Back to York…

I’m typing this several days late, as unfortunately, three days of work interrupted the normally smooth progress of my normal blog entries. I don’t apologise for making this post excessively long.

Anyway, Tuesday saw a hastily arranged trip to York, with Chris. York’s a good place to go as the people are friendly, no chavs, and there’s always the opportulity for a photograph or seven.

We’d arranged a couple of days before to go to York on Monday, but thanks to certain aspects (mainly me finishing at 6AM on Sunday morning, and not waking up at any time sensible, this was put back until Tuesday. Chris had came over on Monday night, and a good sup was had. Chris bought over this… stuff. I can’t remember its name, but apparently it must have been in Netto on special offer. He said it reminded him of liquorice.

We discussed a few places, and after pissing ourselves laughing at some of the train prices on certain websites for places such as London, we decided that York was cheapest. And easiest. Something which he said was very, very, very, very, very important was that we first went to the “Headland Gate” (formerly the Il Ponte / Bridge Hotel) to get some photos before another pub is wiped off the Hartlepudlian landscape.

Chris poured himself home, and I went to bed, knowing that Tuesday would have to start as early as possible. After the afore-mentioned sup, I awoke at 7:30, though I knew that Chris wouldn’t be alive again until at least 9.

At 9:30, I rang him to make sure it was still going ahead. It was. Hurrah, etc.

I arrived at his house at approximately 10:42, and we took the short walk over to the Headland Gate…

The Headland Gate

We took the walk to the Co-Op, a short distance down the road. This was for two benefits, firstly to get money, and to stock up on refreshments. Thirdly, the Co-op is over the road from the bus stop. Fourthly, it meant that Chris could avoid someone who he didn’t like.

We got on the bus. Turns out the number 7 no longer stops off at Christchurch, instead it stops off at Wilkinsons. Remember that, paupers.

So off we walked to the train station. It’s not much of an extra distance, probably 100 yards or so. Turns out the bus driver ripped us off to. Arsehole.

We got to the train station, and Chris examined the timetables . Turns out the direct train (the Grand Central) wouldn’t get us into York until approximately 2PM, and by this point, it was about 11:30. It was decided that we’d take the same journey that me and Coatesy took almost a year ago here. Hartlepool, Thornaby, then York.

Turns out that Coatesy mas made a reappearance on flickr, after posting a photo of himself with that bloke off the post office ads with the northern accent before Wendy Richards pegged it. I’m sure he’s done other stuff, but I’m too lazy to google it.

Back to the subject in hand, we had to wait in a queue whilst some woman discussed the finer details of some voucher she was given. I gave Chris the responsibility of purchasing the tickets, as he knows about them more than me. Turns out the price was £11.00 each instead of the £9.50 I’d paid only 12 months earlier. Sigh.

This revised schedule still left us with about 45 minutes of wait time. Hartlepool Station is the most depressing place in the world. They’ve done the front portion of it up, so the ticket office no longer looks like something from ’28 Days Later’. Unfortunately, you enter the platform, and find it’s a state, with rusting metalwork and more pigeon shit than you can possibly imagine.

EVENTUALLY, the train appeared, and we embarked on another shit journey to Thornaby. You get to view the delights such as the Seaton Carew landfill, and the various abandoned factories along the way. It wasn’t long until the carriage began to stink of fish for the rest of the journey to Thornaby. You couldn’t inhale without feeling the hairs at the back of your nose curl up.

Halfway through this journey, I felt the flies on my jeans come down. OK, that occasionally happens if the locking mechanism of the zip doesn’t fall into place correctly. Imagine my horror when I felt that the zip had totally broken. Yes, my jeans were fucked. Grrr. I spent the rest of the journey trying to pull my jumper over the broken fly, and watching Chris piss himself laughing each time I moved the jumper.

We left the train behind, hoping that my sense of smell wouldn’t be permanently damaged. Thankfully, it wasn’t as the smell of Thornaby station became instantly recognisable.

