• Seconds From Disaster

    I haven’t made a post on here since 15/02/11, a smidgen over two years ago. A bit silly really, considering I pay roughly £3.30 a month to keep this running, as I am what is known as a “pro” subscriber to this little endeavour. That said, I have used the substantial media web space offered to me (as part of the deal) to upload pictures to imbed into my various E-Bay sales. It’s a positive, and I will cling to this for dear life.

    What has prompted me to actually write a posting is a rather unsavoury incident that occurred yesterday evening. The plan had been to finish work and then go to the supermarket, however there was a radical overhaul of this plan upon arriving home (we couldn’t be bothered) and we decided to order up a pizza. A pizza from the proprietor known as Papa John, good old Pops.

    What made this plan all the more marvellous was what I discovered when I ran the customary search for on-line vouchers. Tesco, you see, are offering to convert any of their vouchers to Papa John vouchers, and it just so happens that we had a £5 Tesco Club Card Voucher awaiting use. There were two lovely things about this:

    1. The offer was to convert a £5 Tesco to a £20 Papa
    2. I’ve rather gone off Tesco of late, it is poorly stocked and over-priced. So this Papa conversion was ideal as it meant I didn’t have to visit the local store

    So, we ordered a large pizza to share with chicken dipper sides and a cookie thing for afters. I ate this whilst watching the football, but that is not what’s important right now. Afterwards I thought I’d give Dexter a walk, help my dinner go down and also give the poor mite an outing. What good intensions these are.

    I set off, all being well. But then, a sudden and very serious urge to use the toilet (for a number two) consumed me. I was doing a lap of the block and was about half way round, bloody typical – equidistant from the toilet forwards and backwards, drat! I started marching myself at an urgent pace right away.

    The need became so strong that I had to start running on tip toes quite carefully, as the feeling of bounding onto the pavement in the normal manner was only worsening my plight. I couldn’t understand how this sensation could suddenly become so overwhelming, a mere moment ago this simply had not been on the cards whatsoever.

    Every step closer to home felt like a mini victory, but I was having to concentrate so hard on controlling my innards that I was breathing quite irregularly and had a real awkward grimace pasted onto my face. God knows what the one and only passer-by thought as I cantered by utilizing such a bizarre gait with a look of pure concentrated horror on my face.

    As I approached home I undid my coat and made sure I had the right key selected, prepping myself for a swift entrance. As soon as I was in I released Dexter, threw off my coat and tried to sprint up stairs. Unfortunately I had to go much slower than I wanted as striding up the stairs quickly was forcing the situation to a head. When my arse eventually hit the toilet seat I was practically going already. What a fucking ordeal.

    So, that’s what you get for taking your little dog out for a well-deserved walk, is it? Thank you very fucking much!

    Anyway, I shall make a bit of an effort to start rambling on here a bit more. I have indeed been racking my brains trying to think what the hell I was doing in 2011, it is actually quite difficult.

  • Petrol Pathos

    Something previously unthinkable happened to me yesterday, a first in all my 31 years on earth. I ran out of petrol, who'd have thunk it?

    It occurred on my way home from work at around 5.45pm GMT. I was making hay along the Pendleton Road, when the Almera started a stuttering and a fluttering. I did think this rather odd and had an opportunity to pull over into a bus stop but decided to carry on. I back this decision up, and will stand by it, given I've never run out of petrol before. You do see don't you?

    Map of incident

    The Almera ran dry about 50 meters on from the bus stop and I managed to, rather stupidly, get half way up onto a grassy knoll leaving the back end of the conveyance jutting out into the road. Fucking proper inconvenient, pardon me French. Here be a view of said knoll, it's where the pavement stops and the grass starts, I banked right up:

    The scene of the crime

    Well, this was a conundrum to be sure. I sat with the hand brake on and shoved on the trusty old hazard warnings. What a treat. I had an attempt to push manually further up the verge but it was just futile. It was also pissing me of royally that the traffic was at times relentless, affording me no opportunity to open the driver's door and have a welly at it.

    The next logical step was to ring Tash and send some urgent instructions down the line. Thankfully we have a petrol can in the shed, which I asked Tash to: locate, transport to the local Texas Tea Stop and fill with unleaded napalm. All I could now do was to sit and wait, oh yeah and then my phone battery ran out.

    I was very lucky that James Gasson, on his merry way home from work, spotted me and came to my aid. In-between the bursts of traffic we managed to push the beast off the knoll and onto the pavement; so that the back end wasn't jutting out just waiting to be walloped by some inconsiderate cunt. I must extend my deepest thanks to James on this one, top man. He also lent me a go of his phone so I could check Tash had indeed located the petrol can.

    I was literally shitting myself that the police were going to pass and get involved as I shouldn't really be driving it, got a nail in one of the tyres. Not strictly legal that mate. You can see how deflated it is in the below image I captured only this morning, it's also missing that little thing that covers the air valve:

    It's got a nail in it

    My other concern was that I knew we don't have a funnel for the petrol can, so I spent my time rooting around for something to fashion one from. The most suitable funnel material I had was a leaflet from The Eden Project that had been left in the car:

    The leaflet - my saviour

    I took it outside, rolled it into a tube and tried to force it into the fuel tank. Unfortunately the tube lacked the innate structural integrity to force past the little metal flap that your usual nozzle, at the petrol pump, brushes past like a hot knife through butter. Here be the metal flap:

    Petrol Hole

    A problem had been presented to me, so I went rooting trough the various articles within the car and found this:

    The strange rod hook

    Perfecto! This thing when coupled with the leaflet provided me with a viable workaround to my problem. This is what the bungled funnel looked like:

    Rolled up Eden Project leaflet acts as a funnel

    Tash arrived very shortly after I'd come up with my funnel workaround and furnished me with the petrol. I was very careful to pour in slowly and the petrol was absolutely freezing against my bare fingers; I was quite numb by the time I'd poured my last drop. With the fuel tank now stocked, I crossed my fingers that the battery hadn't run flat in the meantime.

