2015 – A Review (better late than never)

So only a year late but the time to publish my review of 2015 has arrived. Previously I have used the entries over the previous 12 months to help me review the year but as is the case for 2015 very little was posted here.
2015 was a year of big changes for me, I had mentioned at the start of the year that I was planning on changing my car and I did set myself the following goals:

* Visit the Harry Potter Studio tour
* Go on the London Eye
* Visit Beamish
* Visit Portmeirion

I would also like to
* Renew my passport
* Lose Weight

I had also met a girl, Hannah and our first date was the 12th December 2014 and she did play a large part in my life during the year, in fact we spent the day together on 31st December 2014. So looking at my goals first, ashamed to say that I did not get to visit any of the locations I had planned to and yet again my passport remained expired. My biggest success was in losing weight, at my best I had lost just under three stone but unfortunately something happened in June that caused me to completely fall off the weight loss wagon and I never really got back on it.

Valentine’s Day
This was the first year ever that I had been dating anyone on Valentine’s Day, we went out for the day down to Carew castle and tidal mill and after having a walk around and being shown where Hannah had been brought up we had lunch in the Carew Inn. I had maybe gone overboard with flowers from a florist being delivered and a Pandora charm and pulling out single roses every so often. Also went to Tenby – it was a really good day and we were able to talk and get to know each other a little better.

New Car
I got my new car, a 61 plate Peugeot at the end of February; I had taken out a loan and had been lucky to have had some money from my grandparents for Christmas. Hannah had come with me to pick the car up and one of the first things she bought was a car seat for her youngest to use in the car – in fact on the way back.

During March I finally moved out of the bedsit I had been living (and I use the term living loosely) since 2002 and thanks to Andrew for helping my move and for cleaning up and painting the old place. I did get my deposit back which certainly came in helpful as I had moved into a two bed roomed flat with all the additional expenses I had not had to contend with prior. I would like to think that I moved because it was the best way for me to grow but in all honesty if I had not met Hannah I don’t think I would have moved. I know that where I was living previously was not suitable for entertaining as it was just one room so I wanted somewhere that I could invite people back for dinner or watch a film. Moving also gave me the ideal opportunity to:

One of my biggest successes for 2015 and this was one of the only years that I did not put de-clutter down as a goal. When it came to packing up my stuff from one room I decided to be ruthless and got rid of a lot of junk, my DVD and music collection has been thinned down. I do have the space to display all of my DVD’s but thinking of the future and a possible shared household (and being told by Hannah that most of my stuff would have to go up the attic)

Big Lunch
After going to the Eden Project for a Big Lunch Extras camp I felt a bit of a fraud that I had gone on this free weekend along with other people from all over the United Kingdom who all had ideas and projects for things in their community. My big idea was to re-spark community spirit in Llangunnor, something that has proven harder to do than I first thought. Anyway I wanted to put on a day for the community and most importantly for me was to make it completely FREE. I did not want any barriers for the community and pulling in a lot of favours a team of two people were able to organise a day enjoyed by the community.

The actual entries I did manage to post seemed to relate to finances and 2015 was a serious drain on my financial resources. I got to the point when I could not trust myself to live within my means and gave my two credit cards in a sealed envelope with a letter from myself to my good friend Andrew to keep hold of for me. He understood the reasons for my decision and it is embarrassing to admit if I had not done what I had then I would have eventually done what I feared most. So Andrew thank you.

It feels fitting that the one major influence in my life during 2015 should be mentioned now, I have already said that I met Hannah at the end of 2014 via a dating website, weirdly enough 2014 was not the first time I had spoken to her, we had spoken briefly a few years earlier but she vanished. Anyway we seemed to get on well and it was a few months before I met her two boys (a twelve year old and a five year old). At my age I knew that any woman I dated was likely to have children and it has never really bothered me, I can remember what it was like to be a twelve year old and have someone dating my mother so I did my best to be aware of this.

It did make it interesting to get any alone time with Hannah as he would stay down stairs while we were watching television and if we were sitting together he would find some way to separate us. I however put up with this and with the way the younger one would speak to me and treat me – I was after all a visitor in their home.
Things were great between us and I suppose looking back now the so called honeymoon period hit its peak during May when I had been invited to effectively move in with Hannah – of course I still had my flat and a minimum six month tenancy but as Hannah and I had discussed moving in together at some point it was a good opportunity to see how the logistics worked. Generally things worked and me being me sat down with Hannah to look at the financial implications of living together. Hannah had made it clear to me that she did not want to be left poor and that any money she had for the children was not to be touched by me or included in any financial planning. She gave me figures and I entered them into a spreadsheet and was surprised to find that she had a lot more money than I had coming in and the implication of me moving in would be financially stupid for both of us. There was also something wrong with the spreadsheet it was not making sense and doubts started creeping in. This was something not helped by a pregnancy scare, no guy wants to be told that it is safe to have sex only to be told straight afterwards that she has made a mistake : Take my advice guys keep it protected!!