Six minutes we waited there. It felt like a lifetime. Eventually, the train to York turned up. I liked this part of the journey. Modern train, no noticeable odour. Flip-dot display and LED combo giving the train’s final destination. Nothing unpredictable happened, except I kept noticing that the clock on the train had an extra LED lit up whenever it showed the number 2. I thought it was faulty.

York approached, and we left the train. The first thing that became apparent is that we were both starving, and that a Greggs simply wouldn’t cut it. It was either an Indian, Chinese, or a pub meal somewhere.

After a short walk, Chris triggered his homing-pigeon instincts to the “Tourist information office”, and while he received a map with some places circled, I stood outside, trying to stop my stomach rumbling enough to rupture a tectonic place deep under the ground I was standing on.

We ran like chindren in a playground to the first location, only to be presented with a shitty looking doorway above some shops, complete with scary 1980s vinyl lettering, and an appearance that the place hadn’t been cleaned since that lettering was installed. We gave it a miss, and headed off to another one of the circled locations, though expecting they’d all be of the same type of establishment.

After a short walk in the direction of the next location, I peered down a side street, spying a pub that served meals. They served “Curry of the day”. I was sorted. Chris was happy to choose whatever he wanted from the menu, and I was happy I’d be having a curry at some point.

I went for the chicken vindaloo, Chris went for the Tikka Masala. I spent the time waiting for the meal, watching one of the games machines crash, with the “DISK BOOT FAILURE, INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER” message. The owners powered it off and on again, which fixed it for about 10 minutes before it crashed, then rebooted with the same message. Oh dear. I must be the only person in the world that takes notice of stuff like that, and I was tempted to pull out my phone and take a photo. I thought better of it, despite my love of public computer failures.

Shortly after this computer failure, the meals arrived. My curry was indeed very nice, though I thought the portions were a bit small for the price paid. Still, the food was eaten and enjoyed.

We left the pub, and headed off back into the streets of York. This was not before I left my own little calling card with the few grains of rice that had spilled from our plates…

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Chris told me he had another pub to show me. I hadn’t originally planned for the trip to be a tour of pubs, but hell, why not! This particular establishment is noted with one of those blue plaques as the birthplace of Guy Fawkes, visible here. It was an odd place. Expensive beer, gas lights, odd people who don’t carry cash – everyone who came in paid by card, even some woman who bought a glass of tonic water that she didn’t want, just so she could pay by card. I listened into the whole conversation, as I’d fallen in love with her accent. I should have asked her to buy me a pint. I didn’t.

Some guy walked in with what could only be disguised as a wolf, on a lead, asking is someone had arrived to stay the night, as the place also had hotel facilities.

It suddently got quiet, so I recall me and Chris discussing random stuff. Our conversation was rudely interrupted (literally) by some guy butting in, saying he was giving a talk about Guy Fawkes in the back room in approximately 6 minutes. We nodded politely, drank up and left.

I got the camera out, and took some photos of York Minster. I already had loads of these, so I took a couple at a jaunty angle, this being one of the best…

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Okay, it sucked. I wasn’t really interested in photographing something of which I already had good images.

We walked along the river. Not literally, but the footpatch beside it. This turned out to be the most photographically acceptable part of the whole journey…

Firstly, there was the bridge over the river…

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You know, I really should consult something such as Wikipedia and give these structures their proper name. Either way, it reminded me somewhat of the bridge near the hotel in Berlin. Again, I’ll have to look up the proper name of that…

We walked along the river, to the next bridge, which happened to be closed for repairs…

Well, I should hope the bridge works!
Well, I should hope the bridge works!

Wait, hang on, if they say that the bridge works, how can it be closed? I’d be happy to see a sign that says that the bridge works! That way I knew I wouldn’t fall into the river half way through crossing it.

I suggest that this sign is altered to say “CAUTION: BRIDGE IS FUCKED”. Everyone would understand it then.

We went up to the fucked-up bridge and back, but not before I took more shit images, including this…

"Often licked, never beaten". That's what SHE said! ........ I'll get me coat.
“Often licked, never beaten”.
That’s what SHE said!
…….. I’ll get me coat.

