Went to Bexleyheath on the morning of the day I left to get socks, change something at Natwest, and do some other boring tasks. Said goodbye to family. Left London in high spirits.
Arrived in Leeds in average spirits, got to the train station to find I'd missed the hourly train by 15 minutes, so bought a Boots meal deal and sat on a bench. Overheard one side of a cretinous conversation regarding the Illuminati, speculation as to whether fish sweat, and various other mundane / idiotic topics. Boarded the train, relieved that aforementioned conversationalist hadn't followed me.
Arrived at 18 Knowle road in ambivalent spirits, which were quickly hightened by a hug from Kristian and a can of Strongbow from Alex. Was introduced to Tom and Frankie and Tom. Saw new layout of living room, remarked upon it, and also remarked upon the range of artwork that had been put on the walls. Most of which are by Kristian in his trademark style. Also noticed the Banter Chart, which was explained to me as a system, created by Kristian, Tom and Alex, to record the banter ability of house members. A point is awarded when a comment is deemed "banterous" by 2 members of the house who are not the banterer or banteree. Banter cannot be overly hurtful or unfunny (lest it be deemed "shanter" (a portmanteau of shit banter)).
Settling into the house was smooth and enjoyable, and the atmosphere has been consistently pleasant since I arrived: everyone gets on well, no issues have been raised beyond the likes of "who ate my cheese", banter has been had, house members regularly convene for the purpose of bonding and shared social activities, and the supply of toilet paper has not been interrupted. Yet.
For the first few days George and Emily were not present in the house, meaning we were incomplete. Social activities still took place, but there absence was certainly felt. Especially at the first screenings of 'Surfer, Dude', which has been affectionately adopted as "house film". (I could (and may, in the future) write a whole post on this film.) (Also, I think Alex, Kristian and Tom had watched the film 2 or 3 times before I arrived, and we watched it at least twice more in the first week.)
22nd September played host to Oceansize at the Cockpit; my first concert in Leeds as a Leeds student. How exciting. We (the current house mates) trained into town, went for a pint at a local pub, then went to the gig. (The pub may have been afterwards, actually.) The music fitted loosely into all of our music tastes which was good. I prefer the heavier songs whereas most of the others prefer the longer, mellower, more Post-rocky ones. (Un)fortunately, depending on your perspective, the set was tilted more towards the former. Mainly because they're promoting the new album which also tilts more towards the former. The acoustics weren't too great meaning some of the band's characteristic awesome melodies were distorted, which was unfortunate.
Critique of the concert, including acoustics, songs played, talent of support bands and much more was discussed on the way home (or in the pub, I can't remember properly ;_;)
During the day on Sunday 24th, Kristian, Alex and I went to an ultimate frisbee welcome session at the park. It was fun, the people were nice and we were taught the basic throws. Emily and George then arrived in the evening, finally completing the house. If I remember correctly, we spent the evening talking about recent events and eating food from El Faro's (a nearby takeaway, "the best by far-o".) El Faro's has served us well since living here: they do a mean chips and cheese for only £1.60, as well as 12" pizzas for as low as £4. They also have an enticing range of kebab related products which I haven't tried yet - since living in Leeds I've been vegiterean (for a combination of reasons.)
Ultimate frisbee was the basis of one of the first interesting outings of the house also. At 1.50 on a Tuesday we started walking to a training session half an hour away that started at 2. Since punctuality wasn't on the agenda, we stopped by Sainsbury's for lunch, then by Alex and I visited his old halls of residence for the toilet and a tour. The inter-block rivalry was explained to me, relics of Alex and Kristian's time here were shown, and various anecdotes told. We then decided to investigate a nearby defunct nuclear bunker, which I may have mentioned in a previous post. It was behind an unimposing fence, there were no signs warning against entry (we checked), and we were merely looking around, but we still managed to offend the site security guard (who appeared out of thin air) with our presence. So much so that he advised us to leave before he got us arrested.
We did so, fleeing back to the nearby frisbee game (to which we were now over an hour late), and sitting meekly at the sidelines until we were noticed. When we were noticed, we were invited over and introduced to some more people, then taught some more of the basic throws before being injected into separate friendly games. Neither of us had any clue on the rules, so we just pretended to know what was going on for a while before the games were disbanded and people drifted towards the free Red Bull. Someone also threw a frisbee at my head. There was a social in the pub afterwards but unfortunately I forgot my ID so went home.
