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…

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?

It’s “snow joke”

Finally, after many months of stalling, winter has finally fallen on the great citizens of Hartlepool, England. A quick glance from the towering ramparts of Mercuryvapour Towers, shows a rather deep dusting of snow, which has now been falling for a good couple of hours now. As usual, I shall enjoy this rather wintry and chilly scene before it inevitably turns to sheet ice, and my daily trip to the offy becomes more trecherous than a well-buttered ice rink….

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Well, I promised to keep this up to date during my period of unemployment. There’s been some good news. I’m not dying. Yeah, you know all this shit that’s been happening with the doctors over the past year or so? The 24-hour blood pressure report showed that my blood pressure is actually within the acceptable range, and that it was likely caused by “idiomatic hypertension”, which literally means, and I shit you not, your blood pressure goes up when you’re in the presence of a doctor.

LOL.

Won’t go into specifics, but that part amused me somewhat. What also amused me is the fact that they also picked up on that bladder infection I had. Of course, putting that in the letter is academic, as it’s since flared up, and as far as I’m concerned, gone. I’ve got to pick up the official results from the doctors, but it’s a bit more rosy than it was 6 months ago.

A more “fuller” update some time in the near future…

Xmas – The aftermath

Firstly, let me start off by apologising to the people who I normally speak to on Xmas day. Unfortunately, this year, I’ve been mega-ill with some type of chesty-flu type thing. Gah.

I woke up on Xmas day on,y to find that someone had sneaked into Mercuryvapour Towers during the night, and poured molten lava directly into my trachea, which means when I finally woke up, I had a pair of lungs that were on fire with every breath. Well, that is, if I could get a decent breath in between the coughing.

So, the whole day was spent, moping around the house, feling sorry for myself. There were good parts to it, however. As Daddykins was having dinner somewhere else, he got me a lovely piece of pork, which I demolished. I didn’t watch much telly, just caught up on a few things, and by something like 10PM, I was in bed, after only managing 1 can of lager. I must have been ill.

I fell asleep, knowing that things were only going to get worse. Indeed it did. I remember some pretty crazy dreams ‘n’ shit

I awoke, still coughing like a maniac, but this time part of my inner ear had been removed, as I could barely stand up straight. Everything hurt. I went for a piss. The afore-mentioned lava had now made its way out of my lungs, and was being drained out of my bladder.

Literally, the entire day was spent on the couch, drifting in and out of sleep, with only the coughing keeping me awake. The highlight of the day was the epic tea Daddykins cooked, which included his first liberal use of cayenne pepper. Delicious!

It’s now 3:25AM on the morning after Boxing day. Dare I say I’m feeling a bit better? Every so often though, I know my lungs are going to collapse into spasms, and I’m going to be rolling around the floor, coughing them up…

The eye op

(originally posted to comp.sys.sinclair, and tidied up for on here :)

WOOOOHHHOOOOOO! aye, aye… I’m back… but only for a short time! I’ve had my operation, and I’m well on the road to recovery! The worst bit is currently getting my brain calibrated to have two working eyes! I’m seeing double of everything, and it’s too painful to focus… still, anyway, I might as well do a rundown of Tuesday…

10 AM

Arrive at the Sunderland Eye Infirmary, with Chris, a mate of mine that offered to tag along. Played pool on the wobbliest pool table I’ve ever seen in my life. Not nervous at all.

11 AM

The nurse came to give me my little arm strap thing… I laughably ask if that’s for when they carry me down the morgue… :) Obviously, still not nervous.

12 PM

Things finally start happening… I get seen by a nurse who checks my breathing, heartbeat + blood pressure. All healthy. Cool. Nervous??? Nope… I then got changed into a pair of shorts and one of those STUPID “Hospital Use Only” gown things. And could I hell fasten it.

Chatted with Chris for ages while getting seen by various people. The anesthetist came, and explained that I’ll be getting a little prick in my hand (f’narrrr!). Nervousness scale? 0.

1 PM

The guy who was going to do my operation then came to see me, and explained that there was a cancellation, and I’d be moved up the list. Still not nervous. Chatted and joked about the state of the useless hospital gown, and the fact everybody could see the hair on my chest.

2 PM

There was a phonecall at the nurse’s desk… “Jamie? Yeah, he can walk down to theatre”… joked to Chris about what play I was going to see.

2.05 PM

Started off walking down to the theatre with the nurse. I’ve never felt so weird in my life. Obviously, Chris could only go so far before it was no access. Strangely enough, that’s when I got nervous.

