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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Youngsters

Happy Memorial day to the American constituent in town, and belated Happy May 24 Weekend to the Canadians. This back to back busy times usually indicates the beginning of the end of shoulder season, and when the weather co-operates, the town is full of people. Not limited to these two weekends (as a matter of fact, every weekend over the summer) is the throngs of stag and hen parties that descend upon this apparently debauched town, replete with blow up sex dolls and penis straws. Seriously. Every single one of them has at least one of these.

Now, I am not one to criticise weddings, marriage, or least of all partying, and maybe it's my age. But this long weekend, on one day (Saturday) I saw no less than 3 groups of stagettes that had to have only been about 21. Max.
Here's my opinion. Being young is the perfect excuse to have fun, to get in trouble, and to make mistakes. The difference when you get married at that young of an age is that there are repercussions to your decisions, both good and bad. Not that there aren't repercussions prior to married life, but now there are other people that have to clean up your mess.

If you're happy, that's great. Just be aware that you could seriously fuck it up, be right back where you started, and possibly have missed out on your 20s entirely.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The final few days...

I just realised, 1 week later, that I haven't posted the final segment of the trip to England. Here you go kids.


Another quiet day of hanging at the house and relaxing. And by "quiet", I mean "manic". And by "hanging", I mean "helping". And by "relaxing", I mean "preparing everything we own for the big move in 2 days." So that happened. It's unbelievable how much stuff we had to pack up. It took all day, even with the help of Aunt Sue and Uncle Dave, and by the end of the day we STILL hadn't organised everything. I think we called it quits around 9pm, when we ordered fish and chips for dinner (thus keeping the kitchen clean). I couldn't keep my eyes open for much longer, so said goodnight and goodbye to my mom, as she had an early meeting up in Leeds so she had to get the train even earlier.
Wednesday was a quiet hangout day with Ali before I left that afternoon. It's always weird saying goodbye to her, not in a bad way but with the health problems she's had these last few years, you don't know how she'll be the next time you see her. I mean, philosophically, anyone could die before I see them again, but it's so much more obvious with her. It's not a nice feeling, but she's good with it.
Made my way with all of my luggage to London (incidentally, the handle on my luggage had broken), and managed to eventually negotiate the underground (said broken handle made it a challenge). There was a delay at one station so had to redirect all over the place, but finally made it to St. Pancras, where Jules met me. I dropped my stuff off and changed my now-sweaty shirt, and we headed out to Barrio Central, a Mexican themed bar/restaurant with some of the cheapest beer you're likely to find (albeit during happy hour). 2.50 bottles from 4 till 8 and a great menu. http://www.barriocentral.com/. The reason we ended up in a bar in Soho and not drinking in Jules' hotel is because we were meeting up with the other two Bolton kids (the first being Anna in Bristol). We haven't seen Guy and Hugo in years and it was great to see them again. It's funny how that can happen - after so long, you don't miss a beat. I informed them both of the impending plan for Anna's 30th birthday (Whistler) and they were pretty keen. Guy's girlfriend had spent some time out there when her brother did a season back in 2004-2005, so it seemed like a pretty solid plan of a plan.
Early morning the next day, so we headed back to the hotel and I triple checked everything so it wasn't left behind. (Like my birth certificate, for example.)

We now return to our regularly scheduled writing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

University Reminiscences

Considering we turned the tv off at almost 4am, it was an early morning for me. While I waited for Neil to wake up, I caught up on the writing. A breakfast diner round the corner was meant to be awesome, so when I had packed we headed over there.
And apparently they close on Mondays. Balls. Not to worry, the Waffle House proved to be just as good, in a different way. It was a good place, though I don't think I should have chosen the savoury option of sausage and mushrooms with a sweeter gravy. But: they weren't stingy with the tea; the pot was the size of a volleyball. Said goodbye (nay, "see you soon") to Neil, and got the train down to Liverpool Street Station, churned out another review, and next thing I know, I'm in the heart of London.

Martin met me at Liverpool St. and we went for a beer or two at the Water Poet. Jules had just started training in London for the week so he came to meet us; Martin's girlfriend Karen came for a couple as well. It was good to catch up, as it had been about 6 years since we had done so. Hopefully he'll be able to get out to BC sometime and get some skiing in. I had aimed to hang out in London until after the commuter's rush, so at 9:30pm I got the train home to Cosham.

