My left foot, part 3!

Well, that last post was a slight detour from the current subject matter. It’s been a week since the whole steak incident, so we now return to your scheduled programming – the ongoing saga with my bloody foot! Anyway, I’ll continue where I left off. You’ll have to read below if you want a recap

July 30th came. It was a dreary Tuesday. Once again, the trip was made to North Tees.. The specialist was a jolly man. who spoke with a news-reader type voice. I entered the office, took my shoes and socks off, and he had a play around with my toes. After lots of umming and ahhing, (the type you get when a builder is inspecting your boiler (oo-er), and thinks the job is going to be rather costly), and it was decided that the best decision was to cut part of my toe off.

Well, the beWHAT? THEY’RE GOING TO WHAT? Admittedly, the next few minutes are a blur, as I had to come to terms with actually losing a body part. Thankfully, he dictated what he was going to do, and sent me a letter with it all on. Basically, there were lots of technical terms referring to lobbing off a bit of toe. It did start, however, with him calling me “This chap”. But, in a nutshell, my toes appeared to be “clawing”, as in, they’re permanently clenched in, and the tip of the toe had been rubbing so much that it probably wasn’t going to be able to be saved. There’s probably a technical name in that letter, but I can’t be arsed to look it up.

He also berated my choice of footwear. Apparently, walking boots were crap for this type of foot problem, which was entirely contradictory of what I was told by another foot specialist, who measured me up for my insoles just a few months before. For fuck’s sake.

A lady from orthotics came in and measured my feet, while the specialist went through his extensive checklist of what could happen during the operation. Strangely, a lot of bladder related stuff and not much else. It was arranged for me to have my pre-op assessment now. This was basically because it’s a 30-mile round-trip to get from the leafy grounds of Mercuryvapour Towers, to North Tees hospital.

All this entailed was a lot of box ticking, and a quick examination. “Your blood pressure’s a little high…” said the nurse. I felt like saying “Well, so would yours be if you’ve just been told you’re getting part of your toe cut off…”. A second reading was lower, so it was probably just my white coat syndrome kicking in.

On the way home, I began to concoct some jokes, after all, laughter is the best medicine. This lasted all of about half an hour, before I began to think of someone I know who started off losing a toe, then all of his toes, then his foot, then his leg below his knee, and eventually died. Sure, he had other health problems, but I began to think “Is this how it starts…” Depression certainly kicked in for a few days I certainly wasn’t in a good place for this time. It was a case of waiting for the letter to plop through the door with the date of when I was getting the chop.

The date of my operation came through, and it was exactly a week from when the letter was dated. I genuinely can’t work out if this made me feel better or worse. I had the date. It could all be over, or it could just be the beginning.

I filled the time with a few trips out. The Sunday consisted of a rather disappointing Redcar car boot sale. I’m guessing this may have just been because of the time of year, but thankfully, the walk around Redcar more than made up for it. There was one store called “Goodwins” that had an metric shit-ton of random CDs, listed for a quid.

Despite being a quid a pop, I didn’t bother getting any. There were far too many to look through, and there was far too much crap to contend with. “Top Musicians Play Sting And The Police”…. Maybe my heart just wasn’t in it.

I returned from the car boot with literally a handful of CDS and a few records. There just weasn’t very much at all. I needed something to pass the time while I was off, and cataloguing an absolute pile of CDs would have been ideal. Oh well.

This day was the penultimate day before the operation. The next day just involved work, and telling everyone that I’ll “see them when I see them”. The rest of that day was then spent going around the town, grabbing the finer essentials, namely a pair of slippers and a dressing gown for the hospital. This was also the day that I received some devastating news about the death of Rab, an old work colleague. This put things into perspective a bit. I was losing a bit of a toe. Some people have much worse problems.

All there was left to do now was to attempt to get some sleep and hope that tomorrow, and the stay in hospital would come and go quickly….And so will part 4!

Can’t take me anywhere…

Well, it just seems that I’m seeing the inside of hospitals more frequently than I am my own house at the moment. Sit down, dear friends, and I shall tell a story. For those of you who were looking forward to part three of the foot saga, that’s coming soon enough. Imagine this as a little side-episode into my unfortunate life, where I once again, end up in a hospital.

Today was a Saturday. (It’ll probably be Sunday by the time you read this, but never mind). Jamie S fancied a day trip to Newcastle via the train. It’s been a while since we’d done anything on the rattler, so it made a bit of a change. We got there at just before 2PM. The first stop (after a brief stop at a couple of charity shops) was to get some grub. Now, the worst thing about being ina big city at that time is trying to find somewhere to eat. Wagamama’s is my new favourite spot. I have a thing for their Firecracker chicken, it’s amazing. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the queue was pretty much out of the door. Bad news. Same for Nandos, so this meant we had to find somewhere else. A few months ago I’d had a lovely steak at Red’s BBQ place, so although it’s a bit more expensive, we agreed to go there. Perfect.

Meals were ordered, and I looked forward to my steak. I got it medium. Just fancied a change from medium rare. The food came, and I started. After one single solitary mouthful, the worst thing happened. I’d clearly not chewed my bit of steak correctly, because as I swallowed, I knew that it was not going down. Now, this sometimes happens if I have a large piece of bread, and normally a bit of a drink pushes it down and we’re good to go again. Nope, not this time.