    After two attempts she fired up a treat and I was off, the end of a pretty harrowing experience. The below picture shows the motley tools of my trade last night:

    The tools of the trade

    Suffice to say I cycled in today.

  • Haphazard Placement Of Fingers

    Had a cursory moment, oh, a good few months back now. It all started innocently enough. Tash and I had a couple of oven ready curries in the oven and we decided that it might be nice to have a few of those things, you know? Popadoms. Neither of us had any readies so I drove down to the BP garage to facilitate the HSBC cash point in the side of the shop. As usual the place was a veritable Lancashire Hotpot of cars and people, so I had to park up a little bit away from the cash dispensing machine.

    As the curries were almost ready I was in somewhat of a rush. So, as soon as I was parked I jumped out of my seat, out of the car, and as I shut the door the tip of my left index finger got caught and was squashed like a tomato. It was akin to a Mr. Kipling cake of pain and started bleeding quite profusely. I then looked up only to discover the cash machine had a piece of white A4, sticky taped to it, with "out of order" written on it. I got in the car and hit the door with my good hand. I was annoyed at myself for being so stupid with my left index and the whole arrangement with that stupid BP petrol station. I then drove straight home extremely annoyed.

    This wasn't the first time this year I'd mashed a finger in the car door, which made it all the more frustrating. The first incident was even worse and happened, you've guessed it, at that cursed BP petroleum patch. Tash was driving and our intention was to stop off to get some cash from that fucking useless cash point located at said station. Our plan was to go to a pub in Bletchingly and have some dinner. I got out of the car and managed to slam the door right on the tip of my right index finger (this time right, last time left). It got caught in the locking mechanism and I suppose I can count my lucky stars that it wasn't severed off. There was a sizable flap of skin and it looked critical as well as hurting like billy-o. I got back in the car and announced that I needed to go home immediately.

    My remedy in both cases was to bandage the injury, hold my hand up on high and pump myself full of pain killers. On the earlier, more severe, occasion my sleep suffered as I couldn't easily prevent my damaged digit getting knocked. Plus, it hurt so much it made me feel decidedly nauseous and, well, quite queasy dear boy. It took a while to heal, I can tell you.

  • Crantock

    In July a merry little group of us went down to Crantock in Cornwall for a week's holiday.

    I've drawn up a list of formal headings in the construction of this post, please.

    The Pack & Drive

    We left the day after my sister's wedding on Sunday morning. We'd stayed over at my parents, so the first task was to have some breakfast and the second task was to drive home and pack. The packing took a lot longer than I had anticipated.

    We did take a lot of stuff down with us including: a 32 inch flat screen television with its stand, stereo and speakers, duvet and pillows, alcohol, Dexter and three suit cases. The Almera was choc full and no mistake.

    Chris, of Monty Christo fame, drove up with Ging and I drove up with Tash & Ben. Chris also transported a hefty wedge of stuff including: body boards and a barbeque. The drive down was pleasant enough, the route taken was thus: M25 followed by M3, trumped by A303 and a final jaunt on the A30. There was one worrying moment when Tash almost convinced me were going the wrong way, when we were going the right way. Other than that it was a fine drive down by anyone's standards.

    Redhill to Crantock

    Kareena

    We stayed in a house called Kareena at the end of a road to the beach, I have inserted a picture below. It's a run down old place with heaps of character, see. Downstairs we had a bedroom stroke study, a dining room, kitchen, larder, bathroom, toilet, sitting room and a conservatory type area. Upstairs was bedroom bedlam with five bedrooms steeling the show.

    Kareena

    The house was pretty much as near to the beach as you could get, it was a five minute walk through some dunes to the beach. Here is the view:

    Crantock Beach

    In the other direction it was a five minute walk to the hub of Crantock that is Londis, the tea rooms and the pubs.

    The Pizza debarkle

    On arrival we didn't have much food in and what with it being a Sunday, everything was closed. So, we decided to try and order some pizza to be delivered. We spent some silly amount of time like four hours attempting this task, in the end it was just a farce and I couldn't stop laughing. On the one hand you had all the orders constantly changing and Ben insisting his came without tomato, and on the other hand you had the fact that all we had was an out of date yellow pages to consult.

    A lot of time was spent trying to obtain a mobile signal so Ben could go on the internet to find relevant information, this was however sporadic. Whenever a signal was obtained it was met with great excitement. We even tried putting the phone inside an empty tube of Pringles to boost the signal. Tash had also cracked open the Rose we'd brought with us and this didn't help matters. In the end we did ring several places to no avail and eventually found out that Dominos in Newquay was being refurbished and was due to open on the Monday. Most inconvenient I'm sure you'll agree.

    So, we walked into Crantock to see if we could get any food which was just folly. Chris, Tash and I went back to the house and Chris concocted some chicken and bacon in pita bread for us, the only ingredients at our disposal. I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. Ben & Ging went to the pub and took Dexter with them, he was a real ice breaker, apparently, with people only too keen to come and say hello to the wee scamp, aka Wagglepuss, aka Little Nipper (aka Teddy Ruxspin).

    The Cornishman & The Old Albion

    There are two pubs in Crantock, pictured below. The Cornishman and The Old Albion, I went in both and my hands down favorite was The Cornishman.

