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I'm back at work now after a much needed week and a half's holiday... one week of which was spent at the fabulous Buckland House in Devon. This was the fourth time I've been down there, but the first that I've driven down there myself... and so it was the first time I've had the choice to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

I went to a few places, but didn't get many photos as the weather was poor, which meant that the light was poor. My crappy little digicam doesn't cope well with poor light.

Barometer World - After the glowing praise, I had to go and see the leech driven "Tempest Prognosticator" at least once. So I did.

The Gnome Reserve - Faintly creepy. I can see this tying in quite nicely with the Doctor Who episode "Blink".

Spinster's Rock - I did some research before we went, and this was one of the places I picked out to try to visit. It's only a little set of standing stones, but it's free to visit due to just standing there in a field. It was guarded by sheep, though.

House of Marbles - Mainly visited for the toyshop, although I really liked the phenomenal marble runs - especially the huge one on the staircase, although that one did require you to stand there for far too long to see everything that it did.

Tamar Otter Sanctuary & Deer Park - Well worth a visit. Got mugged by deer.

Launceston Steam Railway - Only a dinky little steam railway - a couple of miles of narrow gauge track and that's it, but they've done a nice job of sprucing up the pretty spartan carriages and the main station.

On Tuesday night I cooked a gumbo for the masses - if I do that again I think I have a few ideas for how to make it thicken a bit better.

On Wednesday night (and concluding on thursday early evening) I also ran a game of Spirit of the Century. I'm still getting the hang of the implementation of fate that it uses, but I was getting a better feel for it as we went along. I reckon that next time I run it I'll be able to give people a few more pointers on how things work... which should speed things along a bit. A bit more prep time might also help make combats a bit more lively. Whilst I might encourage people to use the same characters, I will certainly allow a bit of tweaking.

On Friday, [ profile] izzy_stradlin nabbed [ profile] nuuki's portrait lens, as she wanted to experiment with it and to try to get some kind of rocky looking shots of me... Not my usual choice of garb, but some of the photos came out quite well. I also nabbed her camera for a bit and got some pretty decent ones of her. The composition's not great on several of them, due to unfamiliarity with the camera... but I was working on the idea that I could get the content I wanted into them and then crop them appropriately in photoshop. Since they were experiments (both camera and lens are pretty new to me), I'm fine with that. Must get a decent digital SLR for myself, though.

Saturday was the drive home, which was tiring. We stopped for 30 mins for a snack around Taunton... which was bank holiday weekend coach-party hell. I didn't stop again until Newbury, where I had a slight nostalgia drive (saw my old house!) and then took us out to a pub (The Craven Arms, Enbourne) for a bite to eat. I then braved festival traffic to deliver [ profile] majic13 home, which turned out to not be that bad. A short break there, then I delivered [ profile] izzy_stradlin home and then got home myself... whereupon I demanded (and got) Chinese food.

It also turned out that the SciFi Channel were doing a Doctor Who weekend, so I watched "The Ark In Space", "Logopolis" and "Earthshock". I'm about three quarters of the way through "The Caves of Androzani" and have "The Two Doctors" still to watch. I'm now thinking of taking the time to plough through a whole bunch of old Doctor Who, as I've been reminded of how good it could be before the BBC stopped giving it any respect at all. (EDIT: Thankfully, they've started to give it some respect again.)

Now, I'm ploughing through emails and finding out what's changed / broken / arisen whilst I was away.
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Well, my car has now been given it's first proper run with me at the wheel. Long weekend in Wimborne Minster, down near Bournemouth & Pool.

Car did fine. We're still alive, so I did okay as driver, too.

The room in the guesthouse was fantastic - it was a loft conversion in what used to be the top of the stables for a georgian manor house. Very comfortable and relaxing. Which was good, because when the weather's poo, as it was on saturday, you might get drenched and not feel like doing much except curl up an laze around. That's exactly what we ended up doing on saturday afternoon, in fact.

On friday evening, after a bit of a general wander around the village (inlcuding a nose in the chained library of the Minster itself), we met up with a [ profile] sea_cucumber and went out to a pub for food & drinks (less of the drinks for me, alas, as I was driving). This also highlighted just how useless our map was.

Saturday, we wandered the village some more, got soaked and lazed about. In the evening, however, we went along to a storytelling event, running as part of a weeklong storytelling festival in the area. It was mighty cool. I'd have been happy if I'd just driven down solely for that event and then driven home again, to be honest.

This morning we checked out of the guesthouse. Since [ profile] izzy_stradlin hasn't had much experience in her life with waterslides, and it'd been too miserable and dreary to go to the beach properly, we called in at the local waterslide centre on our way home. I've not been on any for a long time either, so enjoyed it immensely. Good fun indeed, especially as we were early enough that it was mostly empty. It just started getting busy towards the end of our time there.

Now, at the end of it all, I'm home. I'm also extremely knackered. Thankfully, I don't go back to work until Thursday...
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After a week of work, followed immediately by helping my mum sort her house out, followed by a single bank holiday (too knackered to do anything much), then two days of work, then three days of helping my mum sort her house again, then a mage game, then back to work... I am feeling somewhat tired. Especially as I've not had a good night's sleep since friday night.

Apologies if I flake out from anything I'm meant to be doing.

I should book some leave soon, and actually use it for rest and relaxation, I think. I have a fair amount left now, having kept a bunch back until after my mum was successfully re-housed, just in case I needed to take a week off or anything.

So... ideas for cheap and relaxing things to do with holiday time in the relatively near future?
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Well, I've not done a proper update for ages, so I thought I'd fing a bit of one up now...

behind a cut to save friends lists... )
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Well, in a short while I'll be heading off towards a weekend in Paris.

I've not exactly had much of a history of foreign travel, so this is quite a big thing for me... It's also the first foreign holiday I've ever arranged and paid for myself, so I hope it all goes to plan. I might try to hop online for a bit if the opportunity presents itself, but I'm not going to go out looking for it, probably. My phone should work over there, although I'll need to bung more credit on.

See folks on Monday!
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Well, I quite painlessly managed to book my birthday off work today... how did I get away with it? My manager can't easily deny me the day because I'm late booking it when she's asking me to take her holiday form up to the appropriate office to book exactly the same day off.

So, I have my birthday as a day off work... Huzzah!

Also, the general opinion about B'day party dates was Saturday 15th, which is this Saturday. Take the hint folks - party at House o' Plot, Saturday 15th Feb. It's about as organised as any other party I've ever had (ie. completely lacking in any form of forward planning), but it's happening. Spread the word...
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...and it's not even slightly helped by the fact that half of the lights in my office have decided to die. They actually died last week, but miraculously started working again the day maintenance came by. Needless to say that lasted until the next time they were turned off, after which they have remained in perpetual darkness.

I've got one of those "cannot be arsed to actualy do anything" states of mind at the moment, so I've been looking into possibilities for a holiday sometime this year. I already know of a cool cottage which would be great, and I've just checked the price - between 6 folks it would be around £60 each for a week... I think I'll have to see when it's available...

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