Friday, September 30, 2011


The only downside with the joy of knowing that it's a Friday and that you have two whole days of freedom before it's back to work is the knowledge that you have to get through the Friday first.

And Fridays at my work are always interesting. Especially when it gets to the afternoon and what we refer to as the "omg it's not here yet" factor starts to come into play.

Still it's the weekend now so all's well that ends well there I guess :-)

Also on the plus side we're getting a whole week of dress down next week as well as lots of motivational events which are promising to be a lot of fun.

The theme is going to be "refocus, relax, recharge" and as part of the relax/recharge bit there getting the massage ladies they had last time back in again. Which is great as they were fantastic. So A free lengthy shoulder massages by professionals? Why yes please!

( my jobs so cool sometimes).


Later folks

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

oohhh that's pretty

When the Ipad first came out I was realllllyyyy tempted to go and get one if only to fit in with the "cool kids" at church who all seemed to go and get one and use them for pretty much anything.

Need to read a scripture? Got a app for that! Need the words to a hymn? Got a app for that! Need someone else to do your talk for you in front of the congregation? Well that's not a app for that just yet but I'm sure it's a matter of time :-)

However despite the shinyness I soon realised that there was very little point in getting a Ipad as I wouldn't really use for anything worthwhile and I didn't really need it. Which as physics helpfully pointed out is a pretty good description of the latest fads. You don't need it, you don't want it, but it looks pretty and will keep you in with the cool kids.

In fact probably the only thing I would have used it for would have been for ebooks. Which allthough I have steadfastly refused them in the past are starting to look increasingly more attractive if only for the fact that I have to accept that my room isn't really a tardis and there is a upper limit to how many books I can stuff in it.

Not that I would totally switch to ebooks as there's just something about curling up with a good book that you just can't get out of a ebook reader.

Also the other problem with the ipad is t's sheer expense as with my shiny new camera I already have a nice new toy that is going to be sucking up a lot of my hard earned spare pennies for sometime to come. Not that I mind of course. OH that reminds me must start saving for a skylight filter...........

Wait I was going somewhere with this before I started shamelessly remenecising ( and I'm 200% certain I've spelt that wrong but c'est la vie).

Ahh yes, what's inspired this hopeless ramble is the announcement from Amazon today of the new "Kindle Fire". A rather nifty looking gadget. No announcement yet of a uk price but I feel safe in assuming that it will probably as is usual with most gadgets be pretty overpriced compared to the us costing.

Anyway speaking of books I was reminded this weekend that it had been the weekend of , a yearly event that my last company held every year and that all staff members had to go too. It was also the second one since I have left the company and despite a hugely prolonged attempt of persusion by my local store manager I wasn't interested in going as the thought of being the ghost of "staff members past" didn't really appeal to me.

But next year maybe. I guess I'll just see what I feel like.

This realisation also made me realise that my "2nd aniversary" at my current job is also rapidly
approaching. I suppose yet another unwelcome bit of proof that time really does fly.

Well with the nights drawing in, I haven't had much chance to go out and play with my camera, but mind you looking at my recent photos ( go have a look on facebook if you want to see all of them. There's loads and that's after I've cherry picked a few. You should see the rest! I'm about to be in need of a new external hard drive me thinks :-) I a starting to feel that I have quite a good talent here. I've started to look for some local camera courses and clubs to see what I can do about expanding my skiills.


Later folks.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

And things just keeping getting weirder

So if the fact that a world known organisation can loose a bus sized satellite when it crashes to earth isn't bizare enough the news just seems to keep getting weirder.

ITV have admitted using a clip from a computer game in a news report, passing it off as real footage.

The bbc seems to have interviewed a hoaxer instead of a real London trader.

Channel five is still showing Big Brother ( okay doesn't really fit with everything else as it's been going on for several weeks but you have to admit it's still pretty weird)

Choclate bars are now having to get security tags in shops as their being pinched so much,

and finally Rhianna was actually order off a farmers property after she displaying a bit too much of herself shall we say when filiming her latest music video to the seeming complete bafflement of every other man in the town.

see! It's all going very weird

He's behind you!

Monday, September 26, 2011


Okay, well I'm well aware that my blog posts have been a little sporadic as of late.

And before you get all excited Drat it's not down to the " Get Saxon a Girlfriend" fund being a success sadly.

No, I'm not been feeling the urge or inspiration to write as I've had a prolonged period of feeling sorry for myself as I've been feeling very under the weather and in a lot of discomfort as I picked up a nasty infection, which entailed that I had to visit the one place in the world that is certain to strike pure terror in the heart of this saxon...

And not it's not a relief society meeting :-) ( Oh no he didn't :-)

Yes I had to go and visit Hell on earth, or as most of your mortals know it, the Dentists.

Firstly to find that my old dentist was gone and replaced by a new guy and secondly to find that the infection was serious enough to warrent a root canal! Which freaked me out enough and that was before the horror stories from people at work about sent me completely gibbering with terror.

However I had to face the fear as it wasn't something that was going to get any better and as it turned out I didn't feel a thing. Although it was nearly four hours before I could speak properly again. Which did lead to me having to use a notebook for sometime to ask Grumpy anything, which he found incredibly entertaining whereas Owen found it somewhat baffling.

So with that problem sorted, I'm feeling much better as unsurprisingly feeling the urge to smack yourself in the mouth to get rid of the pain tends to get you down after a little while :-)

I've been playing with my camera some more ( you can see lots of the results on my facebook page), I've aced my Kpi's for this month at work and they are also used some training material I've used to train other members of staff so despite the last couple of weeks being somewhat sucky the end of the month isn't turning out to be all that bad.

Lets Hope it continues into October :-)

Later folls

The sky will fall! The Sky is falling! We think the sky fell somewhere? Didn't it?