Things started to get a little distant between us after this point, and interestingly enough I notice that I started keeping notes in my diary about when I stayed over. We had planned on going to London with the children in July and because of my financial situation I had asked Hannah if she could help towards the costs which she agreed to – I only asked her to pay for one night at the hotel the rest I covered. Even after all of this when we got back I still treated Hannah to a meal out, just the two of us at Florentino’s in Carmarthen as her mother was looking after the children. After the meal she was dropped off at her mothers and I went home. The school summer holidays had started and me staying over became problematic as the youngest boy would walk up in the night and want to get into bed with his mother, instead of putting him back in his own bed either she or I would go to his bed and spend the rest of the night. She did see this as a problem and told me that when he turned six in September she had already spoken to him about his staying in his own bed.

September soon arrived and with it our first argument and not about the sleeping arrangement but about a house. In the first few months that we had been dating we had discussed many things and moving in together was one of those things, we had looked at rental properties earlier but in the year but nothing suitable was available – I thought her house was fine and it had proved to be big enough with just the one bathroom back in May. Anyway a bungalow was spotted in Cwmffrwyd she went to see it with the kids and thought it was great. I however had done what any reasonable adult would and check the costs and explained that we would not be able to move in as it was too expensive. I had also noticed when we viewed the property that decisions had already been made regarding the rooms. One room that I thought would make a good room for me to work I found out was set to be a music room for the children and it became clear that I would be the only person to not have my own space in the whole house.

I have no regrets about saying no, sometimes commonsense needs to take a firm grip of the situation. Regardless of anything else there was no way on earth that we could afford to live in that house.

Things were very strained between the two of us, of course since the start of September to the end of the year I only stayed over one night when the children were away, there were a multitude of very good reasons for me not being able to stay over – I still saw her but I was starting to get the feeling that she was doing what she could to limit the time I spent with her and the children. It almost got to the stage where I felt I was only there to bankroll activities or act as transport.

By the start of November I actually asked her outright if she still wanted to be with me, she did but things did not improve, we had discussed Christmas and what would happen – originally I was going to be staying over and leaving early while the children’s father came to watch them open presents, he would leave and I would return for dinner and spend the rest of Christmas with them. (I have no idea what would have happened when we moved into a house together!!)

Plans soon changed and again caused some friction between us, I would rather people be upfront with me that skirt around the issue – eventually it came to pass that it would be easier for me to not stay and easier for Christmas dinner to take place at her mother’s house.
Our anniversary came and I had booked a place down in Tenby, the children were being looked after so I thought it would be a good chance for us to have some alone time. One of the first things she told me was that she had a headache and it was that time of the month. I was more concerned with how distant she was the space between us in the bed that night answered any questions about our future together.
Anyway Christmas Eve came and I suggested going shopping to get food for Christmas as I had been told about what her family normally did between Christmas and New Years – so £75 later and a trolley full of buffet style food. I treat us all to a KFC and that evening she goes to the hospital to see a friends premature baby – she comes home and I leave as the children’s father is due over.

Didn’t I mention that the children’s father slept over on Christmas Eve?

I was called at 10.30 on Christmas Day to go over and I opened my presents and we then loaded my car to go to her mother’s – she was planning on staying there for a few days. Needless to say I left at 7pm, did not see her as she had gone upstairs. The last thing you really want to be doing on Christmas Day night is checking bedding for evidence of sexual activity.

Saw her next on New Years Eve, we went as a family to the cinema and for food I then took her to the mother’s house for us to see in the New Year – of course nowhere for me to stay so after the bongs it was home alone.

Hannah may have been a major influence on 2015 but my friends, Andrew, Hayley, Huw and Lydia all gave me a soundboard to speak my mind on a number of matters but mainly my love life and I thank them for being true friends in that they told me what I needed to hear and not what I wanted to hear.

So we come to the end of what had started off as such a promising 2015 ended on a certain note of uncertainty.

2014 – Year End

And so we come to the end of 2014, this site really is becoming neglected, I have never been one for changing things around every few weeks but when you realise that I have only posted five entries over the last twelve months you need to start questioning why the site remains here.

