Viva Darbados – Day 1

As both of my readers may know, I have just got back (well, last week) from a trip to the city of Derby. This follows the previous years’ excursion to Macclesfield, and the year before that, to Skegness, both of which have been with my mate Chris, and this year was to be no exception.

Chris picked me up at 11AM sharp. The weather in Partypool was a little overcast, but dry. As we headed south, the weather changed and it would stay that way for the entire journey there.

Unlike previous years, we didn’t stop anywhere on the way down, as we had an extra day, so it was straight to Derby. To describe the journey as uneventful would have been an understatement. We arrived just before 3PM, and managed to get a parking space next to the hotel. the prices were very reasonable. £15.00 for 48 hours.

It was, of course, raining when we got there, and it wasn’t time to check in yet, so we headed to the first place to grab a drink, in this case it was a bottle of boke in the ‘Slug & Lettuce’.

So, a bottle of the ‘ard stuff later, the rain has stopped, so we had our first wander around. One thing became clear, Derby likes its abandoned buildings. Large swathes of the city centre appeared to be abandoned, or about to be demolished, and some of the shops that were opened were of a… shall we say… questionable nature.

As this was the first day of 4, we did a cursory glance around the charity shops. The first one happened to be a “Cats Protection”. Upon previous experiences, I know these are quite expensive, but at 50p a CD, it was acceptable. Nobody apparently wanted to serve me. Hmmm. Can’t be that used to havng customers. Eventually, a lady did servce me, and I left the establishment clutching a Nigel Kennedy Greatest Hits CD. No, I don’t know why either. I just felt like I had to start the trip somewhere.

We found what appeared to be the main shopping centre, namely “The Derbion”. This was a clean and spacious shopping centre. Your usual array of shops, and of course, there was the usual shopping centre collection of charity shops such as British Heart Foundation and Age UK.

The rain was continuing to fall lightly, so we headed back to the hotel to check in. The room was your standard Premier Inn affair, with the exception that the window didn’t open. Strange. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in any hotel where this was the case.

By now, it’s an unwritten tradition what we watch Tipping Point. It just always happens to be on the telly when we get to wherever we’re going.

We spent about an hour or so in here while my phone battery charged. It’s reaching that age where it’s getting needier for a dose of electricity, and no, I’m not going to buy a new one until this one dies.

The rain had stopped, so it was time to explore the area in the search of… liquid refreshment. everal days earlier, I’d been exploring on Google Maps, and found a taproom just over the river from the hotel.

We walked in, only to be greeted with the sight of a laptop and papers strewn everywhere. Well, it didn’t look very open, and the guy behind the laptop had to check if they were actually serving today…. indeed they were closed. Apparently one of the contractors must have left the door open, as they were planning for a refurb. Gutted. The guy said that they’d be open at 3 the following day, so a return trip was planned. Instead, we went to “The Old Silk Mill”.

I liked this place. Pretty cosy, though it did seem to have an aroma of cooked fish about it. I can’t believe I got a pint of Madri when there were so many other exotic beers available. I didn’t see that they had Citra on draft until it was too late.

We had one or two in there, and then headed to “Ye Olde Dolphin Inne”. I really liked this place. It’s one of those places that were built when people were a lot shorter. Low ceilings, all the beers were pumped from a cask. the only thing out of place was the games machine. Sadly, I can’t remember the name of the beer I had (something like Screeching Owl), but it was exceptional. this was to become a regular for the next few days.

Two pints later, and we’d just excaped the rain. It was time to look for some food. There were a number of highly rated Indian Restaurants that appeared, so we picked one, seemingly at random…. The Spice Lounge.

This was certainly a good choice, as the food was excellent. Of course, I had the chicken vindaloo, and I enjoyed it immensely. If I had one critiscism about it, is that you don’t really get enough dips to go with your poppadoms. I think we’d finished 3 of the 4 dips between us, leaving only the white one, because nobody ever eats that stuff.

Overall, a very nice place, and I don’t think the prices were too bad either.