My second week in Leeds was the first week of lectures. Aside from the intro lecture on the previous Friday I'd never been to Leeds for academic purposes, so I was pretty pumped. Introductory lectures were had, staff were introduced, most seemed nice. Deadlines, assessment methods, school rules and regulations were explained. All very informative. I have no exams this year and only ~15,000 words of written assessment, which is rather marvellous. Since intro week, all my lectures have been interesting. I'm doing analysis of tonal music (fairly standard stuff), music, culture and politics in the 60s (hugely interesting), psychology of music (ditto), projects in performance (which involves learning and performing in a concert for Gamelan (an Indonesian ensemble)), and composition (in music concrete.) I was slightly sceptical about the latter but it seems to be really interesting; for our first session we were given sound recorders and let into the wild to record sound samples to be manipulated later. I'll post my compostion once it's done for people to listen to :3
Despite my efforts to be dilligent this year, I've managed to miss 3 lectures already. The first two were in the second week, when the stress of being in a new place, having loads going on, not wanting to waste my time, worrying about money, and several other things peaked and I had a mini-crisis. I posted a couple of times about it previously so I won't go into it again, but it all seems to be better now anyway. I was offered (and subsequently accepted for) a job I applied for in May this year, which alleviated financial concerns, which in turn allowed me to better organise my time, which in turn allowed me to insert various events and work periods into my diary. I've also joined some societies and things just generally seem more manageable now. Everyone has rough patches, so I'll say no more about it.
Midway through the second week of term I went back home for a dinner at my Grandparent's house with three of my cousins. Two of whom live locally, and a third from Australia who was on a holiday in Europe between June and early October. It was really nice to see people at home, especially becuase I potentially expected not to go home at all until Christmas, and it was especially good to see Tristan (aformentioned Australian cousin) again before he went home. (N.B. I'm aware of the fact that I'm repeating words within sentences (such as 'especially' in the previous sentence and 'allowed' in the penultimate sentence of the previous paragraph (and the word 'previous' in this one)), so don't take it as a sign of poor prose!)
Tristan joined me when I headed back to Leeds the next day, and stayed with us for two nights. The first day was spent in a lecture, at the market, eating chips and cheese from El Faro's (after my poutine went horribly wrong) and watching Surfer, Dude. We looked around the campus a bit the next day, had breakfast with a friend, then went to Fruity (union club night) in the evening. The queue for tickets was slightly outrageous, but we managed to get one and proceeded to go in and drink large amounts of alcohol: between us we had *at least* 14 pints, 10 vodka Red Bulls and 4 Jägerbombs. I think they water it down or something though because neither of our levels of drunkness matched the alcohol we consumed. We danced in the club section of the union a bit, then I was grabbed by a frisky fresher who wanted to do adult things. (Un)fortunately (again, depending on your perspective), nothing happened. Instead Tristan and I decided to head home because he had an early coach in the morning.
Since Tristan left, we've had other foreign guests staying in the house through several resident's Couchsurfing pages. The first, Lara from Australia, joined us for an Inbetweeners sugarfest involving trifle, angel delight and various sweets, a night in a union bar, and a screening of Shaun of the Dead. (Inbetweeners on Monday nights was a house bonding session, except for Kristian who went elsewhere to watch it EVERY time.) The second couchsurfer, Chrissy from NZ, is staying with us currently. The plan is to eat fajitas, drink White Russians, and go the a local pub for pints, pool and darts. A house meeting is scheduled for next week to determine the future of couchsurfing in our house.
It was in the union pub with Lara that we watched the Channel 4 debate regarding tuition fee increases, which was filmed in the Refectory (the union canteen, just upstairs.) The atmosphere inside was buzzing - students were both outraged at aforementioned increases, and aroused (not sexually) that a national news station was filming a potentially iconic debate at our university. At one point students tried to invade the proceedings upstairs but were apprehended by security, warranting a cheer from the crowds (and probably also lowering the nation's opinion of students.)
It was also in the union pub that we've competed in a pub quiz each Thursday for the last 3 weeks. Unfortunately (there is no question of perspective for this one) we've lost each time, often by surprisingly narrow margins. We seem to have an uncanny ability to identify the incorrect option when we have two possible responses for a question. Our scores have been 42/60 (winner got 48, we answered exactly 6 50/50 questions wrong), 41/60 (winner got 46) and 38/60 (winner got 46 here, we got creamed.)
