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Week 2: Laundering

(Jan 8 – Jan 14)

After doing a bit of financial tidying up at the weekend, I’ve decided to continue with the theme this week. I have a few credit cards that have been paid off, which I duly arranged to cancel. I’ve also pledged to avoid any unnecessary spending until … sometime … maybe March, I dunno …


Cancelled my first credit card. Which involved picking up the phone, dialling, and actually talking to someone. Not sure if I’m more proud about the phone thing than I am about cancelling the card.
Also, as this was the first day back at work for most of my colleagues I took cakes in. Which almost no one ate. Because it turns out everyone’s on a post-Christmas diet. Except me.
My month of non-spending got off to a really bad start when I impulse bought a bluetooth receiver for the car. In my defense, it’s a real fiddle having to plug the cable into my phone whenever I want to listen to music.


The UK folks took the Kinderbesten for a day out to Caversham, which they loved by all accounts. I then joined rest of the family for dinner after work.
The rest of my evening’s entertainment was the final few episodes of Dirk Gently, which I’m very sorry is not getting renewed. Max Landis sleazery aside, Dirk Gently had a particular brand of absurd, surreal humour that I love and doesn’t show up too often. Dirk Gently may be the first time that a US show has managed to take a British property and not dismally fail at it. Hopefully this void will be filled with something new before long.


My turn to take the kids for their swimming, which provided a more energetic start than usual to the working day.


Cancelled my second credit card, the effort associated with which seemed to exhaust me for the rest of the day. Didn’t help that the website crashed yet again. At least I had most excellent dinner at a friend’s house to end the day on 🙂


After a week of average coffee at the work canteen (our usual place is closed for the holidays) we decided to venture out to the Little Olive Leaf cafe for coffee. Wise choice, it turned out: the coffee was excellent.
For the evening, my usual Fridate companion wasn’t able to make it so the Elderbeast and I enjoyed a double bill of the latest episode of The Good Place, followed by a thematically appropriate screening of The Truman Show–which the Elderbeast really enjoyed, and is a film that seems to be consistently better than I ever remember it.


Very hot day today, which meant a very lazy day. We loafed around the house watching films, then joined the UK folks for an early dinner at Clancy’s Fish Pub.


I have decided that I’m missing having mince pies for breakfast every day. Probably a good thing, really…

Things I didn’t buy this week:

Here’s a list of things that I managed to resist purchasing this week: a total not-spend of $150!

  • Pack of USB-C charging cables $20
  • Bottle of Kahlua $30
  • Judge Dredd Humble Bundle $15
  • The Witcher 3 PS4 $25
  • (more) New curtains for the bedroom (as the first pair have proved a huge success) $60


Monday Toy Story 3

Star Trek Discovery 1×10

Dirk Gently 2×08

Tuesday Dirk Gently 2×09, 2×10
Wednesday n/a
Thursday n/a
Friday The Good Place. The Truman Show
Saturday Scooby Doo, Super 8
Sunday Nightmare Before Christmas, The Amazing Jessica James


Recap: This section is meant to track what I read this year: books, ideally. But the truth is I’m not reading anything of significance at the moment. I’m a terribly undisciplined reader, and am currently having a particularly lethargic slump. My main read this week has been a blog written by someone who’s reading all the Target Doctor Who novelisations in release order, and is writing surprisingly detailed and compelling reviews about them.


Monday Pasta & broccoli
Tuesday Cottage Pie
Wednesday Lasagne
Thursday Pasta Carbonara
Friday Leftover lasagne
Saturday Clancy’s fish’n’chips
Sunday JFC (aka Justin’s Fried Chicken, which is fake KFC, and is also baked not fried, so it should by rights be JBC)

Week 1: Back into the new routine

(Jan 1 – Jan 7)

So here’s the first diary post of 2018. I expect the format will change between now and December, but for now this is how I’m gonna try it: a weekly post broken down into various sections as below. First up is a summary, in which I’ll attempt to pick out a ‘theme’ of the week …

