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…

Extreme Robots!

Note: I originally wrote this post in April, didn’t publish it for a bit, and then we had all of that awful stuff in Manchester, so it just didn’t seem right publishing it at the time.Imagine you’re reading this in April.

I’ve been in Manchester so much recently that I’m expecting to get a bill for Council tax. Well, OK, it was only twice in two weeks, but you know what I mean.

Second time around, it was to see “Extreme Robots”. I’ve been a fan of Robot Wars since it kicked off on the telly about 20 years ago. I’ve always wondered what it was like to see it up close and personal. Despite the show being revived, I’m guessing that getting tickets for the actual recording of the program is a nigh-on impossible task, seeing as filming only takes place over 4 days.

When “The person who must not be named’ noticed that a similar “touring” version had started up, I grabbed the tickets as fast as humanly possible (or I might have waited until pay day, I can’t remember). The days ticked by, and before we knew it, 22nd April was on us, and it was time to head to Manchester.

The weather gods had smiled upon us, and the journey was uneventful. There was, of course, a stop for a Maccy D’s somewhere down the road, in the strangest looking service station I think I’ve been in. It looked more like an office block than an actual service station.

Food was consumed, and we headed off in the general direction of the Trafford Centre. We knew that the arena was going to be around there somewhere, so it made sense to actually just go there instead of venturing into the city centre, and its hilarious traffic system.

I’ve been to the Trafford Centre a good few times now, and rarely ever buy anything. I must have been there 5 times, and I’ve bought a Pendulum CD and a coat.

On an entirely different side note, I’m listening to music on my phone. I was halfway through typing “Pendulum” when my phone chose the song I actually bought the CD for… “9,000 Miles”, off the CD “In Silico”. There was a 1 in 12,463 chance of that happening. Weird. Er, anyway. The Trafford Centre. It rally is one of the more “picturesque” shopping centres I’ve been to, with foliage and fountains everywhere. Unfortunately, this is shown in the cost of everything in the shops, hence why I don’t buy much.

Time was approaching to go and find this arena where Extreme Robots was on. Turned out it was about a quarter of a mile away, but due to “The Other Person’s” inability to negotiate roundabouts, we ended up going on a two-mile loop of the place.

Eventually we got there. I think it was about 45 minutes before the show started, but already there were queues. I’d paid the extra and got the VIP tickets, which meant we got a shiny VIP pass, express entry, decent seating, and a tour of the pits at the end.

The first thing you’ll notice, is that, compared to the Robot Wars arena, this one is TINY. The guy who sat in front of us had actually been to see Robot Wars being filmed (lucky sod), and said the arena was about a third of the size.

Still, all of the Robot Wars hazards were there… the pit, the floor fipper and flames. Except the flipper and flames never actually worked, much to the audience’s amusement when the presenter guy tried to show them off.

Despite the size of the arena, there were still some of the old Robot Wars favourites turned up. TR3, and Eruption, who made it to the RW Grand Final this year amongst the famous names.

Of course, as this is a touring version that goes on for a number of shows, and possibly due to the size of the arena, there isn’t quite the amount of destruction allowed than in RW itself, still the axes seem real enough

In between the main bouts, there were contests for smaller robots too – about 10 of them in the arena at the same time – basically just a melee. Or however it’s spelt. I don’t think anyone could actually follow what was happening.

And so, the main bouts. Not going to say who won, just in case it’s the same for every show (which I doubt), but there was one “amusing” robot, named “Donald Thump”. Unfortunately, this robot, despite is hilarious name, didn’t actually work. Maybe that was the joke, but I think there were three bouts where it didn’t even begin to get going.

Of course, there was then the pit tour. And that was great. I was able to get up close and personal to some of the very robots I’d been watching on Robot Wars only a week or two earlier.

Included in the VIP ticket was a trip around the pits after the show finished, where you get to see the robots (and the operators) up close and personal.

Overall, a very enjoyable few hours. It’s left me wanting to see the real Robot Wars being recorded though. Now *that* would be epic.