You know you’re an adult when you can see “Often Licked Never Beaten”, and can’t think anything but dirty thoughts. I turned my attention from the ice cream van, and to the ducks. It seems that every time I go somewhere that has a waterside location, I take more photos of the ducks than I do of anything else.

I like this particular photo, even though it appears that the duck is either blinking, or it actually has no eyes…

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We headed off back to the station at this point, only to find there was about an hour to wait before our train to Thornaby. Some guy missed his train by seconds, and I had to laugh at myself as he karate-kicked it as it left the station. I decided that there was no way I was going to sit at York station for almost an hour, so I announced my plan to either walk about, or find a pub to settle into for the remaining time. Chris followed, and we headed… er… east, I think.

The first pub we entered was literally deserted. Not even any bar staff, so we made a sharp exit, even though I forgot where the door was, much to the bemusement of Chris.

We walked across the road to a pub which, if I remember correctly, was called “The Punch Bowl”. Unfortunately, the effects of the vindaloo were kicking in at this point, so while Chris necked a whisky, I retired to the toilets. It was one of those “I wish I was dead” moments. The toilets stunk, and as I closed the door to the toilet, it turned out I was sharing my experience with a pair of shit-stained underpants on the floor, which must have been there for some time.

I almost took a picture, as I had my phone in my pocket, but I think the important part was simply getting out there as quickly as possible.

We drank up and left, and walked back to the station. Thankfully, there was no waiting time, as the train pulled in as we got there. The journey back seemed to take longer than the journey there. The time was passed by someone leaving a paper behind. I plugged my phone’s headset at this point, in order to allow my phone to scan for nearby radio stations. Turned out there were none. The only thing my phone managed to pick up was general interference given off by the train. Not good. Eventually, the phone picked up some stations, mainly just TFM, which happened to be playing Shakira. At this point, I disconnected the headset.

We arrived back at Thornaby station, hoping to get the connecting train back to Hartlepool. Unfortunately, despite what the message boards said, it had left just before we got there. Fucksticks. That meant that there was yet another 45 minute delay before we headed back to Hartlepool. The sun had gone down at that point, and there was no way we were sitting there for 45 minutes. Off we went to, yes you guessed it, another pub. This particular one happened to be in the shadows of TFM Radio.

I’d have hoped this pub would be good. It wasn’t.

We made our drinks last as long as possible, then headed off back to the station. Thankfully, the train was due, we boarded and they all lived happily ever after.

Yes, even I reach a point where I dn’t be dicked typing anymore!

Hartlepool Dockfest Day 2

Ok, this is a slightly late post, rather shutting the stable door after the man dressed up as a horse has bolted.

I didn’t stay long on the 2nd day. I ‘d pretty much seen everything I’d needed to see, and most of the stuff going on was a repeat of the first day. Still, I stayed for a couple of hours, snapping away as usual…

After I’d taken these photographs of the 2009 Hartlepool Beauty Pageant (giggle), I moved slightly to my left, and took photos of the juggler, whose name escapes me now (Defying Gravity, perhaps?).

Well, that’s what is says on that sail thing anyway. Unfortunately, that particular act only gripped me for the same amount of time as it took for me to focus the camera lens and take about 3 shots.

Off we went for a walk over to the food tent. Once again, they’d been cooking something with fish in, but they were about to demonstrate the “smoothie bikes”. A clever conception. Strap a blender to the back of a normal bike. Stick a dynamo to the back wheel, and connect the dynamo to the blender. You can then pedal your way to a healthy, if slighty disgusting looking drink! Of course, the slight drawback is that you have to get someone to hold the lid on the blender whilst you pedal like fuck, mashing the fruit into oblivion.

I was hoping, at the end of the demonstration, the ‘chef’ would remove the lid and say “Smoothie Smoke, don’t breathe this!” Unfortunately, there was no smoke and so, no hilarious end to the demonstration.

