So, this is Christmas 2016

… And what have you done, I hear you ask, for yet another recycled introduction to the Christmas blog post. It’s the first time I’ve done one of these in a couple of years. Well, a proper one anyway, mainly because for the last couple of years, I’ve been busy on Xmas eve. This year, however, I’ve gone and caught myself a rotter of a cold, so I’m just sat at home, feeling sorry for myself. And if you’d like to leave a sympathy comment in the boxes below, well, that’s be just lovely.

So, as usual, I’ve felt as festive as a turkey about this time of year. I’ve been to absolutely no parties this year, and I’ve only been out a couple of times, and neither of those times were particularly festive. Not a beard bauble in sight, and only a hint of a Xmas jumper.

First, let me clear up something I started off in the last post, but because I rambled too long about getting lost in Stockton, I sort-of forgot about it.

“Another year older, and no longer in debt”

You ssee, since January last year, I’ve owed a lad called Chris a tenner. Not the Chris who has been mentioned many times on this blog, but a Chris I used to work with. Back in (I think) January, we’d went for a “works” night out. I no longer work for the company in question, but I still thankfully get invited to their nights out in the town. Unfortunately, on this incredibly cold January night, I’d made one massive error of judgement, and forgot to go to a cashpoint. This was shit news. It meant I had a six-mile walk home, at mignight, with snow on the ground. Bugger. Thankfully, he was at hand to line my pockets weith the Queens’ face, and this small gesture was not forgotten.

11 months passed, and I didn’t see Chris again, until 9th December, when I was able to pay the tenner back, and I could, once again, hold my head up high as a well upstanding citizen.

Right, anyway, enough of that. Back to the topic.

2016 has taken another figure of my Xmas childhood, as I learned a few minutes ago that Rick Parfitt, out of Status Quo, has died, which is a shame. Status quo always reminds me of Xmas, because I got a tape of theirs when I was about 9. You could say this would have been the beginning of my proper music collection, as for that year, I got my first dual tape deck. And I loved it so. I even remember taking that tape deck on holiday with me to Sandy Bay.

Here’s the Discogs entry for the album, for those playing along with at home.

So, tomorrow is the big day. For the first time, I’ll be somewhere else, and not sat around my computer, but I can guarantee, somewhere between then and now, I’ll be squeezing a couple of games of Rocket League in…

I might even squeeze in a review of the year before we kick 2016 into the rubbish bin where it belongs.

Sixteen days off and what do you get…?

Another year older, and no longer in debt.

Yes, for the first time ever, I booked myself two weeks’ holiday, and tonight is the last night so I thought it’d be fun to share with you what happened. Fun, being the loosest word I can use in this phrase.

Originally, I took the week off on the anniversary of my birth. Unfortunately, that day also co-incided with a trip to the eye infirmary, so this year, my birthday was literally a complete write-off.

And really, I can only think of one thing to type about, and that’s a rather interesting visit to Stockton. OK, not interesting for most people, but for me, it ended up getting lost in the suburbs of the afore-mentioned Teesside town, and thank god it wasn’t raining.

So, let me take you back a couple of weeks. I left work early November, with the thought of two weeks full of charity shop shoppin’ and more CDs than you can possibly imagine. I have two main places to visit when I go to Stockton. the High Street, and the Daisy Chain charity shop, located on the outskirts of town, within view of the A19.

The morning started great. I literally caught the bus to Hartlepool’s glorious town centre with seconds to spare. If my little legs hadn’t carried me any quicker, I’d have missed it. And that would have been shite.

Right, so, anyway. Long story short, Teesside bus ticket purchased, and I get to Stockton nice and early. There’s plenty of time for me to start raiding the charity shops, and I did indeed pick up a fair haul. “Tyne Bargains”, a 2nd hand shop on the High Street also saw a fair chunk of my money. £3 for pretty much my own body weight in CDs. A couple from other assorted charity shops, and a highly disappointing visit to the newly opened “That’s Entertainment” One thing that the festive season always brings, is a drought on the “49p” CDs. Those are the ones that don’t have cases, and are literally a pot-luck of stuff. Completely randon, and I’ve picked up some absolute classics, though I’m sure I’ve rambled on about those before.

Most of the charity shops were plundered, except one, which lies on the outskirts of the town. It’s more like a charity warehouse to be fair, and all of the CDs are 5 for £1.

Daisy Chain charity shop in Portrack Lane, Stockton.
Countless amounts of CDs. Of course, I’ve visited this shop on a number of occasions, and have plundered it for everything that it’s worth. But, you never know, if you somehow stumble accross this photo and/or shop, you might find something worthwhile.

If I remember, I’ll remove that caption. but look at them. Look at all of those CDs. I didn’t even look at the records.

I successfully plundered the shop, and decided to get the bus back to Middlesbrough. Again, perfect timing saw the No. 13 bus to Middlesbrough turn up. Perfect!