So after lots of scare mongering, hand waving and general attempts to convince people that there was no danger even though there was a 1 in 3200 chance it would hit somebody, the Nasa Satellite that everyone was talking about has finally re-entered the atmosphere and.....

Well promptly disappeared as nobody seems to have any idea where it went.

I don't know what's more scary, the fact that they can leave satellites that big to fall out of the sky uncontrolled or that when they do they have no idea where it end ups

It's good but it will never fit in your bath

And for your next challenge

Try to come up with a amusing caption for this raft which doesn't make reference to additional floatation devices :-)

Mary Poppins 2 perhaps?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Once their out there you can never get them back

Okay, so there seems to be a new "craze" going round on facebook this week in that people and by that girls are posting random facebook status update that begin with twords to the effect " I am (x) weeks in and craving (x)"

Now what ever the true meaning behind these updates is, it seems to be some sort of state secret between women which I am starting to wonder if it's sole purpose is to drive men mad with another question about the women they can not answer along with the old classic "why do women always go to the bathroom in pairs"

Now I hasten to add that it's only a state secret between those women that get it. Can you imagine what happened when you have women posting updates saying they are so many weeks and craving something?

Or let me rephrase that can you imagine what whappened when you have a load of Female YSA posting updates saying they are so many weeks and craving something?

Well nothing good for a start as there seemed to be some quite nasty misunderstandings.

Speaking of YSA I am still debating whether or not to go to institute this year as technically I can still go but it's not like I haven't done Institute before adn then some. Plus one of the courses is Eternal marriage so I'm sure doing that course for the 3rd Time would really improve my mood and not make me feel really depressed.

Oh wait.......

Mind you not that I got the most enthusastic of invites. The day after my birthday one of the adult couple came up to me and said
" I understand you were 30 yesterday. Well you are still allowed to come to institute for another year so you can have this invite anyway if you really want to come"

Gee with a enthusastic invite like that where they obivously are keen to see me there how can I not go?

Wait, wait, probably don't want to start picking at that thread.

We finally had a nice sunset tonight ater days of waiting as I have invested in a new wide angle lense for my new toy. I get out to the fields to take some perfect pictures and what happens? I find the battery has died to a low enough level where the lense won't work correctly.


Well always tomorrow.

Later folks

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

One final thought on conference

What the heck am I going to do on August Bank holiday now?

Saxons final thoughts on conference

Conference was only a week ago which seems bizare as it seems like it was only yesterday but in it's own way it also seems a long time ago too.

If you get what I mean your probably nodding sagely right now. If you don't get what I mean you're probably shaking your head wondering what the heck I'm talking about.

Firsly I'd like to take this as a opportunity to say that I have been completely blown away to the response about what happened on the Sunday afternoon both with comments that have been left on her and a couple of people who have spoken to me through various means offline. When I wrote that post I was simply writing it in my usual matter of fact way without even begining to imagine the response it would generate. It's meant so much to me and is deeply humbling that so many people have leapt to my defence and left me so many heartfelt words of encouragement.

Secondly I think one of the most important things I learned from the weekend is that I need to have and indeed discovered some lost confidence in myself. Taking so many photos probably helped as you can't be backward in coming forward when it comes to taking photos. I think that refound confidence certainly helped make new friends as I've had nearly three times as many friends requests this year then any other year.

Thirdly I am beyond grateful for Phoenix and the gang for inviting me into their group and then letting me hang with them for almost the entire weekend ( even if it has left me with a lingering addiction for yahtzee). It really made the weekend about 10 times better then it would have been otherwise.

Fourthly I need to try and be better at accepting that there are some things ( and indeed people) that I can not change.

Fifthly, I seem to have a talent for photography and now I have the gear lets see things go there shall we.

Sixthly ( yes I now I'm probably making up words now) and probably this will be the hardest of all, I have got to stop being so hard on myself, I really can be my own worst enemy sometimes.

And lastly I guess I'm just thankful for the chance to go to so many conferences. Even though it may not be obivous I know I have made a difference.

Anyway that's enough looking back for today. Onwards and upwards folks, standard service resumes tomorrow!

Monday, September 05, 2011

National YSA conference 2011 Epilogue " Back to reality"

So the end of conference usually entailed a last minute sprint back to my room to grab my stuff and hit the road asap to avoid the bank holiday day traffic. But of course with the early check out and much shorter transit time I really didn’t ( And didn’t have the urge too) to rush .

I took a moment to look at the “e-harmony “ dating wall which had been set up. Basically people could leave messages, their mobile numbers, email etc encouraging people to contact them. In some cases their numbers were up there without their knowledge as the committee chairmans mobile number had appeared with the message

“Looking for a female with a gsoh and child bearing hips. Call me......”

He actually found it quite amusing and told me that he took the long view that probably nobody would call and hey if they did then bonus!

I then passed another YSA who had taken part in the talent show who was looking very pleased with himself as after meeting a girl the previous evening had dedicated a song he was singing and playing on the piano to her. Which I’m sure was a little embarrassing for her but at least all of her friends didn’t stand up and point directly too her so the whole conference could see who she was.

Oh wait they did.......

Once picked out the girl had obeyed the encouragement from the crowd and had actually run up to the stage and sat while he serenaded her. It was really quite sweet and explained his well justified look of satisfaction.

Anyway that out of the way it was time for the one part of conference I didn’t like. Starting to say goodbye to friends both old and new. First up was ana who gave me a hug goodbye and a firm promise to add her on facebook. Second up was Little Em who had some inspiring words for me, which were for me and me alone I guess ( hey it might be hard to believe but I don’t put everything on the blog you know!)

However I certainly wasn’t going to be able to sit down and enjoy my lunch with my Salt and vinegar crisps ( no cheese and onion score!) As I quickly found myself volunteered shall we say once again to help put the chairs in the main conference hall away to help the staff members seeing as the conference had drastically over run.