This first week of 2018 felt very much about getting back into the routine of things and, though it may be the same routine as last year, I’m still approaching it with the sense of starting something new.
After abandoning all routine over the holidays, I’ll admit to finding it something of a relief to be returning a bit of structure to my life. Structure means I know what’s happening day-to-day and I don’t need to think about it too much. It means getting back into my morning shifts (which have been completely neglected since just before Christmas). It means days at work, which gives my eyes a change of scenery, and my mind the chance to focus on different things.
In other developments, my Dad and his wife are visiting from the UK (and will be here until late February) which adds more of a family element to the next several weeks. The Kinderbesten started their VacSwim swimming lessons—and are loving them. I had the chance to catch up with the Elderbeast’s trainer on Friday and she said two things that made me very happy: she told me that he was trying very hard, and that he was listening to her. If you spent any time reading my blog last year, you’ll know that this is a big step up for the Elderbeast and is hopefully a sign of the year to come.

Next up comes a quick breakdown of each day. This is mostly for me to me leave notes for myself, but I’m going to leave it in for now with the idea that I can use this section for specific details or highlights …

Jan 1

New Year’s Day! Enjoyed a lazy morning before the UK folks came over for a roast chicken dinner. Meanwhile the Elderbeast headed out to see the Scorchers play some cricket.

Jan 2

Went to Yanchep National Park today and managed to see ducks, koalas and kangaroos. A nice way to spend my almost-last day off work. The Elderbeast has been talking for several days about spending some of his Christmas money on buying his very own takeaway pizza—so tonight we did that. I refused to let him pay for delivery, since it ends up costing about three times as much, and it’s a nice drive down to our local Dominos in any case. On the way we made the surprising discovery that the fastest 4g speeds we’ve yet encountered are in one of the backwater country roads on the way—a whopping 120mbps!

Jan 3

Last day off work and I feel absolutely exhausted. Decided to take down the Christmas decorations (instead of saving it for the weekend). However, I did leave the fairy lights up that I’d strung around the sitting room because they look awesome (and fairy lights are not just for Christmas).
The Elderbeast began his Gratitude Journal, which I bought him for Christmas. In another amazing development from last year, he simply sat down and wrote what he needed to write without any whinging, bargaining, or excuses. This time last year it would have taken at least half an hour’s struggle just to get him to sit down with a pen and paper.

Jan 4

First day back at work. Very quiet (as both expected and hoped). Spent much of the day sorting out my inbox, which proved a hugely therapeutic way of starting the New Work Year.

Jan 5

The quiet return to work ended today with a major outage of the website. It didn’t last long, and was resolved reasonably efficaciously, but it did put a damper on my plan to continue sorting out my inbox.

Jan 6

A classic #childfree Saturday: did my food shopping in the morning, then spent the day watching old timey Doctor Who and doing various sundry chores (organising finances, cleaning out the freezer, cooking meals for the week, tidying up the various lighting around the kitchen and sitting room). As always, there weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, but I feel pretty good about getting back on top of the finances.

Jan 7

Monthly Pathfinder game with friends. Much fun as always.

Finally, a section for me to list what I’ve watched, read, and eaten during the week. This section has already changed from the below, so I’ll talk more about it next week …


  • Dirk Gently
  • The Good Place 2×03-2×07
  • Groundhog Day
  • Heroes 1×01, 1×02
  • The Babadook
  • Dr Who (Tenth Planet)
  • Dr Who (The Visitation)
  • Mad Max Fury Road


This section is intended to inspire me to get into a more disciplined reading habit this year.

Hasn’t worked so far.


  • Heston Blumenthal Roast Chicken
  • Pizza
  • Chicken stir-fry
  • Freezer meal
  • Tarka Dal
  • Traditional Childfree Dinner

2018: Bring it!

I sometimes see in the New Year with resolutions, but like most of the of the world I’ve learned that resolutions are basically things that you’ll abandon sooner or later and will, instead, be left with crippling guilt and self-doubt for the rest of the year. So, I don’t have resolutions. But I do have some goals that I’m happy to share. And here’s a brief post about them.

Writing projects

I’ve spent much of the last two years writing short stories, with the goal of getting some published, and raising my profile a little in order to make it worth me writing and publishing the novel I started several years ago. That plan hasn’t really come to fruition, so it’s time to think of a fresh tactic. I do enjoy writing short stories, but I don’t want to write stories that aren’t getting read, and I do want to go back to writing the novel sometime this year. A change of plan is obviously required.

