I’ll probably do one more post before the end of the year, but for now I just thought I’d write up some of the stuff I’ve been doing lately.
Two really big adventures happened since my last post (too involved to fully write up here, so I’ll be doing an entire section on them later).
Firstly, Greece, Island hopping. We stayed on 4 different Islands, and ended up visiting 3 others. Travelling by ferry over a 2 week trip, it was enormous fun but quite busy and involved.
I even got to rent the vehicle above for a day, which was the highlight of the trip.
A much more relaxing trip, and somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for 30 years ! – Barbados.
We visited various museums and went to the Fish fry evening.
But the highlight of that week long trip, was a trip in a Submarine.
Not cheap, but how many people can say they’ve been 200 feet down in an actual Submarine.
With the Barbados trip, we had an early flight, so stayed over in Manchester.
I got the chance for a drink in Cloud 23. Manchester changes, every time I come home, but looking out through the windows you can see the massive ammount of building work that’s already happened and the work in progress.
All the good stuff happening in Manchester, seemed to co-incide with my moving to live in Chester (I must have been holding things up !)
Speaking of Manchester, I attended a talk at the Chester Literary Festival.
I’m not particularly Literary (my kindle is filled with Wilbur Smith novels) but when I read who was attending, I was instantly excited.
Mark Berry, aka Bez from the Happy Mondays, one of the bands that launched the Manchester music scene in the late 90’s.
He really was one of the most down to earth people I’d ever met and spoke passionately about fracking and other things he felt strongly about. He also swore quite a lot and didn’t mess around with conversational flannel.
He was, you could say the archutypal “Manc”.
Unfortunately, Nikki had to leave early so I had to rely on a member of storyhouse staff to take this picture.
I’ve attended several wine tasting events over the last two months, but the major one was Vin Santo at Chester Cathedral.
Some wine tastings are “guided” where the host talks you through the wine. In this case, there were multiple stalls, each one with five or six wine’s you could tast and the stall host would give you a quick overview of the wine you were trying.
It was a fantastic evening, with all the usual personalities like Tom, Simon and Sino.
And I was able to stock my wine store ready for Christmas.
Speaking of Christmas preperations, I’ve started to upgrade the photo board in my living room.
Lots of cool things have happened in the last 18 months and unfortunately, the photo board doesn’t reflect this.
I know I could put up a tv with a rolling presentation or something like that, but I’ve always prefered “normal” photographs.
It’s a brilliant way to motivate myself. Sometimes (just like everyone else) I get a bit down and wonder sometimes why I try so hard and why I bother to commit and make things happen.
When I look at the board, I know why.
The tree and Christmas decorations are all being put up on the 1st of December in my house.
This year, I’ve bought a 2nd set of Mini Christmas jumpers to put up in my office and extend the Christmas spirit to there.
They cost £1 each, with the money going to cancer research.
This years train rig will be the biggest one ever and now features a tunnel and foot bridge.
I’ve bought 3 new trains this year, the picture above shows all the trains I presently own including the “fairwell tour” 125, the APT and the new hybrid Azuma.
Speaking of trains, I attended a 00 Guage train fair at the British Motor Museum.
Tony and I wen’t down for the day. Thing was, the trains were quite interesting, but the Motor Museum itself was superb.
Above, something I’ve always wanted to see but never managed to, a Delorean sports car.
They had the original jeaps used by the SAS in the desert, the first Jaguar E type and the first mini to come off the production line.
Obviously, James Bond cars featured heavily, but above, the Jaguar from Austin Powers, and next to it the Jaguar driven by Zao’s in Die another day (it was pointed out that the minigun was plastic and didn’t fire reall bullets !).
One of the things I missed during lock down was the Chester Globetrotters.
It’s a group I attend every 2 months, where there are 2 interesting talks on travel and adventure at Chester museum lecture theatre. Afterwards we go for a drink together in the pub and were able to chat about interesting destinations.