The whole weekend caught up with me; I think I woke up only at Petersfield, the stop before mine. I felt like my eyelids were weighed down, and I almost considered staying on the train to keep napping and catch the return trip back. Then I remembered.

Taxi!

Home.

Bed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Norwich Day 2

Well, the good news is that I didn't win Drunkest Man in Norwich that night. That dubious honour goes to none other than our good friend Lawrence. A club (my first condition was: no clubs on this trip) by the name of Havana's was the last stop, and there were definitely shots (my second was no shots when the sun goes down). I have a photo of Mr. Smith dancing a la Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction's Jackrabbit Slim's. Funny? Hell yes. Sexy? Not even a little.
Regardless, he was feeling pretty bad the next morning - while I certainly felt like I had been out all night, there was no way I was able to complain, given that Lez had to drive home that afternoon.

We had a big exciting day planned, thanks to Neil. First; Trowse "Mountain" (quotes added by author), the hill that he had learned to snowboard on. Covered in Dendrex (like the world's biggest toothbrush), a decent gradient meant half a dozen or so turns before hitting up the button lift at the bottom. Talk about extreme. The picturesque town of Great Yarmouth was next in our sights, where Neil had spent many of his more hedonistic nights as a younger man. At only 20 miles or so down the road, it would have been a travesty not to check out this mecca of British holidaymakers up and down the country.

I'm being facetious for comedic effect by the way. Yarmouth is a rundown sea side town, indistinguishable from many across the coastline, with the exception of Blackpool. These towns harken from a time before air travel was cheaper than the train (I could fly to Sweden twice for the price I paid for my train ticket up to Norwich), and the beaches surrounding England were better known for the donkey rides and piers than the used condoms and seawater that belongs high on the toxicity scale. Still, the benefit of the cookie cutter seaside promenades was that it reminded me of when we were kids and we would go to the Southsea seafront, complete with 2p pusher machines, ice cream vans, and fish and chips.
Fish and chips. God damn. There aren't many things I miss about England, but a good fish and chips is hard to find outside of the fair island. Other things include: London, Ribena, Jaffa Cakes, and pubs. Real pubs with dimpled gasses, the place still stinks of tobacco smoke and there's a 150 year old man who is there every single time you go in. (Ale and lock-ins, while we're on the subject too.)
I digress.
Found some fish and chips. Lez fashioned himself up some poutine (keepin it gangsta Mr. Smith) and we ate it on the walk looking out to the North Sea, as is tradition.
The weather was perfect - windy and threatening to rain, "perfect for Yarmouth" as Neil put it. Took some great photos while we were there, including the plywood cutouts of lifeguards and strongmen, and the Vegas themed strip (the Golden Nugget, Flamingo, Circus Circus and Caesar's palace were all represented). But the shining feature on the seafront has to have been the pirate themed miniature golf. It almost looked too good to be surrounded by "tat".
Yarmouth actually has a sad history: during the First and Second World Wars, it was right on the flight route from Germany to some of the major industrial cities in the Midlands like Sheffield, Birmingham and Coventry. On their way home, if the Luftwaffe had any spare bombs that for whatever reason didn't get dropped, they would just dump them on Yarmouth before limping back to the Fatherland. The entire beach was riddled with mines and dragons teeth in preparation for a sea invasion (Holland is a stone's throw across the water), and countless buildings would be there one day, gone the next. As a result, beautiful buildings such as the old theatre, the Empire, are surrounded by architectural abortions dreamed up in the 50s to accommodate the burgeoning tourists in post-war England. (Another interesting story: Neil's father remembers taking the train home from school that ran parallel to the beach, and they would throw bricks that they had collected out the window onto the shore, in hopes to hit the aforementioned mines.)
After our seaside experience, we drove through the town Neil was born in, and past his old BMX park that him and his friends used to frequent. Incidentally, this was a former Spitfire airfield so it was commonplace to find plane parts.

(Another awesome story: Neil's dad grew up with this airfield in his backyard. His father was in the British guard, and one night while on rounds, he saw two Spitfires chasing a Messerschmidt across the night sky. The German was discovered by Neil's grandfather, and marched to his house with a gun in his ribs. To sum up: Neil's father has childhood memories of a German pilot being held in his living room waiting for the military police to show up and take him to a prisoner of motherfucking war camp. I have this image of his mother offering him a cup of tea, and I hope that happened.)