    The CornishmanOld Albion

    Both pubs were more than happy to accept dogs, which was nice. One time, I tethered Dexter to the picnic table in the garden and went to order a round. The next thing I know he's at my feet having chomped through his lead. I've since purchased a lead constructed of metal links (a chain, yeah) and will be using this for future tethering.

    I drank cider in The Cornishman, Weston's Stowford Press, and we ate there a couple of times; cheesy chips for me.

    Crantock Beach Cafe

    There is a fucking amazing cafe down at the beach car park in Crantock. We went there on several occasions and I'd encourage all and sundry to visit. The breakfast was especially vital and they did good plain sausages, you could get a full on fry up or a breakfast bap. The chef was a bloody good bloke to boot. The burgers were good too, but remember they only serve chips between 5 pm and 8 pm.

    Healey's Cyder Farm (aka The Cornish Cyder Farm)

    A trip out to get some cyder was definitely a must for me. Eventually, after sifting through a wad of leaflets in the sitting room, we settled on Healey's Cider Farm. There were some very odd attractions in amongst the leaflets including some sort of mackerel farm museum thing, a paperwork museum, gnome world and a tin mine. I rather foolishly agreed to drive and suffered an incredibly stressful time trying to extract directions from the passengers who only seemed to care about getting a sodding ice cream from Londis.

    Driving around Cornwall

    After around half an hour of driving we made it. I was very perturbed when I discovered, on the way back, that had I turned right, and not left, at the main road it would have taken ten minutes. Essentially a 9 mile trip had been turned into a 21 mile trip, I’ve done the math.

    We got a few crates of Rattler, which I have grown very fond of. It's a cracking drink, I only wish it was readily available in my neck of the woods. We also purchased a few of the bottles of the special stronger cyders, well you've got to haven't you? I would have classed this as a world class trip out if it wasn't for the directions malarkey, so this trip only receives an exceptional rating.

    Cornish Rattler

    Beach Combing

    One day we had a BBQ out in the garden, took the stereo outside with the extension lead I had handily brought with. We had potato waffles, so versatile. The BBQ was a luncheon affair and by late afternoon everyone except Ben and I went to bed for a nap. So, we took a couple of special cyders and went for a stroll along the sand dunes with Dexter. We ended up taking quite a trek over to the far end of the beach and then walked to the caves on the opposite end of the beach. On the journey we found:

    A small dead crab which we put inside an empty bottle
    Some snorkeling goggles
    Some old netting and assorted flotsam

    Beach Walk

    Films Watched

    We watched a fair few films during our stay, the ones I remember being: Step Brothers, Taken, The Losers, Next & The Hangover. All corkers, I'm sure you'll agree. Step Brothers is one of my all time favorites.

    Ging's Wetsuit & Surf Board Hire

    Ging was keen as mustard to hire a surf board and we rather stupidly went and hired a board from a shop in Newquay and then subsequently discovered they hire them out down where the beach cafe is. The irritating nature of this discovery was compounded by the fact that the surf board didn't fit in my car and we were forced to transport it with a dodgily secured open boot.

    Ging was also keen as mustard to get himself a wetsuit, which he readily did in Newquay. Trying on wetsuits didn't strike me as the most pleasant of activities given the awkwardness of getting one of these bastards on. You then have to parade in the shop whilst the assistant decides whether it is the right size or not. Thanks, but no thanks.

    The Eden Project, St Austell Brewery & Meverguissy

    I think this excursion took place on the Wednesday and involved a hell of a lot of driving. You see, when I go on holiday I like to relax, have some drinks, lounge about, go to the beach and just generally chill out. It is not a holiday to me if you spend half your time in a car. There are plenty of attractions and tourist type things I could do at home within a thirty mile radius, but don’t do. So, why is it when you go on holiday people feel the need to find local attractions (well I say local, Meverguissy is 30 miles away from Crantock – that’s a 60 mile round trip) and visit them? You wouldn’t do it at home, so you certainly shouldn’t be doing it on holiday. Who wants to sit in a car for hour upon hour, not I.

    Anyway, I agreed to go to the Eden Project to start with and off we set. Another disaster with directions ensued but we got there eventually… what a stinking let down. Two big green houses and that’s your lot, fucking rip off. On the plus side the ticket you get gives you entrance rights for a year, but only because they know no-one in their right mind would want to go back.

    The WEEE Man, made of disguarded appliances, is quite good – but there’s only so long you can look at a statue. We walked round it and I remember saying to the others, “where’s the rest of it?” “That’s it” came the reply. Well, I can’t tell you how annoyed I was.

    Weee ManEden Project

    On the way to the Eden Project Tash had seen some signs to a town called Meverguissy, which one of her friends had conveniently told her was really nice. I was against the idea of going as I wanted to go back but we went all the same, and via St Austell Brewery to boot.

    St Austell Brewery

    The brewery tour took a couple of hours out of the day but I quietly enjoyed it. Then it was onwards to Meverguissy.

    Mevagissey

    It’s basically a dirty little harbor with streets so narrow you can’t even hear yourself think. I would only go here if I was a fisherman and/or I was obsessed with sea food, both of which are boxes I certainly wouldn’t be ticking.

    Crantock Summer Fete

    Our holiday to Crantock coincided with the annual Crantock Fete, more’s the pity. We had a look round, I bought a bit of fudge which wasn’t very nice and, of course, bloody Kelly’s Ice Cream was consumed (not by me I’ll hasten to add). The most enjoyable bit for me was going to The Cornishman and getting stuck into the cider. They had an Irish band on as part of the fete festivities which was good. I was so smashed by the end of it I actually bought one of their CD’s. Black Velvet they’re called and my favorite on the album is “whisky in the jar”.

    I think we may have had a bit of a sing song when we got back, but don’t quote me on that.

