New Year Resolutions are bullshit, here are mine…

Nothing too mad… some easy SMART goals so come December I can look back on the year and be a smug bastard!

#1 Maintain over 70 in my Degree
Year 1 I got an average of 84, Year 2 was 80. By this time next year I’ll have my Year 3 marks and hopefully I average over 70. (Bit of a cop out, I’ve already got my unconfirmed semester 1 module mark. I got 79 in my C++ module, so already a quarter of the way there!)

#2 Discover More Music! 
Whaaaaa! That’s not a SMART criteria! Well thankfully, the past two years Spotify sent me a ‘end of year report’ with my listening habits (See below). 

 

So with an arbitrary weighting added to it by the end of the 2018 I hope to hit:

  • 19,483 minutes
  • 1668 artists
  • 2977 songs

The artists and unique songs being the important part. So in theory if they increase it means I’m listening to something I’ve not listened to before. Probably.

#3 Hit 15 stone 
Probably the most difficult, but definitely achievable. It’s losing Two and a bit stone in 12 months. I’m currently moderately active with the usual dips and peaks but my diet can be shocking. So in theory if I get the nutrition right the weight loss should be wee buns (I’d love a bun right now!).  Apparently 14st5lb is the upper weight for the ideal BMI for my height… but fuck BMI.. 15 is a nice round number!

There we go.. three arbitrary targets for the 2018!

EDIT: #3b – beat these.

Related to #3 – if I beat my Fitbit totals from 2017 then #3 should be easier. Co-Dependent if you will. If I hit my “targets” everyday then the following should be achievable:

  • 2,920,000 steps
  • 4015 floors
  • 2555 km
  • 1,314,000kcal
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Sligo and Leitrim

29. Visit Every County in Ireland – Part XVI and XVII

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For some reason my Ma wanted us all to go somewhere for my Da’s birthday. Sligo was the place chosen – mainly because I thought it was closer than it is! I left Belfast at just after three – we arrived in Sligo sometime after six. There were a few stops for Diesel, chips and what not, but still a long drive. Especially as it was dark, cold and, in some places, snowy! We also drove through Cavan and Leitrim … didn’t stop.. so it doesn’t count, hi!

We were staying in the Clarion hotel and met with family to go get dinner. As it is December I would prefer a Christmas Dinner but the hotel restaurant didn’t do that… the actual fuck? So I Googled restaurants on my phone, called the first one and inquired if they did a Christmas dinner and tried to order five before my Ma stopped me.

#4

#4

We went to Coach Lane Restaurant at Donaghy’s bar and ordered a Christmas Dinner (Everyone else ordered not Christmas Dinner! … the actual fuck?!). I also drank an IPA called Cute Hoor. It was nice!

After dinner we went back to the hotel and had a few more drinks. After my Ma and Da went to bed some jabroni came over to us and tried to scobe drink! He got annoyed when we had a debate about the Lion King (I told him it was bollocks!) – he went to the toilet and we abandoned him and went to our rooms.

The next morning we got up and went to find breakfast/brunch in Sligo. We ended up in a cafe called Knox. I had some sort of chorizo, potato, tomato, egg thing (can’t remember what it was called) … it was nice, but straight out of the oven so burnt the mouth of me before I let it cool down! Leona had french toast!

My Da, now in his 57th year, was suspicious of a place that didn’t “do a fry”. My mother ordered a burger for him.

After brunch Leona, my sister and my Ma pissed off to do shopping. I went to Penny’s (with my Da) to buy some nifty Star Wars socks (and got him a hat). I then went to Eason’s to have a look at books, bought a bottle of coke and a Winning Streak scratch card (as it is an ambition to be on that show!). I didn’t get three stars but I won €5!

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Then my Da and I went back to the car to wait on the rest. As it’s December we listened to Tim Wheeler/Emmy the Great’s Christmas Album. My Da wasn’t impressed.

When they returned Leona and I drove towards home. I stopped in Manorhamilton (therefore it counts!) to cash my scratchcard and get two more(maybe my criteria should be buy a Winning Streak Scratchcard in each county?). I won another €5! I just cashed it and headed back home, driving through Cavan again but not stopping… so it doesn’t count!