Next in my account is the house Otley Run, although it's covered here so just go read that instead :)
On Wednesday October 13th, I boarded a coach to Newcastle to meet my good friend Hel. Once there, we dined in Pizza Hut, caught up on the last few weeks, and saw DARWIN DEEZ at a charming little venue in a Biological Lab complex (true story.) As usual, Deez delivered and I had a smashing time. This time they had cheese on the merch table, and gave (and subsequently signed) apples to random members of the crowd. The set was good, the acoustics were good, and I spoke to a reported from a local paper who'd interviewed the man himself pre-gig. The crowd was full of badly dressed indie punters which was a bit of a shame.
After the gig we caught a train to Durham while discussing our life ambitions, then walked through the (lovely) town to Hel's college, got changed, and went to Klute. According to some trashy magazine (among the likes of Nuts), Klute is the worst nightclub in Europe. It was voted second in the magazine's poll, but #1 burned down shortly afterwards. Considering what I'd heard though, it was surprisingly nice. 4 shots of vodka in orange and cranberry juice was just £4, doubles were £2, and the queues were short. I heard The Quaddy (4 vodka shots) was illegal to sell in one cup, so they give you 2 doubles to mix yourself, although I've also heard since that this is in fact an urban myth that clubs are quite happy to continue existing and it's actually legal. Who knows, eh?
When I got back to Leeds on Thursday, I went to half a lecture before meeting James to go pick up our German friends from the coach stop. Their coach was around an hour late, so we went on a cruise around the town and realised how terrible the roads in Leeds are: they're all either one way, poorly signposted, or both. Nevertheless we cranked out some mad choonz and had a good laugh before heading back to the bus stop and greeting Nora and Sandra. We then drove back listening to funky jazz and hooting at pedestrians, which, immature as it may be, is jolly good fun.
After arriving home and exchanging greetings/introductions, we recruited James to drive us to Morrison's so we could pick up groceries and other supplies for the weekend. Meal ingredients were bought for each night, as well as several impulse purchases including Ben & Jerries 2 for £3 and Linda McCartney pies. The others then tried to buy alcohol but only Alex was allowed because James forgot his ID and Nora and Sandra were behind him in the queue. On the way back to the car park, we saw a trolley monkey with ~40 trollies. James attempted witty banter by saying "I don't think you'll need that many trolleys!" to which aforementioned monkey replied in slow monotone "no, but other people will." I don't think he quite understood :/
Thursday evening was pub quiz night at the union bar, so we had a couple of beers and headed down. Some of us were given a lift by James, which was nice. Despite having 12 people on our team, we only managed to scrape 41 points, but it was still fun. Drinks were had, table football, pool and ItBox were played, £1 was won on the latter, before we retired for the evening and went home.
On Friday Nora, Sandra and I walked to a coffee shop just off campus for Strawberry Capuccinos (something that grabbed my interest when I was there before in March (or May?)), which were surprisingly nice. We brainstormed the day's plans over our coffees, then exchanged phones and headed in different directions. (I took Nora's phone so I could phone Sandra when my lecture finished (my phone doesn't work with foreign numbers), we would then reconvene and collect Ceara from the station.) Lecture went well, phonecall went well, we arranged to meet, and Ceara had wandered a bit while she waited so she was closer to us than expected. We all regrouped in Nando's, and had impulse food (chips!) and a brief catch up, before going home via the station (and tourist information office.)
Beer was purchased on the way home also, and Ceara and Nora were briefly ridiculed for deciding to drink shandy for this evening's Centurion (100 shots in 100 minutes, for the noobs.) Greetings/introductions were exchanged again for Ceara, then we quickly started the Centurion so as not to miss too much of DARWIN DEEZ later. James downloaded an app on his phone for the timer, and we listened to some music to get the proceedings going.
As Centurions go, it was a good one. Lots of drinks were spilled prompting "Wooo"s and other such ejaculations, 'Surfer, Dude' was watched, although I'm pretty sure no one was paying attention, and stimulating conversation was had. Ceara, Nora and I then left for the station, sat on the platform for ages being cold and needing the loo, then got the train into town. The venue is right next to the station, so we managed to get there in good time. (Un)fortunately we missed both support bands (you know the (un)fortunately deal by now.)
