A Very Happy Birthday

Posted on Tuesday 12th June 2007 at 00:00
Well folks, as many of you know, Sunday was my 21st birthday, and after a wait of nearly two whole days, I've finally got time to tell you about it. Unlike most 21 year olds, getting drunk was never in my plans. That was my 18th and 19th, and in more recent years, much of the appeal has gone out of it. That's not to suggest that I won't be getting drunk. In fact, I have a date written in my diary for the end of the month when I'll be going out with the guys from work, having a meal and then getting more than a little sloshed in a club somewhere in downtown Bristol.

Sunday though was a day for family. After abandoning family celebrations in previous years in order to go down the pub with friends, I was beginning to feel increasingly guilty that the people who were actually responsible for my birth were playing a smaller and smaller part in its anniversary, a problem that increases with every year that I spend less and less time under their roof. This year though, I made up for it by spending the whole day with my immediates, and it was great.

Presents were an AM affair, opened in their entirety before the clock had reached half past 10, in order to facilitate our speedy departure from the house. I received a number of gifts from the family, some big and some small, but all bought in incredible taste, and with a keen judgement of my own character and style that even I don't possess. The chief present, if one had to choose was a Tom-Tom SatNav system. I'm sure you know the thing I mean. It is a small electronic device with a touch sensitive screen that you put in your car and it shows you a map of where you are going, complete with relevant and timely directions that it'll bark at you in a regional accent of your choosing.

They are a firm favourite among those who can't navigate whilst diving, on account of their simplicity of use, but are becoming increasingly popular among those who, like myself, have an excellent head for directions, but who wish to benefit from the many extra features that can prove invaluable in tricky situations. These include being able to quickly locate nearby petrol stations, and provide alternative routes when you hit road works or traffic. If you want they'll even connect to your mobile phone and use its internet connection to download local traffic information and adjust your route accordingly. For anyone who drives a lot, or even gets lost walking from the railway station to a meeting place, these little hand held friends might just be the best thing since sliced bread.

Also of particular note, among the usual collection of DVDs and books and such like, was an adventure pack for thrill seekers. The idea is that you buy this pack for someone and then they get a choice out of four or five adventure activities to do. The pack contains information on all of them and allows you to go ahead and book which ever you choose. My choice is between white water rafting, ice wall climbing, snow boarding, bungee jumping and indoor skydiving. It is going to be a hard choice I tell you!

A short while later we set off (sat nav in hand) for the parents? boat, on which we sailed up river to a near by pub. The weather was fantastic and I used the time to try and take some nice photos. One thing blogging has taught me is that there are a lot of people out there who take really nice photos on seemly average digital cameras, and this has left me annoyed at my own shitty achievements, especially since my camera is quite reasonable and was not at all cheap. For this reason I am determined to lean how to do it properly and have been reading lots of guides to digital photography.

Sleeping in the Sun

I took around 70 experimental photos throughout the day and some of them turned out fairly well. Since then I've been looking at post production methods of neatening up photos and these are some of the results.

We reached the pub at about 2pm and felt compelled to stop for a drink and some crisps. By this point it was pretty warm and refreshments were definitely the order of the day. I took the time to take a few more photos, without the hindrance of the boat's movement.

View From a River

Soon though it was time to move on once again and we moored for lunch a short distance below the next lock. Lunch itself was a BBQ, for which I'd chosen a wide range of food specially the day before. We used a double size disposable BBQ pack which was so large that we were able to cook almost all the food at once.

The parents have expanded their collection of collapsible chairs since I was last on board, and now there were enough for us all to sit in relative comfort on the bank and eat and chat to our hearts content. The sky had clouded over slightly by this point; a welcome relief from the hot sun that was beating down upon us, and I decided to experiment with the change in light to see how it suited my camera.

Towpath to Nowhere

By the time we'd finished it was nearly 5 o clock, and high time we were departing on our homeward journey. As is often the case on these trips, the return seemed quicker than the outward, and not least because I was at the helm. We returned to our berth at around 7, packed up quickly and headed home for Smoked Salmon and Champaign, a tradition on birthdays.

From a blogging point of view, the other very notable present of the day was the one I received from Amazon the other week, which I could finally open today. I'm extremely grateful to a very generous reader for their most wonderful gift, and I'd like to assure them that it will be much enjoyed (and probably blogged about) over the next few weeks.

I leave you now with one last picture, which I took during a short break between locks on the upstream journey.

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