Back to Neil's place, where a still worse for wear Lez had to about-face and drive the three hours back to his place. Neil and I, along with his housemate Kelvin and a girl named Amy (long story) headed out for a modern day hunting and gathering trip (gone to find dinner). We had our hearts set on a pub roast but it seems every bar in England stops serving food just before dinner time. We eventually found The School House (where none of our gang had been), and while their kitchen was (gasp) closed, they had no problem getting takeout delivered to the pub. Curry! We shot the breeze over dinner, and headed back home for a nap (or tactical bitch kip, as it shall now be known). You see, Game 1 of the Vancouver Canucks/San Jose Sharks started at 1am, and Neil had all the ingredients to watch it: a 50" television, ESPN America, and HD. Sure it's not Tapley's, but could we have reclined in our own sofas with snacks and the option to hit the bathroom whenever we felt the need? I think not. Hell of a game, made better by a late night beer or two. And we won.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Norwich for realsies!

The morning after, feeling surprisingly spry, Lez and I prepped ourselves up to get to Norwich. Tea and toast, and a chat to Lauren via Facebook chat (she was hanging), and Lez convinced his mother to lend him the Fiat Punto, thus saving us either the price of another train ticket or a car rental. Not a bad drive, just over 100 miles, and the sun was staying out. We made good time to Neil's place, dropped our stuff off and headed in to see the sights. Norwich is one of the oldest cities in England, and the old wall is still up. We stopped in at the Playhouse Bar because the rain threatened… and of course we did rounds. With 3 of us, that translates to 3 beers at our first bar. Following that, we headed to the oldest part of the city, Elm Hill, with buildings dating from the Tudor era, and on to the cathedral. There was a lot of activity going on within the walls of the cathedral; when we inquired, we discovered Ewan McGregor was filming a movie. So there was that.

We stopped in for a bathroom break at The Birdcage, ostensibly for one, but of course it turned into more than one. To the point where it was dark when we left. We ended up talking to these two student girls that ended up joining us for more than one more. Neil had left his phone back at the house, so before we did anything else he had to go get it. By this time it was - honestly - 10pm. Lez and I were left to our own devices to find dinner. Which, apparently, is impossible after 10pm on a Saturday night. We hit a couple of bars in the hunt for food, Neil eventually caught up with us, and we were forced to go to a kebab shop (with pizza; kebabs are the work of the devil), and next thing you know we're hitting the town. My first drunken haze evening of the trip was a full week in. I'm happy with that.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Norwich?

I was arranging a catch up with a couple of friends in London before heading up to Norwich; Lauren and Lawrence (whom shall be called Lez to avoid confusion). I said goodbye to Ali and was on the train at 1:05pm; at 2;45 we pulled into Waterloo. See? That's better.

I always enjoy London, although it's been years since I actually spent any time there that wasn't catching another train or flight. I was meeting them at tottenham court road, and I wasn't sure exactly what was around or where to meet… Cafe Rouge. That looks decent enough. I texted both friends and got to work on another project I've been scheming over for a little while. Next thing I know, the waitress is giving me a note on the back of a receipt. t was from another girl in the cafe. I gotta say, it really makes you smile when you get hit on. It's rare that it happens outside of the club.

Before I had a chance to write anything back, she was gone and Lez arrived. He had a job interview in central London so to see a guy who I know as a snowboard bum in a suit and tie was a funny sight. As Lauren was tending to a friend in hospital (possible meningitis) we killed some time by having a beer and catching up (in the 2 weeks since we'd seen each other, apparently a lot had happened!) After the drinks we thought we could probably catch Lauren outside, given that she was due any minute, so Lez called her. Talk about timing - sure enough, she was 30 feet away! Then began the longest search for an O'Neill's anyone has probably ever had. With lauren in the lead (possibly our first mistake!) we walked down Piccadilly in completely the opposite way we should have. After about 500 metres (seriously) she says " I know it's between Piccadilly and Leicester Square". Now, I'll never claim to know London all that well, but I was fairly sure it wasn't that far between those two famous tourist spots. I don't remember who had the idea to turn our crew around but once we did and we got back to Piccadilly I saw exactly where we needed to go!
Once we'd settled on a table upstairs overlooking the entrance to Chinatown, we got the beer, and then again. I had decided that, as Neil would be picking me up from the station I didn't want to be too late. By and by, the two Ls were giving me more and more reasons to stay with one of them (Lauren lives in the West End, Lez up near Loughborough). Also, beer. They gave me more and more beer. After a while I thought, you know what? The hell with it. I'll stay with Lez. I was thinking back to the ill friend of Lauren's who was discharged that afternoon, and due to it being her boyfriend of sorts he was staying at her place. Regardless, Lez's place was the place to be. He would pay for my ticket up, and we would head to Norwich together in the morning.