    Newquay

    On Friday night we decided to have a night out in Newquay. I drove us there and parked on the outskirts, with the intention of going back on Saturday morning to retrieve said conveyance. We went to several night clubs, it’s bizarre like some sort of Magaluf / Falaraki / Playa de las Americas on the UK mainland.

    Later on in the evening Ben disappeared. The last I saw of him he said he was going to the toilet, he never resurfaced. It was a strange thing. We looked about for him a bit and then got a taxi back, oh must have been around 1.30 in the morning.

    On Saturday morning I got up at 8am and was just leaving, with Dexter and Tash, to go and get the car when Ben suddenly appeared: walking up the road with a Londis bag and a daily mail under his arm. He had no idea where he had been or what he’d been doing. All we know is that he had got in a taxi to Londis in Crantock and he had a lipstick stamp on his forearm. The plot thickens.

    The Jamaica Inn & Bodmin jail

    The Jamaica Inn is a grotty little dive, I wouldn’t bother giving it the time of day, if I were you. We went there on Saturday whilst Ging traversed Brown Willy, for his sins. I just thank fuck they had Rattler on tap, their one saving grace.

    Jamaica Inn

    On the way home we visited Bodmin Jail, bloody lovely. Saw the place where they used to hang the buggers and watched a film about Pierrepoint, intriguing. We would have done the tour but it was getting on a bit. You have to remember this was the day after Ben had had his little adventure in Newquay and got in at 8am. He’d had a little kip but was steadfast in his desire to visit the Jail.

    Bodmin Jail

    This is a little map I’ve constructed of all the key destinations from the holiday. I feel it demonstrates some of the lengths we went to in terms of travel. This upsets me, I never wanted to be in the car, I wanted to be in the sea:

    Cornwall - Places Visited

    Operation Tidy & Driving Home

    Sunday was our last day, it certainly bloody was. We left, but not after a thorough cleaning of the house. I for one had refused to use the bath or shower, instead choosing to cleanse myself in the sea; I’m rather an odd fellow in that I really like the feeling of salt in my hair. So, that ruled me out of giving the dirty old bath mat a good rinse out! Ha ha ha the last laugh was mine, Ging dear boy!

    However I did wash the plans including this absolutely vile thing which must have been there for months (no way we had a jot to do with it). There was some nasty residue of cheese sauce in the pan and every time I looked at it, and caught a snifter, I couldn’t help but wretch. I had to run out of the back door on several occasions in anticipation of a severe gut reaction to the grim festering bile. I did wash it, however, and the thanks heaped on me by Monty Christo spoke volumes. I had washed up the impossible.

    The drive back went well. Just the one blip at the Bracknell turning off, on the M3, when Ben and Tash were convinced Dexter needed the toilet. I turned off in search of an adequate lay-by only to discover he didn’t need the loo. Well, I can’t tell you how annoyed I was.

  • We've Hit The Motherload

    At the end of June I went to Lisbon for a nice weekend break, you know. We flew from Terminal 3 at Heathrow with BA, an early start it was; the flight was scheduled to leave at 7.40am. However, it was delayed for some reason - some shit to do with French airspace.

    The night before the flight we'd been on-line and chosen some seats right at the back of the plane, this was a terrific move, as this was as close to the beer and stewardesses as we could get. Sitting on the plane, grounded, we overheard someone ordering a vodka which was duly delivered. Well, I didn't realise you could get service before take off - a most welcome development. I'd had four beers before we'd even taken off! Marvellous.

    We arrived around mid-day and attempted to queue for a bus that looked rather squalid, in rather an unhealthy amount of people. After a several minutes of being rather bewildered by this situation we opted for a taxi instead - much better, although there was still a socking great queue. When we got to the hotel they seemingly had no record of our booking. They made us wait for ages whilst they pissed about on the phone and studied the itinerary I'd printed off from ebookers. I didn't like their attitude one bit.

    This is the card of the hotel, I've kept it:

    Avenida Park Hotel

    Once settled we went for a wander round. The Hotel was a little out of the main town but very close to a Metro stop so every thing was readily accessible. They have a quite wonderful Metro in Lisbon, one of the best. You get a card when you first buy a fare which then serves as your ticket for the remainder of your stay, you just charge it up with fares when it's empty. I'm guessing it's all done on the little magnetic strip at the top. Here's mine, I kept it:

    Lisbon Metro Ticket

    For out first outing we sauntered down to the sea and went in numerous establishments for several large beers. Super Bock is my favourite, great stuff, and Sagres isn't bad either. They know how to make good beer. Before heading back to the hotel for a freshen up we came across a very strange man, an Indian fellow who seemed to think we'd be able to get him into England. He kept claiming that he was "Verdy Gud at Cricket", as if this was excellent grounds for us to smuggle him in. Very peculiar, he also claimed to have certificates proving his cricketing ability. He didn't seem to understand that being good at cricket doesn't mean you can come and live in England just like that.

    In the evening we went out and found a few bars; later on we bought some cheese rolls from a merchant selling pre-made sandwiches, which he was transporting around in a wheelie bin. Just a your regular wheelie bin. We also found quite a good club that was playing drum & bass, I'm not sure when we got back but it was very early on Friday morning.

    We got up on Friday in the afternoon, no idea what time. Had a shower and went straight out again, had an ice cream on the Metro. I believe this was the day we went and watched Portugal play Brazil in the World Cup, in fact I think it must have been. We went to the bull ring where they had a big screen up outside the stadium playing the game and a huge crowd of people watching. Unfortunately some of these plebs were in ownership of those vuvuzela horns which was a little tiring. It ended in a draw and afterwards people on the main road decided to stop and rev their engines ridiculously, making a right royal din. Bloody stupid thing to do if you ask me.