Well it is that time of year again, has it really been 12 months, a lot has changed with how I use the internet and I am sure that for the few that will see this entry how you use the internet has also changed. Gone are the days of Fanlistings as most fans will ‘like’ the facebook page of a favourite tv show or actor.

Needless to say at the start of 2014 I made a list of six goals to achieve during the year

1. Renew my passport.
2. De-clutter my room.
3. Use my slow cooker to make a meal at least once a month.
4. Visit Beamish
5. Go see a show in a theatre.
6. Complete at least 10 years of transcriptions of Council records.

Overall I would say that like this site they have become neglected, my passport which would have been the easiest to achieve is still expired, I have as with previous years half heartedly started to de-clutter my room in fact have been doing little bits in the run up to Christmas – there is however still the tendency to keep hold of things just in case, the need to be more ruthless has never been so important. I spent New Years Eve clearing out and while the room still looks cluttered 5 bags were taken out for rubbish.

I do still use my slow cooker a lot, in fact once again I used it to cook my turkey crown but have not used it as far as I can remember to make a meal at least once a month. To clear up more space on my work top I am considering finding somewhere to keep the slow cooker when not in use, of course the danger is that it will get forgotten about and not used!

Beamish got put on the back burner as did going to the theatre, I suppose ultimately it was down to cost.

Work on the transcriptions of council records have been coming along slowly, I don’t think I have managed to complete ten years during the year but have made a fair amount of progress with getting the records “web ready”. It was nice during 2014 that the National Library of Wales contacted me asking to archive my Llangunnor Network site as a resource for the future.

However I did manage to get out and about during 2014 which a trip down to London in February to the Who Do You Think You Are Live event where I spent a day at the show, a day exploring the National Archives and generally having a look around London. I was also able to get a photograph with Natasha Kaplinsky. lee

I was also given a years membership to the National Botanical Gardens in Wales and did make a few visits during the year to take some photos – I have had the renewal forms for 2015 but am undecided if I used the membership to maximum potential.

I also joined CADW which gets me free entry to castles in Wales and reduced entry to English Heritage sites, that expires in a few months and again a decision will need to be made as to whether to renew it. I have if I recall correctly used it a few times this year to visit Kidwelly Castle and when I went with a friend to Castell Coch.

Attended service of commemoration for the start of World War One in Carmarthen at the start of August, I had contributed towards the costs and can’t say I was very happy when I turn up to discover that to effectively take part you needed to purchase a programme – all very nicely put together but you would have thought that they could have printed out a few order of services for those not able to pay the £5.

September and I ventured in my car to the Eden Project for the weekend, now I had been reluctant to go along as the spaces were supposed to be for people who want to make a change in their communities, while I do want to get the community engaged and working together I did find while I was there that people from all over the country had ideas that were much bigger than mine. I should explain a lot of them had ideas to buy land/buildings or make use of facilities already about – what I want to do cannot really be measured with bricks and mortar.

Besides that it was a good weekend and it was nice to talk to people from different communities and to share ideas. It could have been better if everyone had been staying in the same hotel, not that there was a lot of time but most of the people that I have remained in contact with were not staying at the same hotel.

A month later I held my first quiz night, which was a failure both financially and on the community engagement front, obviously more needs to be done to engage with the local people.

Did organise a craft fair late November that was relatively successful, managed to get a wide range of craft stalls but still finding it hard to get the large local population to come along – I think years of nothing taking place in the community has not helped neither has the fact that the most convenient location for activities is a sheltered accommodation community room but the residents don’t like outsiders.

Hopefully a Big Lunch event can be held at the local school this year and that will help to promote community.

I am sure that I would have done more during 2014 but ultimately it was a good year.

Year End 2013

For the last couple of years I’ve always written something at the end of the year – a sort of digest of the last twelve months in my life and why break with this tradition.

I’ve finalised my accounts for the last year and rather disappointed to see that total interest (earned from savings) has fallen to £80.10 for 2013, this is down from the £92.10 for 2012 and £88.97 from 2011. However the total amount of my savings continues to grow so most likely poor interest rates from the accounts the money is held in – I will need to take a look at moving money around to maximise interest.

Let’s see if I can get over £100 interest next year.

Car loan has now been repaid so I have more disposable income each month but unlike the last time my loan ended I want to make sure that the money that was being used to repay the loan is being ploughed into savings as I am sure that I will need to replace my car again and want to avoid/limit the amount of any new loan that I may have to take out.