Then shit, as they say, got real.

Next round was my round. Jagerbombs. Then Lauren got them, and then Lez got some more. I know where I stand with shots, and if it weren't for the red bull I wouldn't have done well. Lauren meanwhile, was already a bottle of wine in, and going strong! By the time we left it was gone 11, and the streets were full of drunken revellers. Highlights of the walk to the tube station included Lauren climbing some scaffolding, her walking out in front of london traffic, and her talking to all kinds of strangers in order to find out if we were going the right way. Come to think of it, it seemed more like babysitting, in retrospect. Sent Lauren off into the night and headed to St. Pancras to get the 12:15 north, the last train to Lez's station.

* * *

"Whoops."

Oh, don't say that, Lez.

He had forgotten that the so-called "last train" stopped at Leicester. Which, incidentally, is 2 stops before Loughborough. Or, to put it another way, a £50 cab ride. At 2:30 in the morning. But first we had to get there. We decided to keep it classy and grabbed a bottle of Shiraz from Marks and Spencer, and opened her up on the train. 2 hours later, we're talking to a Sikh cabbie that finally got our drunk asses home.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Back to Portsmouth

Not much to say about today; left Bristol in the afternoon, although not until we had a nice scare of the train we needed flashing 'Cancelled' for about 10 minutes (there being only one an hour we wondered what the hell we were going to do). Eventually it was "uncancelled" and we headed to the platform, only to hear once we got there that it was delayed by 27 minutes. 20 minutes later, the platform changed from 11 to 13 so the entire mass of people upped sticks and moved to the new platform.

Oh England, this is why I could never live here again.

On the train, Ali slept where she could, while I busted out another review (seriously, I'm on my 4th in a week). Got home, sent the review, and kept it mellow. Norwich tomorrow.

Bristol Day 3

Well, Leena woke up with a hangover (rolling with the big dogs will have that effect after all). The sun was out, so after a breakfast that Jules cooked and most of us ate (guess who didn't have an appetite) we headed into town, Jules having the day off, and hit a bunch of bars, starting with the chain of Lloyds/Wetherspoons, a bar known for its obscenely cheap drinks. We met up with Ben, one of Jules' friends from university and headed to the Waterfront for a liquid lunch. Ben was on his break, however due to a recent liquid lunch that turned into a bit of a heavier outing he had set a limit on the amount he was drinking during his breaks now (specifically, nothing) so he had a soft drink. Not to be distracted from the goal of trying new brands of beer Jules and I gladly indulged. Ben had to get back to work so the four of us headed over to the Grain Barge for lunch, a boat restaurant across the river from Isambard Kingdom Brunel's S.S. Great Britain. Just in time for last call from the kitchen (they stop serving food at 3pm) and I was pleasantly surprised with my open-faced salmon and asparagus sandwich.

By this time we had walked a fair way already, and Ali hadn't seen the Clifton suspension bridge before so we grabbed a taxi up to the Avon Gorge Hotel, where the girls needed the bathroom. Thought it would be rude to stop in and not have a drink so sat in the sun on the infamous White Lion patio overlooking the bridge. It really is a marvel of engineering - so simple, and yet so sturdy. As it turned out, Ali didn't have any desire to actually go on the bridge so we got a taxi back to the Marriott hotel in the centre of town, grabbed our jackets that we had left at the Arnolfini and headed home for a rest.

While Jules threw together a pasta and meat sauce dinner, I slept restlessly on the living room armchair. I briefly recall talking to dad on Skype, (although it was just a Happy Birthday from my nap) and next thing I know, it's 7.30pm, we're throwing food down our throats and prepping to get back to the Old Duke where we were meeting more people for the fabled "Big Night Out."