I took a drink, and I couldn’t swallow it. It was going nowhere. The only thing that was shifting was the drink of coke I had, and that was coming upwards. Panic started to set in, some people thought I was choking. Some people slapped me on the back, but this didn’t shift it. The staff were concerned at this point. I went to the toilet to try and bring it up, but nope. Nothing happened. This steak was well and truly lodged.

The shopping centre staff came involved, and called 999. This was the first time I’d ever had anything like that called for me. There’s been a lot of firsts when it comes to hospitals over the last couple of months. Anyway, the 999 service recommended I go to the RVI. They weren’t sending an ambulance because I was obviously in no immediate danger. I could breathe. There was no blood. It was just a bit of stuck meat. An incredibly uncomfortable bit of stuck meat, and I didn’t realise until then, that the RVI was only 10 minutes walk away. I was told not to try and bring it up myself.

I could feel my body trying to shift this foreign object, like a sharp pain just below my throat., and the motion of walking really didn’t help.

It’s not until you’re unable to swallow properly that you realise just how much saliva you actually produce, and it had to go somewhere. Out of my mouth, and into pretty much every place I could find. Hedges, drains, anywhere. It was not pleasant, and I’m sure anyone else watching would have found me disgusting, without actually knowing what was going on..

We got to the A+E, Jamie S helped me check in because I was unable to speak without running to the door and expelling a load of saliva. Usual triage procedure took place. Blood pressure, heart rate, etc, and I was told to go back to the waiting area. This was awful. The action of sitting just made me feel worse, so I had to stand for the entire time. I’d often clear my head by going outside and resting on the barriers. Again, I was running to the toilet every few minutes to empty my mouth, and sometimes, this did trigger a vomit. A rather loud, painful vomit.. Naturally, there was very little coming up. Certainly no steak.

Time passed. Jamie S amused himself by extracting the urine, and keeping me updated on the football scores. After about an hour of waiting around, the third vomit session took place. Again, nothing of any significance happened A bit of liquid, but nothing resembling steak.

I went back outside to cool off, and then I noticed… I could swallow. I didn’t want to bring up anything. Had that last one fixed the problem? I came back inside, and Jamie S said he’d noticed I’d looked better. Immediately after this, my name was called, by the doctor. I went in.

“Doc, this might literally be your easiest issue of the day”.

Indeed it was, he gave me a glass of water, and thankfully it stayed down. Panic, and this little traumatic episode, well and truly over. There was still time, so we headed back to Eldon Square. As luck would have it, we managed to bump into the staff who helped me out, so said a massive thanks to them.

I feel I have a few thanks to say, and apologies. None of these will ever read this (Jamie S might just read it to correct my spelling), but thanks all the same…

Thanks and apologies to Jamie S. I ruined your Saturday, and you’ve had to put up with me spewing up. Again.
Apologies to the staff at Red’s. You did a wonderful steak, and I took one bit out of it. I am genuinely heartbroken at the waste of such a good meal. It wasn’t your fault. It was mine. I’m such a prick. Sorry. Apologies also to the other patrons that were there, and many, many thanks to the people who helped. I hope I didn’t spoil your day.
Many thanks to the Eldon Square staff for their help. You were all greatly supportive, especially to the guy who walked us to where we needed to be.
Apologies to the people walking down The Great North Road and St. Thomas’ Street who would have saw me spitting. It’s an awful habit. I had good reason, which I hope you’ll now understand.
Apologies to the people in the waiting room with me, especially those within earshot of the toilet, who would have heard me retching my ring up.

I’m genuinely just wracked with guilt and embarrassment about the whole day. This has been a public service announcement. I’ve been Mark Lamarr, and this has been Never Mind the Buzzcocks. *theme music plays*

My left foot, part 2

A quick round-up for those who missed part 1. Back in 2016, I went walking, got an ulcer in my foot, which didn’t get seen to until 2017 Fast forward two years later, I no longer have a hole in my foot. That’s all sorted. Hurrah, huzzah, and other noises in the similar vein. That was no longer a concern. What WAS a concern however, were my toes. I can’t remember how far through the blog I got, but about 6 months after getting the problem with the base of my foot, I also started getting problems with the toes. I remember it starting with an absolutely massive blister under the nail of my 2nd to biggest toe. This came as a shock to me, as I didn’t even know if was there, thanks to the lack of feeling in my toes. It’s somewthing that has a name, but I don’;t have the “documentation” to hand.

This went through cycles. I’d go to the one-life. The base would start to get better, then the toe would start. The toe would get better, tyhen the base would rupture, and I’d end up with this never-ending cycle of pus coming out of my foot. Occasionally, there’s be an infection, and I’d get a dose of tablets, usually, Flucloxicillin, or however it’s spelt.

