Sky News made a seagull eat my chips

SO, with the date of the most important referendum any of us will have endured for the past 6 months only a couple of hours away, the media has been in overdrive about it. It’s rather like my house and CDs. YOu can’t turn hour head without either an opinion on Brexit (I absulutely hate the phrase) or someone spouting why my little tick on a piece of paper would CHANGE the face OF THE WORLD.

Anyway, enough about that, and about what was my most memorable part of this whole election debarcle. I just happened to be at work, after dragging myself from my man-flu laden pit, and glanced at one of the tellies that constantly show Sky News (except for that brief period where England had an afternoon game, and they were switched over to the footy), and noticed something familiar. Kay ” As Coarse As Sandpaper Undies” Burley.

Well, yes, she’s familar. But it was the background that caught my attention, and the fact it said “Hartlepool”, in the top right corner sort-of gave it away. Yes, Sky News had invaded my little home town. And, not only that, they were on the Marina about 10 minutes away from where I worked.

I headed off in the general direction of where they were broadcasting from, and a big old satellite truck gave their exact location away. Of course, the first stop off would be some dinner, and off I popped to get some chips. Bloody hell. £2 Two English Pounds. Apparently, this was a temporary price rise due to the price of potatoes going up. Oddly, I hadn’t seen anywhere else putting their prices up, but never mind. I got a portion of chips, and slowly walked around wh were the camera crew were.

I make no screts about me having an interest in television, and I love to take a good old photo of a telly camera whenever possible, and today was no exception. Unafortunately, I couldn’t get *really* close as they were broadcasting from a pontoon behind a 6 foot gate.

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In order to document the whole experience in digital form (a.k.a. take that photo), I had to put my chips down. That’s when an enterprising little twat known as Steven Seagull grabbed the bloody tray of chips from me, drag it just enough distance to save them from being hygenically rescued, and began to tear the tray open in front of my eyes.

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Yeah, thanks Sky News. You cost me my dinner.

(In case you’re wondering, yes, I did deflatedly pick the mangled tray/fork up and put it in a bin. I can’t stand litter.)

Nottingham! It’s in Nottinghamshire! (Part 1)

So, the world and his dog can’t have failed to notice I’ve been out of Hartlepoolland for a few days. I wasn’t meant to be going until a couple of weeks ago, as Daddykins was meant to be going, but he dropped out at the last moment. There was a group of us who attended, 15 in all – members of the club I attend on a Tuesday night (when I’m not at Employment Palace).

I got a taxi at 8AM, picking Chris up on the way (he’s also one of the 15 members), dropping us off at the bus stop outside of the college at about 8:10. The coach wasn’t due until 8:30.

At approximately 8:45, the coach finally turned up. We boarded, and headed off around the North East, picking up other eager tourists ready for the trip. As soon as the last one got one board, the driver finally introduced himself via the microphone. After the formalities were dealt with, he said something like “So, you’re off to Nottingham… may I ask… why?”

I can’t remember his name, but he shall, from now on, he known as “Happy Harry”. Considering we were only technically there for a night and a full day, it wasn’t exactly heartwarming to have a bus driven by a cynic…

He announced there would be a stop-off in Derby. I won’t bore you with the details of the journey there (or how Chris almost got charged £89 for a bottle of drink, two sausage rolls and a copy of Viz), as most of it was spent, drifting out of consciousness whilst chuckling at the articles in Chris’s afore-mentioned adult comic.

So, we approached Derby. Imagine the scene, as we head along the road, only to be faced with red traffic lights, and a bloke peering out of his flat, stark bollock naked. I don’t think he quite planned to be waved at by a group of “tourists” laughing their heads off. Of course, he backed away pretty sheepishly after this. Classy, Derby. Very classy.

Of course, Happy Harry then managed to take a wrong turning, meaning we got to see more of the centre of Derby than we needed to. He then dropped us off at what appeared to be a random bus stop, and said he would pick us up there. You want to know how random the bus stop was? Here you go… Linkage

Hardly suitable for buses, never mind coaches. It’s pointing at the Babington Arms, which is a pub, just in case you’re thick and didn’t realise it from that link. Either way, it would appear that not only did we have a cynic driving the bus, it was a cynic with no sense of direction. Joy.

It was a Wetherspoons, so you know what to expect. It was also the place where the first photo of me got taken, shamelessly stolen from Facebook…

After two hours we were all ready to go and get set up at the hotel. Happy Harry had other ideas, as we arrived in Nottingham, circled the hotel, and then went in completely the wrong direction to find the entrance. His apology once again, came over the coach tannoy system… “What a bloody stupid place to put a hotel”…

After what seemed like an eternity sorting out the keycards, we made our way up to the hotel room. Thanks to some name juggling, according to their system I was called Barry. It shall stay this way for the entire time I was there.

