Monday, November 06, 2017

Pure comedy

Pure comedy opened the evening for Father John Misty at the O2 Apollo on Sunday. I had gone with Kath after discovering Father John Misty thanks to Jo Whiley.  She was interviewing him one night after I had dropped Kath off in Chester before she had her car.

Father John really knows how to keep the crowd entertained with his music. I was impressed as a solo artist that he shared the stage with so many other musicians, there a was a string quartet, a couple of brass players as well as the usual keyboard and drums.

The setlist was impressive covering all his albums. There were some frightening visuals to accompany the songs from Pure Comedy. I really enjoyed the show. The crowd was full of die hard fans singing along, which was nice, not just an event to be there as some concerts have become.

Something about Father John reminds me of Radiohead. I'm not sure if its the electronic sounds or the choice of images, or a combination but I could hear something of the Hail to the Thief era sound in there.

In a way he also reminded my of my friend Paul back in his Australian days playing songs like mean to be mean. They have similar mannerisms and something androgynous in their nature.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Fat lad at the back

Kath enjoying the Carrs park home of Wilmslow parkrun
Fat lad at the back is a brand which set out to normalise the increasing trend for middle age men to start out cycling, the most rotund mamil at the back to the peloton. Cycling isn't my passion, I only have the odd jaunt out and sometimes venture to work. For the last couple of years my passion has been running.

Well I say running, despite taking part in numerous events from 5km to 42.2km I'm only a middling runner, almost the equivalent of the fat lad at the parkrun. For me its all about the freedom to clear my mind and enjoy myself. The last month has been tough I got a virus after Berlin and to be honest it made me lose my love running. In the lsat few weeks its been more of a chore. This morning is Saturday, parkrun day. I woke up early morning with Kasia, she had to get to work for a long shift. It was raining and I felt tired. Somehow in between 6am and 8.30am the rain left and I decided to get myself out of bed. I haven't made it to parkrun for a while due to illness and other things (like lazyness!). Until the run actually started I regretted the decision then suddenly trudging along, I realised I was enjoying it. The path was damp and muddy but the winter sun illuminated the park bringing out the colours of the fallen leaves.

I made it round in about the parkrun average time of 27 minutes give or take, slow for me quick for some. I enjoyed myself though, I wasn't pushing for a pb so I was able to relax and enjoy myself. I hope I can scrap myself out of bed more often.

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.

Monday, May 22, 2017

We got the power

Coco enjoying the view

A week after moving in most of our possessions are still in boxes. After a huge amount of work we have a decent bedroom, a functioning kitchen and a clean bathroom.

I also managed to clean the bathroom and get the heating up and running (with a little help from Phil the plumber).

Coco spent the week being terrified, she cowered in her carrier the first day, then found a  hiding place underneath the kitchen cabinets. She has started to calm down as the house becomes less chaotic.

I have a lawn for the first time since living with my parents. It was quite fun to give it a mow, whether I'll still enjoy the moving when I have to do it every week is another question!

One of the main jobs was sorting out the kitchen, this mostly meant deep cleaning it, and getting new appliances. It was designed for built in appliances but we modified the cabinets to allow us to have free-standing ones. These are cheaper and in my opinion better.

Last night we had Bruce, Nina Connie Ian and Helen round for dinner. Kath prepared some sushi, with katsu curried  chicken and aubergine. I did some "small" jobs including changing over the loo seat which I stupidly proclaimed would take ten minutes. Some hour and a half later I was hacksawing off the bolts which had rusted solid.
Fixed kickboards

Connie enjoyed running around the garden and having a sit on my reclining chair. After all the hours spent cleaning and making the place normal it was great to have people round and enjoy ourselves. Though Ian did accuse me of giving him too much wine!


Lawn

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Leaving LA

Removal van
Last night was our last night at Neston Way. Yesterday we watched all our stuff being boxed, today it was time to move. I say that we watched them getting boxed, actually my mother oversaw the removal men while Kath and I went round to clean and paint as much of the house as we could while it was empty. I listened to Father John Mistys' album leaving LA on repeat while I painted, it had just the right vibe for brushwork.

I went to the house early so that I could paint the walls before the new appliances arrived. They were due between 10am-2pm. Our appliances order from AO arrived at 12. Unfortunately several catastrophes happened. The fridge had a mark so had to be sent back for replacement. Then whilst wheeling in the washing machine the lady driver got her arm trapped between the doorframe and the washing machine. She didn't break it but it was very painful. This delayed the installation so that the removal van arrived before they finished.

They finished unloading by around 4.30pm, and we unpacked as much as we can. Mostly just the kitchen for now. I guess the movers though that we had too much kitchen stuff as one of the boxes was labelled "never ending kitchen items"!