At some point during the summer, it flared up again. It went all red and puffy, so just on the safe side, the lady took a swab, and it did indeed come back with some type of infection. I remember clearly that the tablets started with M, and I was to receive a call from my doctor when they were ready to pick up. Nothing. No phone call. Had she changed her mind? Had she forgotten? Now, I probably should have checked myself but I didn’t. I waited until the next week, and confirmed there should have been some tablets. Alrighty then. Off to the chemists, aaaand… 4 boxes of Flucloxicillin. Waaaait, that doesn’t begin with M.

I went back to the one-life to see what I should have been prescribed, but nobody could tell me what. I asked the lovely receptionist, though as I suspected, she couldn’t see. I went into the clinic the weekd after, explained the predicament (I hadn’t taken the tablets, by the way, as in my mind, they were the wrong ones, and there’s been a history of me being prescribed the wrong tablets for other things, and the wrong antibiotics can do more harm than good.) She got the manager to check, with it was all academic, as by the time of my next foot check, the redness had gone away, and everything appeared to be back to “normal”.

Fast forward to June 21st. I’d noticed that, once again, there was some discharge coming from the toe, and possibly the base. The lady checking my foot thought that it might have been “tracking”. This was not good. This basically means that the infection is going up into my foot veins, and into my bloodstream. The word “Sepsis” was banded about, and after three people came in to check my foot, I was advised to get myself down to A+E now, for a course of IV antibiotics. I’ll probably need to be kept in. That’s cute. There’s not one of those in Hartlepool, so I had to make my way to North Tees. Daddykins already had plans which he had to bail out of. Pretty important plans, and I felt awful for making him cancel those. It’ll be one of those things that will gnaw at the back of my brain, and will every so often get an awful wave of guilt over. The person concerned will never read this, but still.

Moving swiftly on, I arrive at the A+E. Awful, awful place. There was an obviously drugged-up person in a hospital-provided wheelchair, sat in a dressing gown, screaming down their phone, crying their eyes out at the person at the other end, to come and get them, and that they were not staying in, that they were going to book a taxi, etc, etc. This person went in before me, and muffled cries could be heard from the assessment wing. You get a new found appreciation for the people at the front-line on the NHS, having to put up with scum like that. Anyway, this person continued the conversation they came back… “They said I was being abusive”. Yeah, I bet you were.

I was next. I bet I was like a coffee break compared to the last person. I’m needle-o-phobic, so I look away as they insert what I thought was a needle to draw blood. It’s a standard procedure, and although it’s not one that I’m a fan of, it’s one I understand is necessary. I look down.

Nope, they weren’t drawing blood, they were fitting a fucking cannula. Now, at this point, I’ve never stayed in hospital. Theis pretty much guarantees I was about to break that duck. I’m not sure if they checked my blood pressure before or after they inserted that bloody thing (no pun intended) in my hand, but I’m pretty sure it would have doubled. Somewhere down the line, I explained that I really didn’t want to stay in hospital. I’d came straight from work, I only had the clothes I was stood up in, no other medication, I don’t even think I had money in my wallet. A compromise was to be made.

It was clear that I needed IV antibiotics, at least to start me off. That means I’d be connected to a drip, so I was led to a room. The connection was made, and a line was drawn on my foot to mark out if it was being efrective, and I sat there. I took a photo of the view so I’d remember it for the rest of my life.

OK, so one course of IV done, but still there were more. It was agreed for me to return back to North Tees at 9:30am the next morning for the next course of IV. In the meantime, the extremely uncomfortable cannula would be wrapped up and kept in there. Lovely.

Well, what a shit night’s sleep that was. As the photo shows (if I decided to include it), the cannula was in my right hand, meaning sleeping in my bed was impossible. This meant I crashed on the couch.

Both myself and Daddykins were up for part 2 of this journey. Again, the same streets, the same roadworks, the same entry, the same corridors…. Oh, wait no. This time, I was told to go to the “Ambulatory Outpatients Diary Room” I have no idea what that means, and I had even less of an idea how to get there. I have one rule when it comes to hospitals… If I’m not sure where I’m going, ask someone clutching a clipboard and/or stethoscope. At the time of typing, this has been effective approximately 20% of the time,, and if I’d followed the sihns, I’d have been there. But then again, this is Percy-logic, and I get to speak to nice poeople, so what the hey.

I arrive at the “Ambulatory Outpatients”. Nobosdy there. I examine the desks for sign of life. There’s a half drank bottle of diet coke, and the remanant of a tuna sandwich that had started to curl up at the ends. Nobody there at all. I think I was stood there about 20 minutes before someone came to see me. They must have noticed me eyeing up the rather nice selection of well-worn biros behind the desk.

Eventually, someone comes to see me, and we discuss the next course of action. Another dose of IV today, and a nurse would come out to see me for the next two doses, and the final one will be given the following morning back at the hospital. Phew, at least I didn’t have to stay in.

10 minutes later, I was free to go. I just had to wait for the nurses to come. Indeed they did. Nothing worse than sitting, watching the cricket, while two burly nurses pour drugs through a little hole in your arm. Twice.

Sunday comes, and off we jolly well pop back to the hospital. It was noted that the nedness had already began to go down, so the antibiotics were clearly working. It was agreed that I’d finish the antibiotics in tablet form, and I was fee to go. 80 flucoxicillin tablets over the course of 10 days (and two weeks on the sick) and I was right as rain. They took yet more blood, and while they awaited the test results, I had to sit around in the canteen for about an hour. They gave me a voucher for a free cup of tea, however, so it wasn’t all bad.

