Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

2012 in review

It’s time once again for my ‘annual review’ of how the past year has gone for me – you can also read 2011, 2010 and 2009.

2012 started in our flat, with friends. For once, Christine and I managed to stay living in the same place all year after finally finding a flat together that didn’t have any problems.

Tyne Bridge

The first weekend of January was spent in Newcastle, with short visits to Carlisle and Tynemouth as part of a two week break from work. As odd as it may seem to go on ‘holiday’ to Newcastle, we were able to find enough things to do to keep ourselves occupied and it was a cheap and enjoyable holiday.

Later in January we had a family meal and what is, to date, the most expensive restaurant I’ve ever been to – Gaucho in Leeds. The food was very good, but it’ll be a long time before we can afford to go there again. We also visited the Hebden Bridge Picture House, a lovely community-run independent cinema,  I spent a day finding geocaches on the Spen Valley Greenway, and we had a nice afternoon at Manor Heath Park in Halifax.

In February we booked our wedding, which will take place in May 2013. This was followed by visits to a couple of wedding fairs, where we prompted multiple times to surrender our contact details for freebies, competition entries and all sorts. We also managed a trip to Ikea without a car, and instead using buses and walking. It’s possible but I wouldn’t recommend it. And I went to see one of my favourite bands, Alestorm, at The Well in Leeds, which has sadly now closed down.

February was 29 days long in 2012 but I spent the extra day ill in bed.

Tropical World

In March we went to the closest thing Leeds has to a zoo – Tropical World in Roundhay Park. It’s not very big, but then it’s not expensive either and there’s quite a variety of animals there. This month’s live entertainment came in the form of Fascinating Aïda who had a minor YouTube hit with Cheap Flights, a sketch about the experience of travelling with a certain notorious low-cost Irish airline. Our group, consisting largely of students, probably made up the youngest members of the audience but it was really good nonetheless.

Along with seemingly half of the internet, I discovered Draw Something in March. After playing it almost religiously for a few weeks, after a while I lost interest and I’ve since deleted it off my phone. I’m guessing quite a few other people did too.

March ended at my first visit to Bettakultcha – one of three trips this year.

#bradfordphotoaday Day 20 - 'Water'

In April I took part in Hidden Bradford‘s #bradfordphotoaday – or rather attempted; I only managed 12 pictures over the 30 days. Outside of Bradford we went to Meadowhall for a shopping trip and I had my first experience at a garra rufa fish spa, which, to be honest, was rather underwhelming. Last year this was all the rage but we were one of only a few customers when we were there.

I responded to the Home Office’s Equal Civil Marriage consultation – pleasingly, it was announced this December that in response the government would also allow religious same sex marriage for those organisations that wanted it. Hopefully this will become law in a couple of years.

We saw two live comedy gigs in the same week – Mitch Benn at the wonderful City Varieties in Leeds (although we did turn up a day early…) and Robin Ince at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield; yes, the same Robin Ince we saw three times last year.

Newby Hall

In May we visited Newby Hall for a day out around the gardens. I returned to the gym after a 10 week absence; however, I would later have another long, and indeed ongoing absence in the winter months. I suppose it’ll have to be a New Year’s Resolution for 2013.

More live stand-up comedy came in the form of Dara Ó Briain and Paul Merton, both at the Victoria Theatre in Halifax, and both very good in their own way with Merton’s show including various improvised sketches.

After just shy of 5 years on Twitter, I posted my 10,000th tweet. Hopefully some time in 2013 Twitter will let me download all of my tweets (it’s been promised and is gradually rolling out) so I can see how embarrassing I was in the early days. I also took out an Audible subscription, and listened to a grand total of two books before cancelling it.

We made more wedding progress – we formally gave notice to marry and arranged our photographer. Christine also bought her dress.

May is my birthday month, and I spent quite a bit of it on a train down to London, for a short stay with friends. Whilst there we saw Matilda The Musical, visited London Zoo to do the bits we missed in 2010, called in at the humorously-named Horniman Museum and strolled around Kew Gardens. We picked a good weekend to go – the weather was nice and London was all decked out for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with Union Flags draped everywhere. A stark contrast to the actual Jubilee weekend when it rained heavily.

June, by contrast, was much less eventful. Christine and I spent a long weekend in the Yorkshire Dales National Park with several friends, and I went to RailFest at the National Railway Museum in York for a geeky train-related day out. Despite this, I managed to blog something pretty much every day in June.

It would seem that Leeds has been assimilated by the Empire...

July brought with a visit to the Royal Armouries in Leeds, which despite being quite local and free I’ve not visited properly for several years. There was also a weekend in Blackpool, including my visit to a nightclub in several years and a day out at Blackpool Zoo; counting Tropical World in Leeds, this was zoo visit 3 of 4 this year.

At home I upgraded my Mac to Mountain Lion, which was a largely uneventful process which made minor changes. I suppose you could call it the most underwhelming update to OS X in its history but then it was also by far the cheapest.

The Calder Valley, where I live, was hit by very serious flooding – the worst for many years – in July. We weren’t directly affected, living as we do in a flat several storeys up, but the towns of Hebden Bridge, Todmorden and Mylthomroyd further up the valley were badly hit.