Well, I thought we were going to Middlesbrough. Nope. All of the times I’ve caught the bus back home from Middlesbrough, I’ve learned that the 13 stops in the bus staation, but not in the direction I was travelling. As the stops went by, it dawned on me we weren’t going to Middlesbrough, but deeper into native territory. I rang the bell, and got off, knowing I didn’t have a clue where I was. Google maps wasn’t much help. I waited at te bus stop across the road, and noticed there wasn’t any timetable or stop number on this bus stop. What if the 13 didn’t even stop here? Only one thing to do, and that was backtrack.

I walked down by what I hoped was the right road, to see an old lady stood at the bus stop.

“Are you looking for the 13, love?” she says to me…

“Er, I think so”. I then explain my predicament in many less words than what I’ve used here.

“Ohhh, it’s always bloody late. I’ve got to be at the doctors for half three, and….” I’d zoned out at this point. All I wanted was to head back to the bloody High Street, where I knew were I was.

“eeeh, well, I’m going to walk down and catch the 59… That’ll get me as far as St James’s…” I’d zoned out again. I offered to walk down with the old lady as she was currently my only link between getting home, or dying lonely in a strange town. I’m not sure if she warmed to the idea. After all, an out-of-towner walking with an old lady to the bus stop, what could possibly go wrong?

We’d walked about 100 yards down the road, she’d informed me to look out in case the 13 mysteriously turned up… and guess what, just at that point, it did. The next 20 seconds saw me comically running back up to the bus stop, frantically waving my hand for the driver to stop. I get on, it was only the same bloody bus driver who’d took me there in the first place. He must have thought I was a right bloody weirdo, with my bag full of CDs, running back up to the bus stop.

The bus reaches Stockton High Street, but I know this will take me to the bus station.. Everyone except me gets off. The driver asks me where I’m going. In a questionable tone, I say Middlesbrough Bus Station. He then takes the bus out of service, and takes me there directly, as if I had a 46-seat limousine to myself for the next 20 minutes. A quick walk around Middlesbrough later, in the search of an LED light bulb, and I headed home, into the sunset….

Of course, if this was the highlight of the two weeks, that’d have been pretty dismal, but this was the easiest to blog about. After all….

I’ve read it. Very disappointing.

That, so far, has been the only reaction I’ve received to my Pokemon Go post. Well, in order to disappoint you even more, I thought I’d go through and clear off some old blog drafts I have saved. You know the drill. I start typing about stuff, and then it ends up I type too much, I get bored, and the blog sits harked as a draft until I eventually go through and delete it.

Firstly, a tittle short untitled one from 26th June.

Not that anyone of you will actually realise or care, but I’m typing this blog while sat on a train about to depart from Carlisle station. It was the third meetup of #speccy peeps.

Now, I know some of you don’t know who they are, so it’s an IRC Chatroom that’s been going since the year 2000, celebrating the existence of the humble ZX Spectrum. Of course, it never gets mentioned, we just tend to talk about crisps.

I decided it was far too uncomfortable to read the screen and type at the same time, so the blog post got abandoned. Instead, I decided to expand on the Carlisle trip, and include a rather graphic description of a foot infection, which I’ve still got. I really, really must go back to the doctors. Anway, I bring you a blog entitled “My left loot. Not a remake of the book/film.”

Hmmm. Ok, that’s not an imaginitive title, but then it doesn’t need to be, because I’m sure you’ve all been wondering about my feet. Well, that is, if you’ve read anything from me on Facebook over the last couple of weeks. Let’s just say, it’s not been pleasant. And, if you don’t like feet, then the next post is not going to be up your street. It gets foul.

Several weeks ago now, I went for a walk with Flav, over to Kielder. A couple of posts ago, I mentioned “I’m still recovering from this”. And, by that, I meant I was struggling with my feet. Quite a lot.

It all started the evening after the walk. I took my shoes and socks off, and noticed I had a rather large blister on my foot. I did take a photo of it, and post it on facey, but I didn’t keep it, so you’ll just have to imagine what arather large, bulbous blister looks like. Anyway, whilst sitting down, I totally forgot about this blister, until I popped it on the side of my chair. Ouch.

A couple of days later, I noticed my leg felt really tight. Mind you, I’d just completed a 13 mile walk, so that was probably to be expected. It was by far (well, a couple of miles), the farthest distance I’d walked, so I didn’t think too much of it.

Days went by, my foot would feel weird. And this is where things start getting a bit disgusting. It’s also where I’ll insert a random photo from the collection. Why? Because further down, there will be links, and descriptions that probably aren’t worth reading. Social media pick up on the images, and use them as the thumbnail. So, here’s a photo of an ice cream van.

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Righty doke. So, I’ve set the scene. Bad foot. It seemed to be healing to an extent. I would get twinges of pain, then it’d go, and my foot would feel normal. One night I noticed I’d tore the skin where this blister was. What a bugger. I’m a keen walker, so foot blisters that go into the deep skin are nothing new. You just peel the skin away and let them be.

Usually.