The IV dose was completed and finally, the cannula was removed. I was then assigned back to the high risk podiatry again for an appointment during the week to get my proper dressings put back on. This was a blessing, as within 30 seconds of me being in the chair, it was duly noted what was wrong with my foot. It looked like my toes were slightly crooked, meaning that none of the weight was getting put onto my big toe like it’s supposed to, and the little fatty bad that’s on the sole of my foot had either shifted or worn away. I was referred to a specialist for an appointment at the end of the month. And what did he say? Well, you’ll have to wait for the next part to find out!

Ant And Dec broke my phone

Oh, the loveable Geordie duo. Seldom seen on our screens of more recent times, they’re still apparently working on projects together, namely the announcements at the M+S tills.

Thursday was just like an ordinary day Went to work, played pool, checked Facebook on a regular basis. It was there, that something caught my eye. I had been tagged in a post. It seems that M+S have started doing chicken vindaloo sandwiches. this obviously perked my interest, and understandably, I spent most of Friday morning, at work, hoping thatmy local branch still had some in. It’s about a 15 minute walk from where I work, to there. This was, as far as I can remember, the first time I’ve been in one of these stores on my own. Almost 40 years avoiding it, and it’s a slippery slope to being in there every day, wearing their cardigans and loose fitting brown trousers…

Er, anyway, off I toddle to the sandwich section, and there they were. Chicken vindaloo! £3. Ergh. This was the most I’d ever paid for a sandwich, so it had better be special. I opted for using the self-service checkpoints. I scanned my first item, and there they were. “HI! I’M ANT, I’M DECLAN, A DUO, A TWOSOME, MANY PAYMENT OFTIONS, SO GO AHEAD AND CHOOSE ‘EM”. That’s not what the checkout really said, but you get the picture. It was some tie-in with Britain’s Got Talent, a programme which I assume they present, or something. They’ve recorded announcments for the tills, and this is why I blame them for breaking my phone. their kind, northern tones lulled my into a false sense of security.

I deposited my coins, and walked away. I bit into the sandwich, and oh yes, it was lovely. A nice taste, with a really spicy kick. I was impressed. I’m always wary when I eat new stuff, especially sandwiches and things. I hate pretty much everything that comprises most sandwiches, so I was surprised to find this one edible.

Anyway, Friday afternoon went without a hitch, and after I’d finished, Jamie S picked me up, and we headed off to Newcastle. It was at this point, something didn’t feel right. A bit of a pain in the ol’ belly area. It’s a feeling that does occasionallly happen, mainly thanks to by diet, and I knew that it’d be mere minutes until I’d… erm. Yeah, you can work that out for yourself.

So, yeah, anyway, here we are, booling up the A19 towards the town, and things got rather pressing. To take a line from a Spandau Ballet song… “In these troubled times, desperation keeps us strong”. Oh yes, something was certainly doing the conga down my colon. Somehow, we’d made it to the first place we knew that definitely had a toilet… KFC.

I jumped out of Jamie’s car like I’ve never moved before, and that’s when my phone went hurtling across the car park. It must have been resting on my lap, and obviously, due to other thing on my mind, I forgot about it, and it got launched. Slam. Crack. Goddammit. Thankfully, the phone still works, and for the first time, I’ve edited out what happened in the toilet, because it was even too gruesome for me to talk about.

So, there we have it. If I ever bump into the Geordie duo, I’m going to blame them for doing this to my phone…

I’m sure theyll understand…

My left foot…

Right, now that I’ve finally got London written up and out of the way, I thought I’d give you an update on what’s been happening in the 4-ish months since I left our glorious capital city behind, as I thought I’d better explain, once and for all what’s happened, and been happening with my beloved left foot.

My left foot has been attached to my left leg for as long as I can remember. We’ve been through thick and thin socks for all of this time. From tiny little boottees, through slippers that were shaped like Homer Simpson, to my now trademark Karrimor walking boots, of which I’ve had about 6 pairs in the last 6 years.

By continuing to read past this point you agree that I’m a complete buffoon, for you see, I’ve had an ulcer on the sole of my foot since May last year. I am aware that I’m a complete idiot. It should have been taken care of sooner. You also agree not to chastise me on the subject. I’ve done enough of that to myself over the past 15 months or so, because that’s when it started.

Let’s go back to May 2016. It was a mice, warm Spring day. I’d arranged a walk with old friend Gary, to Keilder reservoir. I’ll include a photo of some little quacky ducks here, which I took on that particular day, because I don’t particularly want a photo of my foot being the thumbnail….

Right, on with our scheduled programming. After getting back from Keilder, I noticed my foot had a big old blister on it…

At some point that night, I stood wrongly on something and accidentally popped it. What an idiot. I’d accidentally popped blisters before, and they’ve just gone normally, so I never thought anything of it. the next day, something felt different. It was hurting more than before, and it seemed to be on the bottom of my foot. I conferred with Doctor Dad, who said “Oh, it’s nothing”, even though I jumped up in pain when he unexpectedly prodded it while looking at it.