On the plus side, I have enough short stories in my ‘trunk’ now that I could release a couple of collections. Which is exactly what I’m going to do. I still need to work out the details, but I’m looking at three themed collections (horror; sci-fi; stories with women as the lead). Downside of this project is that it’ll require me to do a fair bit of self promotion, which I’m not very good at. But we’ll see …

Writing approach

As I’ve done for the last several years, I tracked my writing progress throughout the year (how many words written each day, and on which project). This fell away in the last month or so, partly because I wasn’t writing much fiction, but is definitely something I want to continue. This year I aim to track all my writing, including these blog posts and any other miscellaneous writing projects, so I can continue to see how much (or little) I’m writing each day/month/year.


I’m going to continue with my diary blog posts, but in an exciting new weekly format. You need only to look at December 31st’s post to see more details. If it’s been published by this time …


It wouldn’t be a good year if I didn’t have some goals for the Kinderbesten. With the Elderbeast I plan to continue much as I did last year: helping him to develop his ability to focus, to broaden his interests, and to get him to the point where he can really use the extra brainpower he has apparently been been born with. Although the Kinderbesten struggles less than his elder brother, I intend to make sure he continues on the path he’s already travelling, and doesn’t get too distracted with things like YouTube.


Work is generally good. That said, one of the consequences of my personal life imploding last year was that I took a back seat professionally for several months (and was very grateful that I was able to do so). This year I plan to stand up a bit more and resist lurking in the shadows too much.

Keep looking upwards and outwards

Life can get very insular, and it’s not healthy to look inwards all the time. This one is just a reminder for me to look up from time to time, and to remember that there’s more than just my tiny life going on. My ability to take an external perspective on things, and to focus (sometimes) on the positives over the negatives, has been a critical factor in getting through last year, and I intend to continue in a similar fashion for 2018.

December 31: The End

I did it! I survived the year, and managed to write a diary entry for every single day in 2017! Colour me happy 🙂

If you’ve been keeping up to date here, then there’s little for me to add at this point. On the personal front I survived the end of my marriage and, instead of my live caving in, I found light at the end of that particular tunnel. Life is new, and different, and okay. Most importantly, the Kinderbesten are ok. It’s been a challenging year for the Elderbeast in particular, and while he’s not yet where he needs to be, I’m celebrating all the forward steps he’s taken since this time last year. Meanwhile, the Kinderbeast effectively taught himself to read this year (with help from his teachers and Reading Eggs), which has broadened his world a fair bit.

Writing these diary entries has been an important part of the year for me. I vowed to write a post each day for the whole year, but it was about more than just meeting that goal. I started this project because I had a compelling sense that I should document this year. In the end, being able to offload my thoughts onto these pages has probably been one of the things that helped me get through the last twelve months. However, in any year, being able to sit down and reflect on your day is an important tool: it enables you to apply a perspective to things, and it forces you to process your thoughts (in much the same way that simply talking, and having to organise and verbalise your thoughts, is an important component of therapy).

So the big question is obviously: am I going to continue this next year? Well, the answer is both yes and no. I’d love to carry on as I have been, but the truth is that this project has been a burden as well as a benefit. It takes some significant chunks of time each week to get these posts written and I’ve constantly been at least a week, often more, behind. As rewarding as this project has been, I don’t like having things hanging over me. Consequently, much of the year has had a spectre of ‘must catch up with those blog posts’ lurking over my shoulder. On the other hand, I have genuinely enjoyed writing these posts and knowing that (a small handful of) people are interested enough to keep reading them.

So, I have a compromise.

For 2018 I’m going to attempt a weekly diary post. This should give the benefits of reflecting briefly on each day, while sparing the excruciating details. It may also free me up to writing some blog posts on other topics over the year (such as writing). The fact that the year starts on a Monday makes this even more appealing to my sense of organisation.

As they say: watch this space …

December 30: Visitors

Today my Dad and his wife arrive from the UK. Or, more accurately, tonight.

I was able to offload the Kinderbesten for a few hours to give me the chance to do some cleaning and tidying up around the house, which also means I get to see in 2018 with a reasonably clean and tidy home. My folks weren’t due to arrive until close to midnight, but the Elderbeast was determined to stay up and see his grandparents, so we passed the time with a marathon of The Good Place–which we both love and now can’t get enough of.

