Learn German, Research Family Tree. I’ll try to make a more definite plan on those later, so I can make more meaningful progress this year.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not this year, although a lot of people got pregnant – four of my cousins, and we’re expecting again!

Did anyone close to you die?
I think I am a lucky charm – everyone’s still with me!

What countries did you visit?
None. The furthest afield I went this year was London, twice. Portsmouth a couple of times. Nowhere more exciting than that.

What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
I’m not sure of anything I lacked in 2010 in particular… maybe the time to go out and see people a bit more? A foreign holiday – I’ve not been more than a hundred miles from home in over two years now!

What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
December 2nd, passed my driving test. December 1st, saw our new baby on the scan for the first time.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Passing the driving test. Learning to paint ‘wet blending’ style.

What was your biggest failure?
Failed to keep some of my resolutions. Failed two driving tests. Not sure which is bigger, I think I’ve had an OK year, failure-wise.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
Only a small bit of illness, and in general a very healthy year.

Did you have to go to the hospital?
Only once, to get Freddy checked. It turned out to be exactly what the GP thought it would be.

What was the best thing you bought?
The new television – 42 inch LCD Full HD oh yeah! Second place would be the car – quite lucky, that one.

Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Freddy, for being absolutely wonderful.

Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
The Pope.

Where did most of your money go?
Ignoring mortgage payments, it’d be on the car and the car insurance. Less said about that the better.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Everything Freddy does – running around pretending to be a dinosaur, learning his animals, he’s fantastic. Also, about getting ahead with my family tree stuff, that felt pretty rewarding.

What song will always remind you of 2010?
Probably something by Katy Perry. She has a really annoying -uwuh-uh-o sort of sound, it doesn’t sound very nice at all. But sticks in the head. Hopefully, it’ll end up being Candyman (thanks to Chris Evans for playing it every Friday morning on BBC Radio 2, it’s a nice song!)

Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or sadder?

About the same. I was pretty happy last year, and I’m doing well keeping it that way!
ii. richer or poorer?
Almost definitely richer. More monthly expenses (I got grown up, and did life insurance, pensions, and of course the car now) but at least I’ve saved up a bit since buying the house!

What do you wish you’d done more of?
Gaming. Not enough games this year by far.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
I don’t really know. I’ve done a lot more grown-up things than I have in the past, but I don’t know about doing less of them… for the most part, it’s all done and won’t need doing again for a long time!

How did you spend Christmas?
At home, doing almost nothing. We had a few visitors, Freddy opened everyone’s presents, and had a really great time. As I write this, I’m awaiting a second Christmas with my family visiting me (2nd January), because the snow prevented them coming up the weekend we’d originally planned.

Where did you ring in 2010?
We had an uneventful night, went to bed then realised “Hey, it’s midnight!”. Then I heard people outside so I ran out and joined about half-a-dozen neighbours banging saucepans.

What was your favourite TV programme?
We’ve been indoctrinated into The Big Bang Theory and Firefly, both due to major nagging. Both were really good shows! We also finally got onto Deep Space Nine on DVD, I can’t wait to get a bit further with that one.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I’ve got a nasty feeling that as I’ve learned more about the Pope, I hate him more. Which is a bit disconcerting.

What was the best book you read?
I re-read a lot of old favourites. I finally got a box of books back from my parent’s loft, I’m looking forward to getting through some of those. I didn’t read many new books, and the only one I remember liking was Brave New World. But that was a good one!

What was your greatest musical discovery?
This year, I discovered… nothing. Not a specific band, anyway. My musical discovery will probably be the chance tuning in to Jack FM, a local station that ‘plays what we want’. It also has some hilarious one-liners between songs – “If we agreed with you, we’d both be wrong. That’s why we play what we want.” and “On Jack FM, we mostly play what we want. Sometimes, we play what we feel like instead.” A lot of the old stuff, like Blondie, Supertramp, Pulp, Oasis, Blur, The Lightning Seeds, and a whole load I don’t even know the names of. A whole mix, right back to the 70s.

What did you want and get?
A driving licence, and we’re expecting a new baby!

What did you want and not get?
More of my new year’s resolutions complete.

How did you earn your keep?
Still programming. Still loving it. I funded a new television by selling off my old Star Trek cards. End of an era.

What was your favourite film of this year?
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. That’s definitely my cup of tea! I missed a lot of films that I wanted to see, but maybe I’ll catch them on DVD next year. Iron Man 2 was also pretty good, but Scott Pilgrim just got me right there, you know?

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was twenty-six, and I can’t remember a thing about it. Honestly. I think I bought the telly? I seem to have had a two-month blogging blackout over the summer. I have a feeling I failed a driving test around then.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Doing something memorable with the birthday! I think my year has been pretty good. Maybe passing the driving test earlier would have been good? We’d probably have missed the awesome deal we got with the car though.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
“They still fit, I’ll still wear them.” I might need to get something new soon though.