Manorhamilton Petrol Station... it still counts!

Manorhamilton Petrol Station… it still counts!

Cuba – Day 2 – Sun Cruise

Woke up crazy early (well half six) and was felling a bit groggy due to rum consumption. Thankfully I was able to get up and manage some breakfast before our bus came just after 8. I didn’t take my Nikon as I was worried being in a boat in the sea plus dolphinarium plus probable rain would be a bad combination for my fairly new toy.

As we ate breakfast there was a big downpour and we wondered if the the excursion would go ahead. The heavy rain only lasted about ten minutes until it died down then stopped completely. After that the sun was shining again.

We arrived a few minutes early at the front of the hotel and soon enough the bus arrived. As we got on the bus the tour guide took our tickets and asked if we would like “Lobster, Chicken or Pasta” for lunch. Despite not being fussed on the previous nights lobster I thought I’d give it another chance. He then gave us a “disclaimer” for reading (i.e. don’t annoy the dolphins etc). The bus left the hotel and stopped at another hotel to pick some more people up then we drove down a less traveled road to get to the marina.

We walked on to the catamaran and had to take our shoes off. At the same time we were giving a “scuba pipe” and we waited for the boat to leave. The guy who took our lunch order then introduced himself (I think his name was Fernando – for the rest of this post he will be Fernando) and also introduced the Captain and the rest of the crew. He advised that the water was choppy for the previous few days and today would be too but shouldn’t be as bad. He also advised that there was a free bar… whoo!  There were 12 of us on the boat which had room for 80.

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We left the marina and sailed in the bay before we got to the ocean. It wasn’t to bad and the scenery was nice. Some people lay in the netted area and chilled out. Soon we hit the ocean and the boat got a bit bumpier. The people in the nets soon came back as the water was splashing up on them! As the ocean got bumpy I looked to the horizon and worried about the incoming black clouds.

Soaked in rain!

Soaked in rain!

Soon we sailed into the rain and sadly there was little shelter in the boat therefore I was very wet very quickly and my clothes were saturated. As soon as the rain started, the rain had stopped and my clothes started to dry off very quickly.P1040750

The boat stopped at a coral for scuba diving. I didn’t bother with the scuba diving as I only remembered how to swim the previous day and didn’t think I was strong enough (even with a life jacket). Though afterwards I regretted not going for a little splash about then getting back on the boat straight away.

P1040755 While the scuba was happening Leona and I chilled out on the netted area and caught some sun. The recent rain storm was a distant memory. As we lay there the rocking boat started to unsettle me so I get some cola. I noticed that Fernando was preparing a snack of Tuna/Peppers on a tray and a box of crackers. It didn’t look appetising but it was very tasty and it actually settled my stomach.

Castro!

Castro!

The scubees got back on the boat too and most of us hung around the bar eating tuna crackers or getting beverages. It was at this time that Fernando decided to point out to the rest of the boat that with my beard and hat I looked like a young Fidel Castro. For the rest of the day he referred to me as Fidel or “Commander and Chief”. The boat left the coral and we set sail for the dolphins.

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When we got close to the dolphinarium we were advised that we couldn’t take catamaran over but another boat was coming over to pick us up. All of us made it onto the second boat without falling in to the sea and we sailed to the dolphinarium.

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Once we arrived I quickly changed into my swim gear and directed to the area we would be swimming in. Sadly we were going to be in a shallower area so there would be no need for life jackets (layers are kind to me). Before I got into the water I could hear Fernando asking “Where is Fidel?”. When he spotted me he asked the dolphin trainer if she agreed with the comparison. She laughed.

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Fernando took our cameras and we got into the water. To his credit he took photos for everyone – thankfully our group was small enough for him to cope. We were introduced to Brenda the Dolphin and got to hang out with her for a few minutes and pet them. Swimming with dolphins wasn’t something on my to-do list, but it was still pretty cool. Normally I’d have concerns about exploitation but the dolphins seemed happy and treated well.  We were with Brenda for about 10 minutes and then they were left to swim about on their own. We had a professional photograph taken for $20CUC – I got on my knees for it so the waterlevel came close to my neck (layers/friend etc).