Coco was terrified during the move, she refused to come out of her cat carrier for hours, cowering at the back. When she did come out she found other places to hide away. Hopefully she will get use to the new place soon.

I am now sat in bed with my Macbook, using mobile broadband as we don't have a landline connection as yet. It is a little bit flaky but better than nothing for the time being. Most of our possessions are still in boxes, including our electric toothbrushes. Fortunately we found an old electric with some spare head Kath saved for travel use. I feel very tired and it i
s back to work tomorrow.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Ascension

Today is the day, after months we should be completing on the purchase of our new place in Wilmslow. It is the first time Kath and I have bought a house together, the current place I bought a year before we met. Its going to be a busy weekend of moving, and a LAN party tomorrow!

Earlier this week Kath's friend Mike joined us for a couple of days. She had to do an exam so Mike and I headed out into Manchester. He is into football so we went to Old Trafford to have a tour of the ground.
After the tour we headed into the city centre, had a walk from the town hall, past St Anne's Square to the triangle and a well deserved couple of beers in the Old Wellington. Then into the Arndale to get a gift for his Wife Karolina.
It was a gorgeous day in Manchester the sun was shining (no really!), we even got a little bit of a sun tan sat outside the Old Wellington.

Taking train home we manage to find time to fit in another beer at the Railway in Handforth. Before a changing and heading to meet Kath for dinner at the Bulls Head. Her exam seemed to have gone well, she came straight from the station so had her overnight bag which a local Shih Tzu took a liking too, sniffing the bag.

I hope that he enjoyed our brief tour of the city, I had to work on Wednesday so went to bed after dinner. Mike and Kath spend a few more hours having drinks and reminiscing.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Pleasure

Kasia and I headed to Anglesey to spend part of the long weekend with Bruce, Nina, Connie and Kath - Nina's Mum.

Nina had rented a cottage on the Island for a week family getaway. Unfortunately Bruce's parents had a car issue and could not join along.

Driving down on Saturday, it was the first long drive since I bought the BMW. It performed excellently on the long stretch of A55. While driving we listened to the latest album from Feist, entitled Pleasure.

The place we stayed at was called Clynnog Estate - a set of converted farm buildings and new build houses. We stayed at number 1, which I think was a converted barn or out building. Inside it was very well appointed, tastefully furnished with a large open plan dining kitchen and living space.

Saturday evening Bruce and I travelled to Menai and got a takeaway curry from Taste of India. I took chicken jaipuri special and Kasia had the sylhet chicken special. After dinner we sat in the living space talking and enjoying a few drinks. Nina's Mum amused us as she was by tracking the progress of the boxing match between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Kithschko on her phone. We really enjoyed their company it felt very natural and relaxed.

On Sunday we started with Connie asking us: 'What doing?' and a 6 km jog from the house round the to the nearest village. It was windy but we got a great view out. Arriving back to find Nina had made a lovely full English breakfast.

After breakfast we went for a look around Plas Newydd House. One of the National Trust properties on the Island, it was formally the residence of the Marquis of Angelsey. Inside it proved to be a fascinating house. Set in a stunning location with a views across the Menai straight. While exploring the house we were fortunate to catch a theatrical performance. A lady dressed in period costume talked us through the famous mural painted by Rex Whistler. He reputedly had an liaison with Caroline Paget, painting her nude, though there is some debate as to whether she posed or he used his imagination. After walking round the house we had a stroll arounds the gardens, then a play in the adventure park. Connie had a great time.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The thirst

This evening I took the opportunity to see Jo Nesbo speak. He was launching his new book the thirst. Along with Waterstones he had arranged a talk, Q&A and book signing in Liverpool at oh me oh my. The latest book the thirst is the 11th instalment of Nesbos' work following detective Harry Hole.

Battling traffic I arrived just in time to catch the start. Jo told us the correct way to pronounce both his own name and Harry Hole (apparently it is Harry HOO-LEH). When writing the first Harry Hole book the Bat, (which is set not in Oslo but in Sydney Australia) Nesbo deliberately chose a name that would be mispronounced in English, as a sort of in joke for hte Norwegian readers. At the time he had no idea the Harry would be around for 11 volumes most of which are set in Oslo. He than talk about writing. It was interesting to learn that when he re-read the books he can see thing that were going on in his own life that perhaps he didn't connect at the time. Also interesting to find that his father fought on the German side during the war and this memory influenced the Redbreast.

I think I was almost last in the queue to get my book signed, I asked Jo if he got cramp signing so many but he is a seasoned pro.

I think that the last time I went to a talk by an author was when Martina invited me to go and see Cormac McCarthy. That was thanks to Simply Books in Bramhall, I think all the way back in 2008? Seems like a lifetime ago.

Now off to start reading, so excited to find out what is next for Harry Hole :)