But even that was over far too quickly and like it or not it was finally time for me to go home. I headed out to the car park with Phoenix, Braveheart and Cat who were talking about who they had to wait for to take home. I simply pointed out my car and said I was going to head out. They asked if I was waiting for anyone and I explained no and had come on my own.

I think the look that best crossed their faces was “ Does not compute, we no understandeee” , of course being a bit thick from my sleep deprived state I didn’t get what the problem was and pointed out that it was no big deal as we were close to home and I had only take people with my to Manchester one year and regularly travelled to activities by myself and no one ever wanted a lift.

At which point the look on Bravehearts face changed from confused to what I can best describe as horrified and he briefly verbalised a few very disjointed thoughts as he tried to get to understand that I wasn’t joking.

The best I could manage in a reply was a simple shrug as a way of saying if I let that fact get to me I would never leave the house asides for work.

Anyway, I felt myself reluctant to leave my companions of the last few days as I certainly didn’t want to go back to reality. But unfortunately as grown up reality has a way of turning up when you don’t want it too. A round of goodbye hugs later I was on the road.

Previously in other years I have bemoaned the long journey home with no one to talk too. This year with the short trip I was actually feeling the reverse. I didn’t want to go back to the reality of work the next day.

I arrived home to find Owen very excited to see me ( It’s nice to be missed) and was fully intending to go straight online to post on facebook ( if you really want to see all the photos I took look me up on facebook for some reason blogger is still not playing nice ) but my bed was singing a sweet song that I couldn’t resist and I promptly crashed out for nearly three hours.

I wasn’t to sure what to think at that point as after all it was the last of the conferences I had been going to for six years. But I don’t think it was any exaggeration to say it was the best.

If only in facebook friend requests alone

And there you have it folks, nearly nine thousand words later ( yes really that many) the last of the epic tales of National YSA conference has been completed. Thanks for staying with me.

There will be one final post relating to conference tomorrow and then normal service will finally resume.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

National YSA conference 2011 Monday Morning " They think it's all over"

Morning seemed to come quickly, all too quickly as a matter of fact as I was woken up by the crashing of doors as some of the committee members on the corridor left to go a meeting. A very early meeting mind you.

I did try to get back to sleep but failed miserably, before decided that any further attempts would prove either pointless or probably result in me sleeping through breakfast and checkout time.

But low on sugar and caffeine how was I going to fully wake myself and rejoin the land of the living and awake. Yes there was only one thing for it, a very cold shower! Which I endured with my most impressive manliness possible.

And for that read a depressingly girlish shriek.

Going across to breakfast I discovered we finally had breakfast.... but that was it as the only other choices were scrambled egg which I don’t like and tomatoes which I really, really don’t like especially when you see what looks like 2 dozens industrials tins worth of tinned tomatoes floating in a giant metal dish.

Battling tiredness, I decided that the best thing to do would be to keep moving and start packing the car up right away because to go and lie down again would probably be a fatal mistake. Mind you I reset my alarm on my phone just in case I did make that mistake ( hey sometimes I can actually not be brain dead stupid!).

Which was promptly disproved by my struggles to get all of my stuff back in the case, with a few moans and curses wondering what the problem was as everything had fitted in there on Friday and it was not like I had added anything. Or maybe I was just fulfilling the male stereotype of being unable to pack properly.

Still I somehow managed to get it all packed ( if not especially well it was still in the case darn it!), but even after loading the car up I still found I had ages of time before I had to give my keys in, let alone be at the conference centre.
Although I wondered if the possibility of cheerfully throttling two 18 years old who had skipped past me at breakfast happily boasting that they had only had one hour of sleep and felt fine, I decided that the stake president would probably frown on that. I decided to basically put some music on and dance around like a complete loon (in my room of course.)

Okay maybe not the most constructive use of time but at the time in my sleep deprived state it seemed like a good idea okay?

Arriving at the conference centre I found YSA rather thin on the ground which was not surprising as it was Monday morning after all. Phoenix and the gang all seemed to be mia so I was left to sit with only person I could see who I knew. The stake president! I did feel a little bit like the kid who has to sit with the teacher.

Anyway it was the talent show first and I was determined to make good use of my new toy and it’s shiny zoom lens to get some good pictures for once as in previous years I’ve been so far from the stage most pictures had people coming out very, very small.

Phoenix and gang finally appeared a little time after the start of the show and I quickly relocated back to join them. There were some very good acts in the talent show, asides from a magic act that quite frankly we totally couldn’t follow but we soon realised there was a problem as there were too many acts. People started to get bored especially as we started to close in on the supposed end time of the conference and we still had two more things to go.

Still that aside I was having a great time running back and forth taking photos, singing along to the songs, complete with bad air guitaring when somebody sang a bon jovi song and even letting phoenix take some pictures of me with my camera. Which I still think was her most impressive feat all weekend. Not only getting me in front of a camera but getting me to agree to it willingly!

My inner mental voice even put in a belated appearance at one point asking me what I was doing, as I didn’t do things like this, singing willing? Air guitaring? I don’t do things like this. No, I decided firmly silencing that voice, but I did and maybe that was the most important thing I could have learned all weekend. I was starting to find myself again.

Finally the talent show came to an end, just in time for the Disney interactive choir to start. Phoenix by this time had started to guard the main door in a effort to stop ysa raiding the lunches that had been put out rather early and so inevitably with a lot of tired and bored ysa people had started to take them.

The choir was good, very good in fact as they had spent large chunks of the weekend practising , unfortunately a lot of people at the back where we were didn’t appreciate this and were talking. A lot, especially a lot of lads who were cool coz they wore hats and Talk Street so people could get they were cool coz people could get it.

