Summer in a Snapshot

Ben takes a look back on what was a very busy summer

Incredibly it has been over four months since I last posted anything in to my journal so I thought it was about time I provided a bit of an update on what has been going on...

...In a nutshell progress has been pretty slack. The novelty of this trip has now worn off and my departure date is still far enough away that I haven't yet felt any sense of urgency to get things done. 

Luke Flegg and myself in Baccus Bar, Birmingam
What has failed to help is work, which with thanks to the Government is being abolished in a little under 18 months time. Unsurprisingly, this hasn't done wonders for staff and it could be said that morale has been driven so far into the ground that all hope and integrity has lost with it; leaving little chance for anyone to achieve anything.

On a brighter note, since leaving All Bar One I have had more free time to be out and about and have people to stay. Of particular note, Luke Flegg came to visit in August and having not seen each other in nearly five years there was a rather great deal of catching up to be had.
Luke is very easy-going and in many ways at the opposite end of the spectrum to myself - why we get on is a mystery to us both!?
Having hitched his way to Birmingham on less than a fiver, Luke has a gift for looking after the pennies. Despite his somewhat whimsical (not sure if that's the right word, but I mean it positively anyway!) approach, Luke co-runs a creative multimedia production company, Passion Works (check it out here) and is easily one of the most genuine and sincere men I have come across to date - a jolly nice chap, one might say.

What's so funny?
James enjoys his cream tea in Coventry
Whilst in Birmingham, Luke, who has travelled a great deal more than I have was able to give some really useful advice which he will pleased to know I have definitely taken on board.

One area I was particularly keen to get Luke's views was around budgeting. I gave Luke an outline of my plans and asked him what sum of money he would feel was required to turn those plans into reality. To my surprise, his answer without much thought was "not much more than £1,000." And this really goes to show the difference between us because my answer was (and still is) somewhere around 10 times that!

Luke left the same weekend he arrived and, true to form, hitched his way back to Bournemouth. He did leave me though some viewing recommendations, including "Long Way Round", "Into the Wild" and "Catfish".  
"You're no Justin Timberlake Benjamin!"
Asides from this, I made a couple of trips to Coventry, the first in fact with Luke. We met up with some of my close friends from University and spent the day doing what we do best - drinking. A great night was to follow and thanks to the half a bottle of sambuca, half a dozen pints and who knows how many jaegerbombs, I brought out the dance moves - something only very few people to date have had to witness. Mary summed it up well the day after in saying "Benjamin... you're no Justin Timberlake!"

From Left: Gareth Bailey, Mary Neil, Chris Glennie, Dan Watson and me
The second visit to Coventry was much more civilised: cinema, a few drinks, a tour of the Cathedral and its surrounding buildings and topped off with a good old fashioned cream tea (although the cream wasn't clotted so not quite up to the Devon standard).
The other trip that's worth a mention was to Leicester to celebrate my sister's 21st Birthday! I had a great couple of days and got to meet all of her friends who I must say, on the most part, were just delightful.

I am very proud of Hannah. She has grown into a fine young woman for whom I have every confidence is going to have a very positive and bright future.

I did though find it strange to think of Hannah as being 21. I remember so well Hannah as a little girl and to think that she, and in fact both of us are all "grown-up" is actually a little crazy.

From Left: my Gran "Nanny", Great Aunt "Val" and Hannah come for lunch