A few weeks went by, and it still wasn’t getting any better. The issue had moved to the bottom of my foot, near the big toe, and a hole was starting to form. Most people would have been running… well, hopping to the doctors at that point, and I did indeed go. They put me on something like “Flucoxicillin” – (spelt incorrectly), and I’d go back if it got worse.

On the day before I went to Carlisle last year, it appeared to be no better, and in fact, did get worse. I’ll not go into the graphic details in this post, as I already talked about them here.

Regular followers know about my medical history, and things going wrong with the feet, especially, gaping, stinky, weeping holes, are something to take seriously. I began to think the worst. If I went to the doctors, they’d just get the saw out there and then, and get rid of it. I started thinking about what life would be like with no foot.

Admittedly, as much as I put up with it, it didn’t *really* affect me. Yeah, some days I’d be in agony with it, and some days, I’d be walking just fine. The only inconvenience was the discharge coming out, and how to dispose of it. Each night came the ritual of washing my left sock, and finding an old t-shirt or newspaper to shove inside my shoe to dry it up.

This went on for over a year. I knew, at some point, my life would have to go on hold because of it, and I knew the London trip was coming up. I certainly didn’t want to take any time off work sick, but I said to myself, after the London trip, I’d get it sorted.

Now, I’m sure you’ve all read the London trip posts now, andprobably thought I was just being a little whingy bitch about my foot. Far from it. I literally couldn’t walk, but this time it was the RIGHT foot that I’d manage to damage… This was my right foot after London.

Oh yes. It was that bad. Raw as hell. Ignore the little black bits, these were new socks, and that was sticky. Some of you may think I’d have just ignored it like I did my other foot. Er, no. This time I went straight round to the emergency thing at the hospital. They dressed it for me, and an appointment was made with a nurse at my local practise to have the dressing changed a couple of days later.

I attended the doctors as advised, and while I was there, I somehow plucked up the courage to say “While you’re there, could you take a look at this?” Bang. Two-week sicknote. Exactly what I didn’t want, but hell, I’d plucked up the courage to show this to someone. A swab was taken, and an appointment with the podiatry was requested. A swab was taken of my left foot, and another course of the Flucoxicillin (or whatever it was called) was given. A week later, nothing back from the podiatry, but the swab results showed that those previous tablets (I’m not typing that again) were no good, and I was put on other antibiotics, with the longest name I’ve ever seen on anything ever. Even that welsh village.

I haven’t actually posted any photos of the wound yet… and, as I know not everyone wants to see them, I’ll link to them instead of putting them inline. This photo was taken back in September. I don’t have any photos (which I know of) before the treatment started.

Eventually, five weeks passed, and finally, after constant badgering from the fantastic nurse at my local practice, I finally got round to seeing the podiatrist. A couple of weeks of patching it up and hoping it would shrink later, I was off to the “high risk” podiatry (well, that’s what it says on the door anyway)

This is where things started to improve dramatically. I was sent straight away for an x-ray, blood test, another swab was taken of my foot, another course of Flucoxicillin was goiven, and I got presented with my now infamous “moon-boot”. It’s one of those surgical boot things where parts of the internal sole can be removed to ease pressure on certain parts of the foot.

It was ANOTHER five weeks until I got the results of the X-ray back, and thankfully, there was no infection. The only thing now is that the wound is “granulating”, which is where the skin is trying to heal over, but it’s not able to do so because of the size.

I took this photo while in the hospital a couple of weeks ago, and thankfully there’s clear improvement. The road to recovery has been a long, boring one. I’m still under the care of the podiatry for now. I’m going twice a week, so they can change the dressing, and administer cream to it (I really should learn all of these medications, they’d make great passwords).

If there’s one thing to take out of all of this, if I think anything’s wrong in the future, I won’t be leaving it for a year, and if one person reading this takes the same advice and gets something looked at before it gets more serious, than the past 18 months have been worth it.

But one more thing, more than anything, in the entirety of all of this, I just want to get this dressing off permanently so I can have a bloody bath again…

London, Day 3… ouch!

I bet you thought this was never going to come. The final part of the London trip, or what I can remember of it, because after all, this was three months ago now…

The final day was upon us quicker than what you could say “Soft, supple, Hartlepudlian feet”. Day 3 was to tie up the loose ends of the places we hadn’t been to, and places we’d want to revisit. Of course, we had to vacate the room by a certain time (10AM), and the train back from King’s Cross wasn’t until 8PM. Thankfully, the hotel, again, let us leave our bags there until we were ready to pick them up.

We left the hotel behind, and headed to King’s Cross tube station. A place we were now very familiar with. The first stop was Greenwich, most notably the O2. The plan was to go there and see if anything had changed since we last visited, and then head off to Greenwich town centre to see what was there. It was before 11 at this point, so there wasn’t really anything open at the O2. One thing I did remember from our last visit several years ago were strange circular LED advertising hoardings. They were basically one row of LEDs spinning at such a speed that they’d give the effect of going all the way round. Slight problem was, they were getting old now, and the LEDs were certainly past their best.

the greatest thing for me, however, was an advertising display made entirely of old media, such as videotapes, records audio tapes and CDs. I spent most of the time looking at this, slightly gutted that a large amound of perfectly good records had been entombed in this display, and would never be played again. For your viewing pleasure are photos of this hoarding, and you too can see if you can see a classic in there. You can, of course, click the images to get a full-size verison. There’s 9 of them, so you might have to scroll if you’re not interested. Sorry, not sorry.