What kept you sane?
Freddy – he’s adorable.

What political issue stirred you the most?
The Pope’s state visit to this island. Enough to get me involved in my very first protest. That was a bit surreal.

Who was the best new person you met?
Mostly, I’ve only met people through work or through Freddy’s nursery. I think I might need to get out more.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010:
Toddlers will repeat anything you say to them.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
I can’t remember the words, but I remember a Weetabix commercial which featured a driving examiner’s lament, to the tune of I Will Survive. That’s probably apt, in the circumstances!

*** BONUS QUESTIONS (thanks Lone Cow!) ***

What is the best thing that you were given?
I was given a revised salary in a ‘department restructure’ at the beginning of the year. After last year’s pay review, half the team left and the other half were looking for work – made for a powerful bargaining position. Yeah, I’m a greedy bastard at heart.

What is the best thing you have given someone?
I gave Freddy this toy kitchen, which he absolutely adores. I gave Jen a car. I shared my baby with the world!

Thanks everyone! That’s it till next year!

A Dialect Meme

Stolen from the guy who writes For I Have Tasted The Fruit

  1. A body of water, smaller than a river, contained within relatively narrow banks:
    Stream, maybe brook (but only if it is babbling).
  2. What the thing you push around the grocery store is called:
    Trolley, or shopping trolley.
  3. A metal container to carry a meal in:
    I don’t know of metal containers to carry meals in – plastic ones are lunch boxes (if they have a hinged lid and Action Man on it), tub or tupperware.
  4. The thing that you cook bacon and eggs in:
    Frying pan – although we grill our bacon and I am incapable of frying eggs.
  5. The piece of furniture that seats three people:
    Sofa.
  6. The device on the outside of the house that carries rain off the roof:
    Gutter.
  7. The covered area outside a house where people sit in the evening:
    Sit outside? Usually patio if it’s a concrete thing in the back garden (but I’ve never seen one covered), porch in the front of the house (though I can’t imagine many people sitting at the front of the house of an evening!)
  8. Carbonated, sweetened, non-alcoholic beverages:
    Fizzy drink.
  9. A flat, round breakfast food served with syrup:
    Probably pancakes, but they are not really a breakfast food.
  10. A long sandwich designed to be a whole meal in itself:
    Baguette.
  11. The piece of clothing worn by men at the beach:
    Shorts or (swimming) trunks. I always preferred shorts, the longer the better. And a t-shirt. My theory was that if that was all I wore anyway, that’s all I needed to tan. Why risk cancer?
  12. Shoes worn for sports:
    Trainers.
  13. Putting a room in order:
    Tidying, cleaning if you dust as well.
  14. A flying insect that glows in the dark:
    Probably firefly. That’s the only one I can think of, I don’t think there’s a local word for it.
  15. The little insect that curls up into a ball:
    I’d call it a woodlouse, but apparently a Bristolian term is ‘grampfer grey’.
  16. The children’s playground equipment where one kid sits on one side and goes up while the other sits on the other side and goes down:
    Seesaw.
  17. How do you eat your pizza:
    Fingers. Pizza is a meal of last recourse, when no-one can be bothered to do something more difficult. No need to try and save dignity there. I will use a knife and fork in a restaurant, depending on both the quality of the restaurant, the company I am with, or (ultimately) the thickness of the base. Some of them are almost transparent at Pizza Express!
  18. What’s it called when private citizens put up signs and sell their used stuff:
    A crime? I’ve never seen people just set up at the front of their house and sell things. Most people would take it to a boot sale or church fair or something.
  19. What’s the evening meal?:
    Dinner. My wife would call it tea (but to me, that’s a drink).
  20. The thing under a house where the furnace and perhaps a rec room are:
    HELL. People don’t have furnaces in this country, and it’s very rare to have a basement either. I think of them as basements or cellars, depending on how pleasant they are to be in. Having not seen more than one ever, I couldn’t tell you which is worse.
  21. What do you call the thing from which you can drink water in public places:
    Fountain or drinking fountain. And the general rule is that you don’t drink from them.

2009

A whole bunch of my friends do this meme every year, and I admit I usually wait till they’ve all done it before I do mine. I don’t have a specific day I try to post it on, but I think now I have my own official ‘blog’ (with advance publish options) I’ll see if I can get it at least the same day two years in a row!

Did you enjoy this year?
Overall, yes. It’s had it’s ups and downs.

What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
I dialled 999, I rode in an ambulance, I spoke to a solicitor, I raised £200 for charity, I failed a driving test, I bought property, I put up a shelf.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Nope. I don’t think I went swimming once. As of this writing, I’ve not decided on any new resolutions.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
A few friends did! Willow, Sophie and Lily were all born this year.