After we left The Spuice Lounge, we headed up the same road to see if we could find a nice pub to settle into for the rest of the night. We ended up in one called The Greyhound. Chris and I both agreed that this part of the city felt very much like York. and this place was no exception, it definitely felt like something you’d see there. The place was really nicely done out…. except for the toilets.

In the first draft of the blog, I put in a detailed description about them. Bog was, quite literally the operative word here Let’s just say some careful hovering was needed, and the rest I’ll leave up to your imagination. Instead, I’ll include a photo of the place itself.

The Greyhound had its last orders at half 10, so we drank up and completed the short walk to the hotel. One bottle of Peroni later, and that was me ready for bed. What excitement would await us the following day? One thing’s for sure, there won’t be as many photos of the inside of pubs as this one…

Day one in Treacletown

A couple of years ago, during the lockdown, I came up with the idea that when we were through it, I’d visit a few places that I’ve never been to, with the whole premise of raiding thr charity chops and trying a few nearby eateries and… drinkeries. Last year, I travelled to Skegness with Chris, and this time we headed off to Macclesfield.

As I type this, it’s 7:39AM. I’m laid in bed in a Travelodge listening to the traffic go by. Unfortunately, the traffic seems to consist of large trains, seeing as we’re probably less than 50 yards away from the main train line, the one that runs from here to Manchester. I’d ask Chris which one it is, but he’s snoring merrily away, and by the time I get this online, I’ll probably forget.

Anyhoo, on to yesterday. It started off with a trip to Huddersfield. It’s a place I’d been to several times. One place I remember with a great amount of fondness, was a little record shop known as “Vinyl Tap”. The top part of the shop was unassuming, and not really that interesting. It was all new stock. All stuff that was out of my price range, and also stuff that just didn’t appeal. There was one saving grace, however. A massive basement, that probably ran underneath three other stores, full of 7″s and 12’s, of all different genres. I remember my previous visit in 2016, I spent hours down there and came back with a fairly decent haul.

Sadly, on this visit, the record basement was no more. Instead of a welcoming staircase to heaven, there was instead, the velvet rope, draped across the stairs. I could have cried.

So, after about 2 minutes, aimlessly looking at CDs I was never going to buy, we left. Probably never to return, ever. Sad times

Of course, Huddersfield has more to offer than just one record shop. There were, of course the charity shops. And what a disappointment they all were.

Approximately 2 hours of walking around yielded 4 CDs, and most of those were from a branch of Barnados that had only just opened.

There was also the outdoor market. I don’t know whether Tuesday is “Flea Market” day, but it seemed like it. Not one shred of anything decent. Unless you like horse ornaments.

We then stumbled on what could only be described as a fire waiting to happen. It’s hard to put into words just how cramped this place was, stacked high with tables, chairs, cabinets. If it’s made of wood, it’s in there.

Of course, I had to stumble over a mercury vapour light. Should I have bought it? I certainly didn’t fancy lobbing at around, with no guarantee that it actually worked, so I passed on it.

One of the last few stops we made was to one of those local community / tourist places. Ended up picking a bottile of Carolina Reaper hot sauce. At the time of typing, I’ve yet to try it.

So, that was Huddersfield. It was getting a bit late in the afternoon, but there was still time to head somewhere else, and that place was Oldham.

Getting there was a piece of cake. Getting parked, not so. Eventually we settled on a car park that we’d passed twice. Luckily by that point, I’d discovered two charity shops, so we headed there. It was 15:32, and one of them, the RSPCA, closed at 15:30. Sure enough, the doors were already locked.

That’s definitely one of the worst thing about being a charity shop fan, having to put up with whatever opening hours the old dears beihind the counter can put up with.

The other one is an Oxfam. These are always hit and miss. Sometimes, they’re great and have reasonable prices, sometimes they just slap any old price on stuff.

It was raining at this point. Missing a charity shop by 2 mintes had also not lightened the mood. I was ready to put on par with Grimsby as the most depressing place I’d been to, but thankfully there was no smell of fish in the air.

We found another untapped vein of charity shops, adn I ended up with my biggest haul of the day. Only 9, however, but it was still more than before.

We did find a diamond in the rough, however. Tucked away in the top left corner of the “Tommyfield Market” was a lovely little micropub called the Cob & Coal. I didn’t get a photo of the place itself, but here’s a photo of the doorstop, as we both found it particularly amusing.