I’d peeled the skin back, but where I’d done it never seemed to stop weeping. My socks were perpectually soaking. Well, at least one of them was. Of course, these warning signs should have had me running… well, hobbling to the doctors. But no, I braved it. It was going to heal. It always does.

I t must have been a week or two before I noticed something odd. The foot was giving off a bit of a smell. Not a nice smell. In fact, it reminded me of a dog food tin being left in the sun. Slightly mouldy, slightly fishy. But only slightly. Might have been the socks. Or my shoes. This was the Thursday. I was due to travel to Carlisle on the Saturday.

Friday came, and now, I was seriously not happy about my foot. The nose test gave it away. But as I said, maybe it was just something that had crept in the sole of my shoe. It had a hole in, and Thursday was damp. So, that’ll have been the source of my odour.

Friday came, and with all of this in the back of my mind, I spent the entire day in my shoes, complete with a mile-walk home from Chris’s. at 1AM in the morning. This was great, because I found a new mode on my phone’s camera

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A night mode! OK, not great shots, but this was nearly 1AM.

Anyway, a slight detour there, because I got home, took my shoe off, and…. oh my god. I’ve smelt some awful stuff in my time, but knowing this was coming from a body part made me feel physically sick. It really was sobering. Sock in the sink, foot under the tap. Something was a bit wrong. I had to be up for the Carlisle train in a few hours. Oh dear. Most of the night was laid awake wondering if I should call the whole thing off. Technically, it wouldn’t have cost me anything as I had a cancellation plan on the hotel, but could I really miss out on not meeting some of the people I’ve talked to in #speccy for 16 years?

I slept on it. Well, I didn’t sleep on my foot, that was hanging out of the side of the mattress, having being severely washed.

I woke up the next morning. At this point, I was determined to go to Carlisle, manky foot or not. I’d just pack extra socks, and give my foot a good wash when I got to the hotel. Sound plan.

I arrived at Carlisle early. 11AM to be precise. I’d planned everything. I’ll do a bit of charity shop diving, hoping my foot holds up., and then make my way over to the hotel. A Premier Inn to be precise. I’d booked the hotel, so I knew exactly where I was going. My route, with the help of Google Maps was planned meticulously. The PI website said it was 0.9 miles from the city centre. I received a facebook message that most of the crew were already there. Awesome. I started the walk up to the Premier Inn. This felt much longer than 0.9 miles. The road seemed to go on for ever. Certainly not the 0.9 miles on the website, but then, they make them seem closer to the city centre, so you book them. Right?

A familiar purple sign glowed in the distance. I was finally there. My foot, hanging on my a strand of sock, would shortly get the relief it so desperately needed.

I plonk my backpack full of CDs and jeans onto the floor, and proudly announce my name. Papers went everywhere, the lady behind the counter flicking through them at a rate of knots, which would make a Brexit vote counter blush. “No, I’m sorry, there’s no Mr. Vapour booked here”. My heart sank. I’d known all along that Carlisle had two (technically three) Premier Inns. I can’t have possibly went to the wrong one. I’m not that stupid.

A quote of my reference number confirmed as I was that stupid, and I’d walked several miles to the wrong bloody hotel. I could have cried. A phone call to Marko confirmed I was in the wrong one. I’m sure the words “facking preck” were uttered during the conversation.

The lady behind the counter booked me a taxi, and while I was waiting outsie, the heavens opened, which was quite ironic following what Carlisle went through earlier in the year with Storm Desmond. The taxi driver picked me up, and gave me the details of Storm Desmond, an the fact that the hotel I was actually meant to be staying in, was afrected by the floods, and all of the houses around that way were pretty much empty

And that was that. In both posts, I never actually got to talk about the Carlisle meet, which was a bit of a shame, but a good time was had by all. I met up with Dunny and Daren, two people I’ve known through the internet for years, but never actually met, so that was good.

I’ll leave it at that. There are others, but they’re not worth trawling through. I’m off to decide the future again. I’m sure the commentor didn’t mean it with any malice, but it’s got me thinking… is there any point to all of this?

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.)

It’s that time of year, now that spring is in the air…

Ah yes. Spring is in the air. You can tell that because the weather forecast has just put out a weather warning for bloody snow. Well, not snow with blood in, because that would be awful, but you know what I mean. March is always an interesting time of year, because it’s the time where I say I’m going to start doing something producting, but then stay inside every single nmight and laugh inanely, as it appears that Euro Truck Simulator has given me a huge dildo to deliver.

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Hur hur hur.

Yeah, so. Been quiet again around these pparts. I’ve yet to test out my mobile blogging device. If you missed the two test posts I made, then oh, boy, you missed a treat!

What I’ve mostly been doing is behind the scenes stuff. I’m in the process of uploading all of the old photos from flickr onto here. I was half-way through writing a long, drawn-out process about why they were hosted on flickr in the first place, but not even I want to read that bollocks. Let’s just say WordPress is much better than it used to be.

I have an interesting few days up ahead.