We left the tent in time to see an amusing spectacle. Apparently, we’ve “grown out” of hanging monkeys here, instead, in the 21st century, we prefer to hang dogs…

Well OK, hang a bloke in a dog suit. This particular character was Barry The Beagle from Real Radio. And, apparently, he wasn’t any worse off for his ordeal…

I was hungry, and thirsty by this point, so it was time to refuel from one of the eatery vans dotted around. After having a (rather disappointing) tray of curry and chips the previous day, I decided to have a jacket potato, with a choice of topping. Naturally, I went for the chicken curry. This set me back £3.50 but I must admit it was one of the nicest things I’ve ever had from a mobile eatery establishment.

So, at this point Andrew decided he could hold off no more, and headed off to the sweetie stall. You see, placed right in the middle of the main area was a tent selling sweets, sort of a pick ‘n’ mix, but in a tent. While I waited, Andrew chose come confectionery. I asked him the price it came to.

£5.30

I thought he was joking, but clearly wasn’t. Five pounds, thirty pence. I almost fell backwards off the chair I wasn’t sitting on at the time.

At this point, there wasn’t anything else going on. Everyone was getting prepared for the big show in the main tent. This was of aboslutely no interest to me, so I phoned Daddykins to pick me up. This was one of the very rare occasions where he hadn’t had a drink on a Sunday. The phone call was interrupted by some people on stilts. I would class that as being one of the more peculiar moments of the two days.

So, as I disappeared off into the distance, Andrew stayed down to watch whatever was going on in the main tent. I got home, and laid on the couch whilst watching Wimbledon. Predictably, I drifted off on the couch, only to be awoken at approximately 5:30 by a thunderstorm. Wooo. I was hoping it would blow over by the time I’d planned to set off for the night’s festivities, which I’d planned to set off for at 6:30.

Thankfully it did, but I decided not to take my chances walking over, and instead got the bus down. Turned out, it would have been quicker for me to actually walk than to get the sodding bus.

By the time I got there, the queue was about half a mile long. Joy. Thankfully, Andrew had got there early, and was about 6ft away from the entrance. I “tagged alongside”. We were guaranteed awesome seats, and we got those. Second row, just left of centre.

In fact, I can be clearly seen in this picture. Obviously, it’s not my photo, so there’s only a link. Just look for a huge slaphead on the right hand side.

Unlike the music night, I was overjoyed with the three acts that performed on the main stage that night. The host himself was awesome, very quick witted. After some heckler shouted out something random, he replied with “Shall we get you some crayons? Do you want the blue ones because they taste like the sky?” Oh, man, I really did think I was going to fall off the chair at that point.

Sean Lock was predictably brilliant. I did get photos. Obviously, you weren’t supposed to take cameras in, but nobody said anything about cameraphones. Sadly, the images are currently “locked” into my phone, as I have no way to transfer them over. I’ve lost everything to do with my phone’s data transfer abilities. Whoops.

So, anyway, another brilliant night took place, and I can personally hail the 2009 Hartlepool CockDockfest an absolute success.

Hartlepool Dockfest 2009, Day 1.

So, going by my many postings there, you can hazard a guess that day 1 of the Hartlepool Dockfest is now complete. Time to write up a review, and post pictures wherever necessary.

I headed off to the Marina, slightly annoyed at losing one of the rubber earbuds for my phone’s headpiece. That wasn’t a good start to the day. It meant that on my strut from Mercuryvapour Towers, to the afore-mentioned Marina was spent only half-listening to the music. The other half was spent trying to keep the earpiece in without having my head tilted to one side. Grrr.

Eventually, I arrived, and had planned to meet Andrew there. I phoned his mobile to see where he was.

I rang…

“It’s me, where are you at?”

I got some crypic reply back, along the lines of “If you’re calling for my brother, he’s out”.

Eh?

Eventually, the call fizzled out. I must have been in a position where he couldn’t understand me, or didn’t think it was me. I moved location and rang back…

“It’s Jamie, I know you’re out, you asked me to ring you when… oh.”