Upon first impression, the room was excellent. 7th floor, two double beds. It even had two bathrooms which means two toilets. Therefore, any outfall caused by excessive vindaloo consumption could be kept to a bare minimum. Bonus. I recorded another stupid “wish You Were Here” style video, but it needs editing badly. The view wasn’t the best. A call centre (complete with Aspect telephones) to the left, a car park to the centre, and other modern buildings to the right…

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After dumping the bags, and getting a bit of a cleanup, we headed off looking for a bite to eat. Close friends and relatives will know that I scoured Google Maps to see if there was an indian nearby. Not one, not two. Not even four. there were SIX within spitting distance of the hotel. Unfortunately, most were expensive, and were shut. We were inspecting the menu of one of the couple of open ones, a place called “Chutney”. One of the waiters came out and thrust a 20% voucher into my paw. This was looking tempting. Actually, I lie. With that little piece of paper in my hand, my mind was already made up…

We went there!

It was exceptional. Food was great, staff were friendly and yeah, the discount stuck. Happy days.

The same, however, can’t be said for the hotel bar. The Blackpool trip featured entertainment in a root big enough to be used as a conference centre. Fair enough, it wasn’t top notch entertainment, but it kept us sane, and the beer was acceptable for hotel standards.

That was Blackpool. This hotel’s night facilities consisted of a tiny room, Entertainment came in the form of (wait for it) 6 games of bingo, should you choose to pay for it. If you didn’t, you just had to sit there and drink your “free bar”. That is, if you like watered down beer. I had a bit of toothache, and was on a full stomach, so I thought it was just me who thought it was as weak as kittens. Thankfully it wasn’t.

Disappointed with the free bar, we headed out into the city, eventually settling in the Roebuck Inn. It seemed pretty quiet, and that name “Wetherspoons” cropped up again. I introduced Chris to Jaegerbombs, which he didn’t enjoy. He introduced me to something stunning. Don’t ask me what they call it. It was apple juice and some newly available cinnamon liqueur. I DID enjoy this. I have no idea how he found it, but he knows of my love for apple and cinnamon. Therefore, the two combined in some kind of alcoholic beverage was out of this world. Towards the end of the night I remember having a good crack on with the bar staff. It was this place that made me really begin to like Nottingham.

Day 2 was only a sleep away…

The Magical Mystery Tour (part 2)

You may have been wondering why I’ve taken the name of a Beatles EP for the title of this blog, considering it’s about Blackpool. The reason is, that there was a trip arranged to Liverpool, or how I like to pronounce it, LiverPEWL.

The day started off early. I awoke at about 6AM, bursting for a piss. Unfortunately, thanks to the sound the toilet makes, this wasn’t something that could be done quietly, so Chris was also awake by this point. Attempts to get back to sleep were rudely interrupted by the sound of the old guy in the next room being sick. We weren’t sure if it was the food that caused it, or an excessive amount of alcohol, but my word, he could have chonked for England. It must have lasted around half an hour and by then we were fully awake. Brekkers wasn’t being served until about 7:30, so after getting ready, we spent a good hour or so wandering around the hotel. We could have went outside, but the good old english weather had taken hold by this point.

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Some time later, off we jolly well popped to the breakfast room. This was also the same room where the entertainment was, and we had nothing to worry about when it came to getting a seat. It was absolutely massive. It was more like a warehouse. In fact, it was even lit by mercury vapour lights. I wasn’t that hungry anyway, so I grabbed a few pieces of toast and about 8 glasses of orange juice.

The coach to Liverpool wasn’t until 9:30, so after having breakfast, we headed back to the room. there wasn’t much to do in the room. I certainly didn’t want to touch the bible…

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I made a short video showing some of the room’s “features”, which I’ll probably need to edit down. Unfortunately, the “Windows Movie Maker” facility in Windows 7 is complete garbage, so I’ll have to wait until I get on the laptop to edit it properley. As a bit of an experiment, I’ve created a video of the epic hairdryer…

(I really, really hate the new Windows Movie Maker. If anyone has any free alternatives, let me know.)

Anyway, we boarded the coach for Liverpool, and that’s where the fun and games started. Apparently, there was one coach that had the city tour, for £6. The other two coaches would just drop you in the Albert Dock (not literally, of course), so you could go and walk around at your own leisure. By a twist of fate, we’d got on the correct one, as someone on the other non-tour coach had a suspected heart attack. Delays were also caused by some of the people actually wanting to go on the city tour, but now couldn’t.

One whinging old scrote even had the cheek to say “Eeee, well that’ll be another complaint letter going in”. I’m sorry, what? You’re going to complain because you’re getting a free trip to Liverpool, which you didn’t even know about 24 hours before? No, you silly cow, you put a letter of complaint in when they leave you there, and you have to walk back.