I don’t do resolutions but I did want to set myself some goals for 2013 and all I came up with was the following –

# Make better use of the food stocks I have at home
# Reclaim the floor space in my living space.

Needless to say these were both soon forgotten about and not achieved, I really will need to make more of an effort to use my food stocks and not buy new food. I’m hoping at with food left over from Christmas I will be able to go a little while before having to go out for essentials. My living space is still an atrocious mess and it does seem rather pointless to say that I will clear it up and maintain it for yet another year.

Over the last twelve months things have generally been good, I’ve had a few opportunities to get involved with the community in Llangunnor with various activities that engage different sections of the community.

I helped to organised and carry out a community litter pick – something I have wanted to do since becoming a litter champion in 2012. The event was organised with outside assistance from the people who are promoting “Time Credit” in Carmarthenshire. I would have hoped that the community council would have realised what an advantage Time Credits could be to improving community engagement with the council.

2012 also saw the folks at Llangunnor Church get together to organise a working party to maintain the graveyard, with my ongoing research into the graveyard I though this would be an ideal opportunity to record some information while also doing something worthwhile. They even signed up to the Time Credit scheme so I get rewarded for my time spent.

Friendship Centre opened up at the local chapel and again I felt it was important to assist in anyway I could with this venture as it is another community resource with a great set of people who are actively trying to make things better.

Start of June saw me helping another community spirited individual with a Big Lunch – this should have been a great free event but it had such limited support from the community at large that I was disappointed and it goes to show how much work is needed to recreate a community in Llangunnor.

June was also my 35th birthday and I spent it up in Cardiff going to visit the Doctor Who Experience and spend the afternoon walking around the Bay.

An article appeared in the local newspaper during August regarding the litter picking activities that I have been doing had I hoped would spark up some more local interest but nothing, I still however speak to people when I am out and about clearing litter.

2013 saw me travel about a little, not overseas but went for a few day trips and something that I really should make more time to do, September I used some of my well earned Time Credits to go to a food fair at St Fagans – fantastic weather for this time of year and also travelled again with Time Credits to the Christmas Market in Birmingham – both trips effectively free of charge

I also went to visit old school friends, Nathan and Kate down in Ringwood and to celebrate the wedding of David and Nicola in Scotland, it was lovely to see Davids parents again after such a long time. My first visit to Scotland and to Edinburgh was great and somewhere I would love to go again but maybe not driving the 8 hours to get there in one day!

Not much work has been done on the old family tree during the last twelve months, I did visit Bath and find the final resting place of my Great Great Grandparents (with thanks to a chap from Bath for doing some research for me).

November I did what you might call my first photo session at a wedding, certainly something which was not planned and was as a favour to a fellow councillor but what a stressful situation to be in – made all the worse when it appeared that the official photographer did not turn up at the church. I handed the disk of photos that I felt were acceptable to them yesterday. As I see it I charged them nothing so they cannot complain about the photos taken.

I suppose I should mention work even if only in passing been pretty much the same as always – working for the Government is certainly not the guaranteed job many people seem to think it is and things will only get worse with cutbacks and the eroding of employee rights. Personally I plod along do my job and go home.

I have spoken about Christmas previously and as I sit in on New Years Eve watching television and the firework display in London with a glass of port and a bunged up nose to toast in 2014.

We shall certainly find out what it has in store for each and everyone of us…

Year End 2012

Every year for as long as I can remember I have posted some sort of review of the year this has taken many forms over the years but the one thing in common is that I normally pluck out the details from the previous entries I have made over the last twelve months. Looking back at the archives I have posted very little this year so instead I will have to use my memory and check back on any photos that I have taken over this year.

I did not set myself any goals or challenges for 2012 and wonder if this was a bad idea as sometimes it can be good to have it written down somewhere so that it can prompt you during the year but after ending my 101 things project three years later than planned maybe I needed some time without any goals.

2012 saw me volunteer at the Books For Free store in Carmarthen and it started off well and I met some really nice people while at the store but I soon felt that the rot was creeping in with the certain volunteers having the ear of the lead volunteer and with no clear direction as to where the store was going I handed in my notice at the start of October – I do feel that my time and effort spent at the store was not valued and even with my visits to the store since leaving I can see that nothing has changed.

January 2012 also saw the lost of my nanna, truth be told I was not as close to her as I should have been and don’t really know the reasons for this. As a child I would spend holidays up in Cardigan with her and my aunts but in recent years had only seen her occasionally at family occasions – normally funerals or weddings! I suppose as one of the children of my Great Grandmother her death only a few months after her brother felt like a link to that generation being severed, from a family history point of view those memories and stories have gone for good. The death was something that I had started to create an entry for on here but I just could not find the words to complete it.

