London 2017, day 1.

Yes, I’m aware that I came back from London over a week ago, yet I’ve only just got around to starting to type out it. “Why is that”, I hear you ask. WIt’s because I’m in the middle of recovering from it. I’m under doctors’ orders to keep the weight off my right foot, because, possibly due to a case of worn / ill-fitting footwear, soft Hartlepudlian feet, and walking for approximately 30 miles in the course of three days, means that I managed to lose a large percentage of the skin on my foot.

I did have an accomplice with me for the trip, but this person doesn’t want to be named in the blog. It’s to be expected. I mean, who wants to openly admit sharing a hotel room with me? Therefore, this person will be named as “Accomplice”.

Aaaanyway. Onto the trip. I arranged athe the abode of Accomplice just before 9AM. Thankfully transport for us to get to Darlington had been pre-arranged, as the train was at 10:28. We were both expecting the A19 to be heaving at this time, so we set off at about 9. Half an hour later, (including a stop off to pick up excessive amounts of Pom-Bears), we were there. Darlington Station isn’t really a place you’d want to spend an hour at, but I guess it’s better than missing the train.

The train journey was uneventful, expect for the occasional piercing scream from the child in the seat in front. Admittedly, I was slightly hungover, so this didn’t really help matters. Headphones did, however.

So, we arrive in London with the sun shining. Hordes of fellow travellers depart the train, and off we go towards the hotel. It was about a 5 minute walk from King’s Cross to the hotel, though the weight of my bag made it feel more like 50. Accomplice had been to the same hotel previously, so at least we knew the way.

We were early for the hotel by about two hours so couldn’t check in, but were allowed to drop our bags. That was a weight off. I don’t know if that’s often a thing that hotels do. but it could have helped with the times I’ve been places and carried my bag around until check-in time. I’ll have to remember that.

Seeing as we were now bagless, it was time to have a walk around. Up Euston Road, along Great Portland Street, and down Oxford Street because we both agreed it was time to grab the tube, seeing as we’d pretty much just done a “lap”. I make no secret about hating the underground, but it’s so convenient. Could have done without the £12.30 price tag for a day ticket though. Sure, an Oyster card might have worked out cheaper, but you know I hate shellfish. A-haha, etc.

There were a few places I wanted to go. Not exactly touristy things. Camden, and The World’s End pub were two of these. I’ve never seen the film, but still always wanted to go there.

We had a brief walk around Camden. It was crowded, seeing as it was mid afternoon, in the height of summer.. Camden Market really is weird though. It’s all of the stuff you’ve never realised you’ve never needed and actually didn’t want, but with really nice food stalls. They also get arsey if you want to take a photo too.

We decided that we’d come back after things have died down a little. Our stomachs were rumbling, so it was time to find something to eat. A quick dash on the tube later, and we ended up in Leicester Square. Accomplice had informed me there was a nice Italian place “around here somewhere” that would satisfy our foodular needs. Turns out we couldn’t find it, and instead went to “Steak & Co.”

You genuinely can’t go wrong with a good steak, and at this point I was starving, so it seemed a perfect choice. We were provided with a menu. A complete waste of time. I felt like saying to the woman at the door “Two slabs of beef, chips, bit of pepper sause… STAT! But, before I’d plucked up the courage to talk to a female, the waiter was on-hand with a notepad.

“Yeah, I’ll have that. that, glass of coke, and can I have it medium rare please”.

“Oh, it comes rare, YOU cook it how you want.”

What kind of actual voodoo was this? I’m in a restaurant, and you want me to cook my steak? Oh, okay, my knowledge of steak barely expands above Frankie + Benny’s, but… prepare my own steak? Eh?

It turns out, they bring out the steak on a massive, hot stone, and you cut it, fry it, and add the ingredients as you see fit. Admittedly, I expected to spend the next two days in the hotel bog, but nope, I managed to somehow prepare a steak on a hot stone and cook it all by myself, without food poisoning. It came to just under £25 for steak, chips and a glass of coke, but my word, we’re still talking about that steak now.

So, happily fed, we headed back off to Camden.

Crap photo opportunities aside, we headed to The Worlds End.

Before I found out how much a pint of “Soft Southern Piss” would cost, a small voice beside me said “What do you want?” Holy cow. Accomplice had offered to buy a pint in what would surely be the most expensive establishment we’d ever been in. Pint of your finest lager please, Barkeep! Well, actually it was Brooklyn lager, but still at 5.60 a pint, I made it last about an hour.

Brewdog is a brand we both have a bit of an affection to. Accomplice likes trying the different ales they have on offer. I like it because there’s less chance of it tasting like cat piss. On a night out, I buy the bottles of IPA. On a night out like this, I bought the draught lager. I thought that it may have been better value for money, seeing as it was my round. Nope. Pretty much the same price. Two pints in, and over 11 quid light.

Unfortunately, Accomplice had bought a “dark lager. Not up to their usual standards of taste, and if I hadn’t have necked three quaretrs of it, it’d have ended up down the sink.

So, Camden was completed. The tube was still open, and there was time to do the touristy stuff. I’d never seen Tower Bridge lit up before, so seeing I had my camera, we headed down there. Of course, we did get slightly lost, but ended up walking past a bar called “Fuckoffee” I took photos, but they were shite. Maybe you’ll be able to work out the name from this…

The walk continued, and it suddenly dawned upon us that Tower Bridge probably wasn’t in the direction we were heading. The GPS that my phone recorded clearly proved this.

