Welcome to my online journal, which I started in December 2002 after several very persuasive hints from friends. Although I obviously don't write about everything that happens in my life here, I hope it'll provide an insight into who I am and what's happening in my life - whether good, bad, happy or sad.


Posted by Anna at 11:42 on Saturday, March 26, 2005
It's just my luck to get a 3 day long migraine over the Easter weekend! Grrr...

What's interesting is that I often have these migraines on a regular basis (invariably around a month apart), and that this time in particular I've noticed that over the past 4 days I've been incredibly emotional and tearful...for no apparent reason.

Stress or tiredness can make them worse of course, but the timing is what I find interesting.

I can only put it down to hormones. Who says trans women don't have cycles? Ours are just less obvious, I guess...

Back in the water

Posted by Anna at 11:43 on Monday, March 21, 2005
I was right - we've been back in the pool again.

This weekend we paid our friends Carolyn and Helen a long overdue visit, and with Carolyn being a scuba instructor a weekend swim seemed like an ideal way to spend a little time (and get a little exercise!) while we were there. So, bikinis in hand, off we went up the motorway...

It's always good to see friends, and this particular meeting was long overdue...I've not seen them since early last year, and have been looking forward to introducing Beth to them for quite some time. It was a fun weekend. After a rather filling curry on Friday night (thanks Helen!) we spent the rest of the evening chilling out with glasses of wine, watching Red Dwarf (among other things) and listening to music. By the time we crashed I think it was about 2am.

Saturday was a relaxed day as you'd expect after the long drive and late night the previous evening. We'd decided to go swimming in the afternoon, and after some discussion settled on a pool in Bromsgrove. While we waited for our session at the the pool to open we took a wander down the High Street looking for a cafe to kill some time. I felt strangely ill at ease there - the only reason for which I can imagine being that the place reminded me a little of Swadlincote (the town where my parents live), and one where I never truly felt comfortable. The mind plays strange tricks sometimes.

After half an hour or so we headed off to the pool. Unlike most, this one went to a reasonable depth (3.5m) - far deeper than any pool I've been in since I was a child, and one that would have been a daunting prospect for me until recently. In fact, I found that I was perfectly comfortable - more than that, in fact - totally at ease and confident in my abilities in that environment. We spent the whole session at the deep end.

I found that not only was my confidence far, far better but also that I was much more fluid in the water than previously, which of course helped even more. I've always been able to do a simple backstroke pretty effortlessly, but my front crawl has always been quite awkward. That's starting to change now - this time, I found I was much smoother in the water, and didn't have to revert back to backstroke nearly as often as previously. My stamina is definitely improving too.

What I didn't expect was to have the confidence to try diving (something I've never done before, as far as I can recollect). It was great fun, and I'll definitely be keeping at it! All credit to Beth - watching her practice is what ultimately gave me the confidence to try it myself.

On Saturday night we all went into Birmingham to a local bar called "Missing". There was a fun crowd there, although the music was rather too retro for my taste and I didn't feel in right frame of mind for the place. Although the bar was open until 2am, we didn't stay that long.

Sunday was a relaxed day. So relaxed in fact, that I don't remember much about it aside from going out for a rather leisurely meal in the afternoon! In the evening we played a rather silly party game called Icebreaker (with correspondingly hillarious forfeits, of course!). Great fun.

All in all it was a fun weekend, and one we'll have to repeat soon. Before we do though, there are lots more friends we have to visit!

Good weather and even better exercise

Posted by Anna at 23:54 on Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Hey! It actually looks like the nasty, horrible, cold weather that we call "winter" may be just about over for a while.

With that of course comes the end of the road gritting season, and with it less dirt being thrown up from the roads while driving. Today, then, I decided it was (finally) time to give my poor neglected Laguna a bit of this lunchtime I was sitting in a car wash (inside the car, naturally) at Morrisons in Basingstoke. It was certainly a change to be able to drive away with the car window open and the the heating turned off. Some lively music on the radio fitted the mood perfectly.