Talking of family history I did venture across the border to England to carry out some research on the Whatley family and spent a few days at the Wiltshire Record Office going through records for baptisms, marriages and burials and have started going through all that raw data now and cross checking but time is something that has escaped me this year. During my trip I was also able to visit Stonehenge, somewhere I have always wanted to go and visit but one of those places that have always eluded me as has much of the great places to be found in the United Kingdom.

May saw me elected as a community Councillor in Llangunnor, I had stood for the position back in 2001 when it came down to a vote that I lost by 32. This time no election was held I’m sure this is a sign of the times with so many people lethargic about politics etc. Have to admit that since May I have not managed to change the world or even the community and I suppose this is something that I did not expect to happen overnight but I have learnt a great deal about how the council works.

Around the same time I signed up to be a Tidy Towns Litter Champion and have spent a fair few hours at the weekend picking up litter in the community of Llangunnor, I had hoped to have been a little more visible so that I could promote the work that I am doing and maybe find some others who might take an interest to keep the community clean and tidy.

Took another trip to Snowdon, cheated this time and took the train to the summit but did take some great photos and spent the night in Caernarvon visiting the castle before the journey home.
A lot of my time over the last twelve months has seen me doing research for the project that I spoke about this time last year, basically I am trying to build a resource site about the community of Llangunnor at the moment I have transcribed census records from 1891 – 1911 but have loads more information that needs to be uploaded but it all takes time, I’m hoping to get a lot more information online within the next few months. Over the last twelve months the local press has had a number of articles about sites springing up of Facebook which seem very similar to what I am doing but to date I have not gone to the press regarding Llangunnor Network.

November I decided to grow a beard, it was all part of Movember and a few people in work growing moustaches to raise awareness of cancer. I don’t think I look at good with a moustache so decided to go for the full beard and it was not that bad – it split opinion in work with some people loving it while others hated it.


Again I’m generally happy with how I’ve been managing my finances over the last twelve months there is of course room for improvement and I will need to keep a better control over certain spending. Over the last twelve months I have gained interest of £92.10 which is again up on the 2011 figure of £88.97. Let’s see if I can get over £100 interest next year.

So as I approach midnight my reflection on the past year must come to an end and I will need to look forward to 2013. On the whole 2012 was a good year.

A quick round-up

Whenever I sit down in front of the computer to write about what I’ve been up to my mind rather surprisingly goes blank!

Anyway I am still volunteering at the book store and it is quite handy if I want to read any books – the whole not having to pay is quite a good incentive. I do still get rather annoyed with customers (can they be called that if they are not paying) who just appear to want to take advantage. The big problem at the moment is people who think it is okay to just take three books and walk out the shop, or take three books and come back an hour later for more.

I finally went to see The Woman In Black the other night and not sure what I made of Daniel Radcliffe’s performance, I did think it maybe because I kept thinking of Harry Potter but no think it was to do with the fact that I thought Daniel Radcliffe was too young for the part of Arthur Kipps. It did have some scary scenes but not really spine chilling – I did have a look for the book today but would you believe it could not find a copy. I would also go and see the stage play again as that had followed the book by Susan Hill and I seem to remember it being a lot creepier.

Talking of the theatre I went to see an adaptation of the Charles Dickens short story “The Black Veil” at the Grand in Swansea. I will be the first to admit I was expecting some sort of ghost story and what I experienced was something so different, it is one of the first times I have ever heard an audience whine and moan about a play in such a negative way.

Admittedly the first half was just a lot of talking and setting the scene (a lot of it seems to be random) and I think the audience did deserve the interval to gorge itself on ice cream and sweets before settling in to the second half while was a lot better. However I think as a stage adaptation it was lacking which was a shame as the three cast members did a wonderful job.

Had also been forced to take some time off work so instead of wasting time in front of a computer I took a trip to Wiltshire to do some research for my family tree – this is something that I have been wanting to do for some time now so it was great to be able to get the opportunity to do so. I did spend a few days at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre looking through records for baptisms, marriages and burials and have the task of going through all that raw data now.

I also managed to get to Warminster and took a look around a few of the graveyards and the areas that I know the Whatley families of Warmister would have lived in so anyone coming across this entry after doing a search for “Whatley’s of Warminster” please get in touch!!

While down in Wiltshire I stopped off at Stonehenge and it was one of the first opportunities I’ve had to use my new camera – with some mixed results as the sun was behind the monument at first.


This was taken with a FLD filter on, think it gives the image a very 70’s look or at least I think it does. Well not sure when my next entry will be as going to London at the end of the month to a Charles Dickens exhibition/museum.