Where have I been?

Heh. So much to tell, so little time to tell it in…

Sitting beside me (some of the time) is Becky Squibb, otherwise known as my gorgeous new girlfriend. I’m on her computer here in Woking, Surrey, during a fantastic weekend away. My boss drove me up to the airport on Thursday after work – straight up the Crumlin Road, cos he reckoned it’d be quicker than the M2 in rush hour, which it probably was.

We were all boarded ahead of time in the airport – all good. Only problem was that they couldn’t get the steps into the plane – we left about an hour and a half late as a result, but at least we got going! I was able to ring Becky while we waited – she rang me back just as they were ready to go again, and I had to switch the phone back off again… Anyway, I was sitting between two rather entertaining Asian businessmen on the way over, great sense of humour, especially the one on my left.

Anyway, Becky picked me up at Luton and drove back down the M1 and round the M25 to Woking, where she lives. Yesterday she was at work in the morning and I met one of her other friends from the internet for coffee, and we drove to Newlands Corner on the North Downs in the afternoon. The evening we met up with a couple of her friends at the Red Lion in Horsell (round the corner) – Helen and Paul were great craic. I introduced them to the concepts of numpties and clampits – all very essential knowledge.

Today we dandered into Woking town centre and I got some sunglasses. This afternoon’s planned trip to a nice forest was cancelled due to the incredible heat – it is hot, with a warm breeze, and muggy. So we settled down in the garden, and moved inside later on. How sad are we, being online in the garden? Tonight we’re at a barbecue for a group Becky belongs to at her church, and then we’re heading VERY early to get to Gatwick for me to catch the 7am flight back to Belfast. We need our heads examined…

Becky herself… We met on Fusion101 a while ago. We were chatting away, and Becky said to me the other week “It’s half term next week”… I said “Wanna come over and visit me?” and so she did. She later revealed she’d probably have suggested coming over herself if I hadn’t… hehe…

That was the bank holiday weekend. On the Saturday, I took her on a bus tour round Belfast, and then to Lifespring in the evening… Sunday we went to my church, and then to Holywood for good Maud’s Poor Bear Ice Cream (any non-Norn Iron people, you want to taste this stuff!), and then to YFriday/TheBandWithNoName in Shankill Leisure Centre with three other random fusioners. Monday we took the train to Portrush, and then watched Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy at Yorkgate – very funny, not quite the same as the book, but what can you do? It still finished rather nicely.

Tuesday we went to Stormont where I took a rather nice photo of her, and to Botanic before taking her back to the Airport (did I say take? We got the bus).

The short version is that we really hit it off that weekend, but we had quite a bit of talking and thinking and praying to do before we took any decision about whether we could handle the distance thing. At this stage… we’re giving it a shot, even though we’re probably not remotely wise. All we can do is see what happens, just listening to each other and God.

One bowl of ice cream later… it’s been a very INTERESTING year so far.

In the last four months, I have met Becky (obviously – we’ve only been chatting for a little more than a month really), but I’ve also semi-retired from the Summer Madness radio team. From producing a programme earlier in the year, I’ve cut back to just being available to edit and compile and drive the sound desk – should mean a lot less work.

That decision was after going to Spring Harvest. Regular readers may know I hadn’t intended to go back this year due to financial constraints (ie I couldn’t afford it!), but I was persuaded to go back as a Steward again for a third year. It was a very good year – not just because of the large Norn Iron contingent, including Paul and Priscilla Reid, Keith and Kristyn Getty and their band, Andy Flannagan and myself, but just other things that happened. God did look after me through what could have been a very difficult year, and I had a fabulous time. John Hillman, who has since been to China after 25 years’ waiting, as Chief Steward strongly advised me to look at all the different things I was doing, decide where my priorities and passions lay and so on, and discuss with God what I should give up so that he could bless me more in what was left – basically, John’s point was regarding my busy-ness.

A chance to escape from the Radio Team came up recently, so I took it to get out – I’ll still be involved at some level, as I said above, but it means I’m a LOT less commited to the time involved. Gives me more time to talk to Becky so that can’t be bad!

Other things… I’m now a trained First Aider at work, and on Tuesday, I did a course to be able to issue Hot Works Permits (which I shouldn’t need to do ever at work anyway) – basically, it was about how far welding equipment, grinders, heat guns, tar boilers etc should be from combustible materials, fire extinguishers etc, and other stuff to be safe, and how long after you finish you should check that the area was fine. It was interesting, may be quite useful outside work.

As far as XtremeEvents is concerned, it is now legally XtremeEvents.org Ltd, the conversion having finally been made in March. Alas, the Articles of Association were quite badly messed up – due to an error of definitions, they made the company answerable to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister… However, they fixed it and refunded the money, so it’s all good. Still nothing to do as a company, but we can now look at things like charity status. Ruth Strong and Sarah Reid are my co-directors, and my dad has agreed to be Company Secretary… I really need to look at a few things for it when I get home.

Lifespring has been up and down rather a bit, with numbers continuing to be disappointingly low. However, the change of venue to Lurgan Town Hall has helped a lot in that regard, as well as costing much much less to run each night… The team has changed a little, with Helen and Noel Willis leaving and Mark Railton and I joining. Mark is going to work very hard on publicity, which has been our downfall from the beginning, but we now have a chance to fix. We’ve settled down into a weekly pattern over the winter (mid-September to May) of band nights on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Saturday nights, and drop-ins on the 2nd and 4th Saturday nights – and one-off events in the summer. We had to cancel the 25th of June because the artists cancelled (again…), but a Praise Night (with about five bands) is planned for 30th July, and a Battle of the Bands is planned for 20th August. I designed the new Lifespring website, which is being kept up to date, honest.

Heh. Just looked at my last few entries… Easter night I went off to Portrush to camp for a couple of days – put my bike on the train and off I went. It was good fun, except I forgot to take my carrymat, and had to sleep on top of my coat because Portrush in March is NOT warm. On the Monday, I cycled to Portrush and then round to Coleraine, and on the Tuesday I cycled to Portstewart where I got ice cream in Morelli’s – always a good idea!

I’m sure I’ve missed stuff out. Will post it when I remember it… the problems of trying to remember what’s happened over five months since my last proper update!

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