Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Ich bin ein Berliner

Race number at the ready
This weekend Kath and I headed to Berlin Germany so that I could take part in the 44th Berlin marathon.

We flew out on Thursday night after I finished work, taking an EasyJet flight to Berlin Schönefeld airport. From there we bought a train ticket and took the S-bahn then U-bahn trains to our hotel the Berlin Mitte located two U-Bahn stops from Potsdamer Platz.

The Marathon Expo was being held just opposite the hotel at Station Berlin so it made picking up my number really easy. The Expo was full of clothing, displays of different marathons all over the world and some assorted oddities. Main sponsor BMW had plenty of cars to show off, they were big on electric and hybrid vehicles, including a rather tasty i8 safety car for the marathon.

While in Berlin we had the opportunity to meet up with Anya and Sylvio again. They took us on a walking and even a boat tour so that we could experience all the aspects of Berlin. Berlin is a pretty marvellous city with plenty of fantastic buildings and hip and trendy eateries. Its also very easy to navigate with a comprehensive tube and rail network criss crossing the city

Post marathon
The Marathon was on Sunday, I was pretty apprehensive about it as with the house move and general life which seemed extremely on the go over last 6 months, meant that I trained less than for the previous marathon in Manchester. So much so that I was worried that I would have to walk for significant portions. Fortunately with the crowd and some help from the multipower and sugar high drinks handed out every few miles I managed a reasonable 4:42:34. It is 12 minutes slower than Manchester but still I think respectable. The last 10km were at times the toughest I have done with my whole body feeling tired, I just about managed to keep going by doing a fartlek. The last 500 meters took me under the Brandeburg Tor to the finish line was simply a blur! At the end I got my medal and downed a Erdhinger alcohol free beer (erm I mean isotonic drink). There had been a place about 1km from the end of the race handing out shots of Jagermeister but I didn't partake, not sure that I would have made it to the end.

Post marathon celebration

Kath, Anya and Sylvio were waiting for me at the end, it was great to see them but I was s exhausted I could hardly speak. Anya provided delicious high protein sandwiches which definitely made the recovery easier. After a quick trip back to the hotel for a shower we headed out for dinner. They took us to a traditional beer halle where the staff wore Bavarian outfits. It is just before Oktoberfest so we celebrated with 1 litre steins of beer and I had some currywurst.

The day after the marathon I was feeling very delicate, my legs turned to jelly, descending stairs proving especially difficult! Kath and I headed into city centre a final time to get a band engraved with my time at the Adidas store then a final meal before heading back home to Manchester.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Seller of flowers

Kath and I managed to spend a weekend together. We decided to put the house on hold for a while and enjoy ourselves.

Friday night we had a few beers and watched Arrival on Amazon prime. I enjoyed it though I found it hard to believe Jeremy Renner as a scientist.

Saturday Kath and I went for a walk around the Carrs park, mostly avoiding the rain. Then off to the Trafford Centre for a meal at Tampopo. I had Laksa which was very nice spicy Asian noodle soup with prawns muscles and chicken. After the food we headed to the Odeon to watch Baby Driver. It was a great film about a young driver sucked into a world of crime, and ultimately his redemption after finding the women of his dreams. The sound track was excellent and it starred, Kevin Spacey as a kingpin and John Hamm as a down and dirty criminal.

Today I did my training run 26km, then after a shower we had a nice bbq. It was great to be able to spend some quality time together.

Eastern revive

It is funny how life can be circular, sometimes people that you loose touch with come back into your life later down the line. On Monday evening we went out for dinner with Laura, Colin, Ian, Helen, Bruce and Nina. Laura was someone I used to see so often when I was in my late teens, but then we lost touch for many years. It has been nice to catch up and meet her new partner Colin.

The venue was Eastern Revive in Wilmslow. This is an Indian that Kath and I had never tried. Previously the Ayo Gurkhali was our favourite Indian (well, Nepalese) of choice but unfortunately it closed a few months ago.

In spite of the drizzle Kath and I made the 15 minute walk to the restaurant. It is finally starting to pay off living so close to the centre of Wilmslow.