It had currently dawned on me that instead of ringing Andrew’s mobile, I’d rang his house phone. It was indeed his brother that answered, who must sound very similar to him on the phone, which means that Andrew’s brother’s brother was indeed out, and awaiting a call on his mobile instead of the house phone, as he was not in, as described in the initial call answered by Andrew’s brother’s brother’s brother. If you see what I mean.

So, I eventually get in contact with Andrew, and we meet up at the Wingfield Castle. He had his camcorder, needless to say, I took my camera.

The first “treat” of the day was the “Community Cavalcade” Now, I didn’t really know what to expect from this. Turns out, I should have expected very little. Best way to describe it was a town-wide school play, with kids singing in between. Of course, I didn’t realise this, and thought it was the opening ceremony. WROOOONG.

I could have cried. We started queuing at 11:30, didn’t get in there until 12:21. For the 51 minutes, we were in the blazing sunshine. My sunburn is back with a vengence. I wish I’d actually read what it is we were queuing up to watch.

I only took interest in part of it, and that part was when the music CD malfunctioned.

Despite the relaxing shade of the large entertainment tent, we abandoned the “cavalcade”, and by chance happened tofind one piece of “street entertainment” from a guy called Turbo Jonez. As you can guess by my “heartening” description of the cavalcade, it should now be clear that I don’t have a cynical bone in my body, in the same way that I don’t have a sarcastic one.

OK, I’m sarcastic and cynical, but when I say that this guy was one of the best street acts I’ve ever seen in my numerous years visiting these “maritime festivals”, I really mean it…

It takes a lot for me to laugh at stuff like that, but this guy was awesome. After his show had finished, I even went up and shook his hand, and had a quick discussion about the records and equipment used in his act. An all round nice guy.

There was a performance immediately after, next to the Wingfield Castle, about punishment in the middle ages…

I think there’s one of those every week. At this point, one of Andrew’s camera batteries had died, so he headed off to a top-secret location to put the battery on charge. While he did that, I took some photoes of the Thundercats…

OK, I could have said speedboat, but I didn’t.

We walked back in the general direction of the tents, and happened to stumble across the “FoodFest” tent.

As well as containing an oven, this place also behaved like an oven. I was dismayed to find that the recipe he was cooking contained smoked fish. Ugh. Oddly, I stayed in my seat, without running out of the place like a screaming girl. Turns out all of the savoury dishes being prepared over the weekend actually contain fish.

The guy running the workshop also had to teach this recipe to a bunch of children at the same time, something which he CLEARLY had never had any experience with.

COnsider the following paragraph as “Citation needed”, as I can’t remember the exact order of events, but one of the little kiddywinks, asks if the thing he is cooking it on is “hot”. The chef replies “Yes, that’s why it says ‘Caution Hot Surface’, pointing to a sign laid flat on the table in front of the hotplates. Slight issue with that, is that the child was too small to see any sign laid flat on the table, or understand the words, and was only asking the question because the chef turned over something in the pan with his fingers. Oh, man. I hope Andrew got it on tape, but I doubt he did, so I may have made the entire last paragraph up.

We walked out of the cookery class, and decided that refreshments were in order. I ended up paying £1 for a bottle of water, followed by £2.50 for a tray of curry and chips.

We then watched a juggler with the worst sound system known to man, and then decided to head off to Navigation Point. This was to be my place of departure, as I wanted to go home for a bit or a rest before the music section started good and proper.

Daddykins picked me up, and I did certain tasks as take plenty of fluid on board, and examine my fucking sunburn in greater detail. Why is it, now, that when I was a kid, I could be out in the sun all hours of the day (well, yes, up until 6PM, Chad.), yet these days, my skin incinerates the second a bit of sun hits it? If that’s not evidence of a depleting ozone layer, I don’t know what is, or we may have just had shit summers in my childhood.

OK, back on topic.

I had arranged to meet Andrew again after I’d returned. By this time the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Cloud had spilled in from all directions, and by complete coincidence, Daddykins was heading off to the Marina by means of a taxi. I asked if I could jump in too. He answered affirmatively, and I’m glad he did, as the heavens opened whilst on the way there.