It's so good to be out and about in the sunshine again.

This afternoon things got even better, when Beth and I went swimming together for the first time (an experience I've been looking forward to for months). I expected it to be an affirming experience, and in that I wasn't was quite something.

Considering I've not swam since last summer, I don't think 26 lengths is too bad...and Beth should certainly be proud of her rediscovered diving skills!

I've a feeling we'll be going again, and soon.

A (very) unexpected face from the past

Posted by Anna at 16:08 on Sunday, March 06, 2005
Now this is so coincidental its almost scary.

Most people come across a huge number of people during the course of their career, but the vast majority are people you'll never meet again once you leave that environment.

So it's always been for me, anyway. Since I left my first job with Racal Instruments * in Slough (they've since relocated to Ferndown) in 1998, I've (with a handful of exceptions - people I've got back in touch with since my transition became public knowledge) not encountered anyone from the company since. The guys in the Model Shop at the Burnham site do occasionally send me supportive email messages (thanks guys! ), but that's about it.

    * Interestingly enough, a glance at the company's homepage shows that they are now actively selling a solution I pioneered, prototyped and demonstrated back on 1998 on largely my own initiative - a way to replace obsolete instrumentation in Automatic Test Systems while preserving the interface presented to compiled application programs. Although they've now given it a fancy name ("TILS" - Technology Insertion into Legacy Systems) a brief glance at the information they've published on the subject reveals some very familiar concepts and architectural diagrams.

    Although I was working on another project at the time (a mobile automatic test system to support RAF helicopters, no less) the software architecture (based around "virtual super instruments" - another of my concepts!) we were developing had - to my mind - enormous potential. I'd fought long and hard (don't ask!) for the architecture we eventually adopted, and by late 1997 it was all starting to come together as we integrated our first live system.

    The so-called "TILS" concept was to me a logical extension of the expertise and software we'd developed for that system. I did it as a side project over several weeks using a lashed up system on a bench, then demonstrated what I and my team considered to be a revolutionary solution to an issue that the company was struggling badly to address on its older (circa 1985) systems. Sadly, the response received from the then senior management was at best unenthusastic - and at worst verging on hostile. That reaction was a big part of why I left that company in the first place (stress, politics and money were the others).

    Despite the fact that I never received any credit for developing a concept that the company so badly needed and proving it would work, it's good to see that I was right and that the technology is now being actively applied.

Given all that....what exactly are the chances of running into a Director of that company in another part of the country, in a context completely unrelated to anything to do with work?

Believe it or not, that's exactly what happened today. Although I've not seen this particular individual for over 7 years, at times I worked in close proximity to him and we've even had the occasional argument. He hasn't changed a bit (but of course I have!)...and despite the close proximity in which we worked at times, it was quite clear today that he didn't even recognise me.

Transition can certainly lead to some surprising experiences!


Posted by Anna at 00:34 on Thursday, March 03, 2005
It's funny how things from our past eventually come back to us. Although I've not been active on the re-enactment circuit since 1998 (and was completely out of touch for several years following that) it seems tha re-enactment is just something that "gets into your blood".

So it seems anyway. Tonight, as a result of a (very) long chain of coincidences (it's far too complicated to explain, believe me!) I ended up with a very familiar Zweihander (Landsknecht greatsword) in the boot of my car. I'm delivering it back to its keeper on Friday, but in the meantime I thought I'd be a little cheeky and - well - pose a little. It isn't the first time, and it certainly won't be the last...

This particular blade is just under 5 1/2 feet long. Zweihanders can be very intimidating weapons, as you can probably see!

Although I've never fought with a zweihander (my favoured staff weapon was actually a halberd) that was more by circumstance than choice - halberds are far, far cheaper!

Nevertheless, looking at these pictures it's clear to me that once a swordswoman, always a swordswoman.