I forgot to write about a Youtube video…

If you’re reading this on Facebook, you might as well stop. Scroll down. Look at that post below this one, which is bound to be some bell-end spouting political bullshit, or a photo of some ugly kid, because I actually posted this on Facey B a few weeks ago, and entirely neglected to post it on here for both of my readers who don’t have facebook. Yes, it’s the video of the Hull trip, or more correctly, the hundred or so discs that I bought for a tenner.

I explain it all in the video. Enjoy, if you’ve not already seen it.

A weekend in Manchester

Ahhh. Summer’s here at last. Well, no it’s not, because I saw a gritter on my way to work this morning, but the past weekend certainly felt like summer. A warm spell in an otherwise cold month.

But what was I doing in Manchester, I hear absolutely nobody ask? Well, I’m sure I’ve talked about the ol’ #speccy meetups in here before, where once a year, a few of us from the afore-mentioned IRC channel and the World Of Spectrum forums meet up, and have a few pints and a bit of a chinwag. Well, this time, it was going to be in Manchester.

I’d prepared for this *well* in advance, and by that, I mean I somehow managed to book a train and a hotel without getting the whole thing completely mixed up, and ending up booking a room in Manchester, New Hampshire, and the train heading off into the middle of the sea. Or something. Still, a little of me had a feeling this trip was going to be doomed to failure.

Marko, the main organiser, who has commented a few times on here (probably about the meets, I can’t remember), unfortunately pulled out and couldn’t go, so I was left in a bit of a situation. I didn’t have any contact details for anyone else going, other than Facebook. So, I pictured myself getting there, not actually knowing what anybody looks like, and spending the entire night on my own. Well, that is, if I was going to get there at all.

Wednesday came, I was in the snooker place, batting some balls about when I received a text…

“You aware of Northern rail strikes on Saturday? ”

As the white ball shot off the table, it became clear I wasn’t aware. This threw all sorts of spanners in the works. The Transpennine trains were running normally. Northern Rail trains weren’t.

Saturday was also Grand National day, and although getting to Thornaby for 08:32 wasn’t a problem (I bribed Daddykins into giving me a lift), there was no telling how packed the train was going to be. I was worrying the night before about finding my seat, and finding a random Boro chav sprawled out across it. that is, if I could even get on the train for the crowds.

I needn’t have worried. Maybe the news of the rail strike caused most people to stay in bed or make alternative arrangements. Maybe most people were just still hungover. Dunno. I just knew I had my seat, and the rest of the journey would be a breeze.

The guy say next to me got off at York, so I had a window seat for the rest of the journey, and the next two hours were spent watching England’s green and pleasant land roll past.

I arrive in Manchester, and there was two hours before I could check into the hotel. There was only one thing for it… LET’S GO BARGAIN HUNTING! RECORD SHOPPING!

As I mentioned before, I’ve been to Manchester a couple of times, and I know that Piccadilly is a good spot for vinyl. I knew of at least 3 shops…. the Vinyl Exchange, which is probably the biggest of the three. Piccadilly Records, which just sells new stuff, and it’s really up my alley, plus another one, which I can’t remember the name of.

Unfortunately, despite spending some time in all three, I came up empty. All seemed a bit expensive, and to be honest, considering how warm it was, I didn’t really want to carry many heavy records with me anyway. Plus, I had put some time away on the Sunday, to go back and have a better look.

I checked the time, and it was time to check into the hotel. On my way down, a board caught my eye, advertising the “Vinyl Resting Place”, in a rather “hipster” location known as Afflecks. It was on the top floor, and the more I went in to the place, the less I felt like I fitted in. It was one of those places you go to have a tattoo, buy black lipstick, or some type of… oh, I can’t describe it. I just know that in this maze of little shops was a place selling vinyl.

Eventually, I found it., and started rummaging through the boxes. There was some stuff, that on another day, I might have purchased, but even at 3 for £1, I almost didn’t get anything.

In the corner was a box of 12″ singles, and I managed to pick three out of there….