I got dropped off, and attempted to reach Andrew via the mobile airwaves. His phone was switched off. Bugger. Oh well, I was on my own for the night. No matter, but it would have been nice to not look like a Billy-no-mates all night.

The first couple of bands came on, and they were both… erm, “not my scene”, despite the fact I’d made my way to the front of the audience area, and now only had a 4-fit railing between me and whowever was performing. It was then, I came across a fear of dread, or maybe it was dehydration. I’d realised that if I was at the front, I’d be there for the long term. One of the bands finished, and the crowd dispersed slightly. I had to do it. I had to head to the bar. There were several reasons I was putting it off. Mainly the price. A “pint” of lager for £3.50

Of course, the reason why they charge through the nose for your beer, despite the fact you’ve been queuing up for 25 minutes before eventually receiving a plastic glass full of luke-warm piss, is that you’re receiving top-notch entertainment for nothing. If you’re thirsty, pay for it, like the freeloading whore that you are.

After queuing for 25 minutes before eventually receiving a plastic glass full of luke-warm piss, I head back to the front of the stage. Phew. There was still a little space. At this point, Andrew texted me saying that he also returned home for a bit, and will be there shortly.

He turned up in time to see the John Power Band. Now, I’d personally never heard of them. For some reason, I was expecting some type of large brass band number, thinking it would be a bit odd to but them on before the Lightining Seeds. Turns out, they weren’t. In fact they were another normal band. SOmething, somewhere mentioned that he was the lead singer out of “Cast”. My word, that was blast from the past, in a way.

It started off with several new tracks, or songs that were John Power Band only. Although enjoyable, it wasn’t something I was familiar with, or could enjoy, despite certain members of the female audience attempting to force themselves next to my perfectly reserved spot. Note to females, should you attempt to push your 4’10” frame into a space occupied by a 5’x” fat c*nt, you’re not going to succeed. It is likely that person will class it as the biggest sexual encounter he’s had for several months.

Something awesome happened during this. John Power announced that he was going to play some of his old stuff for the first time in years. Yes, all of the old Cast hits came out, including “Walkaway”… a song that is hard for me to explain. It’s one if the songs that made sense while I was going through puberty, but for no explicable reason, took no notice of it after that period.

I still knew every word, sang at the top of my voice, and for a short time, after the song finished, stood there shaking, as if some type of chemical bubble had burst in my brain… I’d never expected that I’d be singing that song, mere feet away from the person who brought it into my life in the first place.

Next up were The Lightning Seeds. Had my life been reaching up to this beautiful climax? You may remember my (clearly drunken) analysis of the song in 2004. I couldn’t imagine how good it would sound live.

Apparently, Hartlepool was their first gig for 10 years. They must have read my blog, and made sure they played on one of the nights I was off work. Thanks guys. Unfortunately, you might want to stop reading here…

… I thought it was, on the whole, awful. They really sounded like a band who had not practised together for 10 years, never mind just played a gig together

Technical difficulties marred everything they did, from squealing feedback, to whole guitars cutting out for no apparent reason, to the point where Ian Broudie closed his eyes and just realised that nothing was going his way. Many vocals were out of key.

If it really WAS ten years since the band last played together at a gig, I’m sure that the last thing they’d want to hear is constant chants of “It’s coming home, it’s coming home, football’s coming home” every time there’s a break between songs. Unfortunately, that particular fact wasn’t relayed to the audience by the “Real Radio” DJ who encouraged the audience to “ask” them for the song.

After several poor efforts by The “Seeds” to get audience participation, the finale was about to come. “The Life of Riley” was first. Unfortunately, this caused a crowd surge that caused anyone in the very front row (i.e. me) to be bounced around like a turd in one of those choppy up things for when you don’t have a real sewer line thing…

The finale, an all acoustic version of “Three Lions”, went down an absolute storm. As the crowd dispersed, the chant of “It’s coming home, it’s coming home, football’s coming home” grew ever more quieter. It’s one of those odd moments, like when the band James used to close their gigs to the chorus of “Sit Down”.