There was another section where, if you paid extra, the dolphins can do extra tricks. I didn’t feel right about that as I’m a heavy lump and wouldn’t want a small dolphin to drag me round some water, or push me in the air with their nose. So we passed on that, got dried off and went to the bar – which seemed to be part of the all inclusive drink that was on the boat!

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Before lunch we got to watch a seal show. It was entertaining. Once again you could worry about exploitation but a gate was open the seals darted to the stage. Obviously with the prospect of free fish. Maybe, in fact, they were playing us! After the show they darted back to the gate and into the sea.

Before we walked into the lunch hall Fernando said something that filled me with dread, as the group was so small they were going to sit us all together.. groan! Thankfully it wasn’t too bad. Leona and I were sitting beside a woman from Toronto and her cool boyfriend from Montreal (he had his own scuba gear and a go pro… I bet he surfs!). The melters were at the bottom of the table. Well, one melter, from Canada was in conversation with some people from Birmingham with some inane gems like “Do you have coffee in England” “Yes!”, “What TV shows do you watch?” “Coronation Street” “Do you know Breaking Bad?”, “Would you ever consider visiting Canada?” “No”…. groan!

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My second lobster was a lot tastier than my first. Mainly for the inclusion of garlic butter! The fella from Montreal mentioned the lobster with the claws which must not be available where we were. I ate all mine up and had some of Leona’s chicken which was also tasty but massive!

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After dinner we hung out until the boat arrived. There were sunbeds at the docking area so we lay there and took in the view and some sun. Every few minutes I would walk to the bar and make use of the free drink getting many Pina Slushie and Rum. You get dicks saying places were “paradise” but this definitely was!

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The boat arrived to take us back to the catamaran and the… boat driver.. offered to let people pose for photos driving the boat, though I didn’t partake. We got back on the catamaran and sailed back. After a while the crew raised the mast, turned the engine off  and we sailed back for a bit. I had a few beers and it was all quite relaxing.

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We soon made it back to shore, we left a tip to the crew for all their good work. As I got of the catamaran Fernando saluted me and said “Commander and Chief! Have a good day”. We got the bus back to the hotel and on the way back I noticed a sign for the dolphinarium (i.e. it would have been quicker by road!) and when we pulled up to the first hotel to let people of I realised it was the same hotel we could see from the boat at the coral! It was a convoluted way to get to where we were going but it was fun.

When we got back to the hotel I stopped at the hotel shop to get some more cola for the rum and we also picked up some sparkling wine for the room. The shop keeper also persuaded me to get some cigars. I was going to get some eventually so why not start now?

We had dinner in the buffet place. I also managed to get to try some fresh shrimp as usually greedy Canadians would take it all. Wasn’t to fussed – it was mostly shell!

8. Try a spiceburger…

…despite it not being a burger!

Before

Before

Nearly seven years later, I finally got to try a spiceburger. I moved offices last week and as a leaving gift my ex-colleague (who for nearly seven years I tortured about spiceburgers) brought me one from the chippy she used to work in!

After

After

 

Review: it was really tasty, not that spicy though and definitely not a burger but more a pastie!

Text to another ex-colleague

Text to another ex-colleague

31. Buy a DSLR

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After a year and a bit of saving, in an actual money box, I finally purchased my shiny new camera.

Said money box

Said money box

Once I busted the money box open I realised I had plenty to get something decent – but knowing fuck all about cameras would be an obstacle. Though the internet helped me to decide to buy a Nikon D5300 with a 18-55mm lens kit. In a stroke of luck my cousin, who works for a popular supermarket, got a double discount that weekend so I was able to get £120 off. Happy days. Plus, in another stroke of luck, Nikon have a cashback promotion – which, when processed, will be another £50 off! Can’t beat it!

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Box

So all that saving so I can take photos of my new camera with an iPhone.

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I’ve been messing about with it for the past week to figure it out. It’s great. Obviously I’m not gonna get stuck into manual mode straight away but I’ve been playing with the settings (like shutter times etc) so am getting there.

Donegal

29. Visit Every County in Ireland – Part xv

I had to go to Ballyliffen in Co. Donegal for my uncle’s wedding. I’d never been to Donegal (much to the horror of friends and co workers) so I forgave the 200 mile round trip.