Our team: Ali, Jules Leena, and myself, with additions of Dave & Kirsty (a couple from Jules' uni days), Ollie (a friend of Ali's) and Anna (from Monday night). Our plan was to go and listen to some live music, and the Duke is never a bad choice for that. Blues shit all over the walls (the name refers to Mr. Ellington, rather than any arstocrati connotations). An old guy with a slide guitar - that's my kind of night! Unfortunately, one of the girls figured we'd be sitting down, and thus didn't wear shoes that one could deem as "comfortable". Inexplicably. Why have shoes if they aren't comfortable? Anyway. www.theoldduke.co.uk/

From there, we headed over to the Big Chill, a funky lounge style bar with half price cocktails and a sweet vinyl DJ on the decks. There for a couple, (2 for 1 cocktails… be careful, they'll jump out at you) and we realized they were getting ready to close down at around midnight. The two "locals" Jules and Leena, were brainstorming as to where we would go next; the night was but young. I suggested they ask the bartender where he would suggest. Jules went to talk to him.

At this point, I must confess that I am torn as a writer on what to do with this story. We went to the sweetest place but I refuse to ruin it by telling everyone where it is. In the spirit of this, it shall be known as the Secret Bar.

Jules came back from the bar, looked at me, and said "We're going to the Secret Bar." You have no idea how excited I was . He had mentioned this place the first night we were in town; he knew of it, but didn't know exactly how to get there. Until now. We walked toward it, wondering what our backup would be ("if its busy, they'll be open, if not, they'll be shut already"… on a Wednesday night, we were covering our bases). To think one of them, in retrospect, was a Wetherspoons! By the time we got to the general area, I was ten steps ahead of them, now obsessed with finding this place.

We got there; an unmarked door with a peephole, and a doorbell. We rang, and waited. A woman answered, looked us over, and invited us in.

Fuck yeah.

It was wall to wall with 1920s memorabilia, right down to the chaise longue on which we sat, and the clothing worn by the bartender. A sizeable cocktail list (of real cocktails) was handed to us along with a decanter of water. The waitress didn't even flinch when I ordered an old-fashioned (not on the menu) and went straight into the varieties of bourbon they stocked. Drink in hand later (with a single ice cube the size of a small apple), and the blues music playing, I did a quick seat count and it was definitely less than 40. I can honestly say that it was the best bar I have been to in a long time, and when I come back to visit, the Secret bar will be high on my priority list. My only regret is that we found it on our last night, rather than our first - it would be an amazing place to become a regular.

How can you top that? Paid the bill with a heavy tip and thanked the two staff members, then got in a cab to go home. Honestly, it couldn't have been a better night.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ok. Seriously. Woke up at 5am today. I'm putting it down to the lack of proper curtains or blinds in every bedroom in the country. It's like nobody works past midnight in this place! Anyway. Jules had to work so Ali and I spent the morning chilling, waiting for her friend Leena to arrive. Leena and Ali met a couple of years ago through Clic Sargent, a cancer research company that focuses on children and young adults. And she's a riot. We went for some fine Italian dining (read: Pizza Hut) and after went on the search for one Sar Franke, a very good friend of mine from Whistler a couple of seasons ago. She works in a fancy soap retail branch of Molton Brown, in a pretty nice section of the shopping district of Bristol so after we arranged to meet up that evening (she only lives around the corner from Jules' place) we had a quick look around the stores. I knew I had to get new boardshorts anyway and i neglected to pack shorts of any kind, so picked up some of the new 4 way stretch shorts from Oakley. It's seriously like you aren't wearing anything. I love em.
Next stop: the Apple, one of the barge bars on the river, where Leena had told us there was a lemon cider that we had to try. It was dangerously good, and even though it was only 4% it certainly got you loosened up. Brother's Cider: http://www.brotherscider.co.uk/
While we could have easily had another one there, it was decided that we should get home and prep for the Pub Quiz that was going on around the corner. Before that, though, we stopped off at Jules' restaurant/cafe/bar thingy he works at, Arnolfini's. I do miss the subculture of beer that is prevalent in the UK, particularly in the ales/bitter categories. It just doesn't quite cut it in Whistler, where the only real microbrew is Whistler Brewing company. Sunrise Bristol Ale is cloudy orange, and a good hoppy taste, much heavier than it appears on sight.
I HAD to nap. This 'getting up early' thing is really fucking with my schedule of 'being awesome', so after a quick power nap I manned up and we went to The Lounge, where the quiz was being held.