The folks arrived in good time. We caught up over some tea then, finally, everyone headed to bed.

A short entry for quite a big day.

December 29: It (again)

Another lazy day at home which, really, is what these holidays are all about: a chance to get on with minor odd jobs and not be bound by work, school, whatever.

I picked up It during my Boxing Day shopping trip, which of course became the selection for this week’s Fridate Horror. Somewhat appropriate too that one of the year’s biggest hits, one of the most successful horror films ever, and one steeped in history and nostalgia, should be our last horror movie of the year.

I’m happy to report that the shine doesn’t wear off after a second viewing. One of my issues with the first time I saw the movie was that it felt like half a movie: this is because I still very much had the book in mind and was preoccupied with how well the earlier half of the story could stand on its own. This time around I barely gave that a thought. As a result, the film seemed much richer: the sense of place and character was so strong I came away wondering how Chapter Two could possibly compare. Meanwhile, the creepy bits remained just as effective.

I still haven’t managed to reread the book though. Maybe in 2018 …

December 28: New phone day

My new phone arrived today!

I have been an iPhone user since the release of the 3G model, upgrading in turn to the iPhone 4s and then iPhone 5s. With no real need to upgrade beyond the 5s, I skipped the 6, 7 and 8 altogether. I was further put off by the price of the iPhone X (and didn’t want to add expensive phone instalments to my monthly contract) so I made the decision to jump ship to Android. I’d had my eye on the OnePlus 5 for some time, but decided to hold off when the 5t model was announced. Just before Christmas I saw a reasonable deal online (on the 5t) and snapped it up.

I could have probably gone another year with my iPhone 5s: it was still working perfectly well after 4 years. The only negatives were that it was getting a teeny bit slow and the camera wasn’t really up to scratch any more. However, I’d decided that a new phone would be The Big Treat I’d allow myself for 2017. Sure, there was some lingering panic over shelling out nearly $700 in one go on something I didn’t really, truly, honestly need … but it was comfortably overshadowed by the simple excitement of having a new phone.

So, let’s run through some first impressions.

Firstly the size. It’s up there with the plus sized iPhones, so it’s a LOT bigger than my old phone. One of the reasons I held off upgrading my phone for so long was that I was happy with the size of the 5s and didn’t want a bigger phone sticking out of my pocket. However, it’s taken almost no time to get used to the size. Fun side note: my dad has an iPhone 4, which now looks ludicrously tiny to me!

The main improvement I was looking for was with the camera. It’s true that the Google Pixel 2 and the iPhone X are getting all the attention for their cameras, but the OnePlus has gotten pretty good reviews in that area too. My iPhone 5s was sorely lacking when it came to low-light photos (making it almost impossible to take photos of my [black] cats indoors) and the selfie camera wasn’t great either. Luckily the camera on the OnePlus 5t is excellent. I took some test shots of the cats and the Kinderbesten almost as soon as I switched it on and am very happy indeed with the results. The selfie camera almost makes me look like a different person and the low light performance is phenomenal. It may well not be the best phone camera on the market, but it’s more than good enough for me.

Performance, in general, is also much better. My old phone was starting to struggle, especially under iOS 11, but this one zips along with barely a second thought. It’s surprisingly refreshing being able to slide from screen to screen instantly, and know that your apps will all load without the need to think about it for half a second first.

Finally, the most significant change is jumping from iOS to Android. I’m not too heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, so the only prep required was to add all my existing phone contacts to Google (which was not anywhere as easy as it should be!) and back up my photos. I was pretty excited about this shift to be honest: one of the fun bits about getting a new phone is getting to play with all the new stuff, but Apple have’t really been adding any fun, new stuff to their phones lately. Also, as a proud owner of a Chromecast and a Google Home mini, I figure an Android phone will work much better with all of that.

So far I’m loving Android. While I understand the benefits of iOS being relatively locked down (easy to manage, easy to use) I’m relishing the flexibility that I now have with the OnePlus. I’ve taken it slow, not wanting to make too many changes and forget how I did them, but I’ve already downloaded a new icon pack and set up some gestures. One of my favourite, albeit tiny, things is being able to place my icons and folders in any arrangement I want (unlike iOS, which automatically stacks your icons to the top left. I’m also able to place widgets on my screens (although the only one Ive found so far that doesn’t look like a complete dog is the clock. Another major improvement is the ability to swipe down and get media player controls: no more having to open Plex, Netflix, etc to pause whatever I’m watching.

