The real end of my lazy days

June 15, 2010

It’s been over a fortnight since I last posted anything, and it wasn’t due to a lack of things happening. Instead, I found myself with considerably less free time, and anime will always be my main priority. The main cause of this is my A4E course finally kicking off, meaning I’m doing 5 days of volunteering, regardless of the weather. Only 5 hours a day (breaks included in that), but when you factor in the travel it’s more like 6. And it’s during the daytime when the internet is fastest, with early starts that stop me making the most of late night speeds as well. LAME.

Not that the conscription (I’ll be calling it that from now on since it’s no longer voluntary) itself is bad at all, I just wish it didn’t impact on my free time so much. Gardening is still fun, and my introduction to Barnardos charity shop on Monday proved to be just as good. Tasks included steaming, tagging and hanging clothing, fixing a couple of minor problems on their computer, helping to bag + load the recycling onto a van, and sorting out books. This latter job was the most difficult for me, as their definition of ‘good condition’ was very different to mine. Yellowed pages are only to be expected from books from the 1960’s, and wouldn’t put me off buying them if they were of interest to me, but apparently they’re not good enough. And books that aren’t good enough get recycled. Might as well light up the bonfire… But anyway, the people working there are nice, and there’s so many different things that need doing that I’d never get bored. I’ve got more to do on the computers when I go back tomorrow, and they plan on putting me on the till eventually too!

So that’s my new excuse for inactivity! Hopefully once I’m used to this routine I’ll get better at managing my time in the evenings and on weekends.

Anime Magnetism

May 21, 2010

So in my last proper post I was all ‘ 😦 ‘ at the prospect of not being able to volunteer at Plas anymore. Well, it turns out that it’s just the type of place that A4e had in mind, and it’s far less work for them if I just continue as I have been. WIN. Of course, I’ve only been working 15 hours a week there, and even that’s only in theory because it never works out that way. To keep the Job Centre happy, I need to be doing 25 hours. And so for the two days I’m not at Plas, I’ll be working in a charity shop. Most likely Barnardos, because the guy from A4e’s mother works there and (again) it’s less work for him. He was keen to let me know that charity shops are more than old women sitting behind tills these days, and there’s actually a lot of IT work involved with stock taking etc. Either way, I see the variation as a good thing.

I was volunteering at Plas today in fact, and this time I wasn’t the only one. This other volunteer is on a similar course to mine, only for people over 50. He seems like a nice guy, very talkative, and so for the first time since my first week there the two of us and the head gardener actually chatted for most of the lunch break instead of everyone reading their own books quietly. I still took out my choice of literature out of habit – the first Spice and Wolf light novel, which I’d just reclaimed from my sister yesterday – but I got no further than the two page long prologue before resting it on my lap, cover (the anime style dust jacket, to be clear) in full view.

On the way back to the part of the garden we’d been working on, the head gardener suddenly asked me about the book, and whether there had been a film adaptation. I thought to myself, I could go into detail on how there’s actually two anime series, and then inevitably on to the seasons they aired in and the studios that produced them, and which of the two I preferred… but instead I decided to say ‘no’. He told me he only asked because he was sure he’d seen a DVD for it when browsing online for a new anime to buy.


I’ve been reading books there every lunch break from very early on. And when I say books, with the one exception of Spice and Wolf, I mean manga. The minibus driver who shares the office with us even pointed out that I was reading it (Sgt. Frog) once, saying it reminded him of Pokemon. But this was the first time the head gardener had even hinted at knowing anything about it, then all of a sudden he’s reeling off anime titles, and telling me how he preferred the 80’s – 90’s horror anime offerings to the current ‘comedy/giant robot’ fad amongst UK licensed stuff. I was actually stunned into silence. Although I later recovered enough to warn him about the decline in animation quality when he said he’d just picked up Ergo Proxy. 😛

I started this job search almost a year ago now, yet all I seem to be finding is anime fans in the weirdest of places. I can only assume I naturally gravitate towards places where they exist. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been finding gardening fun, when it’s not something I’d ever considered before? Until recently I honestly thought my sisters and I were the only anime fans within a 100 mile radius of this place. Well, and those random guys in Barmouth who were reading Bleach, and the guy in my sister’s year at school who asked my opinion on Tales of the Abyss, but that’s irrelevant. Turns out we’re not so unique, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

Yay! It’s May!