I’ve already spotted “Bridge of Spies” by T’Pau, which is possibly my favourite album of all time, also “Something Else” by Inspiral Carpets, which features the words “Binsy Smith Meets Monobrow” on the spine.. nope, me neither, but I do know is, apart from an obscure Google Books entry, that previous line the only mention of those words anywhere on the internet. Cor, eh?

So, the plan was to head to Greenwich Village to see what was there. Despite our complete failure with the DLR, were to try our luck again, as apparently there isn;t a tube stop there.

We headed to Canary Wharf. A place that had changed immensely since I’d first visited in 2003. It was no longer the dominant sight on the capital skyline, other buildings had taken that mantle many hears ago. Still, the DLR station was still there. Accomplice had reliably informed me of where we were going to depart, and the train went in completely the wrong direction. Whoops.

Still ,all was not lost, as no matter where you go in London, you’re going to end up close to some attraction, and where we ended up was Cannon Street, just a short walk fromThe Great Fire of London monument.

If my feet weren’t on fire by this point, I still think it’d have been a bit pointless climbing it. The buildings nearby simply dWarfed it. Twenty years ago, it’ll have been something worth climbing, like the Scott Monument in Edinburgh, but when they charge you to stare into someone’s office window, I’ll give that bit a miss.

It was coming up to lunchtime by this point. I needed to knock some Glucophage down my neck, and Accomplice was in full agreement that food needed to be taken on board. I don’t think I mentioned how much the menu at the Brewdog in Camden appealed to both of us. I seem to remember it was on the same underground line we were currently near, so, despite the fact I’ve never seen a bee fly in a straight line, we made a beeline for Camden, and the Brewdog establishment. We arrived there at a little before 12PM, as we knew that was when Brewdog was going to open.

CEX, no matter where you are, are exactly the same. Sometimes you’ll get different stock. Sometimes they’ll sell CDs, sometimes they won’t. Most of the time there’ll be shelves marked with yellow headers full of DVD. This was the latter. All of them seem to have a simple price bracket, and that’s “ridiculous”. Everything I’ve bought from a CEX has been either ridiculously expensive, or ridiculously cheap. As this particular store didn’t have a music section, it was of no interest to me, and I left empty handed.

So, with CEX taken care of, we went for some lunch. Accomplice had been drooling at the thought of a Brewdog burger, and I had my mind set on a nice, big plate of chips. Last of the exotic eaters, eh? I can safely say neither of us were disappointed (except for the price, obviously, as they were pretty extortionate). My chips were really nice, and there’s no exaggeration in saying that Accomplice’s burger was about half a foot tall. While we were in there, we paid close attention to a van that had been stopped by the police, and was being thoroughly looked at. A little part of me was expecting the side panel of a Mercedes Sprinter to be blasted through the window, but thankfully this didn’t happen.

After about two hours, we finally left Brewdog. Unfortunately, sitting for that amount of time didn’t do my feet or legs any good, this was the part of the day when I really started to suffer. While we were in Camden, we went our separate was for a small amount of time. Accomplice had a comic shop to attend, and I had a record shop. I ended up buying 6 singles. None of which were pretty exciting. I just felt like I had to buy something while I was there.

On the subject of comics and comic based goodness, Accomplice was aware of a large Forbidden Planet store, somewhere in Covent Garden, so this was to be our next stop, and really, the last planned stop of our adventures. After going through the back alleys of London, eventually, we ignored Google Maps, and just headed onto the street, and there it was, right in front of us. And there was a seat, thankfully, so I could rest my throbbing hooves.

Unfortunately, the GPS recording goes a little haywire for a time after this, but I distincly recall wanting to go to “The Elephant and Castle”. I didn’t really know what was there except for a shopping centre, and seeing how well our last visit to a shopping centre went on the previous day, I was hoping it was a bit more touristy. All aboard the underground, then, and onto what must have possibly been the oldest train still in service. The illusion that we were heading out of the touristy part of the city was heightened with every flash of the train’s internal lights, leaving us in moments of complete darkness. I expected to hear a woman scram and then find a dead body on the floor, like some Agatha Christie novel.

We alighted the train, and walked up something like 100 steps (117 and 11 depending on which way you’re going, thank you Wikipedia). There are lifts, but Accomplice has a fear of them, so we took the pedestrianised route. Yeah, I could have got the lift up, but I really didn’t feel like getting separated, especially with zero mobile signal XXX metres underground.

We reached the surface, and it was quite clear we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Maybe 3AM on a Thursday afternoon was not the best time to catch it, but it became clear this wasn’t really any type of tourist attraction, and the view I had of it, in part thanks to Jim Davidson’s unhilarious sit-com “Up The Elephant And Round The Castle”, turned out to be completely incorrect. A quick hobble into a nearby Tesco to stock up on much needed sugar and liquid, and we were back down the hundred-and-odd steps faster than what you can say “Slow down, me feet are fucking killing me”.