And that was Oldham. The rain had not relented the entire time we were there. Thankfully, this meant that there was no dust from the shopping centre they’re knocking down… and it also allowed me toadd to my ever growing collection of shopping centre demolition photos with…. two.


And the onto the final destination. Good old Macclesfield. Sally satnav showed us the way, and after making only one wrong turning, we’d reached our destination. I was quire surprised how small the town seemed. Seemed one minute we were in the country, the next second was the sight of the Travelodge, and our base for the next couple of days.

Even though it was raining, there was a decent view out of the window, both daytime and at night.

We dropped our stuff off. Chris has a cup of tea and I watched The Chase. We then went in search of food. Naturally, we went for an Indian. Of course, before that, we made a stop into a nearby pub, the George and Dragon. What a lovely little place. Not sure if it had just been done out,, but it was absolutely spotless. The drinks were nice… I went for a Dizzy Blonde, and Chris had a pint of something called Unicorn. It was decent. And the bogs were spotless. Not often you can say that about many pubs. they even had genuine brand-name hand soap.

After a couple of these were necked, we went onto the Indian. Now, we ended up going to a different one than we originally planned, a place called Lazeez. It was over the road from the George and Dragon, and seeing as the weather was still ‘inclement’, we ended up here because it was closer. The food itself was absolutely lovely. There was some sauce that came with the poppadoms. Now, anyone who knows me will know that I could quite happily bathe in the red sauce that you usually get. This time, it was like a brown sauce. No idea what it was, but it was beautiful.

I went for a vindaloo, naturally. Ended up getting loads. Only downside was that the beer wasnt great., it tasted like it had been in the pump for a while. If you go here, It’s probably an idea to get a bottle, but that was genuinely the only downside to what was otherwise a decent place. 7.5 out of 10.

So, the night was getting on. We went to a place for one more drink, namely Alfred’s. They had Beavertown Neck Oil on. Its lovely stuff. Expensive, but worth it. I ended up trying to teach some of the intricacies of Pokémon Go, but I don’t think he could have been any less interested!

So, back to the Travelodge. Thankfully the rain had stopped at that point. A couple of episodes of Family Guy later, and time for sleep. Turns out that the bed seemed slightly smaller than a normal single bed, and it felt like I was going to keep falling out. The trains going past didn’t help. Chris later explained that the rail appeared to have a loose fishplate, which was causing the “Th’dunk” sound every time anything ran over it. So, I’d say it was a below average sleep. Not terrible, but not great either.

And so, onto the main event… day two!

The most predictable post in the whole of 2014

Bugger. Unlike recent years, I appear to have forgotten to automatically post a happy and successfull new years message. Plenty of mead and good freinds prevented me from doing this. Actual people being around my house is much more important than a throwaway post on a website, eh?

I’d like to personally wish both of my readers a hapy and prosperous 2014

Cherry Pepsi

Just a quick one while I remember, just in case you haven’t found it yet Marko, Cherry Pepsi does indeed exist down here, and it’s actually really quite awesome. It’s infinitely better than the awful diet cherry coke, and it’s just as good, if not better, than normal cherry coke….

Oh, and I had another “brush” with the fox at work today…

Oh dear, I’m making vulpine-related puns, this writers’ block must be bad. I’ve always wanted to take a photo of a fox. some of you may have saw the really shitty one I put on facebook, which could have been mistaken for a small dog, Well, this is a slightly better example, albeit still taken with the camera on my mobile. Alas, I don’t think I’m allowed my camera at “new” work.

In other news, by non-drinking is still going well. I did go off the rails slightly on Friday night, I went for a curry, and gave into temptation. Still, 2 pints in 4 weeks is hardly alcoholic standard, and an immense improvement on the shit I used to throw down my neck on a nightly basis. I also played table tennis in Sheffield city centre. Videos may, or may not be forthcoming.