The journey was uneventful. I had my headphones in for most of the journey. Nowt like being a bit anti-social once in a while. I attempted to get some sleep, something I rarely do on a coach. I managed about a half-hour of dozing, before waking up as we crossed the River Ribble. Rain followed us the whole way down until we actually got to Liverpool, where it just seemed to mysteriously stop. The coach dropped us at the Albert Dock. You may remember this as being the location of the old “This Morning” studio. Now, maybe I’m just used to seeing it on telly, in the sunshine, but one thing that struck me, is how small it actually was. Normally, you see sights on telly, and they turn out to be bigger in real life, but the Albert Dock really didn’t seem that big at all..

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A lot of it was dedicated to the Beatles museum. I’m possibly the only person to have ever visited Liverpool, and rated the thought of going around a Beatles museum as a “meh”. I could only see it being overpriced. I’m not a great fan of their work. Like all bands, there’s some good stuff and a lot of mediocre stuff. I only like ‘Hey Jude’ because of the clearly audible “Fucking Hell” at 2:58. Listen to it with headphones, you’ll hear what I mean. Actually, that’s not quite true, I think it’s a brilliant song, but it’s not worth walking around a museum for!

I’ll tell you something though, I’m actually *glad* I went to Liverpool. About 3 weeks ago, I woke up with a small piece of music in my head, from the middle of a song. I obviously can’t explain in txt what it went like, but it was from the version of the “Liver Birds” theme music I’d ripped from LP at the back end of last year. Unfortunately, this revelation had me unintentionally whistling the afore-mentioned theme music whilst pointing my camera in the general direction of the Liver Buildings…

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After wandering without aim, we headed towards Liverpool One. Apparently, it’s a shopping centre, or something. Going shopping with me is incredibly boring. Unless I am actually going specifically to purchase something, I’ll visit two shops. HMV and Greggs. This, however, was a bit of a special occasion, as I went into another shop, in order to stock up on cheap t-shirts, and replacement socks (something which I’d also forgotten to pack). Chris spent £2.99 on an umbrella. Remember that for later.

HMV, despite being huge, didn’t have any spectacular offers, and Greggs appear to have ditched their corned beef pasties for “Potato and Meat”.

We walked around the streets for about half an hour, before we witnessed this sad sight…

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Yep, there’s another classic Thorn Alpha 3, about to be taken down and scrapped. In fact, there were a few in that road about to suffer the same fate. Shame.

After I mopped up the tears, we realised we’d walked round in a big circle, and walked down Water Street, back to the Liver Buildings. By this point, my feet were killing me. I’m not getting old, I blame the uneven beach I was walking on the day before. We walked back to the Albert Dock, and got some refreshments in the “Costa” that just happened to be in the entranceway.

The penultimate stop on our journey just had to be the wheel. You may remember my trip to York with Coatesy, where they had the large ferris wheel outside of the railway museum. Well, the wheel had repositioned itself to outside of the large arena on the docklands. I love these things, and even at the £7.50-each price tag, it was worth a go.

I took a few photos, but not that many, as most of the time I was recording video. While I enjoyed every second of the ride, Chris didn’t exactly enjoy it. He really doesn’t like heights! This had the undesired effect of getting some quality footage of him absolutely bricking it. OK, I didn’t help, with phrases such as “It’s draughty up here, isn’t it?” and “It’s got a bit of a wobble when the winds hit it”… I’m quite sure if the wheel had went round one more time, he’d have had a panic attack.

It would be wrong of me to post a video. Expect one coming soon when I get the lappy sorted out. In the meatime…

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We had a walk around the dock one more time, and raided a sweet shop as our final location. I bought several packets of large Parma Violets. I absolutely love these. Oh, and some cola Wham bars. I must admit, it was an awesome shop. It smelt just like Bretts in the town centre, but without their epic toffee apples.

So, that was the day. It was 3PM, and as Kauto Star failed to make it a fifth King George VI Chase victory, we boarded the coach, and headed back to Blackpool. Again, the headphones were in, and I dozed for most of the journey using my coat as a pillow. I awoke just as we were to cross the Wiver Wibble. I’d have thought it was pretty coincidental, but I think the reason I woke up was because I’d drooled all over the coat, and it was now stuck to the side of my face. Pleasant.

We arrived back to the hotel, and began to pack. It seems strange how light and easy to pack the bag was before I left, but how heavy and full it was…

We set off at about 6PM, for our second and final journey to the indian mentioned on Part 1. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t as kind to us, with light rain falling, and a bit of a breeze. Chris took his newly purchased umbrella out with us. He stood in the entrance to the hotel for about a minute, trying to get the umbrella to stay up. Literally three steps away from the hotel building, the entire thing blew inside out, and was completely ruined. I was absolutely no sympathy, as I howled with laughter in the car park, barely able to walk in a straght line for about 10 minutes. It was, quite literally, the funniest moment of 2011 so far, and it’d take a hell of a lot to top it. Irony ensued, as the rain started to die off, and we arrived at the indian totally bone dry.