These Muppets I could have cheerfully strangled too if anyone was wondering.
Once the choir had finished it was time for the karaoke, which even my enthusiasm was lagged for as we were well past the original end point of the conference by this point and I was started to wish for things to come to a end as it was getting increasingly hard to focus in my fatigue addled state.

The karaoke was the classic boys versus Girls. The girls got Katy Perry’s Firework and the lads. Well we didn’t get a great song as we ended up with Bruno Mars which wasn’t the best. Which then wasn’t helped by said group of muppets from earlier and some other lads starting to loudly bellow ( not sing mind you) something else. Which lead to the girls in the audience starting to chant off, off and one half of the boys who were singing properely to start booing the other side of the lads. My backup photographer Phoenix got a great picture of this mind you.

Finally it was time for the Video of the weekend. Now I was still expecting only one or two photos of mine to be featured as I was sure they had got much better photos from other people.

Errrhhhh no.

After six of my photos appeared in rapid succession, I had a serious case of” Wait, what the heck is going on here?” as more and more started to appear I realised that in fact they had used almost all of the photos I had turned in leaving me considerably gob smacked. Overall I think at least 90% of the photos they used were mine.

And then suddenly that was it. The conference was over with the same suddenness I had learned all too well.

The last ever national YSA conference was over and my last sixth and final conference had drawn to a close.

National YSA Conference 2011 Sunday Night/Monday morning "Happyness comes from many sources including golden arches"

So Sunday night previously had always been about heading across the road at the stroke of midnight to buy lots of fast food , however this year that wasn’t going to be happening as mainly there was no fast food places nearby at all. None, zero, zipo. Which did leave me wondering initially what we could do short of hanging around outside talking.

Going to one of the hall common rooms to watch tv was probably well off the list of possibilities even with news of what had happened between Man U And Arsenal causing many lads to long after watching match of the day because mainly a group of lads who had found a TV earlier in the day to watch sky news had become subject to a especially blunt and direct shall we say tongue lashing from a group of girls about not respecting the Sabbath.

Although I’m sure that the irony of them choosing to give this “advice” in the form of a public dressing down probably alluded them.

However my plans were quickly sorted when I was invited down to the girls hall again, which admittedly was an invitation from Phoenix and the girls in the form of “ You are coming” not “would you like to?”. Not that I minded of course. It felt nice to be wanted.

I joined up with braveheart and three other guys who had also been invited and we legged it back to the hall to change with very firm instructions to change and be back outside within 10 minutes or we were getting left behind. I was half way through changed when I was suddenly struck by the random thought that the room had no less than seven mirrors in it. My next thought was why the heck I was thinking about mirrors when there were people waiting. Out the door muppet, go move, quickly!

However for a change I was the first one to be ready and had to wait for the others, who eventually appeared after a lot of nervous pacing from braveheart who understandably wanted to get down to the girls hall asap. ( which I can understand).

But.... when we got down there we discovered out haste had been well a bit hasty as none of the girls had appeared. Our quick change however meant we were there in plenty of time to grab the tables so we could once again play yahtzee. ( seriously I actually started to feel like I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms from that darn game this weekend.) We also started playing card games as well, which at one point set me off on a complete fit of the giggles which I found a bit hard to explain, as lets face it my usual Sunday night does not involve sitting round a table with a large group of friends being taught card games.

It was still quite early in the night to think of food as we were still sticking to the adage from previous years that the Sabbath ended at midnight. Not so some of the other “younger” YSA who were saw passing through the hall who were starting to reappear with large amounts of pizza and so forth and then loud music started coming from the common room ( we were gathered around some tables in the foyer) before the lights went out. There was a long moment of unspoken pondering of whether we needed to do anything before the lights came back on, saving us from that particular dilemma.

Finally midnight came and so it was time for food. Or at least it would have been it we could have decided on what it was we wanted. It seemed like everyone was trying to be polite and deferring to the next person saying they would go with what they wanted which would have worked if everytime we had gone to the “next person” they hadn’t said exactly the same thing.

As it tuned out our long almost 20 minute discussion which finally settled on pizza proved to be in vain as the pizza place had shut, leaving us with only the local 24 hours mcdonald.

Which was still fun if slightly bizarre to end up eating McDonalds in the early hours of a Monday morning ( because of course pizza would have made much more sense. Oh wait no it wouldn’t have...)

But in all honesty I really didn’t care by that point as I was having way, way too much fun.......especially as we were onto playing Irish snap at this point.
However fun or not eventually the sensation of burning eyes began to creep in as my bodys polite way of saying “ I don’t care how much fun your having but your not 21 anymore and you need to call it a night”.

I took my leave, tired but very happy. Things had come back a massive 360% after the unexpectedness of what happened in the workshop that afternoon, as my spirits had got back to what they had been and had continued to rise. To be honest the workshop had probably only hit me so hard as I had been very tired and had let my armour slip, so another time it might have only proven to be very irritating as opposed to a full scale punch in the chest.

I checked my alarm for one last time that gleefully told me just how little time I had before I was going to have to drag myself out of bed for breakfast in the morning. Now I saw morning but lets be honest it was actually later the same day by this point.

Still I wouldn’t have traded those last few hours for anything in the world

Saturday, September 03, 2011

National YSA Conference 2011 Sunday afternoon " Put down your burdens"

I went back to the conference centre and joined phoenix and the gang for the first workshop, which was once again back in the theatre which meant another session of learning forward in my chair trying to stay awake.

The second workshop was by Bro H, which prompted a lot of keen interest from people as not only was it called “ Dating A Light hearted look at a serious subject” which meant you already knew it was going to be good, but Sis H was also going to be taking the workshop as well.