May 5, 2010

Yesterday, I went volunteering. I pulled up grass. Woo!

Thanks to everyone who voted in my poll, it is now closed. And has been for a few days, but I couldn’t be bothered posting. As you could see if you scrolled down a bit, Marimite won over Junjou, barely. And I finished getting hold of it earlier. Chances are I’ll come back to the latter series in the future though, if only for the lulz.

Aberystwyth anime society is having their annual barbecue in just over a week (weather dependent), so hopefully that will give me something to post about.

AngryJellyfish, Bramble Basher

March 24, 2010

Wouldn’t that make a great TV show title? No, it wouldn’t. But anyway, my father was giving me a lift to Plas Tan y Bwlch for more volunteering earlier, as he works in the garden next door. And he happened to mention that there was filming taking place there the day before, which he assumed was for Celebrity Cash in the Attic. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but as coincidence (or maybe hitsuzen?) would have it, it would be my turn to make my TV debut later that day…

Okay, they weren’t there to film me obviously. They were filming for some TV program called ‘Byw yn yr Ardd’ (that’s Welsh BTW, for ‘living in the garden’). Plas is pretty famous as far as gardens in North Wales go, and so their coming to speak to the gardener there isn’t all that surprising. But at one point they wanted to film him walking from the shed with a few tools, presumably because it would look good on TV, and I happened to be digging up brambles right in that area.

I’d been working there alone most of the morning while the gardener was off being interviewed or something, and I’d made a lot of progress even if I do say so myself. I’m certainly quicker at it than I was on day 1, that’s for sure. But there was this one bramble that I’d tried to pull up a few times, but was refusing to budge, so I thought I’d leave it until last. Then out of nowhere comes the film crew, who explained to me about the gardener – shed – tools filming thing, and asked me whether I was okay with being in the background while they filmed. I said ‘fine, I’ll just carry on’ – I wasn’t going to let them interfere with the (voluntary) work that I’m (not) getting paid to do!

So I turned around to get back to work… and there was the giant, stubborn bramble I mentioned earlier. Pretty much everything else had been dug up by that point. But I had to make myself look busy in case I was on camera, so I finally decided to tackle it. I tried pulling it, the stupid thing got my gloves full of thorns and still refused to budge. And so I dug underneath to loosen it, then pulled it again. And fell over backwards. Twice actually, before it finally gave up the fight.

Though I highly doubt they even noticed any of that, I can’t help but laugh at how lame it would be if I happened to be in the background of their shot at the time or something like that. Maybe even just some loud rustling offscreen as I fell over then picked myself up. Lame, but I’d still show it to all my friends. 😛

Wild Buddleia appeared!

March 5, 2010

I was back volunteering at the gardens yesterday (Thursday), but this time they had a different task in mind for me. Rather than bashing brambles, I had to prune buddleias. Which was a much easier task overall, and I sustained less injuries. And the few that I did sustain were from brambles, no doubt in revenge for last time.

So, pruning basically involves hacking the plant to bits in a way that doesn’t actually kill it. I hear buddleias are hard to kill anyway though (like they’d let a n00b with 1 day of experience near anything that might actually die);  the gardener told me that even a stick of dynamite wouldn’t do the trick. Possible inspiration for a masters dissertation there? 😛

As I said, this was easy work on the whole, and I got quite good quite quickly even if I do say so myself. However, I couldn’t help but feel that as I got better at pruning, the buddleias leveled up with me! The first one I dealt with was like a tutorial enemy – a thin scrawny looking thing with a few crazy tangled up branches, kind of what I’d imagine myself to look like if I were a plant. I tried to block that image out of my head as I cut it down to below knee height. The second one was a mid boss, similar but thicker and a nightmare to cut through. Really pushed my meager strength to it’s limits, but I managed it. The third one wasn’t thick, it was a complete mass of thin wiry branches (3-4 times the amount on the others, or at least it seemed that way) that grew out in all directions, leaving no easy way of getting to the centre of the plant. I had to prune my way through, all the time dealing with random branches whipping me in the face (lucky I wear glasses, really). This was also the place where the most brambles were growing, to make things worse. Definitely last boss material, that one. I had fun throwing it on the fire afterwards.