Once again, Deez delivered. This time their set was structured completely differently to 'usual': they danced new dances, did different intros for their songs, and offered a different flavour of banter. They also requested a member of the crowd to join them on stage again, and he took it on himself to climb on the stage 20 minutes later without invitation, prompting Deez to call security. lol. There was no encore which was vageuly upsetting, but we managed to meet Mr Deez instead which is obvs better. I've met/spoken to him 4 out of 5 times now, huzzah!
We decided to stay at the venue's club night after the gig, but we had to leave for 45 minutes between 10.15 and 11 because of some arbitrary venue policy. I asked the bouncer why, saying it must be a "logistical nightmare" to get everyone in and out again (I was a bit drunk), but he maintained that we had to leave. We retired to a nearby cheap pub during the interlude for £1.81 pints and conversation. I was told that I look like Leo Sayer by a hilarious punter.
The club night was good. I started feeling a bit queasy after busting some awesome moves, so I went outside for a breather and was joined by Nora. We talked a bit, amused ourselves looking at the drunkards stumbling about the place, then decided to head home with whoever wanted to leave. This turned out to be everybody, so we went to a takeaway, then started walking. Somehow we split into two groups: Ceara, Nora and me, and the rest. We got home last, because I got confused and took us the stupid route. It was fun though so who cares.
We introduced Nora and Sandra to the English Breakfast on Saturday morning, complete with black pudding (and chips, for some reason.) I had my first veggie full English which was interesting (and nice.) The greasy spoon we went to was absolutely packed, so we ended up sitting outside and being cold. After food we rushed home to meet Camille on Skype; she'd woken up early (8am Canada time) to talk to us. It was nice having so many people from Toronto there talking!
After Skype was the second Otley Run in a week, and this one was at least equally as awesome as the last. (It's very hard to compare, so I shalln't bother.) We bought cheap face masks at the fancy dress shop between pubs 2 and 3, allowing us to tick the "fancy dress" box. We also only missed out one pub on the way to the union this time, and we managed to pace ourselves better. Ceara and I nearly got run over crossing the road to a kebab shop Alex had hidden in, we hijacked the jukebox/dancefloor in one pub, saw a fight starting in another, and lolled at 'someone' (not me) throwing up in a pint glass in a third. Same as last time, we stopped at the union because most people were either too drunk or tired to move on. One group walked home, another got a cab. We then made 4 pizzas with various toppings as postlash food, at least 75% of which was consumed by me and Ceara. Awesome.
I woke up groggily on Sunday to a text from James asking what time he should pick us up for our Blackpool adventure. Luckily I managed to persuade him that 12 was more realistic than 11, allowing us to have breakfast one last time as a group before Nora, Sandra and Ceara went to their respective homes. We then got in James' car, dropped Ceara in town, said goodbye, and began our journey to Blackpool. Aside from a house in the middle of the motorway and the highest motorway point in England, it was fairly uneventful. We refuelled on McDs before dropping our stuff at James' house, then went, against his parents' recommendation, to the Pleasure Beach. They advised us against it because it would only be open for 3 more hours, but despite this fact and the £30 entry fee, it was still great fun.
Nora hurt her ankle just before we started driving up so she wasn't up for walking around too much, a problem we solved with the use of a wheelchair in James' garage. We took turns pushing Nora, and she got in for free too! Sprinting between rides near closing time with a wheelchair bound party member attracted some funny looks, which was awesome. After various rollercoasters and thrill rides, we walked along Blackpool's illuminations to one of James' Dad's establishments for a nice, relaxing dinner and a drink. Nothing too crazy happened in the evening b/c we were all bare tired.
We left early on Monday morning to get me back in time for a lecture, but stopped briefly at a Blackpool Rock shop and the sand dunes. The former was cheap and sweet, the latter was unlike anything I've seen at a British beach before - really cool landscape and we got some good photos there! (Which I cba uploading, sorry!)
I made my lecture on time, then went home to join James in taking Sandra and Nora to the bus stop. It's a shame they had to go so soon, but the weekend was awesome enough to make up for it!
Since then, I've formulated various to-do lists, applied for a position at the Leeds Union, started my part time job, and reconsidered various aspects of my budget. It's awesome to feel productive again, and the huge amount of fun I've had in the last month is definitely worth the slightly exorbitant spending that accompanied it.
Bring on the rest of the year!
Monday, 25 October 2010
week #2, 18/10-24/10, an account of awesomeness
Went to Bexleyheath on the morning of the day I left to get socks, change something at Natwest, and do some other boring tasks. Said goodbye to family. Left London in high spirits.