    After the game we went to a cafe and then went back to the hotel to "freshen up". Then we hit the town again. This is a nice view, of some Super Bock kegs, that we had at a bar whilst Spain were playing Chile:

    Super Bockness

    Later on in the evening we went into the main part of the city where all the bars are - the closest thing I can relate it to is the lanes in Brighton. We met one of Ben's work compatriots and had quite a night out, Antonio and his pal Andre. It was really good, but again I have no idea how or when we got back. I think one of Ben's favourites was the next morning when I woke up at 2.30pm and my first sentence was "Have we missed breakfast?"

    On Saturday we went to Oeiras to sit on the beach, Antonio had invited us, see. I still can't pronounce Oeiras properly, it's a difficult one to pick up and amuses Portuguese people when you get it wrong. We had to get a Metro and an over ground train to Oeiras, quite a long journey. Please see for yourself:

    Oeiras - Distict of Lisbon

    We had a kick about on the beach and generally beached it up for quite a while. Afterwards we went back to Antonio's flat for a bit and he gave us a lift to the hotel so we could get changed. Then he took us out to an "all you can eat meat" restaurant. Jolly nice too. You just drink Sangria and people come up to your table with joints of meat skewered onto kebab sticks and carve some off for you. An excellent concept.

    After this Antonio dropped us off at a club called Lux and we parted ways. This really is a great club, I recommend it to all and sundry; got a roof top bar and every thing. We got the Metro back and I think it was about 5am when we got into the hotel room. I have no idea how we managed to get up for the plane and do all the packing (I was minus a pair of flip flops on arrival home) but we did. All a bit of a blur really. On the plane home I slept pretty much through and was greeted with the news Germany had beaten England 4 - 2 on landing. Fucking bastards, but did make me feel glad I had been flying and thus not able to watch the disaster unfold. I just had a swift shock rather than having to endure 90 minutes of anguish.

    I went to work on the Monday and oh how I wish I'd taken the day off. It was not good, although nothing untoward happened; I just felt like I should be in bed. Which, after all, is where I should have been.

  • There Are No Grasses In Purley

    I went to the Derby at Epsom in June, as tradition dictates I must. Oaks on Friday followed by the Derby on Saturday. To prepare for this momentous occasion I went and got myself a new cool bag and a good amount of beer, Baveria if memory serves, I also got a nice little half bottle of whisky. Friday was much the successful day of the two.

    I returned from the Oaks with a nice little wedge in my back burner. Somewhere around the £250 mark, by early Sunday morning this had all disappeared. I won the majority of this on a nag called Snow Fairy, a handy little 16/1 payout on that one. This was supplemented with various other successes, all each way seconds and thirds. After the racing we walked into Epsom and I managed to get split up and found myself on Epsom Station on the phone to Nick saying I was on my way to Sutton. His dad very kindly gave me a lift back to Redhill around midnight for which I was very grateful.

    Saturday arrived and I was a mite hung over but still raring to go. Rather than training it from Redhill and changing at Purley for Tattenham Corner (as we did on Friday) we drove to my folks and walked up to the downs from there. I didn't win a smidgen which was terribly disappointing. We decided to get the train back and whilst at Purley Station waiting for the train to Redhill I did something rather foolish.

    After handing round the half bottle of whisky to people on the platform for swigs it had been well and truly emptied. Then, for some reason I don’t know, I hurled it over the Station and it smashed somewhere with quite a clatter. Suddenly up popped two coppers demanding to know who had thrown it. I hid in the crowd and was very pleased to discover everybody just blanking the police.... there are no grasses in Purley. As they made their way through the crowd I announced: "I've got to get out of here, they're out to get me", and sloped off into Purley town alone. This was a biga mistaka to maka.

    I went into a pub for a pint and got chatting to some fella outside for a bit and then went to one of those chicken places for nuggets. Whilst there I met a bloke who I decided to share a taxi ride with to Tulse Hill. The only reason I know where I went was because I rang the bank to check where I'd been and was informed I'd made a withdrawal at a cash point in Tulse Hill - I'd never heard of it at the time and I have since discovered it's in Brixton. Nice.

    The next thing I know I'm marching myself down a road in search of Victoria Station in the rain; my last memory until I wake up on a train with no shoes or socks on outside Redhill Station. I then had to walk bare foot from Redhill to Earlswood, a very unpleasant experience. How this situation came to pass I will never know.

    All in all I'd lost my shoes, sunglasses, cool bag and spent all my winnings and then some. Well, I can't tell you how annoyed I was.

  • The Penge Triangle

    I’ve been to the races a few times this year, and this post is about one such a time. This particular trip to the nags was to Sandown Park to see a compote of flat and jump racing, known as the Bet365 Gold Cup. The day started innocently enough, a train into Waterloo and then onto Esher from there, beers in hand. Casting my mind back I think we actually made a mistake when we changed at Clapham and added 30 minutes to the journey, there was definitely some sort of mix up.

    There are plenty of touts plying their trade at the station of Esher and during the intermediate walk to the, well, stadium. Just give the mothers a wide birth, I did. Once inside it was a tad annoying, the only bear they had was Carling which, to my mind, is total gnat’s piss. What’s more the little sods charge you upward of 4 quid a pint.

    That aside, it is a proper nice place, one of the nicest grandstands in the business I’ll wager. Anyhow, I managed to go the entire meeting without one winner. There’s something afoot here, bloody dastardly. After the races we went to a couple of pubs in Esher, the mainstay being The Wheatsheaf and I think we had a beverage or two in The Bear as well.