Or so we thought. It's on Monday nights. It being Tuesday, we figured we may as well settle here for the night anyway. Ketel One was obscenely cheap, so that's where my money went (after a supporting Red Bull to keep me going). Frankie showed up, and we talked about everything that's been happening in our lives in the past 2 years (2 years! WTF!),and had us a grand ole time - at one point we put on Ali's wig: photos tbd. Leena has been on a bit of a bender recently, as it was this week where she was 5 years since the "all clear", a milestone my family is looking forward to. Given that she's the smallest in our group, and we were drinking equal amounts, it was only a matter of time before things turned hilarious. An avid photographer, we were subjected to some serious flashbulbery. I can't wait to see the photos that make the cut. www.leenatakooree.com, I am confident that at least one of the photos from the night will make it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bristol, Day 1

I don't know what is wrong with my body, but it appears I have reverse jet lag. My phone is still on Vancouver time so 11pm is equivalent to 7am. Which is when I woke up this morning. Whatever.

I packed up for Bristol, wrote out my latest review (Little & Ashley's Thousand Falling Stars EP) and hung around the house in various forms of disarray - to the point where I napped for 20 minutes just before Ali and I left for the train. West. The sun helps on an overland trip; it puts everyone in a better mood. Slept - again - on the train both of us. I've never had a problem sleeping on public transport and I always seem to wake up at the right time. Jules met us at Bristol Temple Meads, Grabbed a cab home to his place (a former church hall, now chopped up into 4 separate apartments), and headed back out to meet with Anna, a family friend whom I later worked out I haven't seen in 7 years. Dinner at a noodle bar chain restaurant and then to the Bristol Ram for the first official pint of the trip… and the second. Anna drove us to Jules' place where Emma, his housemate, was indulging in her latest pleasure now that her exams were done - 24, first season. Ali went to bed, and we stayed up and reminisced on the series over beer. Bed by midnight. Wed is promised to be a heavy one.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Portsmouth, Episode One

Here's something I like to do when I'm waiting to board the plane. I usually sit as close to the front as possible, so I'm one of the last people to get on the plane. During this time, I "check out" the girls boarding in front of me. No word of a lie, if it was a bar I would talk to no less than 15 of the women that were on the flight. And which one sits next to me?

None of them. None at all. I think next time I'm going to ask the ticket person to seat me next to the prettiest girl in the plane. Single is a bonus. Instead, I get the most arrogant, self-entitled oxygen thief I've ever experienced first hand. Before we had even started taxiing, he had turned around and told the nice lady behind him (a perfect stranger, mind you) to "knock it off!" because his seat was moving. It emerged that the woman to my right (yes, I, a 6ft. tall man, was given the middle seat) was settling, as she had just sat down and the movement had travelled along the structure. He then spilled half a can of Pepsi onto the leather seat, which immediately transferred to my ass, and he didn't apologise nor offer me one of the towels he eventually procured from the flight attendant, whom he treated like a head injury patient.
I truly wish I had caught his name so I could call him out online forever. Anyway, 9hrs later and I'm finally through customs. My brother and mom met me and got in her new Mercedes.

As with all transcontinental flights, the first day is always a write off. I floated through the day as much as possible, napped the afternoon away, and when I was awoken caught up with the family. Opened the bottle I bought in Duty Free (Jack Daniels Single Barrel) and got into it with dinner. Visited my Aunt and Uncle down the street, and by the time we got home we realised that we only had to wait an hour and a half for the hockey to start! Jules was most impressed, and we kept drinking whiskey. Next thing you know it's 2-1 at the end of the first and I am aware of my jet lag.

Day 2 saw a huge task ahead of us. My mother recently bought a new house, and so is getting set to move from the house we have called home since we moved to England in 1998. Of course, the downside of this is that we have an attic with 12 years worth of crap in it. Remember, I just moved my own crap last week; I became over it" pretty damn quickly, but it needed doing. Plus, it was cool to find the stuff I hadn't seen in years (school pictures anyone? Leafs jersey? Kurt Cobain's journals?) Once it was done (around 6pm), we ordered pizza, Jules went back to Bristol, and the other three of us hung around for the rest of the night.