It started off very well, with all of Bro H’s trademark humour and advice for dating, even if he used one girl he knew as a case “example” for want of a better term. The rest of us might have found it funny but the girl in question looked like she was praying. Not for strength or guidance mind you, more for the ground to promptly open up and swallow her.

Then talk turned to RM’s which are which point I starting I silently asked for us not to go down that route, not then, not that moment. He then challenged all of the Rm’s to ask a girl out on a date that very day. I was just keeping it together with a dose of black humour of “ oh well at least that gets me out of that challenge” when he shared a quote from a prophet. Now I can’t remember the exact quote, or even which prophet except that it was a very early one, but the quote was something along the lines of if someone is not married by the time that their 30, it means their unmarriable because there’s something spiritually not right or their not living up to their gospel commitments. Or words to that effect.

Which in my tied strung out state kinda felt like someone had just smacked me directly in the chest because having your own doubts and fears about what could be causing your failures, well you can cope with that but when you have something like from a general authority....

Well you kinda get the idea.

After the prayer was finished, I ( and there’s really no other word to describe it) bolted from the room feeling my usual iron grip on my emotions coming dangerously close to cracking. I went for a long walk before heading back to my room.

Now I would like to say that I dealt with things in a manly way and kept it together but then I would be lying. I did have a little mini bit of a breakdown.

But then I suddenly felt myself rally, there’s really no other word for it. I know I jokingly refer to having a inner mental voice sometimes, but at that moment I really did feel like I didn’t hear it in so many words, but more that I got a very strong feeling that seemed to speak to me loud and clear and that feeling was simple

“ Enough. .... You have to stop beating yourself up, you have to stop being so hard on yourself and your certainly going to do yourself no good sitting in here. “

Finding my spirits lifted and what felt like a weight from my shoulders, I went back to the conference centre to upload my photos to the person who was making the trailer ( feeling sure he would only use one or two) before heading back to the dining hall to grab dinner ( in fact I was the first one there.)

I left the dining hall to run smack back into Little Em who was hanging around outside enjoying the sunshine because as she was not officially at conference she couldn’t get any food.

So I spent the next 30 odd minutes having a very nice chat with her and catching up. She’s a fantastic listener and despite having over 2000 friends on facebook she always seem to be able to know each one personally, their problems and their successes no matter how long it’s been since she has last seen you.

We then had some more time to wait as the speakers for the evening fireside had been delayed. Once we got near the new start time of the fireside I wandered back over to the conference centre to find phoenix and co playing cards. Which was mildly amusing because it was simply so unexpected.

Now I was expecting to simply be able to come back all nice and quietly with my usual seemingly invisibleness. Which even thinking that shows I still have a whooollllleeeeee load to learn about Phoenix as not only had she clocked my rapid disappearing act she had also deduced exactly what had caused it. Which was a surprise to me as the last person who had been able to read me like that was Kitty back from my uni days. Still she had a few words of comfort which helped to cheer up my still rising spirits (which were recovering far quicker than I thought possible)

The fireside was fantastic as we had two speakers from our local seventy who were both brilliant.

Following the fireside it was time for the testimony meetings. Now I usually never go with intentions of getting up as I don’t like speaking in from of large groups of people as I get massively self conscious in a very short space of time.

And every year for at least the past three years I have found my heart pounding so hard in my chest it felt like it was going to fly right out of my chest. So I got in the queue ready to speak, imaging the great things I could say after six years of conference in manly confident way.

What I managed was less than half a sentence before the spirit completely overwhelmed me and I started to cry. Which strangely I didn’t find as embarrassing as I thought I would do. I can’t remember what I said precisely but I do remember exiting the stage pretty darn quickly when I finished to rejoin phoenix and gang.

Even thought my forte is in writing not speaking I still find it hard to put into words what I felt but it felt like something was lifted from me in that instance, something which I didn’t know I was carrying was finally lifted away and as I didn’t need to carry it any longer, or even that I should have been carrying it to begin with.

As the testimony meeting finished I found myself slightly agreeing with the closing prayer with all my heart and mentally adding a silent word of thanks for all of the friends that six years of convention attendance had bought me.

National YSA conference 2011: Sunday morning " tick tock"

One thing I have found out my mobile that I so don’t like is when you use it as a alarm it cheerfully proceeds to give you a countdown to exactly how long it is before said alarm will go off. Which usually is not a problem but when you have got to bed at silly o clock in the morning you don’t need to know in precisely how many hours, minutes and seconds your going to have to drag your sorry butt out of bed.

Suffice to say I got up a lot later then usual, before staggering over to the dining hall for breakfast hoping for Bacon. Which turned out to be a vain hope as not only was there no bacon, there were no beans either! So it just sausages and toast.
It was at this point whilst eating my breakfast and wondering what exactly I had done with my iburoprofen as I had a headache coming on that I was suddenly struck with the realisation that despite helping plan the institute workshops for the previous day I hadn’t attended any of them. If I could have I would have banged my head on the desk at this point but due the building headache I settled for a mildly berating myself and hoping Bro H Would understand.

As I headed across to the conference centre I found myself hoping that Little Em was going to be putting in an appearance as although she hadn’t been at conference for the first part of the weekend, last year she had done the same thing and had turned up on the Sunday. Long term readers will remember her as the person who helped give me a boost when I was on the verge of quitting the 2008 conference ( see here)

and what do you know? My hopes paid off as no prizes
for guessing who was in the conference centre with her usual beaming smile and a welcoming hug. Why Little Em of course!

First up was priesthood, which was a wonderful lesson, really good and it was hard to deny the powerful spirit that seemed to have descended onto the conference at this point. I only had one problem, for the priesthood session we were in the theatre. Which had comfortable seats. Far more comfortable seats that Manchester. Really nice comfortable seats that leaned right back. Really nice comfortable seats that leaned right back and were exactly the kind of things somebody who hadn’t had enough sleep should not be leaning back in.