So, the three days away were coming to a close. We’d exhausted the entire tube map. There was time for one last look at Marble Arch…

… and then we were off back to the hotel. Unfortunately, this involved a walk from Marble Arch to Great Portland Street. On a normal day, this would have been a piece of piss, and I wouldn’t have whinged once, but when I had two red hot balls of lava shoved into size-10 Karrimor boots, it wasn’t a pleasant journey.

One last tube ride, and then the final excruciating walk from King’s Cross to the hotel, and then from the hotel back to King’s Cross. And, with a further train ride from King’s Cross to Darlington, and then from there back to Partypool, the three days were over, but yes, my feet…

And, for those of you who haven’t had enough of the photos, the full collection is here

London, Day 2

Well, seeing as I’ve received very little / no feedback on Day 1, I can see that you’re all really enjoying reading these. Never mind, I intend to keep going, with the help of more photographs and Google Maps.

Anyway, I awoke on the 2nd day. This was to be the main day we were there, and the only full day. We had intended to visit Brick Lane market at one point during the trip. Unfortunately, due to it only being open at the weekend, it was closed, so that was off the radar. There was, however, Borough Market just a short tube ride away, somewhere near London Bridge. We got there, and it was rather “foody”.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a market that’s got a dedicated “Turnips” section. Admittedly, I did spend rather a long time debating whether I should buy a small tub of Scorpion Chilli powder, but seeing as there was no prices on anything, I decided against it. I’m one of those people who’ll take something to a counter, ask how much it is, and then begrudgingly buy it even if it’s more than what I expected to pay.

It’s probably still there on the shelf now. On the plus side, I didn’t have to carry it around all day.

Accomplice bought a “weird” bacon sandwich, and while I was tempted to buy a sausage sandwich, I didn’t…. my word, the excitement I get up to, eh? No wonder nobody is reading this bloody thing.

We walked around the nearby area, and happened to stumble upon one of the replicas of “The Golden Hinde”.

It was a short walk to London Bridge tube station, so we headed off in its general direction. As you pass under London Bridge, there’s a tannoy that plays a creepy music-box rendition of “London Bridge Is Falling Down”. That’s rather worrisome, especially as you’re going under it as the time. No matter though, as I’m sure it’s built with far more sturdy materials than when that particular tune was written. It’s an old folk tune anyway, so it was probably written about polio anyway.

One of the sights I wanted to see while I was in London was the Olympic Park, in Stratford. It sort-of fitted with the other things we were going to see that day anyway (or so we thought), so we headed off in that general direction.

It seemed we were going out of the more popular area of London, as the tube carriage emptied further and further we went along the line. This had me feeling already that there wasn’t going to be too much there.

Well. After getting out of the tube station, you’re greeted with a shopping centre. Nothing much wrong with that, but it just feels a bit like “You’ve come all this way to see something. Great! Now spend some money!” And, spend I did! I bought myself a sausage roll from Greggs (yes, they have them down there too) and a bottle of wahter. And the sausage roll was *terrible*.

It was a short walk to the Olympic park from the shopping centre. Well, it would have been had we gone the right way, but instead we ended up walking around the not-very-decorative loading bays for the shopping centre. Oops.

Onto the stadium itself. The words “underwhelming” spring to mind. Maybe it was because they changed the shape of it since it was used for the Olympic Games, but I was expecting something much grander.

The athletics championships had just finished a couple of days prior to us going, and there were still traces of the signage left standing. Unfortunately, as the stadium had begun the transformation from an athletics track into a football stadium (which has to be done manually, and takes 15 days), nost of it was fenced off. There were still signs up for the athletics though, including a sighting of my new second-favourite fictional hedgehog, “Hero”…

After that, we were “Gone, Gone, Gone!” Next stop would be Abbey Road. It was a mere couple of stops on the DLR…. or WAS it?

Judging by the presence of that sentence, you’d be right in thinking it isn’t. At least, not the famous one, anyway.

We got off at the appropriate DLR station named “Abbey Road”, and made our way to the bridge that leads out on the road, only to be presented with a sign filled with really crap Beatles puns, something along the lines of “Are you looking for the Beatles’ Abbey Road and are in need of a little Help!? Well, you’ll need to get a Ticket To Ride to “another station”.

Accomplice had pretty much given up on the idea of seeing it. I clearly hadn’t. Therefore, we travelled the 34 minutes on the tube, followed by about another 10 minute walk, just to see a zebra crossing. And it’s not even the original zebra crossing, which was a little further up the road. But nothing stands in the way of a good photo opportunity.

OK, it’s entirely the wrong angle, but I wasn’t going to get Accomplice to stand in the middle of road and hold up traffic. I’d have known what the response would have been.

So, the whole premise of going here and seeing the non-touristy sights were going really well. There was one place I wanted to go that even the hardened tourist wouldn’t have thought of.