    The BearThe Wheatsheaf

    I do recall leaving The Wheatsheaf, with company, and popping into the off licence en route to the station and getting some Strongbow. However, this was to be the last of my memory before coming round walking down a road heading (unbeknownst to me) towards Penge. Having never been to Penge before, and subsequently not having the foggiest idea where it is, I was rather alarmed when I walked into the high street and discovered Penge Station. I remember thinking to myself “Penge?”

    Sandown Penge & My House -The Map

    It was about 4am and I got some cash out in anticipation of attempting to find a taxi to take me home. I had to ask a man who was operating an all night mini mart where the taxis were, he was locked in the shop behind bars… Penge isn’t the nicest of places. He pointed them out to me and I walked over and ordered my taxi to Redhill. I did consider sleeping on a bench at the station and waiting for the trains to start but I just wanted out, I wanted to go to my domicile and sleep.

    The taxi was £40, this added to my losses on the nags made for a pretty pricey trip out, this was not, as the frogs say, “Prix Choc”. No-one seems to know how this happened. It is thought that I boarded the correct train with the others and got off at Croydon, for some reason, and just started walking. That’s it, pick a direction and go.

  • The Dog Warden Liked It

    In April we procured a domestic pet, a dog of breed Lakeland Terrier. Here he be.

    Dex 1

    Dexter 1Dexter 2

    We've called him Dexter; I thought it would be a good name for a dog. I was watching Forest play one day and when the commentator said Dexter Blackstock I just thought "that would be a good name for a dog". This is what happens and why we now have a dog called Dexter.

    His birthday is the 8th November, for some reason the people we bought him off thought it prudent to keep hold of him for 7 months before selling. I didn’t ask so I have no idea why. On the first visit to the vets for the injections the discovery was made that he had ear mites, well well well.

    I have my doubts about these charlatans we call vets, it fucking daylight robbery. From what I remember it was something silly like £70 for the first round of injections then another similar amount two weeks later for the second helping. It's a racket and no mistake.

    So anyway, he's a real little scamp. There have been a few incidents since his arrival. We took him round to my parents and he did a poo on their carpet, right by the open patio doors, and I was told "for heaven's sake Steven, house train your dog". Well, I have, he hasn’t done that in my house for some time, sorry pops.

    I think it is prudent at this juncture to continue this post in the form of a list.

    1. Last night he removed the oven glove from the cupboard door and ripped it up all over the carpet; he’s also chewed the carpet on the bottom stair and gnawed at some of the skirting board.
    2. He has been stung on his ear by a wasp.
    3. He has been lost once and been impounded.

    Dog Warden's Invoice

    4. He has been to the vet on 4 occasions now: 2 visits for injections + 1 for getting his privates in a bit of a pickle whilst humping a toy chicken + 1 for a horrible cough he developed (now resolved).
    5. I have taught him to: sit, rollover, put his paw up, beg and lie down. When he rolls over he jumps round in circles before performing the trick.
    6. He has sat on Tash’s Dad’s head.
    7. He has eaten sand.
    8. He has fallen into Earlswood Lake and Priory Park Pond.
    9. He prefers dog food from a tin to puppy kibble.
    10. Raw Hide Cigars are his all time favorite.
    11. He is pretty quiet barking wise but goes mad at the following appliances: lawn mower, hair drier, vacuum cleaner.
    12. If you’re going up the stairs and he is at the top of the stairs he will often wag his tail and jump up and down, his dance.
    13. I have never seen a dog woof down food like he does. If it is something he really likes he will literally attack the bowl, quite something.
    14. He really likes golf balls. Specifically he likes to chase them round until they go under the furniture and then scratch about trying to get them out. Then I have to retrieve them.
    15. He likes the new Robin Hood film, I think because there are a lot of horses in it.
    16. I caught him watching the Weetabix advert, he seemed to really take to it. So, I rewound it a few times just to watch his little face, he well likes it.

    I will end with this, he is getting neutered next Friday.

  • Watsu Anyone?

    I am casting my mind back now for this blog post, as I expect I will be for several posts to come actually. Anyway, I am going to attempt to recall the events of my birthday in January of this very year. As it was my 30th I thought I might do something a little, well, left of field and go abroad. So it was that Tash, Ben and I headed off to Budapest for a few nights on 2nd of January.

    One thing I do remember is that we flew with Easy Jet and it was in one of those Airbus numbers, I really thought it was very nice indeed. Most roomy and the pilot was a real gentleman, one of the best descents and landings I've experienced.

    We stayed in the Gellert which really was first rate. The best thing about it was that it had a proper thermal spa underneath it. Of course, use of this came with the room which was positively delightful. I can tell you now that there is nothing better than going into an insanely steamy steam room and then plunge pooling it up with a hangover... works wonders, miracles if you will. The tram system in Budapest is amazing. The metro is just lovely as well.

    Gellert Budapest

    Another bonus offered up by the Gellert was a quite stupendous breakfast, eggy bread daily. I gobbled it up a treat, really liked it a lot. On the day of my birthday we trammed it into the town and had a pizza followed by some of their rather distasteful local shots, very similar to Jagaermeister and called Unicum.

    unicum

    They like it as it warms you up in the cold, for it was exceptionally cold there. Oh, minus something or other, biting. Now, the Gellert is next door to a big hill with a statue thing on it, think it might be Jesus or some other such character:

    Gellert Hill - Hotel to your left, Huxley

    On one evening we ascended this hill, with a few minor issues to deal with:

    1. It was caked in ice
    2. It was dark and not well lit, not well lit at all
    3. It is ruddy steep and there is not a lot to prevent you from toppling over the precipice

    I went incredibly gingerly, as did Tash, but Ben was seemingly undeterred by the ice and marched on up to the top to see the Jesus character monument thing. Tash and I did not make it to the top; we were too scared by the perilousness of it all. Instead we made it close to the summit and then give up and descended in the safest manner we knew. The tactic was to sit down on a step and then lower oneself down to the next step by bum shifting. This is a slow process but I can confirm it is safe.