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We left Belfast on the morning of the wedding. In hindsight we should have went up on the Sunday and stayed the two nights – I said it was because the hotel was booked up but I now think it was because I was being cheap (the hotel let me check in early – confirming that no one was in the room the night before).

We went to Glengormley McDonalds for breakfast then headed towards Derry listening to Queens of the Stone Age (in preparation for their gig a few days later).

We got as Derry and made a wee detour through the city. Leona had a work thing coming up in Derry so this was a dry run so to speak. Got some euros then headed for Muff.

I drove through the village and remembered that I had to get diesel. Stopped at a garage that had work being done to it and therefore wasn’t open. I didn’t realise and tried to use the pump anyway. I gave up and drove on assuming Ballyliffen had a petrol station – also postponing getting my photo beside the welcome sign until tomorrow.

Managed to get diesel just up the road from Muff at Quigley’s Point and Leona was nice enough to buy me a cornetto! Yay!

Got to the hotel and got ready for the wedding. I had intended taking two pocket watches – one for the service and one for the evening do – but Leona only let me take one. She also wouldn’t let me take my pipe.

It was a civil ceremony. It was the first I’d been to but it was short, which was good. We then cleared out of that room and waited around. There was alot of waiting. Dinner came a few hours later. The main was turkey and ham – which I love – but I just had too much of it so was very full. This meant I wasn’t up for drinking straight away, which was alright as we had to wait ages again for the disco part.

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Pointing

The disco was… bad. I honestly don’t think the guy was an actual DJ – just some fella with a laptop who thought “he’d give it a go”. The levels sounded weird and the volume was way too high so the sound was distorted. At one point the bride went to make a request and he stopped midsong and we had silence as he talked to her and the wait as he looked for the song. Oh, and most of the music was culchie shite. The highlight though being my American cousin’s look of bewilderment at five people doing Rock the boat – out of time – they mustn’t have that in America…

We left the wedding early enough and went back to our hotel. I ended up staying up until 3am as the residents bar was open 24 hours! Here I drank some more beer and annoyed the night porter.

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The next morning I was up at 8.30 – had breakfast then went for a lie down to get some sleep before we checked out. Sadly that didn’t happen. Just before twelve we made our way back to Belfast but then decided to stop at the beach as it looked nice and we hung out there for a bit.

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I was thinking of stopping at Carrick-a-Rede on the way home so when we got as far as Quigley’s Point Leona suggested we go to the Foyle Ferry as it would take out some mileage. So we turned right and headed towards Greencastle.

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More Pointing

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I stopped at a shop to get a bottle of coke and a Cornetto – and if I hadn’t we probably have made the ferry. We arrived at the port and the ferry was pulling away – the next one wasn’t for another hour. We decided to get something to eat and get the next one. We went to a seafood bar but by this stage the heat, tiredness plus hangover was taking its toll on me. I had haddock with chips, nothing crazy as my, now, severe hangover wouldn’t handle it. It was nice but I struggled. It soon became apparent that we weren’t going to make the next ferry either so I decided that I’d rather just head home via Derry – and make Leona drive. This meant that I didn’t have to rush eating my food but also I could nap on the way home.

Some local celebrity spotting – Mark Carruthers was having his lunch there too. I tried to sneak a peek at his infamous loud socks but he wasn’t wearing any socks!

Leona drove the rest of the way home and I managed to get a wee nap in after we passed Derry. We made it home at about four o’clock and the cat seemed pleased to see us yet demanded to be let outside. She brought us back a dead shrew so she must have been really happy to see us…

27 – Buy a domain for this blog

I am now Master of my Domain..

.. yay, another Seinfeld reference!

I bought conradder.com the other day. Mostly because I messed up “conradder.wordpress.com” by making it unavailable to myself (boring story) and “conradderblogsaboutnothing.wordpress.com” was too long-winded.

The conradder thing started when my housemate would call me Conrad, then that evolved to Radder, Rads, Radders and other variations. It didn’t catch on but he still sticks with it! I then needed a Bebo username and amalgamated them and since then use it for pretty much everything… including this…