Unfortunately, after getting the front row, I realised (long after it was possible to make any difference) I have been included in many, many photos. Some I posed for, some I didn’t. No doubt I’ll be in the mail again. Whooppee…

Haircuts and polishing turds

Well, there’s three days off work, which have disappeared quicker than the analogy I originally thought of when I started typing this sentence. It’s actually been a good few days off.

Firstly, it’s not been wasted, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, the bad things include being incinerated to a crisp. You’d have thought that I’d have built up some immunity to the sun as a child, seeing as I was only ever allowed to “play out” until 6PM, before my mother appeared at the door, screaming my name at the top of her lungs, ordering me to come in. Hence Chad’s recent comment-posing name of “6-O Clock Curfew”.

Don’t worry, it took me a while to work it out too!

Er, anyway. Back to what has been going on recently.

Monday, unfortunately was a day that can just be scrubbed off the calendar altogether. After finishing a nightshift, I decided to just stay in bed until about 8PM. I don’t like doing that, but sometimes it’s necessary to get a few good hours of sleep inside of me. Therefore, the day was entirely wasted. Unless you count sleep, in that case, it was pretty much perfect.

So, Tuesday was the day when I began to get things done. The weather was ideal. Daddykins left Mercuryvapour Towers at approximately 11, in order to get the car MOT’d. I was kicking things around the house, when I decided that the grass out of the front needs mowing. It had been a couple of weeks since I’d done it. In fact, I blogged about it in here, thanks to the fact the mower shedded two blades.

Surely, the same thing couldn’t happen again.

After completing the majority of the garden, I ran over a piece of innocent looking grass…

“BANG! BRAAAAAAAAA!”

Sigh. Another blade gone. I can only apologise for this piece of deja-vu, but… I replaced the blade, and once again began to cut the grass.

“BANG! BRAAAAAAAAA!”

Christ almighty. Two blades, shattered in less than 15 seconds. Only this time, this came from a different piece of grass. Four blades in 2 mowings. I’m beginning to think our mower is fucked.

During my time shredding turf, I took a look at the front piece of the garden. There is a small portion at the top of the garden which normally “houses” daffodils in the spring, but the rest of the year, it’s a weed trap. Now, I’ve been paying more attention to this bit of the garden than what I’ve let on, and had recently de-weeded it, meaning it actually looked just like a bare piece of land.

Daddykins was home by this point, and helped remove some freshly sprouted weeds. Mostly dandelions, thanks to the state it was in last year. At this point, I said something in jest, about going to Focus and getting some plants. I also wanted to get my hair cut. The two things weren’t connected, but what was left of my hair, was a mess.

Daddykins drove me to the barbers. Turns out the temperature on the long gravel driveway of Mercuryvapour Towers was 29 degrees. It wasn’t until I sat in the barbers chair that I realised just how much sun I’d caught. As the lovely lady combed my hair, it felt like 10,000 white-hot needles were beng scraped across my scalp. Oh yes, I was sunburned, and sunburned good. Bugger.

I left the barbers, devoid of hair, and returned back to the car.

“So, do you want to go to Focus, then?”

After realising that I’d known nothing about gardening, I suddenly wondered if this was a good idea after all. I decided against it, but seeing as Focus was on the way home anyway, we decided to call in. A lighter wallet, 6 fuschia plants and a marigold plant later, we returned home. Whilst Daddykins cooked some eggs for the “Twat Cup” taking place later that evening, I went out of the front, and planted the afore mentioned plants.

The Twat Cup itself, went off without much of an incident, except I was almost “accused” of cheating at dominoes, because I didn’t let the other player pick first after it was my “shuffle”. Tsk. I explained that it was the first time I’d literally versed anyone at dominoes that wasn’t over the internet, and wasn’t aware of the finer, physical rules of the game, but was totally aware now, should I ever verse another human being at the afore-mentioned bar game. It’s unlikely, but it may happen. Remember, kids! After you shuffle, allow the other player to pick their dominoes first! Trust me, it’ll save you earache in the future. Honestly.