Nottingham! It’s in Nottinghamshire! (Part 2)

So, I awoke on the 2nd day at about 8AM, after a perfectly acceptable nights’ sleep. This was surprising, as I’m not a fan of hotel beds. I seen to recall my sleep was disturbed by a passing police car. Despite being on the 7th floor, and quite a distance from the road, the building next to ours reflected the sound into the room, and by the time the car had headed along Maid Marian Way (no, seriously, that’s that the road was called), I was awake, bright as buttons. Gah.

Chris slept through it, so I amused myself by abusing my phone and uploading all sorts of garbage to Facebook. I gave it until 9PM before I decided to surface and risk waking Chris up. 19 minutes later, while in the middle of a shave, my phone started going nuts, it was Chris’s dad. Amusingly, Chris slept through approximately 20 seconds of my annoying shopping centre yet there were two charity shops in there, a particularly bad YMCA shop that had literally 10 CDs in there, and a much better shop, where I spent under £7 on CDs. I could have spent more, but I didn’t realise the singles were “Buy one Get one Free”…

By this time, Chris’s boredom threshold was being tested to its limits, so we went in search of the now removed railway, and found it entirely by chance…

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The closed tunnel entrance in the centre of the picture, the unmistakable blue brick to the right forming the entrance to what was once a railway tunnel, now a car park.

By this point, the effects of the Greggs Pasty were wearing off. I was hungry, and so was Chris. I had a bag of CDs to drop off at the hotel. It suddenly dawned on us. Where the fuck was the hotel? I knew one thing, we were near this building…

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In hindsight, this building was visible from the hotel window, but we were lost enough for me to break out “the technology” – bring up Google Maps on my phone and make sure we were heading in the right direction. We were! Eventually we returned at the hotel, I dropped my CDs off, and headed in the general direction for something to eat.

Three days consisting of nothing but curry would probably be a bit too much, so we gave the curry houses a miss and headed off back into the town, eventually resorting to going to the Wetherspoons we’d went to the previous night. I settled for the “simple” steak ‘n’ chips, while Chris had some type of Panini thing. I always thought they just made sticker annuals…

Food was consumed, and the day was still young. The only tourist attraction either of us could think of was the castle, as Nottingham, at one point, had a large fortification overlooking the city. It was £5.50 in. Unfortunately, there’s very little remaining of the castle itself, except the walls. Inside, is a large museum and art gallery. There’s also a fair amount of gardens to walk around and admire that thing where they make shapes out of plants… erm… can’t remember its name…

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The highlight, for me was the fact that the museum actually contains the very football shirt Maradonna wore during his infamous “Hand Of God” incident. Now that’s not something you see every day.

We left the grounds just as a horde of foreign students invaded the place. Perfect timing! They all seemed like proper twunts. We made or way to “Ye Olde Pube”. I can’t remember its proper name, but it’s set inside the cliffs that Nottingham Castle stood on. While me and Chris were enjoying a quiet pint in the “beer garden”, the hordes of students had apparently left the castle and headed to our quiet little inn. None of them were over the age to drink, so they just stood outside and took photos of the place. In pure “Jamie is a complete dick” style, I tried to photobomb as many as possible. There’ll be some kid, thousands of miles away, wondering why there’s a bearded guy with a pint glass on his head.

At this point, it started to get cold, and the time for food was fast approaching. We headed off back to the hotel. After remembering how bad the beer was in the free bar the previous night, we stopped off at the Tescos and picked up essential supplies…

Amusingly, there were signs on the hotel entrance that “No food or drink to be consumed in the room”. I’m sure they’d try and stop me.

No food or drink in the hotel....

After a quick change, we headed out of the hotel and, after a quick walk round, decided that our next meal would once again be consumed at “Chutney”. After all, their service and food was superb last time. It was even better. the staff were friendly, and even gave us another discount because we’d been there the day before. Ten, no, eleven points for service.

Once again, we headed back to the hotel and got ready for the night’s festivities. I say festivities, I really mean drinking some of the world’s most watered down lager known to man. It’s not even worthy of the “Making Love in a Canoe” joke…

We returned to the room early, pouched the cans, and I attempted to take some long exposure shots out of the hotel window. I’d show you them, except it would appear that Flickr has eaten them. Grrrr.

The Magical Mystery Tour (part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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