“Played A-Live” by Safri Duo, “Let there Be Light” – dance version by Mike Oldfield, and “Angel’s Symphony” by RAF. The latter of the three I used to have as a CD single, but it went for an absolute fortune on ebay. I’m not going to sell this one though as it’s a good little tune.

those, surprisingly were going to be my only 3 music purchases of the weekend. And, on that note, I checked into the hotel!

After a slight rest, and to allow my phone battery time to charge, I headed off to the meet. The stop for most of the night was “The Moon Under Water” on Deansgate, which from what I heard, claims to be the biggest pub in England. It used to be an old cinema, so yes, it was pretty big. I’m sure I’ve been in bigger though.

Of course, this was Grand National Saturday, and, as tradition would have it, I watched it in a pub, making this the 28th Grand national in a row that I’ve watched.

Beer flowed nicely, and after grub was consumed, we headed to another place. I couldn’t remember the name of the place, but my handy “google Timeline” thing tells me it was “the Ape and Apple”. I liked this place. Not crowded, and we could all talk. The night started winding down at about 11, as everyone was going home. I waddled back to the hotel, and that was me asleep until 9:30 the next morning.

Sunday was obviously the shortest day of the two, but I still found time to walk to the record shops for one last look… aaand, they were all closed. Bugger.

Since I was up this way, I thought I’d take in one last “tourist attraction”, and it’s where you’ve reading this from now.

Some photos from the Manchester Speccy meet

This is Turner St, Manchester. The home of 34SP, fine purveyors of website stuff, and my money flows down this road every month to keep mercuryvapour.co.uk afloat. Well, I actually doubt that the servers are hosted here, but it’s where the staff are.

Unfortunately, I’d entirely misjudged where it was, and it turns out it’s just to the right of this photo, out of shot. But look how close it is to that pub, though.

And, that was my lot. I’d studied the train timetable long and hard (oo-er), and thought I knew the train times. Well, this was incorrect. I’d reached the station and found that there was only a 20-minute wait until Thornaby.

“The person who cannot be named” had offered to pick me up from Thornaby station, which means I didn’t have to travel back to Hartlepool. Overall, a good weekend. And I’ll be back in Manchester in a weeks’ time.

Barnsley. Record buying, broken trees, and broken cars.

It appears that some people actually DO want to read about my purchasing of records. No, I can’t believe it either. Some of you may know that a week or two ago, I was lucky enough to visit the town of Barnsley. It all started because Daddykins wanted to buy some “radio equipment” and asked if I fancied a run down. Of course, the answer to this was yes, on one condition, I’d get to spend some time scurrying around the charity shops like a rat in a sewer, while he does what he needs to do, and then sits in the car, miserable as sin.

Seeing as Daddykins drives like Miss Daisy these days, the journey there hardly gets fast enough to get interesting. On the way down, he was talking to a DJ who used to work on TFM called Gary. Never found out his surname. That really was as exciting as the journey there got. I did enjoy it though, as it’s not very often I listen to Radio 2, but when I do, they usually have good music on. And by that, I mean old shite.

Naturally, before the jorney began, I’d hunted down some charity shops, so I’d have some knowledge of where I’m going. Google Maps did its job, and directed us to the shop he needed to go to, and also how I’d waste some of my time. Hurrah. It’s not often I get to visit a town on my own without someone else whinging over my shoulder at how bored they are, so I was going to make the most of it. I even considered turning my phone off, but Daddykins was going to ring me when he was done, and as I didn’t fancy a train home from a town I’m not familiar with, I kept it on.

I left Daddykins to do what he needed to do, and I added in the general direction of the shop I’d spied. It took me through a shopping centre, of whose name escapes me. Alambra? There’s possibly a H in there somewhere, but seeing as I have no regular readers in Barnsley (as far as I know), that will probably remain a mystery.

My internal Charity Shop GPS kicked in, and I was soon near the shop I’d spied from the road, but first a dive into a previously undiscovered “Age UK”. I’d picked up a few CD singles. The guy who served me almost creamed his pantaloons at the site of “You Do Something To Me” by Paul Weller. Admittedly, a nice find, but it was a bit scratched, and the case had seen better days. Same with the 1996 version of “big River” by Jimmy Nail. I’ve yet to play it, so I have no idea what the difference between this and the 1995 version are.