Note that we didn’t suddenly swim over the other side of the river and back again. That’s just Google’s “Timeline” feature being slightly less creepy for a second.

Naturally, there were some night time river shots. One of which,


Yeah, not bad I suppose.

It was pushing 10pm by this point, so we walked the “short” distance between Tower Bridge and London Bridge, hopped on the tube and went back to the hotel.

Fasten your seatbelts, Day 2 is going to be a long one…

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…

Those damned onion rings…

For those of you who see me as a bit of a miser, someone who would drop a penny and have it hit me on the back of the head, you’d be surprised to learn that I’ve spent a “considerable” amount of money over the last couple of days. Plans were made a couple of weeks ago, by Dick Brown, to go out on the lash on Thursday, 3rd March. This involved also getting me some new clobber. I’m not the most fashionable of people. If it’s not folded up on a shelf in Matalan / Primark, I just don’t bother with it. I’m too old to be “trendy”. Mr. Brown offered to meet me the day before, and offer me his infinite wisdom when it comes to all things fashion…

I could hardly wait. Jamie S came to the rescue, and announced that he was going to the Metro Centre with another one of my “work colleagues”, Davvi, and that we were more than happy to tag along. I think my exact words were “Woohoo!”

Everything was arranged, including the times to get picked up, even down to the budget I was willing to spend. I had a sneaking suspicion that Mr. Brown was going to drop out, so I dropped some bait on Twitter after I’d gotten in from work…

Waiting for @thedickbrown a.k.a. Gok Brown to work his designer magic. 6:29 AM Mar 2nd via web

Sure enough, when it came to getting picked up at approximately 1PM, I was broken the ‘bad’ news, that he had indeed dropped out….

On a scale of 1-10, @thedickbrown is a pussy. 

I’d like to say I was surprised. I really wasn’t. That means, there were three of us left. Me, Jamie S and Davvi. Therefore, we left Hartlepool, sans Barney-Rubble-With-A-Beard, and headed up the A19/A1 to the CENTRE OF METROS!

So, there we were. In the North East’s largest shopping centre, ready to buy clothes for the night out of awseomeness arranged by Dick Brown. Where was our first stop? Yes, you’re entirely correct – a record shop named “That’s Entertainment”. And I’ll tell you something, it’s absolutely superb. It’s where all of the old CDs go to die. Nowhere else on this planet has a shelf full of “The Awards 1989”. I’m quite sure it’s the first time I’ve ever walked into a shop and almost lost the entire contents of a testicle. Needless to say I spent ~£25, and walked out with a bag of CDs that would weigh me down for the rest of the day. I didn’t even touch the DVD section.

The time I spent in there was disputed. Jamie S claims I spent an hour in there. I reckon it was shorter, as I would have spent a hell of a lot more.

The clothes shopping began, and I entered shops I normally wouldn’t dream of going into. The reason for this, was every pricetag appeared to be 10 times more than I was willing to pay. Take the jeans for example. Maybe I’m missing a trick, or just not getting the joke, but why buy “distressed” jeans? As in the ones purposely ripped / faded? The more I try to get my head around it, the more I think that they’re so scruffy, I couldn’t even wear them to work. Why would I want to spend £80 on them? I’ve got jeans that I wouldn’t even leave out for the poly-bag

An amusing episode occured in Foot Locker. Jamie S saw some shoes. They weren’t bad to be honest. Black and yellow “Penguin” things. He goes off to the counter… and after a hell of a lot of rummaging, it turned out they only had the left shoe in stock. Oh, my *sides*. I must admit, that’s happened to me before in shoe shops, but it still remains a mystery how / why it can happen.

After many hours of shopping, all three of us were hungry and dehydrated. Unfortunately, my suggestion of heading to the indian restaurant (which I didn’t know existed, until I smelt it, and instantly lost the contents of my other testicle) was rejected, meaning we had to go to a “normal” place. I’d heard good things about Frankie + Benny’s, as in nice food. Unfortunately, nobody told me about the price.

The beer was £3.10 a glass. I’m not sure if this is a record for what I’d paid, but I wasn’t too bothered. You’re in the middle of a shopping centre. I just wanted my throat wetting. The cost of the starters / main course were reasonable, I suppose, but the mistake *I* made was when the waiter asked… “Would you like some onion rings?” The room fell silent. I’m sure there were people gesturing me to say ‘no’ on other tables, but I must have interpreted it as a bout of wind. Surely they were complimental. I can’t think of anything cheaper to make. Yes, I ordered the onion rings. Some guy, three tables away just shook his head. The look of disappointment on the other two’s faces made me think instantly that something had gone south.

The meal came. I went for the steak, medium, well-done. It arrived, and it was delicious. The onion rings weren’t far behind. there were literally 7 of them. Davvi had one, and found them too spicy. I must admit, after one bite, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Unfortunately, the bill was next, after we’d gorged ourselves.

I’m not too bothered about everything else, however, the onion rings were… £3.55. No, I’m not shitting you. Three pounds, fifty-five pence. For 7. OK, they were the best onion rings I’d ever had, but that’s not the point. They must have saw me coming. (insert ejaculation joke here).

I didn’t mention that I did actually find some decent clothes in this whole trip. I also found a new jacket, and £3 Primark plimmies to top off the look. It can’t have all been expensive…