    My advice is to not go up this thing at night in the winter unless:

    1. You are wearing crampons
    2. The Budapest authorities have thoroughly gritted it

    The spa at the hotel is actually open to all the public and so when you go down there from your hotel room, robe clad with no shoes on, you do feel a little silly as you pass Joe Public mooching around in full on winter warmer attire. I was unaware of the situation so did not take any flip flops, if you are considering going here then I would suggest taking some form of waterproof footwear, especially if you get concerned about verrucas and other such like nasties lurking underfoot.

    I really liked the spa and found it to be utterly relaxing. The steam room was fucking mental, you couldn't even see your hand if you held it up in front of your own flipping face, such was the intensity of the steaming. I couldn't stay in there for more than a few minutes. Jumping into the plunge pool after a little session was bloody refreshing and after a few repeats of this process you really do feel very light headed and lax. The thermal baths were the place to go after a good steaming, a choice of a fair few, my fave being the 36 degree offering.

    Steam room through the archesThe 36 degree offeringOne of the thermal bathsThe swimming pool

    They have this really bizarre thing that they do in the thermal baths, it's called Watsu. It looks so odd when you see people having a Watsu session. They have a Watsu enforcer cradling them in their arms and it looks like the person Watsu is being done to is behaving like a baby in its mother's arms, crazy. I have no idea what the Watsu enforcers are doing to these people but I don't like the look of it one little bit.

    So weird

    On the night of my birthday we came to find out about a 24 hour bar in the city which was a bit of a find and was full of odd characters. We did quite a lot of Tequila shots from what I remember and got back to the hotel in the very early hours of the morning having become separated from Ben. We were walking back from the bar and had just crossed the bridge from Pest into Buda and one minute he was there, the next he had gone! We were reunited when we went to go for breakfast, around 10am, and literally saw him coming down the corridor as we exited our room. It transpired that he had been on a little whistle stop tour of the Budapest Metro for the whole time we had been asleep!

    On the final night we went out and discovered the motherload, a street full of bars not far from the Hotel. It would have been nice to have found this earlier but no matter. The best was The Pointer Pub, just because I like the name of it. We had a few in their before closing I can tell you.

    The Pointer Pub's LogoThis is it - Pointer Pub

    I nearly got caught short at the airport on the way home. I had to run to the toilet before getting airside which was pretty unpleasant. That will have been the wiener schnitzel making an unwelcome reappearance.

    Well, I think I have remembered a fair bulk of the Budapest experience. I'm quietly pleased with myself.

  • Laguna Park Dos

    I am acutely aware of my lack of what they call blogging this year and I thought it best to remedy this situation before a year lapses. I’ve been fairly busy, it’s a complicated case. Lotta ins. Lotta outs. And a lotta strands to keep in my head, man. Lotta strands in old Steven’s head. I will make every effort to cover the main bulk of these strands but for now I will stick to most recent activity. This being a holiday to the Playa de las Americas in Tenerife for a week with Ben which commenced on the 3rd October. Olay.

    Airport (Gatwick):

    Got there at 11.30am as I was convinced the flight was at 1.20pm. On arrival at the airport we discovered the flight was actually at 3.50pm. A little error there then. Waited until 12.50pm and went to check in, immediately went airside (no man's land) and entered the pub, a dirty Weatherspoons. Had a pint and some carbonara, the beer was dreadful and Ben had a burger which he says smelt like dog food. After this we went and looked round the shops. I Bought Cradle of Egypt for my DSi in HMV.

    Après shops we went to Cafe Rouge and had 3 pints each. The flight status then changed from nothing to boarding, so we legged it to the gate only to find the flight wasn't boarding at all. So, we went and had a couple of bottles of beer in the coffee shop and refused to board until there was no queue. We weren't last on, which was my aim, but there were only a few people behind us. I just can't understand why people queue to get on the plane, they're idiots.

    Sunday:

    Got to the hotel around 10.45am, after probably the most annoying transfer ever – said it would be 20 minutes but took an hour and 40. Put luggage in hotel room, necked some vodka and went out to Veronicas. Not before being told off by the hotel manager that we didn't print off the booking voucher. Passports sufficed, however. Went to a few places and were badgered terribly by the touts who pester you at every waking step you take. Ended up getting a cheese burger and spent most of the early morning in Tramps. I do not remember getting a taxi back or indeed being in a taxi. Met a bloke called Phil; this is about the extent of my memory.

    Monday:

    Memory of Monday hazy. It is my belief that I had some cocktails around the pool and slowly migrated towards Sangria. All-inclusive was not good, had a chip roll, setting the trend for the remaining all-inclusive sittings. We went to the quiz at the hotel bar which finished at 10.30pm and then went back to the room.

    Tuesday:

    First day we managed to sample breakfast. Surprisingly not bad, Huxley. Heavy drinking at pool bar all day, we then went to the hotel bar (after a chip roll, of course) and mingled with the other guests (bit of a mistake). Met a Scottish couple called Linda & Steve and a Northern Irish fella, whom I managed to deter by mentioning the Brighton Bombings during our first conversation. He then refused to speak to me. Linda & Steve plied us with sambuca shots and subsequently I went and started talking to anyone who would listen until, oh, 2am I guess.