Chris was missing for the Twat Cup, so when I returned home I texted him to see where he was. Unfortunately, I don’t have my phone to hand, so can’t tell you exactly how the conversation went, and thanks to winning £15 and having plenty of free whisky, I was slightly the worse for wear.

So, off went Tuesday, and onto Wednesday. I awoke, in a funny position on the sofa, early enough to consider a trip to the flea market. After it was apparent that the quality of the previous nights’ ale had resorted my anus to the role of “shite fountain”, I was hesitant. Considering the sun was, once again cracking the pavements, I deicded to head off in the general direction of the flea market. It was, unfortunately, pathetic.

Eric had replaced his 50p CDs with another load of cheap, shitty DVDs. I ended up spending one, whole British pound on a “Best of T’Pau” CD. This was a CD I’d owned back in the early 1990s, but got destroyed in what I would claim was the worst week of my life, back in summer 1995.

Either way, I have a copy of it again. And, you’ll have to thank Chad once again for my T’pau interest. If he hadn’t had sold me this cassette tape back in 1988/1989, I’d have less of a knowledge of Carol Decker and the rest of the band, and their overly distorted percussion.

So, I returned home from the flea market. I decided to go out the front and begin documenting the life of my plants, whic were only planted yesterday. This involved some pretty graphic closeups…

Whilst taking photos, I returned to the alley, to view my images. It was the only place dark enough to be able to see the camera screen. I happened to look down the gravel driveway. At the end of it was a figure, clad in a high-viz vest, bicycle and camera. It could only be one person. Yes, it was Andy The Iridium Fan. I wanved, making him aware of my presence, and he cycled up the gravel driveway, and explained his prescence. Apparently, there wasn’t an actual reason, except for getting his picture taken on the “windowcam”.

Considering both of us had the rest of the day free, there was a little discussion on where to go, or what to do. I think I mentioned Durham, before quickly putting that idea on the back burner, seeing as that the only things burning would be me, on the bus to Durham. After the trip with Chris, earlier on in the year, I decided that public transport wouldn’t be the best idea, considering I’d be cooking all of the way there.

Andrew did mention the “Then and Now” exhibition on at the art gallery in Church Square, taken by Mail photographer Tom Collins. He had visited it at the weekend, and said it was great. And, considering I love stuff like that, I decided that this was the best idea ever. And for the paltry price of 50p, you could get to the top of Christchurch’s tower too. Something that I’d seen hundreds of pictures of, but never had any to climb up and call my own…

It’s around now that the photoblog starts, so for all of you who have scrolled this far, you’ll get your first pictures.

After paying your 50p, you can escalate the stairs that takes you up to the clock tower. After many dodgy experiences with climbing monuments, such as the Arc D’ Triomphe, the Scott Monument and more recently, York Minster, I was happy to find that the staircase was perfectly acceptable. You can even stop off on the way and take photos….


When you reach the top, it’s entirely different to what I thought it would be like. After seeing the few hundred pictures on sites such as flickr taken from the top of it, actually going up there and taking your own personal view of the location adds a hell of a lot to it. Since I was a kid, the Transporter Bridge is one of those things I’ve always wondered if it was visible from Hartlepool. I have never received any photographic evidence to say whether this was the case, until today….

Click the image, as you might have to zoom in a little to view it!

I’ve noticed, on flickr, that there’s normally only a couple of photos taken from Christchurch. Here’s approximately 56… http://www.flickr.com/photos/mercuryvapour/archives/date-taken/2009/06/24/

We’re finally getting a Lidl!

After approximately 20 years, the wasteland at the junction of Jesmond Road and Easington Road is finally “seeing some action”, despite the economic gloom. The land was acquired by Lidl several years ago, but was never developed…

It is currently in the process of being dug up. Blue temporary fencing surrounds the whole area, and a quick peek through the gates shows that building has started already, or rather the land preparation has.

It appears it’s going to be closer to Mercuryvapour Towers than what Netto is, with the added bonus of no uphill walk home.