I ordered the Eastern Revive Jalfrezi which was spicy and tasty. Kath ordered Dal Gosht Karahi, which she enjoyed. Colin also had the Jalfrezi which I think proved a little more spicy than he would have liked. Conversation was easy, Ian and Helen had just returned from a short trip to the south coast, where of all things Ian found a Newfoundland dog show.

We chatted so long that we ended up being the last people in the shop. The waiter was good fun and had a good banter.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Automobiles to the Grand Hotel

Thursday was Kaths birthday, she had been working all day doing the inductions for her new job in Leeds so rather than go out I picked up a sushi platter from Zumu Sushi in Wilmslow and a bottle of Champagne. it made for a great evening together.

Friday Kath was working but I had the day off to go to a track day near York. Phil had bought them for Bruce and myself for our birthdays but it had taken a while to organise the date.

We all had a drive in two supercars, mine was a Ferrari F430 and a Porshe 911. We also got a high speed lap round the track driven by a racing driver.

The Car driving was fun, but with only a couple of laps it was hard to find a groove. I enjoyed the Ferrari more to drive but the Porshe I can imagine as more a practical car to own. Getting in and out of the Ferrari was a chore.

After the driving day we headed off to Wagamama at the designer outlet for lunch. I really enjoyed a Pad Thai and some gyoza.

Saturday Kath and I headed to Birmingham. I got us tickets to see Regina Spektor at the Birmingham Symphony hall. It was the 4th time I had seen her. The first time in many years, and her style has changed somewhat. She has did a very professional set with backup musicians, a far cry to the night Phil and I saw her at the academy 3 in Manchester where she boasted about buying a chair for a pound on which tap out the beat to "poor little rich boy".

There was a very diverse group of people for the gig, very different to the recent performances we had attended. It was a great atmosphere though. Regina played a really nice mix of material from across her albums, even doing an encore of Sampson.

Kath and I really enjoyed the performance, we made a night of it dining at Carluccio's in the nearby canal side development. Packet with bars and restaurants it made for a very pleasant evening.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Foo fighters

Thursday in Gdynia, we awoke late head still buzzing from the Radiohead set, setting out to grab breakfast from Trafik we ate lazily and anticipated seeing the Foo Fighters later today.

Feeling quite tired we had a lazy afternoon, taking the funicular to Kamienna Góra. There is a great view out of the city and out to the sea.

We headed out to the festival in time to watch the start of Jimmy eat world at the tent stage, before heading to the main stage to catch the Kills, then back to the tent stage to catch a bit of MIA. I can't say I enjoyed MIA it seemed to me she turned up the base to cover the fact she couldn't sing. We left before she made her announcement that she had deleted her twitter account. All before Foo Fighters.

Foo fighters were incredible, this is the forth time I have seen them and they never disappoint. We managed to get a lot further forward than at Radiohead. Their set was really nice with fan favorites including the Pretender and Monkey wrench. Dave Grohl even did a solo from their new album with the Kills front women Alison Mossheart. Titled 'La Dee Da' Grol and Mossheart shared the mike to sing the chorus.

 Grohl gave it everything but by the last couple of songs his voice was going, he joked that Radiohead had played a 6 hour set but he didn't have time for that!

Gdynia Plaża Orłowo & Radiohead

Orlow cliffs
Another glorious day in Gdynia, we eat breakfast in Traffik working our way through their festival menu. We deicided to head for the beach for a walk before the start of the festival in the afternoon. So we took an Uber to Plaża Orłow. Once there we took a walk along the cliffs, rounding back through the forest. Followed by a short stroll across the pier.

Festival selfie
After a cold beer and sit at the Pizzeria it was time to get back to Gdynia so we could head out to Open'er! The festival ran a bus services from the station in Gdynia direct to the festival. It was busy but well organised with plenty of buses so we didn't have to wait for too long. Arriving at the festival entrance there was a short walk past the camping area to the main festival area. 

We headed past the main stage to the tent stage to watch Michael Kwianuka, after hearing some of his songs in big little lies its was quite nice. Then we had a bite to eat and a beer before James Blake then Radiohead on the main stage.

Radiohead were amazing there set covered pretty much all their albums with favourites like Paranoid Android, Lucky, Nude and an amazing encore ending on my personal favourite Street Spirit.