In summary: no regrets.

December 27: Boxing Day sales

I finally made it to the Boxing Day sales today. Nice and early. My main goal was to get a 2018 wall calendar. For the last many years I’ve had a Doctor Who calendar no surprises there). In recent years they’ve produced some really nice comic art style calendars, and I was hoping to get one of these. No dice this year: all the Doctor Who calendars were boring Photoshop jobs. I ended up with a really nicely design Nightmare Before Christmas one instead.

Over the last year, the wall calendar has become particularly important for me, serving as a visual reminder for key dates (such as when we have late start days at school, when the kids are at their Mum’s for the weekend, etc). Without it I doubt I’d have much clue what was going on week to week. Yeah, sure I could use my phone, but it’s that at-a-glance thing that I really need going on. And something pretty to stick on the wall.

I had a few other things on my list, which I failed to get. But I did take the opportunity to pick up a few more classic Doctor Who DVDs while they’re on sale. I suspect, given the way the market’s going, that these DVDs won’t be on sale much longer so I’m slowly, casually, and cheaply picking up the ones I want while I still can. It may turn out that the ‘ones I want’ are all of them, but we’ll see.

December 26: Boxing Day (aka Christmas recovery)

I briefly considered checking out the Boxing Day sales today, but sanity prevailed and left us all to enjoy a traditional day of post-Christmas recovery. The Elderbeast went off for the afternoon to see the first Scorchers game of the season, while I baked my Christmas Ham and watched movies with the Kinderbeast.

The Elderbeast came home in time for us to watch the Doctor Who Christmas special together, which is always a seasonal highlight. We were both pretty excited about this one, as it gave us our first chance to see Jodie Whittaker in action and I was pretty stoked about seeing David Bradley as the first Doctor. That said, as fun as they are, these Christmas episodes are typically a bit of a curiosity: never not entertaining, but almost always eminently forgettable … which makes it baffling that they tend to use these episodes for their tentpole moments (such as Peter Capaldi leaving).

Ultimately, it was a perfectly good episode, solidly made with many highlights, but once again little more than a romp. The problem with the regeneration episodes, is that part of you is always just waiting for episode to be over so you can get to the last ten minutes. The problem with our episode is that the sound on the last ten minutes went completely out of sync, which pretty much took us out of the whole thing.

Whatever. I’m still excited about Jodie Whittaker 🙂

December 25: Christmas

I wasn’t entirely sure how Christmas Day was going to go this year, given the change in the family situation. We’d long ago, as part of our Parenting Plan, agreed to continue doing exactly the same thing for Christmas Day that we’d done for the past few years: namely go to my in-laws for the day. It’s the perfect compromise: it means the Kinderbesten get to spend the day with both parents, without being shuttled around from place to place; it’s still a proper family Christmas; and we celebrate on what is effectively ‘neutral territory’. It also means I don’t have to cook, which is a bonus.

As has been going on for the past few weeks, I was woken up early by the morning sun pounding through my sorry excuses for bedroom curtains. The Kinderbesten, bless them, awoke a little later. The Elderbeast ploughed directly into his stocking. Meanwhile, in a turn of events that I will find forever amusing, the Kinderbeast insisted on having some iPad time first (“I’ll open them later” he said casually, when I asked about the stocking full of presents sitting in his bedroom).

Main present opening happened a few hours later, after breakfast, once the Kinderbesten’s mother joined us. A little while after that, we headed to the in-laws for yet more present opening (during which I was delighted to acquire a fresh bottle of Grey Goose). Much fun was had with the Kinderbesten’s new Cozmo robot, and a very delicious Christmas dinner was consumed. Overall a perfectly pleasant family Christmas.

The Kinderbesten and I headed home at about 7pm. I had determined to end the day with a viewing of Gremlins, even though I was convinced I’d only make it about half an hour before falling asleep. In the end, I managed to get through the whole film (with a glass of wine in hand), which proved a most excellent end to the day.

Christmas: survived!

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