I won’t be back there until next Friday due to various reasons, but I do still plan on going there three days a week eventually. 😛 So I’ve got no real plans until Wednesday now, meaning loads more anime and Pokemon! With regards to Pokemon though, I think I’m nearing the limit of the number I can catch myself using just Diamond, Emerald, Flame Red and Ruby versions. Though since I dealt with the easier Pokemon first, the few remaining should keep me busy. So I guess it’s time I looked for my DS wi-fi connector, I know I have one somewhere…

Aber, the expo and volunteering.

February 24, 2010

I’m posting later than planned, because that’s the way it usually happens when I’ve been away for a few days. All those fansubs to download, and all those job applications to quickly complete…

The time I spent in Aber was fantastic. Watching the film Aliens + the Korean live action Antique Bakery, playing loads of Pokemon and looking at the house that I’ll (hopefully) end up living in this September are a small selection of the fun things I did while there, but the expo was of course the highlight. I had planned on posting about it here, but other stuff has happened in the last week that also deserves a mention, so I’ll refer anyone who’s interested to a post I made on The Student Room about the event. Attending my first Aberanime screening in almost a year was fun too; all series I’d seen, but they were episodes that deserved rewatching. And it was more the social aspect I was there for, saying hi to old friends and making some new ones. I *think* all of the new committee members hugged me at least once during my stay, which I’ll take as a good sign. 😛

Tuesday was my first day volunteering at Plas Tan y Bwlch. And I ended up going ‘bramble bashing’. Brambles have always annoyed me (except when they’re full of blackberries, then it’s all worth it), but I now hate them with a vengeance. They’re one of those annoying plants that have to be dug up at the roots, or else they’ll keep coming back to life, so I spent all day trying to get them out of the ground and onto the fire. A fire which I was just upwind of… smoky. This random piece of ash blew into my mouth, tasted disgusting, and all I could taste was smoke for the rest of the day. But anyway, I got better at it as the day went on, and I think I successfully bashed ~75% of the ones I encountered. The area I covered was pretty small, but you’d struggle to find any brambles left there (above ground, at least). So I’m quite pleased with myself, considering I thought I’d be rubbish at it.

All this was a bit of a shock to my body though. By the time my lunch break came around, my back + left knee were killing me and I could barely walk. I really needed that hour to rest and recover, though since that day was different and the usual length of the lunch break is 30 minutes, I can’t get too used to it. I showed some signs of adapting after lunch though, as I went out and did the same thing for the same amount of time and still managed to walk out of there at the end of the day. Those aches and pains came back to haunt me today though…

Physical exhaustion aside, I’m surprised at how well I adapted mentally. I’ve spent the last 6 months watching anime or otherwise entertaining myself, all day every day. And all of a sudden I’m outside in the cold bashing brambles. And I just got on with it. I wouldn’t call it fun – there’s plenty of brambles around our house and I’ve not felt the urge to declare war on them – but it wasn’t boring either. So assuming I can keep that mindset going, I should have less problems adapting to the real world than I feared. And so I’ll be going back there tomorrow for more!

The one thing I’m struggling to adapt to, however, is the early starts…

Wait, I didn’t post last night?

February 12, 2010

It seems I completely forgot to post anything yesterday. Thinking back on it now I was busy reviewing Romeo x Juliet and went to bed quite soon afterwards, but when I first logged in and noticed that I was missing a post it really threw me. I spent several minutes trying to remember what was in this non-existent post, and how it could have just vanished. Craziness.

Anyway, the reason I went to bed so (comparatively) early last night was because I was visiting Plas Tan y Bwlch this morning. It’s basically a huge garden, free entry to the public, which also holds training sessions and stuff. The reason I was there is because I’m going to start volunteering in the gardens starting the week after next, in hopes of getting some proper work experience and boosting my CV. Perhaps not the best season to go and have a tour of a garden, because even ones as big and grand as Plas Tan y Bwlch aren’t all that pretty this time of the year, but at least I’ll get to see it as things change and slowly come to life as spring and summer come around. Anyway, it’s something different to do at last, and without the constraints of paid work – I can pretty much come and go as I like, so long as I let them know.

Tomorrow I’ll be home alone, and watching anime all day. So I’ll probably either post about that, or about nothing at all.