I was scared getting back from the festival would be awful thanks to the large number of people queuing for the buses, but actually they organised everything really well so we only had to wait about 15 minutes to get onto a bus.

Arriving in Gdnyia

Its been a whirlwind since we arrived back from the Opener festival in Gdnyia Poland last Sunday (2nd July 2017).

Arrival, tall ships and great weather

Dar Młodzieży

Thanks to the flights we arrived in Gdyina a few days early for opener. Taking an early morning flight from Manchester to Gdansk then a short train ride we were in Gdynia in time for lunch. We checked into the Hotel Mercure Gdynia, a 70s era concrete pile. There were plenty of follow festival goers checking in, indeed there was some deal for the VIP holders. Then headed out to eat lunch at Pyra bar. A potato themed place that did great potato babka.

We then spent the afternoon enjoying the good weather, and a few beers around Gyndia.

Tuesday we ate a fantastic breakfast  at Trafik. They were doing some festival specials which were very tasty, so tasty we ended uop returning nearly every day for a post festival breakfast / brunch.

Pyranha
After breakfast we headed to the pier and had a wonder around the aquarium. This was quite good, most of the sections had dual language descriptions so that I could understand what I was looking at.

They was also some big sections on the dangers of ocean pollution.

After the Aqurium we had a wonder around the ORP Błyskawica a second world war era destroyer originally build in the UK for the Polish navy. It saw service in the war then was used by the Polish navy during the Soviet era. It is the oldest preserved destroyer in the world, and provider a fascinating time spent wondering around.

Open'er Festival bands
We went to pick up our festival bands, a day early but it avoided the large queues that appeared later in the week. We got our from the train station not realiseing that there was an open'er festival station right outside the hotel. Indeed there was an open stage for the festival where bands were playing for free in the city.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Live forever

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair
- Charles Dickens (A Tale of two cities)

What a time we are having, from the grief of the Manchester bombing to a concert of defiance and refusal to give in to terror. Kath and I spent the evening watching Ariana Grande One Manchester concert. Even with last nights London terror attacks the concert was very well done showing a spirit of defiance. The highlight for me was watching Liam Gallagher singing live forever with Chris Martin. It was also amazing to watch the people enjoying themselves not letting terrorists dictate the terms to us.

On Saturday Kath and I had a BBQ / housewarming. The whole gang came round, including Dannys' new significant other the lovely Kate.  I also got a chance to meet some of Kaths colleges from Chester which was really nice. Patrick and Rhiannon were lovely it was great that they made the trip.

I spent most of my time grilling various meat and non meat alternatives on the bbq, while enjoyed a few tins of becks veir. The weather report predicted rain so Ian lent us his gazebo, but we managed to get sun most of the day with only a short shower.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Don't look back in anger

Start of the Great Manchester Run
Yesterday I took part in the Great Manchester Run 2017. The first time they ran a half marathon. After the bombing at the Manchester Arena earlier in the week I wasn't sure what the atmosphere would be like.

I need not have worried, what an amazing community we live in. The half marathon started at 9am, there were already people lining the route to cheer the runners on. Before setting of we had a minutes silence followed by them playing Oasis dont look back in anger. It was a poignant moment. The run itself took us past both the City of Manchester and Old Trafford Stadiums. It was quite strange to run over the Mancunian way.

After the run I headed to St Anne's square to pay my respects and look at the tributes laid there. It was simply incredible, a sea of flowers, balloons messages, its was humbling to see.

My final time was 1:58:38 which was a little slower than I hoped for, my legs got really tired around the 12 mile mark. That didn't detract from what was an amazing day.

In the evening we had a visit from Esther and Kimberly, they had come to Manchester for a spot of shopping. Kimberly is planning to buy a house in south shields, it looks like a good buy we hope that she get it.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Coco missing

On Thursday morning Coco decided that the new house wasn't for her. We think that she went out of an open window. The house has been very quiet ever since, I miss having the company around the house. Coco used to keep me company while Kath was working in Poland, her presence made the house feel much less empty.

The only sighting since she left were on Thursday evening, nothing since then. We have spoken to neighbours and walked around the estate but not see her. My only hope is that somebody finds her and take her to the vet, she is microchipped so they should be able to return her to us.