That’s when I knew it was happening. For the first time, it hit me just what I was going to go through. Panic set in the second I saw the sight of one of those portable heart-jolt things…

At this point, one of the anaesthetic guys came out, and led me to the trolley. PANIC MODE = MAXIMUM… I somehow managed to get onto the trolley, and they lowered my head down. At this point, I REALLY started to panic. The sight of the heart monitor next to me didn’t help any, and being hooked up to it really didn’t help any… fear then became an audible bleep in my left ear. Then, it started… the anesthetist came out, and inserted one of those plastic things into my right hand, and I felt about half a pint of
blood squirt out from the vein. “Oh, how pleasant”, I thought. But if that’s all I had to worry about, things were going great. Thankfully, all I could see were the fluorescent lights on the ceiling.

And then, sleepytime came… he inserted something into my hand, which made me feel woozy, and then I had enough time to feel another whoosh of chemical enter my bloodstream before passing out.

4PM

I came around, and knew absolutely fuck all. I awoke in exactly the same position underneath the same lamps, and I didn’t even realise I’d had the op. The first thing I remember was trying to pull the plastic thing out of my hand, and someone saying something along the lines of “Don’t touch it!”. I was taken back to my bed on the same trolley, and I can still remember
the white glint of the Pepsi machine I’d bought a can out of only a day before.

I was helped back onto my bed, and there I lay. Chris returns, and I spent the next hour or two drifting in and out of consciousness. In fact, I can’t recall anything else from that time period, apart from being in a cold sweat, and feeling generally awful. My eye was, and still is, constantly watering, although this is normal.

6:35PM

A special guest appears… my dad! Thankfully, the effects of the anaesthetic were starting to wear off slightly, and I was able to sit
upright for a bit, and drink some water. I felt a whole lot better. That is, until I started to feel sick, eventually leading to my throwing up, and completely filling one of those Papier Mache kidney dishes with bright yellow, clear liquid. I felt more guilty than anything else!! It’s bad enough hearing anyone throwing up, but actually being literally inches away from it…

7PM

My dad took Chris home, it must have been a long day for him, and watching me just lying there can’t have been very thrilling for him…

Also, I couldn’t keep my eyes open for long periods, which made it worse. I thought, while my dad was away, I’d try and get some sleep. Famous last words. No sooner had he left, then about 6 people came to visit the old guy over the ward from me… oh, what fun. They didn’t stop arguing. I gave absolutely no sign that I was awake,and I was rather amused when they started talking about me :) Nothing much was said, obviously. My dad returns, and I was still drowsy and irritated by not being able to keep my eyes open….

9:30PM

The final tests came to see if I was over the anaesthetic, to see if I could eat + drink without throwing up, and pass urine. They gave me 4 slices of toast and a cup of tea… I strangely didn’t like toast until last night, but actually, I quite enjoyed it. It thankfully stayed down, and the trip to the toilet was a huge success. Woohoo, I was on my way home. They gave me some drops for my eye (which I have to put in 4 times a day) and finally removed the plastic doobrie from my hand.

10PM

I left, and my dad drove me home. The journey was particularly awful. I could still not keep my eyes open fully, and when I could, the bright amber streetlights along the A19 made things look worse… bleh. I got in, and went straight to bed.

WEDNESDAY, JUN 27TH
===================

9AM

I got up, and found that my eye had been watering all night, and most of it had dried on my nose. Urgh. I got up, and checked the post… more eBay cheques, and a Bruce Hornsby tape. I still felt grotty. I got my first look at my eye… ewww…. that’s all I’ll say. :) The first couple of hours were a learning experience… getting my eyes to synchronise. Weirdness abounds. I decided to switch on something totally unstimulating. Wimbledon first, and then the Teletubbies. Ahem.

11AM

I decided to give my eye its first trip out, and my stomach its first half decent meal for two days, as I went down the chippy. I thankfully made it there and back, and the chips were lovely.

1PM

I slept on the sofa while listening to Wimbledon again.

4PM

My dad returned home from work… there was very little to do, so I watched telly.

6:30PM

After watching a hilarious Simpsons (which I hadn’t actually seen), I decided I’d seen enough telly, and it was time to test my eyes on the computer. surprisingly (to me anyway), I still feel comfortable using it, although my brain gets occasionally confused, and I start typing on the wrong part of the keyboard… eeep!

And… erm, that’s it! I’m onto line #171 here, and I’ve probably all bored you to death :) Like I said, I’ll be quiet for the next week or two, at least until I can focus properly without having a searing pain shooting through the right side of my head… :)