And right at the end of July I discovered a song called ‘Gangnam Style’ by Psy, stating on Facebook that it was South Korea’s answer to LMFAO. I didn’t expect it to have over a billion views by the end of year and be a number one single in many countries including the UK.

In August we went to Halifax Agricultural Show again, after the Great Yorkshire Show was cancelled due to the aforementioned bad weather. I also paid passive attention to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, mainly because they were on whilst I was in the gym, but also because Team GB did very well this year coming third overall.

Not a lot else happened in August as it’s always a very busy time at work – this year saw a 13 day period where I was at work every day including two consecutive Sundays.

Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing 2012

The past couple of years has seen us spending the first weekend in September at Bingley Music Live, but a lacklustre line-up, increase in ticket prices and last year’s awkwardness when trying to get home put us off. Instead we stayed in our home town for the annual Rushbearing festival where a cart of rushes is pulled between the various churches and pubs of the town over two days. It was quite a lot of fun, actually.

September also featured a day out at the RHS Garden at Harlow Carr – it wasn’t the nicest weather but I enjoyed it. This is coming from someone who doesn’t really ‘do’ gardening.

Live entertainment was for the unexpectedly brilliant Frisky and Mannish, at the Alhambra Studio Theatre in Bradford which I ashamedly visited for the first time despite living in or near Bradford for 10 years. Frisky and Mannish sadly aren’t currently touring, bar one rescheduled date in Portsmouth in February, which is a shame because they were utterly brilliant. Their YouTube videos do not do them justice.

The fourth and latest World of Warcraft expansion came out, although massive server queues (over an hour) meant that it was really October before I was able to play it. I’m not sure if it’s my favourite expansion ever (I loved Wrath of the Lich King) but it’s better than the previous Catalcysm expansion. There’s enough to do at maximum level to keep me logging in regularly, which is a nice change.

Finally, in late September, I replaced my iPhone 4, which was having major battery problems, with a brand new iPh0ne 5. It was a few days late, and wasn’t the model I originally ordered, but meant that I got the 64 GB model for the price of the 16 GB one, which was nice. Christine also upgraded from a Samsung Galaxy S to a Galaxy S III which she much prefers.

Garden of Light

October saw Bradford’s new City Park illuminated on an evening with some really nice light sculptures, so I took a few photos. We also made more wedding progress – I arrange suit hire for myself, my best man and ushers, and we chose the all-important wedding cake.

There was another weekend away – this time to Chester. I’d never been, but Christine went a couple of years ago. It’s a really lovely city with lots of character – and I say that as someone who spent 18 years living in York. We also had a day out at Chester Zoo whilst we were there – our fourth and final zoo visit. And we spent Saturday night drinking cocktails in a swanky hotel bar to celebrate three years of being together.

Stand-up comedians once again entertained us this month, with two in the same week – Marcus Brigstocke at City Varieties, and then Andi Osho at the Alhambra Studio. Marcus was brilliant, and Andi wasn’t bad although her humour would work better in London in my opinion.

Finally at the end of the month I installed Windows 8 Pro on my Mac, which was an interesting experience to say the least.

In November I donated blood for the first time, and found that I have one of the more rare blood groups, which means that I’m likely to be called up for more donations quite frequently in future. I already have my next appointment booked for 2013; as a man, I can give every 3 months.

At work, I joined a trade union. I’m lucky to work at an organisation that recognises unions for all staff and should any problems arise, I’ll have more backup.

In the middle of the month we went to Northallerton, and popped into Betty’s, meaning that we have now visited every branch of Betty’s. We didn’t have a meal there but did buy some treats from the shop.

We made another London visit, this time to see the Cabinet War Rooms where Winston Churchill led the UK’s forces during the second world war. It’s a good museum, if rather dark, claustrophobic and on the pricey side.

Once again, stand-up comedy was on the agenda – this time a ‘work in progress’ gig by Sarah Millican ahead of her full tour next year. We saw her last tour show last year and it was ace, and this was just as good. Even though a couple of jokes feel flat (which is to be expected at such gigs) she was absolutely hilarious. Less hilarious was trying to get home from Leeds at 11pm on a Sunday night by public transport.

Bicester Village

We went to visit family in Oxfordshire in December, which included a frankly scary visit to Bicester Village where we bought very little.

Christmas this year was at our flat – the first year where I haven’t spent it with my family. Work schedules and trying to organise two sets of parents got the better of us, but we still had a nice, albeit quite and more sober, time. And we’re planning to spend New Year’s Eve in Blackpool with friends.

Which bring us to now. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, as it’s taken me the best part of three hours to write and I’m not feeling very well at present (typical me to be ill when I’m off work). I’ve also probably forgotten a few things as I’ve been utterly crap when it comes to uploading photos from day outs to Flickr, making it harder to remember what we did, but Facebook and Foursquare between them have been useful aids.

I hope that you had a great 2012, and I wish you a fun and prosperous 2013. It’s certainly going to be a big year for us, with the wedding on the horizon.

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