The Globetrotters is now back in full swing, and above, a picture of everyone getting together in the The Golden Eagle after the meeting.
After the pub, I usualy get together with a few friends and we have some more drinks around town and have dinner somewhere nice.
One thing I’ve been looking forward too for some time is the opening of the Chester Northgate development and the new Chester Market. We wandered over to see it, but honestly, it was chaos and most of the food was very expensive.
I’m sure things will sort themselves out, but for the time being I’m going to give it a miss.
After our exciting visit to the air museum and bushcraft show in Cambridge, Mike and I decided on another road trip.
This time, we’d go to Hebden Bridge. The countryside around was superb, so we headed out for a few hours of walking, before returning to the town.
We stayed at the strangely named IOU hostel.
It’s name was the only thing odd about it, otherwise, it was very comfortable and in a superb spot.
Following day, something I was quite looking forward to.
A querky outfit called Hebtroco make superb jeans and I’ve always wanted to own a pair (at the moment most of the jeans I own are from Rohan obviously).
The 2 people who run Hebtroco had the idea in a bar they used to frequent called “Drink”. A sort of bottle shop with a bar. They don’t have a shop, and when you order something from them, it’s normaly delivered to your house, but they also do deliveries to “Drink”.
Mike and I decided to have a few drinks in there, and it really was a superb bar.
And while I was there, I picked up my parcel.
And when I got home I tried them on. They really are excelent.
Unfortunately, I’ve now had to buy an iron.
This years walking group weekend away came around.
This time, held in Llanduno. We arrived on Friday evening and were picked up by my mate Andy (who lives in Llandudno).
He’d frequently mentioned pub he liked called the Old Stag. Right in the countryside, in the middle of nowhwhere and filled with farmers.
A friendly bunch and the food was superb.
Following day, a wander around Conwy. Everyone else puts up pictures of the castle, so I’d thought I’d put up some boats in the harbour for variety.
While I was away in Greece, I got an email saying Marc Almond was performing at the Liverpool Philharmonic.
In these modern times, where police officers are seen dancing at pride events, this guy was outspokenly gay at a time when the police parked vans around the corner from gay clubs and beat people up as they were leaving.
I remember listening to his music when I was a teenager. His lyrics about the complexity of relationship, how people are judged and frankly that life isn’t very fair, really connected with me.
But back then, one of my mates would get an album for their birthday and we’d all tape it (thats how skint we were) so the idea of seeing him live was just impossible.
So imagine how delighted I was to see him on stage. Performing all his old hits and a couple of new songs I liked enjoyed as well.
Nikki has arranged for us to go and see her relatives for a weekend away.
One of the people who inspired me to visit Barbados was my old girlfriends mother Mr’s Edgehill. She spoke Patwa beautifully, and honestly it was like listening to a flute.
I remember being suprised that a working class black woman from Barbados would buy the Daily Mail, every Sunday…
But I read it anyway. I remember in their letters page, there were frequent contributions from “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells”.
And next weekend, I’ll be visiting Tunbridge Wells for the first time 🙂
When I went to see Marc Almond, he performed a song called Purple Zone.
For the first time in over 40 years, Soft Cell have made a song in collaboration with the Pet Shop boys (another band I think are fantastic). I was watching their video, which features them sitting around a table having a drink.
Just for fun I looked it up. It’s the The Black Prince in Kennington.
When I’m travelling back from Tunbridge Wells on Sunday, I change trains in London, and I’ve left myself a spare hour to visit that pub (it’s the same one where the fight scene in Kingsman – The secret service was filmed).
Well, 14 working days and I’m off to Sicily for the first time. At that point, I’ll have visited 90 countries, with only 10 more until I can join the Travellers century club.
The scenery, food and wine are my main reasons for spending Christmas and New Year there, but a side project I’m really keen on, is visiting the town of Corleon as featured in the Godfather.
My stepfather Fred (a man I deeply detest) always said he wanted to go there. He won’t but I will have and that will make the trip extra special.