    We managed to make friends with a small person called Rich and another person who went to Veronicas with us. The taxi had to pull up at one point so that Rich could be sick in the street (I have no idea who this person was but I kept telling him I couldn't believe how small he was - didn't see him again after this evening). We went to Yordie's Bar and lost our two new friends and then lost each other. I had 70 cents and the hotel key in my pocket and set off on a rather aimless quest to find the hotel. Got in at 9am.

    Wednesday:

    Spent the entire day in bed. We went out to the all-inclusive in the evening for a chip roll (only thing I ate all day) and then returned to bed.

    Thursday

    Managed to get up and go to breakfast. Still felt awful on account of Tuesday's drinking adventure. Had some water with ice in it by the pool and may have progressed to one or two beers. We decided in the late afternoon that we should probably have a walk down to the local area and see the beach. Went to the port area and found a rather spiffing cocktail bar where we stayed until very late and went mad on Blue Lagoon’s, could have been to around 7am. Some bloke called Gary latched onto us at the hotel reception and he came back to the room for vodkas. Don't remember much after that went to bed though.

    Friday

    Can't remember if we made breakfast or not, I suspect not though. I don't recall a thing about the day I think I was asleep and Ben went to the pool bar and started drinking. Went for curry in the evening and went to the same cocktail bar in the port area, the people there recognised us and started talking about Jaeger Bombs and stuff that we were doing there on Thursday - none of it anything I could remember! Stayed there for a sherbert and then we walked to Veronicas. Felt proper ropey but managed to drink through it and felt alright 6 pints later. I then progressed to Smirnoff Ice and wish I had done so sooner, went down very well. We got a taxi back at 4.30am after having a little dance in Tramps.

    Saturday

    I managed to get up (somehow) and have breakfast. Ben couldn't face it and stayed in bed. I felt quite good for some reason so in a reversal of Friday's activities I went and drank by the pool whilst Ben slept in bed. Had a good 7 or 8 pints round the pool and got chatting to a couple of people from Conwy in Wales. I went back to the room about 5.30pm to find Ben still in bed. Went out for a steak in the evening and had a few more beers. Went back and went to bed around 10.30pm.

    Sunday

    Checkout day. Went and had breakfast and then had a lie down. Went to Aqualand after checking out and stayed there till it closed at 5pm. Went on the Kamikaze ride twice and then saw the life guard at the bottom had a makeshift stretcher attached to his life guard’s chair. Thought better of it after that and stuck to Congo River and the Rubber Dingy Rapids, brother. Had a burger later and had to get a taxi to the airport as our bus transfer didn’t turn up.

    A few addition points

    1. Ben lost his phone on Tuesday night and we subsequently did not call to find out about the transfer back to the airport – we also forgot anyway as Ben was in bed and I was at the pool bar. When we realised what was happening it was too late to ring as their office had closed and was shut on Sunday.

    2. On Tuesday Ben got into the hotel room despite not having a key. We can only assume he got management to let him in.

    3. The sausages at breakfast were very nice.

    This is a diagram I’ve constructed of where I was on Tuesday night during my 3am disappearance from anywhere distinguishable:

    Playa de las Americas Adventure Drinking

    These are the memos that I made on my phone during the holiday, I think I will finish with these:

    Disasters

    1. Turned up fucking early to the airport.
    2. Monarch decided to fuck up the boarding message on the departures board.
    3. Fucking transfer took 1.5 hours, not 20 minutes as stated. Last ones off the coach.
    4. Philips speakers no better than dog shit.
    5. All-inclusive only good for chip sandwiches, all other food smothered in muck.
    6. Ben lost his phone.
    7. Six hour trek caused by getting lost and got in at 9am - saw the fucking sun come up whilst walking aimlessly around.
    8. Insulted a Northern Irish man by bringing up the Brighton bombing as my introductory welcoming.
    9. Going into St Eugen's to discover it was karaoke night and listening to some cunt sing-a-long to the likes of Lionel Richie and 'you're more than a number' for a good twenty minutes.
    10. Having to go for a liquid exit no less than three separate establishments on Thursday night.
    11. Getting a lighter stolen from some little Spanish shits.

    Friday Night’s Memo

    1. Negroni cocktail available in the Elvis bar, fucking Dubai cunt. Smashing cocktails, though. He said he was going to leave 3 times now and he's still trying to milk it. JUST LEAVE, PLEASE.
    2. Now he goes and they keep expecting us to applaud the mother fucker.
    3. Are you okay? Everybody happy? Good evening. I hate you, please stop.
    3. Why why why Delilah? We don't know.
    4. Five Euro for a pint in Sound of Cream, you're paying the equivalent of four pound thirty four there, a fucking rip off in my book. Six Euro for a vodka diet coke, you do the maths. Good music though, DJ Mr Wilson was very good.
    5. Yates. The bloke just plays music and is obsessed with Popeye. A flippin’ idiot who should definitely have gone to chicken cottage for a six ninety nine bargain bucket and not McDonalds. Flippin’ idiot. Ten euro for three drinks, that's two ninety Kubricks at my exchange rate.
    6. Every time i burp it feels like sick may well come out, i still have the best part of three pints left to go.
    7. It's 3.45am, we've just hit the motherload.
    8. Arrive back at 5am, up and down to breakfast at 10.30am. Considering what to have to drink at the pool bar, will probably ask for a pint of water with plenty ice.

    It's a mini mart, scaled down version of a supermarketKashmir - Friday's CurryAqualand 1Dufry?Aqualand 2Elvis was here - DubaiAqualand 3Pool View on SaturdayPool on Saturday 2Prohibited entrana to Laguna Park 2Santa Maria!Saturday's Steak VenueThe gayest Cocktail Ever 1The gayest cocktail ever 2St Eugen's - karaoke horidness

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