I'll admit, this last couple of days are probably boring to an outsider, but I've enjoyed it. Trust me, the rest of the trip is going to be far more interesting. Bristol beckons, and the sun will shine.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Home?

And so it begins.

Day 1 of travelling is always an ordeal. First there's the sliding scale of what to do the night before vs. what to do the morning of, all of which is presided over by "How much sleep do I want?" (Answer: as much as possible.) Obviously, apart from those die hard vacationers, the case is packed, the passport is already in the pocket of the jeans you have laid out to wear. Then your alarm goes off and you turn it off immediately because you've been awake for an hour and a half ahead of it, on the misguided instinct that you a)forgot to set it and remembered mid-awesome dream, b) you set it but slept through it, or c) the most terrifying of all, you set it, turned it off at the appointed time, and fell back asleep, thus ruining the hopes and dreams you and anyone you are travelling with or to. Of course, you're already awake now.

An uncomfortable commute to the airport in a seat with legroom just too small to fall asleep in, but just that little bit too big to wedge your knees onto the seat in front, and then you're there. Already feeling like you should have showered (back to that "more sleep'" thing above) you then see something you haven't seen in a very long time - a lineup of people, waiting to check in. Wasn't the internet supposed to get rid of lines, or did they scrap that in favour of more pornography? It wouldn't surprise me, to be honest. You hear the woman next to you checking in her luggage complain - "My bag is 5 kilos by itself!" means you only pack 15kg of stuff, you dumb old bat. Don't take it out on the check in lady, she's probably just as pissed as you because you can't follow simple directions.

Then - joy of joys! Like a beacon of light in a tunnel, a port in a storm, an oasis in a parched desert you see it. That wondrous spot that can be found easily by two signature characteristics: the long line of people waiting for their drug of choice, and the bright red letters that read like the Gospel: Tim. Hortons.

Oh sweet Timothy, it's been too long, I'm so sorry. Will you forgive me and hook me up with a double double and 40 Timbits please? (I am aware that the previous sentence may confuse some readers. I don't give a shit. You aren't in the know.)

Caffeine imbibed, you bask in the warm glow emanating from your gut. You're home.

Wait, that's not right at all. You're at the airport. Why are you at the airport? Focus: you must be going somewhere… what did you pack?

Then it hits me: I'm going to England to see my family.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Prepping for the Trip

Well hot damn, how time flies. Already a month since I last posted - who would have thought? In that time I've moved house, started (and ended) a relationship, and the Telus Festival has come and gone. As a matter of fact, if you include moving day, this is the first day off I've had in almost 3 weeks... and I have no intention of going out and getting hammered, so enamoured am I with my new house. I'm gonna stay in, have a beer or two, and listen to some music for work (did I not mention that? I'm writing for MVRemix.com now as well, reviewing albums.) To be honest, I hit the hot tub this afternoon (I have a hot tub now) and that pretty much wiped my schedule for the rest of the day!

So that time has come around once again. It's the end of the season, and it's time for me to travel. Back to the UK this time, to see some people I haven't seen in a while. It promises to be busy, but I'm looking forward to the journey. As always I shall document everything I can on the trip (without unintentionally incriminating myself). Every day might be a bit crazy but I'll do what I can.

My rough schedule is as follows: fly in Saturday morning, stay in Portsmouth for the weekend, then Ali (sister) and I are going to Bristol to party like students with Jules (brother) for a couple of days. Then back to Portsmouth to help my mom move (UPDATE: this is probably not going to happen before I fly back home), and up to Norwich from around the 14th to the 17th to meet up with my bros from Whis, Neil and Les, as well as one Australian girl named Lauren if I can convince her that it will be nothing but awesome. Finally back to Portsmouth and the night before I fly, a quiet night in London before my early flight home on the 19th.

This is the plan anyway.

I also worked out that money... should not be a problem for me. Which is a nice feeling to have before traveling.

Watch this space kids.

By The Way: Check these things out because they are fantastic: Fuckin' Tea, Dads: The Original Hipsters, and Talking Funny.