Suffice to say it wasn’t long before I had my first “ Wait are my eyes open?” moment before realising they weren’t and promptly spent the rest of the session leaning forward in my chair.

So into the main conference session, which I realised with a pang would be my last one ever! I was still mainly glad though that I had dodged having to speak at one of these things. This session was quickly followed by lunch which turned into it’s usual rugby scrum of YSA but I still managed to bag myself some tunafish which cheered me up no end. I even ran into an ( the girl from the previous day) but I only managed a few minute of talking before her friends turned up and spirited her away again. Which did lead me to wonder if maybe the universe was starting to have a joke at my expense.

Still Lunch over I had just enough time to go back to my room and dump my church bag and grab my camera before coming back for the afternoon workshops. I was feeling pretty good if tired. The spirit was so strong and despite usually being quite in control of my emotions I was feeling a little on edge, which could have been down to tiredness, down to the spirit, or the knowledge this was my last conference or maybe all three.

Which made what happened next all the more difficult to cope with.

National YSA Conference 2011 Saturday Evening " Yahtzee!"

I took my leave from Phoenix and the gang as they had an assignment to go and help set up for the ball. I however did not, so decided to head back to my room to take a break before seeing what we were going to get for dinner. I was also still half expecting to wake up any second, but I decided to have another stern mental conversation with myself telling myself that there was no reason that, that shouldn’t have just happened. I counted with a swift mental argument that I had a whole list of why it shouldn’t have, I then responded by calling myself a name., before deciding that having argument with myself was probably not the most constructive use of my time.

Dinner was well interesting as it turned out to be chicken wrapped in a piece of bacon ( see I said we’d get to what happened to the bacon” ). It also proved to be the first opportunity to catch up with the other Leicester YSA who appeared in the dining hall at the same time. Now it wasn’t that I had been trying to avoid them mind you , it’s just I hadn’t been actively seeking them out as I had been trying to follow the advice of the committee chairman to use the weekend as a opportunity to get out of my comfort zone to meet new people.

Anyway, after dinner I found I had quite some time before the ball started as not to be completely stereotypical but let’s face it the large amount of time left between the ball and dinner for preparation time is not for guys to get ready. The only thing which would have made the time more perfect would have been a TV to watch Doctor who but you can’t have everything in life.

It gave me a chance to watch one of my new DVD’s though before getting ready ( and relearning a valuable lesson as to why you should check your razor is still actually sharp before using it) and wondering over to the conference centre. Where I quickly found myself much in demand as despite still being unofficial a lot of people were thinking I was actually official. A large pharaoh style casket was proving to be a particular highlight for people to pose against as the ball had a Egyptian theme. YSA got even more excited when they found that they could open the casket and pose as if coming out of it.

Which is probably the only time you will ever hear the phrase “ Is he coming out of the casket then” at any sort of Mormon function whatsoever. I also managed to round up everyone from Leicester stake to get a group photo. Which I realised as I was taking it was the largest group of Leicester YSA we had attend conference since my first year at conference! Which was yet another of a number of similarities that seemed to occur between this my last year and my first. I’ll admit to be slightly niggled though that when the photo was finished one of the girls called out “ Quick lets get inside so we can get our photos done by a proper photographer”. I am choosing to assume that she meant “professional” mind you. Although when I looked in on the “photo studio” later the only real difference between the gear I had and what she had was she had a much better flash.

There was a great emphasis on security at the dance as they were checking everybody for wristbands to see if they were actually attending the conference and not just trying to sneak in. And you couldn’t get more of a visible example of this then having no less then Bro H on the door! Still I really wasn’t expecting many non conference attendee’s to try to sneak in. But I was proven wrong as a large group of about 7 or 9 people were escorted out at one point. I actually heard one of the lads exclaim that it was stupid ball and he hadn’t wanted to be in there anyway as he was shown the door! I really wanted to ask him in that case why sneak in? Maybe a little harsh I know but hey I had paid and he hadn’t!

The committee had no issue with kicking this guys out, but there was more uncomfortable at having to turn away some girls who had turned up, who after begging and exhausting logical arguments to get in, turned on the water works!

That didn’t work either if you were wondering.

Now usually after the ball, on most previous occasions I had simply gone back to my room. However Braveheart asked if he could get copies of some of the photos I had taken. I said sure and jokingly added that the only price would be letting me know if anything was going on afterwards, because me being me I still half expected them to have had enough of me after hanging around with me all day.

Phoenix then also asked if I would be hanging out afterwards and I said okay, before heading back to my room to change. Slightly surprised at the offer, at which point my mental voice started giving my a stern ticking off and to stop being so stupid and start having a little faith in myself.

I was getting ready when I suddenly heard a voice in the distance
“ Saxon, are you there? Can you hear me?”
Which lead me to do a fantastic double take moment wondering what was going on and if I had just heard that. But at least I knew if it happened two more times what to say. At which point I realised it was coming from the corridor and stuck my head out to find braveheart at the top of the corridor looking rather confused ( he had forgotten my room number as it turned out).

One quick download of photos later and we were summoned by a phone call to the girls hall. On our way out we passed some of the committee who were talking, I really felt for the committee chairman and he was totally guttered that despite all his efforts and his constant warnings people had still turned up to the ball and tried to get in /snuck in leading to him having to turn them away.

We got to the girls hall in rapid time where we found pizza, chocolate and basically lots of other sugary goodness which you shouldn’t be eating at all, let alone on that time of a Saturday night. But what the heck.

I was also introduced to the marvels and mysteries of Yahtzee and promptly proceeded to baffle phoenix by getting yahtzee twice in my first three throws!
Once we had finished the game, Braveheart and I headed back to our hall ( far later then we should have done really as it was technically not Saturday anymore. Sshhhh!! Lets keep that between me you and the internet).