Part of my job involves entering data about London streets from emails into a database. It’s all very old fashioned, and something that could be automated very easily, but because of this, I became aware of a street called Chandos Place, upon which stands a Nandos. Therefore, we headed there andhad Nandos in Chandos. I wonder how many other people have done the following just for that very reason. Yeah, probably nobody.

As we were still in an “upmarket” part of London (Covent Garden, to be exact), it seemed only right to go and do something even more upmarket. It was time to take my very first trip to Harrods. After all, I’m sure I’d fit in, with my purple Slazenger polo shirt and Sports Direct walking boots. I’m sure it was the type of clientele the shop regularly does business with. Mind you, nobody in their right frame of mind actually buys anything from there. I mean, £1.80 for a bottle of coke? Come on, I’m sure there was a Tesco Express around the corner.

I bet you didn’t know that the carrier bags for Harrods used to be made in Hartlepool? I don’t know if they’re still are, but I always remember going to infants school with my PE kit in a Harrods carrier bag. My nanna worked for the company that made them. Obviously, I didn’t get the significance at the time, but I’m sure it’d raise a few smiles these days, wandering around this lovely little fishing village with a Harrods bag.

I was considering buying a music system, but even if I put together all of the money I have ever earned from all of my jobs, and not spent anything else ever, I’d probably still not come close on buying this…

It was at this point my Nandos started moving, and I thought it’d be a nice little thing to say I’ve had a cack in Harrods. If you’re a bloke, don’t bother. There’s bogs on every floor for women, and one bog in the entire place for blokes, and there was a queue a mile long. There’s one thing I absolutely detest in life, and that’s following someone into a cubicle It’s happened too often where I’ve dropped an absolute panblocker, and someone’s went in straight after me. One day, I know the tables are gonna turn, but not this time. I kept hold of it until we found somewhere else.

And that somewhere else was apparently “the only pub on Sloane Street”, known as The Gloucester. Finding the bogs was like playing something in The Crystal Maze (which has returned to our TV screens! Hurrah!) – go up some stairs, through the doors, disable the laser, though some other doors, etc. While we were in there, I also had a pint of “Camden Pale Ale”, which was a nice smooth pint. I have blocked the price of this from my mind. Accomplice would watch out of the window as the shiny and expensive cars would go by, and comment on each of them. I would simply nod politely and pretend I knew what was being said. I didn’t have a clue. When it comes to cars, you might as well speak Swahili to me.

We downed the pints and emerged once more into the setting sun. Apparently, we walked up Knightsbridge, Kensington Road, then onto Exhibition Road. Lots of large colleges around there. Walking around there made me feel like I was back in Berlin or Vienna. It certainly didn’t feel like London.

Another quick ride on the tube took us to Victoria. A station I believe I last frequented in 2003. We walked down Victoria Street. Another street lined with modern buildings and shops, and of course, some not-so-new buildings. It was, at this point, it became clear that all of my hopes of doing the non-touristy stuff came to an abrupt halt, as unbeknownst to me, the road led to the Houses of Parliament, and of course, Elizabeth Tower, a.k.a. Big Ben.

It was a mere five days before the big bell would stop sounding for four years, so I suppose it was nice to be one of the last to hear it in action one last time.

We made our way across Westminster Bridge, and headed down the river towards London Bridge, taking in the sights, stopping off for the odd sit-down along the way…

I’d avoided any type of curry, so I don’t know how that possibly could have happened.

As we were walking, something became apparent. My feet weren’t holding up as well as I thought they were going to. I’d pretty much avoided the problems with my left foot (more on that later, probably in the next part), but instead I was having problems with my right foot…

And, right on cue, just as we’d passed the ITV studios (home to none other than ITV’s “This Morning”, as you can clearly see), I felt a massive blister go. Oh, this didn’t feel like it was going to be good.

I struggled on, desperate for a sit down somewhere, but we kept on, and eventually made it back to London Bridge. It was about 9PM at the point, but that music-box thing I mentioned earlier was STILL playing. Creepy.

It was still relatively early, and we’d made plans to go somewhere and catch something to eat, but my feet decided not to play ball, so we headed back, calling in at McDonalds on the way, as it was just a short journey from the hotel. My word, if you know Hartlepool, you’ll know you always get your flurry of harmless chavs hanging around. It’s warm, it’s dry and it has free Wi-Fi. What’s not for chavs to love? Well, in London, it’s like that, but the chavs seem a little more… sinister, like if you look at them the wrong way, they’d stab you. I felt like the guy sat next to me was going to jump me, or something. Then a guy sat next to me, carrying a Primark bag, having a full-on conversation to himself.

“Right, that’s it, we’re going”…

We arrived back at the hotel at approximately 9:30. I nipped downstairs to the hotel bar to see what it was like. Not very good to be fair. One lager of dubious origin on draught, and a price tag around the £4.50 mark. I managed to have one before they ran out. I then had a 330ml bottle of Stella and paid about the same. If I’d have thought, I could have nipped to the pub across the road. Though if I thought @the Maccy D’s was rough, I dread to think how rough that pub might have been, especially on my own and with a Northern accent. Yeah, best to stay in the safety of the hotel I reckon.

As I was unwilling to mortage Mercury Towers for another small beverage, I headed back to the room in preparation for the 3rd and final day in the Capital…