I was tempted to get the vindaloo, but instead, I just settled for the madras again. After all, I had the bus home to contend with the next day. If anything, the meal was better than it was the previous day. Curry excellent, rice perfect, naan bread was indescribably brilliant. It seems odd that the least complicated part of the meal would be the one that I remember. But, it was.

We walked back to the hotel, and I just had enough time for a shower before hitting a change of clothes, and of course, the free bar. I’d have been bang on time if I actually knew how to work the bloody shower. I am, and always will be a bath person, but when you don’t have enough time for one, a shower will have to do. I think I scalded my back and the top of my head about three times.

I arrived at the free bar at about 20:03, feeling gutted at myself that I’ve wasted 3 minutes of precious drinking time. Chris was already with Colin and Lynne. We made our way to the “Performance Area”, and sat through countless musical acts of very little value. I didn’t care. I had my armband. Someone else noticed I had the armband on, two Lancashire equivalents of “chavs”. It was really quite amusing. Now, as I’ve mentioned, I had the “white armband”, which granted me unlimited drinks, two at a time. These chavs wanted me to get two pints, one for them and one for me. That’s what I assume anyway, as I didn’t understand a word they said. Needless to say, I ignored their request, but found it amusing nonetheless.

According to the videos I’d taken, the night finished with a roaring rendition of “Hey Jude”. By this point, I was goosed, and as soon as the free bar ended, I called it a night, and headed back to the fourth floor, and my comfy, comfy bed…

I won’t bother writing a “journey home” entry. It was uneventful. More sleep, heavy rain, and a lorry in a ditch. I’m also happy to report that after a night in hospital, the lady who took ill on the other coach was released from hospital, and was able to travel back home with the rest of her party.

It’s big, it’s red, it’s chewy

Still on the subject of red, I’d just like to publicly thank my German friend Rosi for bringing me back a little gift from Germany. Back in the late 1990s (I think), Wrigleys brought out some chewing gum to the shores of Blightly, known simply as “Big Red”. Regular viewers to my blog will remember my trip to Berlin in 2007. I rediscovered this particular confectionery on a shelf in a branch of Woolworth in Spandau. Unfortunately, this epic discovery only managed to accumulate 2 lines in the blog. It really should have gained more.

“Big Red” was a cinnamon flavoured gum, and I thought it was truly epic. Clearly, nobody else did, and after being around for only a short preiod of time, the product was withdrawn, and it was forgotten about by everyone in the country, except me.

I had always held fond memories of it. Unfortunately, despite my love for it, I’d totally forgotten to bring any home with me. I returned home with about half a packet, which I made last until one particular post where I quite clearly snapped, or chewed my last piece of it. I can’t remember…

(Excerpt from http://www.mercuryvapour.co.uk/2007/08/01/no-i-havent-stopped/
A quick thing I will mention is that if anyone either goes to Germany, or the US/CANADA, you MUST bring me back at least 5 packs of Big Red chewing gum back. It’s awesome.

I never made the connection between a friend / work “colleague” (I hate that word) going on regular visits to her family in Germany, and my ability to acquire the afore mentioned tasty mastication device until very recently, say the end of last year. Rosi mentioned she was returning home for the holiday season (another phrase I hate! It’s Christmas!). Something clicked in my head. Maybe I was chewing some bland, mint flavoured UK gum. either, I asked her to bring me some “Big Red” back. I think she thought I was mad.

Unfortunately, she didn’t remember my request, but I was still hopeful that in a future trip I could convince her my love for this product was genuine.

Several weeks ago, she mentioned that she was going back to Germany…. every five minutes! This allowed me to build up a catchphrase of “Don’t forget my Big Red!” I was hopeful that she would remember.

Several weeks passed, and I returned to Employment Palace, with my usual look of a half-inflated and slightly manic-depressive beachball, only to have my spirits lifted by the sight of the following on my desk…

"Big Red" Chewing Gum

There were 2 sealed packets containing 15 sticks, and one that had been broken into, but I could hardly complain. The sealed packets contained 15 sticks, and there were only 4 removed from the open one. I gave a couple of more sticks away to the people who were curious what the fuss was all about (they also agreed that it was awesome), which still left me with about 36 sticks of the stuff.

Considering my wish was for someone to bring me 5 packets back, which I based on a 7 stick pack, 7×5+whatever was left = 35+. I was, and still am delighted. I’ve not seen Rosi to thank her yet, but I sent her a text as soon as I recieved my collection.

Unfortunately, I know that she doesn’t read this site, making the previous 539 words completely pointless,but if you approach me, and my breath smells of curry, rotting teeth and cinnamon, you now know why.

True fact: “Big Red” chewing gum isn’t actually red.