Onto Sense. This was the one I’d spied from the road, and, sadly, most of its CDs came from the awful feature that some charity shops have, of getting “replay” CDs. It’s usually exactly the same stock you see in Poundland, but for twice the price (£2 then – Ed.) Yes, precisely. If it comes pre-wrapped in cellophane, it doesn’t belong in a charity shop. There, rant over.

I did manage to score the theme to “The Wind In The Willows” on 7″, sung by Ralph McTell, for 75p. I have very hazy recollections of the show as a kid, so this was a nice find.

Those were the charity shops I’d known about, out of the way. the rest of the day would be a complete guess, except for a “Cash Generator” I’d spied on Google Maps, so I’d headed in the general direction of where I thought it was. Eventually, I’d found it. A complete waste of a walk. Quite a few DVDs, about 6 LPs and no CDs. Bugger again.

Slightly dejected, I headed back towards the shopping centre, as I’m sure Daddykins would be contacting me soon. I checked my phone. 3 texts saying he was ready. Whoops.

I rang him back, just as I’d hit a “rich vein” of charity shops, but there were about 5 in a row. The conversation went something like this…

“Yeah, I’m nearly done, I’ll just check this shop out, and oh, hello!”

I’d walked into “Cancer Research”, and my eyes darted over to shelves full of 7″ singles apparently in great condition, aaaaaand, at about £3 a pop, my heart sank. What didn’t make it any better was the fact they were CRAMMED into the shelves, making browsing pretty much impossible. Plus, there was some old guy who seemed to be persistent in holding the best position in front of these records. I abandoned them. I have many thoughts on charity shops that don’t know how to price records.

There were a couple of other shops I checked out. I could have picked up an original 1987 pressing of Kylie Minogue’s first album on CD, but I already have it, so decided to save the 33p. This was the last weekend before pay day, so I really was watching the pennies. Admittedly, it was another shop with a wacky pricing structure.

I phoned Daddykins, saying I was on the way back. He’d happened to be speaking to the guys in the shop where he was at, who said there was an antiques centre just over the road from where he was parked, and that it was a decent pace for records. I was intrigued, but knowing about these type of places, I had a feeling the records would have been overpriced, and pretty much scrap. the weather had dried up by this point, so I’d dropped the small collection of records I’d collected, and bribed a look around the afore-mentioned shop by presenting Daddykins with the last bite of a sausage roll and a bottle of coke. It did the trick, but I promised I’d be straight out if they weren’t up to my pricing grade or quality standard.

They were, and I admit I’d felt a little guilty as I had a proper rummage in the crates. First one out was the 12″ of “For America” by Red Box. A song I don’t expect anyone reading this to know, but yes, I like it.

then came the find of the day. For years, my friends know I collect crap music, and have suggested titles that I’ve somehow eventually tracked down. One had evaded me. A piece of plastic so deplorably cheap that they could only print the cover in black and white. A truly disgusting specimen that would probably survive a nuclear holocaust, along with Formica and cockroaches.

I’ve yet to play it. Instead, I’m saving it for a special edition of “I Bet You Don’t Like This”. I’m aware it’s on Youtube, but actually playing a physical copy of it is much worse.

So, we left Barnsley, in pretty much the same state we found it, minus several records and a piece of radio equipment. Daddykins decided to head towards Doncaster on the way out, as it’s apparently easier to get home, or something. It’s a change of scenery from the way down, so nothing wrong there.

Except for when we happened to pass under a tree, just as the branch became detached. THUD. I do try to keep my expletives under control around Daddykins, but even I couldn’t help but let out a “Fucking hell!” A split second earlier and it had went through the windscreen.

Although it doesn’t look like much, apparently, it’s not a cheap fix, as although the bumper popped right back in place, it’s also knocked the headlight out of place, broke the clips, and oh god, we should have just got the bloody thing delivered….

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?