Okay I was tired and a little hyped up on more sugar then I should have had, I felt good, I felt happy and I had had more fun in one day then I had done in weeks ( Birthday excluded of course).

And apart from one forthcoming blow I was not expecting let alone see coming,

I was going to keep that feeling.

National YSA conference 2011 Saturday afternoon " Who, what, me?"

When I went back to the hall, I found another YSA struggling vainly to figure out the hall door. Not from the outside mind you. No he had managed to get himself stuck on the inside as the giant big black button which said push, was at hand height on the wall with a sign pointing to it was apparently not sufficient to grab his attention.

I also got a shock when I went back into my room and found it not only freshly tidied but the bed professionally made as well. Which although was probably standard practice seemed just a little creepy.

I was busy downloading all the photos I had taken that morning when I heard what sounded like Thunder and mentally swallowed a groan. Not bad weather! All the fun activities were starting any second and we were getting thunder? But then I realised the thunder was going on and on and on and sounded rather rhythmic.

In Mormon terms it was a what “ what the gosh darn heck moment” Other “people” probably would refer to it as a moment which is best summed up in three letters.
As it turned out the “thunder” was actually the sound of drumming coming from one of the activities. Which basically involved people drumming. So you could say I was simply following the sound of the drums...anyone? No? Okay I’ll move on.

Of course by the time I got over to the activity it started to rain, which was fine for all of people doing the activity as they were able to run under a handy large tent which was just big enough to fit all of them. Let just emphasis that again, fit all of them. Not fit an extra person who had only turned up to see what was going on with his shiny new toy.

But that was fine as I had an umbrella.......... which was fan away over the other side of the field still in my room. All I can say on this score is D’OHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! So for nothing us for it as the tree’s were proving a woeful lack of shelter, I simply had to leg it across the field as fast I could, having to accept the fact that it’s just not possible to run quickly through rain whilst retaining any sort of dignity of sophistication what so ever.

So one umbrella grabbed I headed back over to the conference centre and got there just as the rain ended. So I was no stuck with a umbrella which I was sure if I kept I wouldn’t need and if I went back to my room to drop it off, I was pretty darn sure I would. Fortunately I found that it was able to hook over the top of my camera bag nicely. It may not have looked the coolest thing in the world but it was a lot easier then carrying it in my hands.

I also saw one of the first aiders charging up the corridor obviously having been called to an emergency. The poor bloke looked rather crestfallen to discover that the big “emergency” was only someone needing a plaster. He must have been hoping it was his moment to play the knight in shining armour.

So it was round about this point I ran into phoenix and gang and well kinda ending up staying with them. I’m sure that might be some deeper explanation then that but that’s the best way I can sum it up really  I also met her “other half” Braveheart as well, in the sense of actually have a real conversation with him outside of a church meeting.

So amongst the many activities on offer there was a bungee run (which a member of Leicester stake managed to break) a giant game of operation, one of those games where you had to guide a hoop along a wire without sounded a buzzer but in a change to the norm the hoop is mounted on a helmet that you wear ( goodbye to your dignity with that game!), a circus skills workshop that Phoenix proved to be rather good at/ obsessed with as she tried to spin three plates at once. And all of this was inside.

Outside they had a giant inflatable “duel game” as well as those giant inflatable balls that you actually climb inside and then proceed to try and charge at the other person. It was when we went outside that it did started to rain again, so I was able to promptly put my umbrella up and shielded all of the girls like a proper gentleman should feeling slightly pleased with myself as lots of the other YSA had to rush for cover. Fortunately it was only a passing shower. And the sun soon reappeared in way that it has seemed curiously reluctant to do so this year.

We then headed over the road to see some of the other activities, volleyball had been started , the drumming was still in full swing and there was a couple of rather familiar large inflatable slides. We headed to an activity which was surprising fun but surprisingly simple yet remarkably hard to put set up. Basically it involved filling up balloons full of paint. Attaching them to a large wooden board with a piece of paper underneath and throwing darts at them. Okay admittedly it could be considered a little childish but you don’t go to a YSA activity to participate in deeply committed serious sporting events now do you?

So I was chatting to the others and taking some pictures when I suddenly heard a voice tell me I had a cool camera and if I had been taking some nice pictures. And not only was it a voice, it was a female voice and......... It was a voice I didn’t know. I turned to find a very nice young lady standing there, watching me and not only that she had come right up to talk to me!

Now I would like to say that I gave a response that was funny, witty and debonair...... But I would be lying, I think my actual response was along the lines of “ uh-hmm”. She then asked if she could look and if my first line was bad my second line was probably even worse, “ Oh of course, I’ve got a good one of you in here somewhere” at which point my inner mental voice started screaming something along the lines of oh no, no, no you did not just come out with a line that could have made you sound stalker like! A nice girl has come up and started talking to you without any other reason or knowing the people you are with which lets fact it never happens and you come out with that line!!!!!”

But she didn’t mind, she actually giggled and looked over my shoulder at the camera as we looked through some of the pictures and started to chat. After chatting for a little bit she then asked if I had any photos of me and I responded somewhat non commitedly, as there’s a reason I prefer to be on the other side of the camera as I am one of these people who is convinced that no matter how good the photo I still look horrible. She then suggested that did I want to get some pictures with her. Which of course I agreed to and asked phoenix to do the honours ( who as it turned out is a very good photographer and is now my unofficially official backup photographer) . Of course by this point my inner mental voice was gibbering away running around in my head screaming the mental equivalent of does not compute as I was actually agreeing willing to appear in front of a camera.

As it turned out although I started off posing in my usual stiff formal way, Phoenix soon sent me and the young lady into a complete giggling fit and thus managed to do the impossible and actually produce a photo of me I was nearly happy with!

