2012 – A Review and Lessons Learned

No I’m afraid to announce that this ISN’T a review of the terrible, end of the world disaster film, it’s just a look back over this past year!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys (WordPress team, if you’re reading this I would LOVE to borrow your stat monkeys for my dissertation…) prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

So what have I learnt from 2012? Lets have a look…

I can, and have on many occasions, write things that people actually want to read and enjoy reading. This isn’t just limited to blog posts either!

Painting your entire face, hands and a significant part of your chest bright red for a Halloween costume is awesome, but will mean you’ll spend a week looking like you have a serious condition with an odd red tinge to your skin. Quite frankly, I should have realised this after the first time I did it…

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I’m a pretty damn good baker, and I should trust my instincts when I cook rather than solely sticking to recipes. The results of this have been pretty interesting but mainly positive.

I’m capable of running 5k without wanting to pass out at the end of it.

I’m also capable of ENJOYING running. I never thought I’d admit to that.

Peter Jackson should never be doubted as he manages to deliver absolutely amazing results all the time with his films. Praise be to Jackson.

Map making and other associated tasks are a lot more fun than they may seem at first glance.

Almost any DIY problem can be fixed with duct tape, WD40, a hammer and a screwdriver.

I have an eclectic taste in shirts that is not particularly popular with others in my peer group.

The apocalypse didn’t happen and people need to chill out about centuries old prophecies.

Thank you to everyone out there that has visited, commented, shared, liked, followed and just generally helped to spread the word of my blog in the first 10 months.
I hope you all have a great New Years Eve and I’ll see you in the New Year!

Christmas Music 5 – The Finale

Oh yes, the (I sense long anticipated) finale to my late advent calender of Christmas music for you, strategically designed to end on Christmas Eve! Lets get straight into it.

Kicking us off today we have Vibeke Saugestad, a Norwegian singer and her lovely and cheery Jingle Jangle Christmas!

Barry Manilow is one of my ALL TIME favourite singers. He’s got cracking songs and a lovely sound. And the message in his Christmas song is pretty apt too!

Time for a Christmas Country crossover. Toby Keith provides all the Country music you could want this festive season!

Tim Minchin is a brilliant comedic song writer. With that in mind, when  I tell you that he has a Christmas song, I assume that you’ll be cringing in fear at the atheistic re imagining of Christmas that he would come up with. In reality, it’s just a lovely song from the heart about family and love. Not what you were expecting I’ll bet!

And finally, here we go with the biggest festive mover and shaker of recent times. This song is one of my all time Christmas favourites and fair play to you Mr Buble, you’ve done it incredibly well.

Well that’s all from me before the big day! I hope you’ve enjoyed some of these songs and I hope you’ll share them around and start to love them as much as I do!

Have a very Merry Christmas, take care of yourselves and enjoy the holiday season! I’ll be back before the New Year, you can count on that!

 

Christmas Music 4

Day 4 of my “late Advent calender” to you guys. If I were a more organized and inspired man I would have started a song a day from the start of December. Never mind…

To start this morning, here is another of my favourite bands at the moment, The Dollyrots. A few of my running friends have asked for Christmas songs that you can run to so here we go: The original, non-Christmassy version of this song is pride of place in my running playlist so try this festive cover on for size!

Up next, Bob Dylan! Yes, he released a new (ish) song a few years back now. No, he’s still wearing as badly. At least the song is pretty damn catchy!

Elton John. That’s a name everybody must know, and we all know “Step Into Christmas” his most famous Christmas song. Well, here’s the B-Side from that record and I think it’s not half bad…

Eels are a band that I’ve loved ever since I first heard them in the “Shrek” soundtrack. I’m not ashamed to say that either. Their Christmas song is written from the perspective of man’s best friend – the dog!

Your final song for today, here are The Wombats with a song that sounds like it’s from a little bit of a Student perspective, what with the mention of the overdraft…

‘Dodge the Cowpat’ and other parkrun games!

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m back at home for the Christmas holidays! This return home for the festive period also means a return to the Saturday morning up at Greenham Common for Newbury parkrun! In case you didn’t know, whilst I’m at university I regularly take part in the Havant parkrun where, on top of just running for myself, I write the weekly run report which I try to fill with as many puns as possible each week (this has got out of hand a few weeks). Back home I don’t write the run report but, since I enjoy writing and I have this readily available platform, I thought that I’d attempt to write my own “Run Rundown” for the parkruns that I complete. So without further ado:

Newbury parkrun #47 – ‘Dodge the Cowpat’ and other parkrun games!

Waking up when it’s still dark is never a fun way to begin any day. What’s less fun is finding out that it is absolutely bucketing it down with rain outside after you’ve managed to stumble your way to the kitchen without waking the rest of your house up and got yourself a steaming hot cup of “Morning Fuel” (or coffee, as you may know it). It was at this point, pyjamas on and hair sticking out at all angles whilst staring blankly out of the front window into the cold and rainy abyss outside that I did think to myself: “Maybe I’ll just go back to bed…”

Steeling my resolve, and the fact that I had already promised my friend and university housemate, who just so happens to live in the same town as me at home, a lift to parkrun that morning, I proceeded to get myself ready and out of the door with a towel and a spare change of clothes in the boot of the car. After a brief jaunt up to the common and a rather damp start to my warm up, the rain MERCIFULLY decided to lessen and the jackets came off, ready for the pre-run briefing  and shortly after, the start of Event 47.