Did anyone close to you die?
Nope! Another year safely passed.

What countries did you visit?
England? I don’t think I even got as far as Wales this year. I’ve been pretty immobile this year.

What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
My savings back! A driving licence would be nice, too.

What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
There are two dates for me – my birthday, when I was told we’d gotten the house and August 28th when we moved in.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Buying the house at an awesome price! Slightly smaller, I completed Super Mario Galaxy and got all stars as both Mario and Luigi (that’s 242 stars, in total).

What was your biggest failure?
Failing my driving test. Not that big a failure, but it’s the biggest one I have. It even has ‘fail’ right there in the description.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
LOTS of illness. Too much illness. Even the suspected swine flu. Freddy had more than me though, and that was terrifying.

Did you have to go to the hospital?
Only for Freddy. People talked about drips, and he had oxygen overnight. Things were a little scary.

What was the best thing you bought?
A three bedroom house. Oh yeah.

It’d better be the best thing I bought, it’s certainly the most expensive thing!

Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Mine! I’m terrific!

Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
No-one really, pretty much everyone around me has behaved themselves this year. Go team!

Where did most of your money go?
See several points above – the house. The deposit alone is more than I’ve spent on anything else, but it means I own just over 10% of a real, actual brick house. This is still a little shocking to me.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Freddy standing, singing, dancing, babbling, smiling, eating and learning to unwrap presents. Freddy coming out of hospital.

What song will always remind you of 2009?
I’m not sure there is a single song that reminds me of 2009 – all the songs I get stuck in my head at the moment are those that are played by plastic toys. Possibly Rage Against The Machine, for the Christmas controversy? I don’t know.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or sadder?

Much, much happier.
ii. richer or poorer?
Much, much poorer. Although property prices are on the rise, so my house is worth more than I spent on it! Hooray!

What do you wish you’d done more of?
I want to say driving, but it wouldn’t be truthful. I hate driving.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
I’m not sure. I think I did everything about right this year.

How did you spend Christmas?
At my parent’s house, with them, my Grandma and my sister, with Freddy opening presents. It was a lot of fun.

Where did you ring in 2009?
Well, I think we probably crashed into bed and were woken up throughout the night by Freddy. That was in the early ‘he has reflux’ stage, before we discovered it was caused by a milk intolerance.

What was your favourite TV programme?
We’ve been watching Babylon 5 on DVD, and as a new discovery Life on the BBC iPlayer.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope. I’m fairly content with the other humans on this planet.

What was the best book you read?
I didn’t read many new books this year. Possibly ‘All Quiet On the Western Front’ would get it, that was a very moving book.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
Being a media hermit as I am – no radio, no TV – I am quite isolated when it comes to new music. I don’t shop, so I can’t just pick something up to try it (and that’d be quite expensive anyway). I heard quite a bit of Mamas and Papas and ELO this year though, but neither I’d describe as ‘greatest musical discovery’.

What did you want and get?
All together now boys and girls – a house. And Freddy is well, we found the cause of his reflux.

What did you want and not get?
A driving licence. I’m very single minded.

How did you earn your keep?
I’m still a programmer. I’ve also sold off some of my old Warhammer 40,000 bits (Imperial Guard and Space Marines). Next year, maybe some of the fantasy models – Orcs and Goblins.

What was your favourite film of this year?
The only new films that I recall seeing are Star Trek and Surrogates – so Star Trek is the best one I saw in the cinema, certainly! Nothing else made an impact enough to remember.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was (looks at fingers) 25, and I had a Wetherspoons pub meal. Before the meal, I called an estate agent and put in a silly, low, let’s-open-negotiations offer on a house. During the meal, I was told that it was accepted. Then we went and got aniseed balls. For my birthday, I got a house and a bag of aniseed balls.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Getting more aniseed balls. And perhaps that driving licence. A slightly less offensive pay review would have been nice, too.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
’You’re lucky I’m not naked.’

What kept you sane?
That’s a pretty big assumption to make. Sleepless nights spent comforting a screaming child, lasting months on end? Sleepless nights listening to an asthmatic child struggling to breathe, despite the hospital keep discharging us? Not seeing my friends as much as I’d like? Feeling quite unappreciated at work, and working long hours to counterbalance time off looking after a sick child? Yeah, I think we’ll skip this question this year and try again next time.

What political issue stirred you the most?
The BNP being on Question Time stirred me enough to make a post on here about it. The Christmas number one stirred me enough to buy RATM.

Who was the best new person you met?
I’ve met lots of new people in work, and they’re all pretty cool.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:
You can argue with doctors if they try and send you out of the hospital. As long as you argue politely.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
”Our house… in the middle of our street.”