It was at this point some of her friends came up and said they needed to go, so the young lady gave me a fantastic smile and said she would see me later.

As she moved off with her friends Phoenix asked me how I knew her. Oh I don’t I replied which prompted a very surprised look from her. Which confused me slightly“ Why” I then asked.

It was at this point my inner voice stop running around gibbering and decided to chime in

“ Okay surely you don’t need me to explain to you what just happened......”


Thursday, September 01, 2011

National YSA Conference 2011: Saturday Morning "What heresy is this?"

( without pictures for time being as blogger doesn't want to play nice :-)

My first thought on Saturday morning as my alarm blared into life was pretty much the same thought I had every Saturday morning of every conference I have been too.

“ I’m paying to get up this early? What the heck was I thinking”

Of course my mood hadn’t been helped by the fact I had been woken up three times by the darn fridge suddenly getting louder. I think I finally had enough around 3am and unplugged the darn thing! Because at that time of the morning even the novelty of having a cold drink in your room tends to pall when compared to interrupted sleep!

And of course let’s not forget the awful cramp pains that shot up my leg the moment I woke up and tried to move! It just goes to show that as you get older your ability to brush off pain seems diminished. One of my nieces falls out and cuts her head open on the side of the fridge leading to a whole lotta blood pretty much everywhere ( or at least that’s the impression you get when you speak to her sister who is more than happy to tell you in great detail everything that happened) and she’s up and running about in a short while. Me I spend ages hobbling around trying to loosen my leg up enough so I can actually put weight on it!

Anyway at least I had a good old fashioned English breakfast to look forward too. At least I thought I did. Because as it turned out the fact that there were girls and boys in the same hall! was not the only downright bizarre thing to happen. Yes they were serving breakfast without bacon. They were serving a cooked breakfast without bacon! Seriously what heresy was this? Where was the bacon?

All right I know not having bacon for breakfast is not the most earth shattering thing that could have happened, but what can I say , I’m old. I’m getting set in my ways : - )

Well we kind of got an answer to where the bacon might have gone later but of course more on that one later as well.

Anyway one breakfast and one rather botched first attempt at using the shower ( not at the same time of course)which involved a rather panicked moment when I thought the water wasn’t draining away, I headed over to the conference centre to see what was going on. All of this of course still well before the time I usually get up on a Saturday morning.

The first thing I found was a stall from the LDS Bookshop.

So I decided to have a look to see if there was any interesting reading material, as I hoped for something light and interesting. Unfortunately there was only one book which fell into the category of light reading and that was Dude don’t be a lemuel. The other books were on “light and fun” topics as the dangers of addiction, recovering from addiction, encouraging heterosexual relationships, understanding isiah, the danger of porn, the dangers of internet porn, how to avoid internet porn, how to repair relationships after addiction and so on and so on and on.

Still at least he had bought a good selection of “mormon” films and as he could take cards for once I decided to invest in a couple. (important later, hope your still keeping notes).

Most conferences had Saturday starting with activities, activities and more activities. However a change to the usual schedule, we were going to start with the service projects rather than leave them till the Monday. Because lets face it most people were half asleep but that time anyway. As there was a choice of workshops I decided to take the one on indexing first . ( hey it was history and computers do you really think I was going to go for the knitting workshop?) Plus although the cemetery cleaning workshop sounded “different” ( but strangely enough not creepy, I had a feeling staying on site as it were was more of the right choice.

So onto the indexing, where I made my first new friend of the day as we were shown how to start indexing genealogical records before they actually let us try some! I ended up indexing a set of WWII draft cards from the Hawaii, which was a bit strange as I’m sure the doctor who originally wrote them up imagined that 60 plus years later some guy in England would be copying them into a something called a laptop.
Anyhow that workshop ended really quickly as there were only a few laptops but a lot of people. As most of the workshops were in full swing at this point, I decided to wonder around the different workshops to see what was going on and just generally soak up the atmosphere for want of a better term and see who I could run into as it was a little late to jump into the knitting workshop as lets face it my knowledge of knitting is mainly limited to the fact it uses wool, needles, and you knit one then pearl one.

Still I did find a surprising number of the guys doing the knitting workshop and actually concentrating really hard. Whether or not that’s because they were enthralled with the opportunity to serve or they were just trying to figure out what the heck was going on, I’ll leave that one as a point of discussion.
Mind you this was in a contrast do some of the guys who were helping with the blanket making workshop who seemed to decide that rather then making blankets then wanted to see what they would look like as mummy. In a quite fetching shade of pink too.

Finally there was the workshop making baby bibs. Some YSA’s creativeness ran away with them shall we say so some of these babies are going to have the coolest looking bibs ever.

Still time moved on rather fast and all too soon it was time for lunch. Which as I’ve learned can be quite a double edged sword, as for every year they’ve got it so right, there’s been a year where it’s been gotten so wrong ( remember the crayfish and rocket debacle.... shudder). And based on the lack of bacon ( yes I’m still going on about it) at breakfast I didn’t think signs were good.

But I was surprised to find lunch was excellent. Not only did I manage to bag myself a rather nice Tuna sandwich, I also got a kitkat too ( yes I can be that easy to please). There was also cheese and onion crisps as well, which as it turned out were the only crisps they ever gave out in the lunches. I dunno maybe they got a job lot on cheese and onion crisps, or maybe it’s just a Nottingham thing?

Mental note, must ask phoenix.

Anyway lunch gave us all the opportunity to sit outside and soak up some sunshine ( yes I was actually outside and no, no photographic proof before you ask ) . I’ll admit it was only a disappointing lunch in the fact that I didn’t have a nice companion to share it with, but it could have been a lot worse.

I headed back to the hall for a quick rest. Having no idea what was about to happen.....