It was at this point that I remembered that unlike Havant, and many other parkruns that I’ve heard tales of from other runners, Newbury has a special challenge to contend with. the Cows. I was reminded of this fact as one casually sauntered it’s way across the starting line, not particularly caring that there were a bunch of lycra and tech-tee clad men and women (and dogs) waiting to go for a run along the very path that it was standing on. Eventually, Sir Loin cut across to what must be a prime grazing spot (Oh yes, we’re onto beef puns now) and the run could begin!

Newbury is a very flat course, which is lovely because it means you don’t have the moment of sheer pant wetting terror as you plummet down the steep back slope too fast and skin your knees, elbows and most of a shoulder going for a roll along the gravel (I’m not sure anyone has done this yet and I hope they never do. Run safe people!). the other advantage of a flat course is of course, reflected in the times with myself being able to pull almost a minute off of my PB on a more varied gradient course. Crossing the runway and reaching the end of the first kilometre I endured a brief game of ‘Dodge the Cowpat’ and after a few pieces of fancy footwork it was onto the back end of the course and eventually down onto the “Home Straight” which just so happens to be roughly, just over 2km – deceptive.

Coming to the finish, I realized just how much more I had left in the tank, but resolved that I would stick to my pace and finish a nice, relaxed, comfortable parkrun. And that I did. Just a second over my PB, crossing the line in 24 minutes dead. The upside to this is knowing that there’s a lot more left to give on the flat, speedy course and hopefully, a lot of time to take off of the PB over my next few runs.

As you can see, I took my run VERY seriously today. Nothing says "Serious" like a double thumbs up...

As you can see, I took my run VERY seriously today. Nothing says “Serious” like a double thumbs up…

Christmas Music 3

I know, it might start being a bit of a Festive Cheer overload right now, but here we go with part three of our Christmas music spectacular! This time, here are some of the slightly odder songs I’ve found, most of which haven’t gone onto my own playlist yet – though I’m sure they will do at some point!

Let’s kick it off with Patent Pending, one of my current favourite bands. Their christmas song is written about THAT girl who’s a little bit out of control. We all know one…

Jonathon Coulton, or JoCo as he’s known in most online circles has an insane ability to write songs about any subject. His triumphs so far include a song about IKEA and one written using only photos from the creative commons section of photo sharing site Flickr as inspiration. With that in mind, here’s a bit of an oddity of a Christmas tune, set in a post apocalyptic world… I warned you…

MC Lars is one of my favourite lesser known performers. Anyone that created a genre known as “laptop rap” needs some recognition. Plus, as a geographer, I quite like his environmental Christmas message.

I notice that a fair few of these songs have been a little more rock and pop based. I also know that isn’t the musical taste of some people out there. In order to counteract this matter, allow me to present to you a Hip Hop Christmas collaboration. I was incredibly happy when I found this…

Last one for today, here’s a brief Holiday song to send that one person whom you would happily throw into a pit. There’s always one of those people in your life and here’s the Holiday song for them, because why leave them out of the celebrations?

Christmas Music 2

Hello and welcome back once again! I decided that I would be making this a bit of a Christmas mini-series for you! So without further ado here are today’s lesser known Christmas songs you should be listening to!

The Barenaked Ladies are one of those bands that no-one ever seems to listen to anymore, I’m always shocked whenever I find one of my friends that has even heard of them. Plus, this Christmas song is an anthem for elfish welfare!

Most people think that Twisted Sister phased out back in the 80s after having a bit of a One Hit Wonder with “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. I’m very happy to report that they’re still kicking about in the murky depths of the music world and have a Christmas album!

You’re back home for the holidays and that old flame that smashed your heart into a million pieces spots you down the pub. What do you do? Sing this. Loudly.

The Killers. Most people rant and rave about them. I myself would be hard pressed to name a song other than “Mr Brightside”, but then I came across this charming little number.

This final entry for today comes courtesy of my friend Kat. She told me its so awfully cheesy and that’s why you should love it. Personally, I quite agree with her (on this matter, at least!).

That’s it for today then guys and girls! Check back at the same tomorrow for the third part – consider this a very late 4 day Advent calender of silly Christmas music!

Christmas Music

Yes, it’s mid-December, I’m back at home for the Holidays and the decorations are up. It is now most definitely Christmas!

So how is the checklist to Christmas going? You have the tree? Check. The food? Check. The cards? Check. The presents? Check! What’s left? Of course! The Christmas music! Time to whack out the playlist that you use year after year and enjoy all the old classics for the next year running. But are some of them getting a bit same-y? Do you want to add a bit of variety? Well, in case you do, allow me to give you a few of my favourite additions directly from MY Christmas playlist! (Yes, this DOES mean that this will feature quite a bit of my odd taste in music. You were warned! 😉 )

Let’s kick it off with a Bowling For Soup cover of that all time festive classic by Mariah Carey!

This is an amazing cover for those of you out there that like the song, but don’t like Mariah. (I’m sorry Mariah, I just don’t like your version. Try not to take it too hard)

Now for a true classic, with a touch of imagination thrown in: Straight No Chaser and The 12 Days of Christmas!

Now here’s one that I’ve only recently started to add to my own Christmas playlist. As luck would have it, they’ve released a full Christmas album this year! And the message of the song is one that EVERYBODY needs to take to heart!

Train are currently going from strength to strength – have you seen their “50 Ways To Say Goodbye” video? It’s pretty good and a really catchy song! When Christmas comes around, you can feel content knowing that, yes, Train have a Christmas song!

Are you ready for a lovely Christmas Song to sing to someone you love dearly? Be it a significant other or anybody else that fills you with that Christmassy feeling! (Eternal Singletons, you can even sing it to your many many cats!)

Ok, so there’s a few for you to be getting on with, I might put a second one of these up in the next few days with a part 2 for you! Consider that promise a Christmas Present to you from me!

Also, have a bonus song right here and now: