Monday, January 31, 2005

T-1 day

My sister was unfortunately working on my birthday, so it was arranged that we would go out on the Monday night for a family bash, to allow me to drive back down south to have drinks on the tuesday with friends. So it was arranged, 7pm in the Skiff Inn - my dad, mum, sister (Gillian) and her husband (Phil) - and of course, myself would be in attendance. So we all caught up, chinwagged, discussed the finer items such as the Bellamy/Souness saga - until my mother (always grand with footballing quotes - "Newcastle v Sunderland - just another game") turns around and describes the mackems manager as "a nice looking bloke" which kind of had my heart beating in all the wrong times.
Anyhoo, nice steak, nice food - chilled night out - just what I wanted really.
Ended up back at my mums where I then drank a bottle of white wine - mmmm - wine coma.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Northern friends, northern beer and northern music

I spent Sunday night with old school mate - EEN - as we dont really get that much chance to catch up with each other that much. He kindly offered me to stay over night so we could have a right old beer session. This was quite good as it meant I got to catch up a little with his wife, Sarah, and their little kid, Jess. After one can of Fosters and 60 mins of dirty looks from little Jess, we decided to escape to EEN's local boozer (the Mill something) which was about a mile walk away from his gaff. So we sat down, discussed past, present and future topics and the beer did a flow, then up pops a band. Now, as you may or may not know, I'm used to Open Mic music down the Well on a Sunday, but this was quite different - Cheerful for a start and not having to watch Paul R looking for any excuse to slide his hand in some birds pants. Refreshing really! Anyhoo, the band starts to play traditional northern music which got the feet a tapping, and some old songs starting to creep into the back of your head. All n' all, a good night out, and a couple of subjects crept up and discussed and put back to bed - probably for the best for all concerned.
Back to EENs after "last orders" for half pizza, 342385 turkey nuggets and more drunken rubbish, until I fell asleep in their spare room which was so hot, it was something like out of Tenko. I half expected some oriental fellow to storm the room at 05:43 and shove bamboo under my nails.
After waking up and feeling like someone was kicking my head all night (probably little Jess), a nice cup of tea, I dropped Een off at work and received a nice present from him and Sarah - then back to my mothers for a day of shopping.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Tale of two cities ( well, one, technically)

After a great entertaining night of Chesterfield v Bristol in the tinpot cocacola league, it was time for me to hit the road and see the folks and family. I havent spent my birthday up in the good North East of England for a long while now, so seemed fitting for my 30th to go up and just do that. I was supposed to be picking up the hire car (yes, my insurance has not yet been sorted) at 8.30 and making an early start - however due to vast amounts of Stella - this was rescheduled to around 11am. Newcastle played Cov in the FA Cup 4th round and it was 20 quid to get into the gaff, so decided it would be a great way to see the team and save some cash. Needless to say, a 3pm kick off meant that I had to yank it up the motorway.
After a flyby Hi/bye conversation to my mother (by this time she was already calling me Stephen) I managed to get a bus down to St James and purchase a ticket - for the said price of 20 quid. Missing 2 mins of the game, I managed to get to my seat to sit through amusing abuse of the fans ripping into Souness (after the Souness v Bellamy saga). "Souness, you couldnt manage a f**king shop, nevermind a football team, now just f**k off you scottish t**t" was just one of the comments. After a commanding 3-1 win, it was off to Newcastle to purchase some grub and stroll back to my mums for wine, beer and chinese food - mmm.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Baby Blue

Captain Rich invited me out lastnight... Turns out that JT's wife had given birth to Teddy T - so in true tradition northern style, JT had decided to invite people out to wet the baby's head. Meeting Rich (who was supposed to be early, and turned up late) at the Lock Dock and Barrel across the road from me, with Sir Blunt, John O and the lovely Helen for a couple of pints before linking up with the remainder of the group. The lovely Nomes turned up midway and kindly purchased me another pint of beer - great - and we made way to the Lounge for Baby related conversations. This is all great, however some of the tales that JT told us, quite frankly put me off having kids, although he asked (due to me reaching 30) when I would be having kids. So I had to put him right that I did need some consenting adult to a) have sex with me and allow me to father a child - not an easy task I can tell you.
The Lounge was busy and bumped into one of our football chums and chinwagged - as people disbanded else where. Myself, Captain Rich and Sailor boy Blunty - and tag along Stuey ended up in the Well (for me, the first time for nearly a month) - for more beverage and Student piss take. Stuey got the last train, leaving it three, until the captain announced he was getting an early night (well, at 01:00 anyhow) - leaving me and Ship Ahoy Blunty to drink the good old ship Robbins Well as dry as possible. I dont really remember getting back home, but I do know that there is a bag of chips with battered sausage in the bin, so can only assume a) My Kitchen is magic and grows chip butty with battered sausages once a year or b) I went to the chip shop.
Anyhooooooo, I woke up approx 2pm on a Saturday and done very little apart from mooch and plant some Daffs. Welcome to my world!

Hello Hello - we're in a place called Leamington Spa ?

Coming up to my 30th in a couple of weeks, I decided it was probably best I get "jiggy with it" - and I dont mean in some kind of freaky Will Smith style song. Music wise, I've tried to keep up with the youth of today, but technology wise, I'm approx about 4 years behind with my minidisk player. With the force of the iPOD, I was always wanting to be someone different, however after years of putting up with "disk" I final Succumb to the ways of Harold and purchased a funky 40Gb Photo ipod. I'm currently through about 80% of my albums and have filled about 4Gb of the total. Fantastic!! Not only can you listen to hours of music (technically 12 hours with the battery) but you can plug this into your TV and play a slide show of your photos.
Anyhoo, I predict that in the next couple of years, you will be able to buy music on the Internet .... WOW

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Shopping Shambles

After a week of complete exhaustion, and running out of food (well technically, I just havent had an appetite recently) - I had to pop around to somerfield to get essentials - like bread, diet coke and tracker bars. I had just been speaking to my fantastic neighbours John and Debbie on msn - when debbie announced she was going too - and would i like to keep her company and ensure she doesnt get blown away in the gales. So, being nice, I thought it would be good to catch up.
Anyhooooooo, needless to say, as soon as we get into Somerfield, she turns into some kind of shopping animal, purchasing random items, such as muffinbread - and then has the cheek to blame it on me - fantastic !!!

Monday, January 17, 2005

New York - OnLine

Here are the photos ONLINE from my New York trip.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Trains, Planes and Automobiles (and hooters) Part IIII

Thursday was my last full day in NYC, so was determined to use it to my full advantage, sadly, it didnt work out that way. Managed to get down to the bottom of the island again and attempted the Ferry to the Statue of Liberty. After spending 60 mins in either the queue for the tickets, or a queue in security - once again getting bags checked and scanned and man handled - the temperature was dropping. Then yay - we were allowed on the Ferry and started to head towards Libery Island, now - impressive from a far, but you get up to the statue - and its not really that big. In fact, I have to ask the question, in Ghostbusters II - how the hell did this statue get over to the main island ? Unless it had somekind of statue armbands - it's feet wouldnt actually be able to walk on the bottom of the river. Anyhoo, after a hotdog and tea - things were starting to warm up a little - we returned to the Ferry and bombed out the Ellis Island stop, mainly because it was a 3 hour visit of the museum.

We bombed around on the underground for a while - nearly being caught out my some local dodgy looking characters at a possible dead end if you didnt have a metro card to get into the subway. Was a little strange, myself and the captain walking down some stairs when dodgy looking character #1 looks and nods and dodgy looking character #2 - as to say, if they dont have cards, we'll get them on the way out. Needless to say, with speed being of the essence - we scanned through and hopped on the next train up to Time Square. From there we split up, the Captain went off to look for the I NY for friends, where as I went over to the shopping area on Lexington Avenue to have a look at the clothes shops etc. On my return, sad tho it is, I found the IBM building - I wasnt looking - honest.
We returned to P.J. Carney's for a night of food, beer and looking at the lovely barmaids - returning to the hotel when we could barely speak.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Trains, Planes and Automobiles (and hooters) Part III

Wednesday was a little more quieter - and was used as a shopping day. I promised the lovely Philippa a bag from the states that she was harping on about for months for her 30th birthday present. So, after the text;
"A small girly holdy bag, got 'little brown bag' written all over em Probably millions to choose from, in macy's I think :) Very touristy, take care hun XX"
you would expect - simple, Macy's, bag section, purchase, get out. No - not at all, after asking a couple of assistants where the hell they were to buy I get - "well sir (in a most annoying accent - and not in a liverpool accent either), you need to go to bloomingdales". Now Macy's is around time square / MSG area - Bloody Bloomingdales is further up north even more north than where our hotel was, and further east - 59th and something - fantastic.

On the plus side, captain happy got a ipod case, as we wandered around midtown. On top of that, he bought enough books to stock a waterstones in his garden shed. Once purchasing the formentioned bag, we returned to 57th street and found a small Irish bar that was showing the football, so $10 lighter after the entry fee we tucked into some beer and watching the Carling Cup Semi final between Man U and Chelsea.
After the 4th pint we then return to the hotel to get changed and freshen up and then bumped into BC in reception. I'd mentioned to people in Washington about Hooters ( apparently there was one around the corner from us there too) and it being a vegeterian outfit, stocking all kind of healthy food - just to drum up some interest. Of course, we bump into Helen, Barry, Brian and BC's wife and it was mentioned there - of how they fancied some healthy food and could they attend Hooters for a drink and some food. I had to sadly put them straight on the whole Hooters story, and strangely enough they were still up for it, so sure enough, a couple of pints later, they'd been scared off by some pot bellied american waitress wearing a tight tshirt and shorts that didnt help her figure. In fact, it was enough to scare myself and the Captain, to which I noticed a small bar a couple of days earlier and suggested we went there. The place is about as large as your living room and kitchen stitched together, but has a lovely atmosphere, and even better - stocked Stella for the captain.
The place was so nice, even the American/Irish barmaid decided to take the piss out of (mostly me) us by at one point refusing to serve me, then doing so - strange. Anyhoo, if you're in NYC - I would recommend P.J.Carney's - serves lovely food too - fantastic. We stayed there til gone midnight and to the point where we could barely talk.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Trains, Planes and Automobiles (and hooters) Part II

I wanted to do something American and Spoty while I was in NY - seems a shame not to really - so after getting a tip off the night before that the NY Knicks were playing Tuesday Night at MSG. I thought that this was a class idea, as it killed two birds with one stone, sports and one of the tourist places all in an evening. So after $119 per ticket, we ordered two for the night, BC was also interested, but didnt really get him two for him and his wife - and not that be interested.
After the purchase, myself and the captain left to get some breakfast and walked around, well so much walking we managed to cover about 5 mile and a bulk of midtown and downtime all in one day. We walked from our base (57th on 7th) down to time square, past Macy's and MSG, into the Empire State (as the queues were down and visibility was good), down to the World Trade Centre Site to pay respects and right down to the tip of the island and got a subway pass and train backup to 57th street. During the day it had been snowing, which was great, but we were getting a little wet, so we returned to the hotel, to put on harder shoes (instead of the thinnest shoes in the world which is what I was wearing) and returned to our site seeing tour. We wandered over to the RockerFella Centre to check out the ice skating and also to see where the Pokemon World Headquaters were - the latter being a little more difficult to find, but we managed it and was a laugh - although, again, tacky. We then found the largest TGI fridays in American, and I honestly think the Captain was impressed when his rack of ribs turned up - being bigger than the plate, although he did have a very very good stab at it.
Once we returned to the hotel, we then set off for MSG - and basketball. Now here are some people who can put a show on, and in typical american style, everything has to be 10 times as bigger, 10 times louder and 10 times longer. This must be the only country in the world that can make a game of 4 x 12 mins last 3 hours - no really. Good fun tho, esp when the home team starts to loose, the fans (3 more importantly) started to get on the team's back. Stereotypical american comments like - "You Suck", "You're a Jackass" started to stream from these people's mouths, only to be improved when me and the Captain started shouting, "You're a Mess and a Shambles". My fav comment has to be "Sack Lenny, You Suck Man"
To which, we returned to Hooters for a couple of swift ones.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Trains, Planes and Automobiles (and hooters) Part I

Monday marked the end of our time working in Washington and although fun tho it was, I was looking forward to NY, and time from work to relax. As I was flying out on the Friday afternoon, I was determined to do as much as possible. Leaving Washington was fun, there was a fire alarm (yes, another one) and an evacuation at 3am. At this stage of our washington visit, the temperature decided to decrease so much that night, it was below freezin. Anyhoo, the alarm goes off, and I was pondering to just sleep through it, as the last one was a false alarm after a test went wrong. After about 20 minutes, I thought bugger this, I'm off to investigate - wandering down to reception in jeans and tshirt only to be told to get out. Not expecting this evacuation, here was me in flimsy clothing in front of all my colleagues who decided to be cautious and wear coats ... and hats and scarfs. After the firemen had turned up, using stereotypical "Backdraft" walking with their kit, searched the area and decided we were all safe - so we all moved back to our warm toast beds *
The morning came oh to quickly, and the people going up to New York (BC, his wife, Helen, Barry & myself) met for breakfast at some god unearthly hour, chit chatted and checked out, then drove up to Washington to dump the hire car and get a nice train up to NYC. This trip only lasted 3 hrs 15 - but felt like 60 mins - there was no hassle, no delay - basically no english running of the system.
Well, this is true, until we got to Penn Station in NY where we waited for 1 hour for our bags to turn up ( these were travelling seperately in another train. We managed to successfully get a Taxi to 57th on 7th - which was to be our base for the time in NY - a nice old fashioned hotel -- of which I was on the 16th floor. Once everyone got settled, we met up in a little deli/cafe type thing across the road for coffee and muffins, then set off for a little wander around Central Park. Arrangements were made for that night, and although it appeared to be a "couple night" I was invited along, but declided - mainly due to the fact that on the way up in the Taxi, I noticed Hooters around the corner from the hotel. I've never been in a hooters before, and thought it would be a funny thing to do as its tatt and a good place to meet the Captain. 5 pints later of drinking the beer "blackboard" I receieve a call from the captain sounding almost amused, saying he'll be about 50 mins. [ The story behind this is probably best told by himself, but basically, he was due to fly from Brum, transfer in Dublin and fly to JFK. Instead, he got a cancelled flight, complained, shipped in a taxi to Heathrow and boarded a BA flight. All of which improved his humour for the day I'm sure ] So sure enough a tired looking captain arrives in Hooters after directions from my good self - sup a couple of beers and I tell him I'm retiring for the night and he is probably wise doing the same. Needless to say, he decides a couple of beers in the hotel bar is needed - and spends about 5 quid on bottled beer.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

half way around the world in 23 hours

Well, I've arrived in Washington (well technically just outside) after an exhausting day and night most of it due to my own stupidity. I went out and had a couple of beers with Boots while watching the Newcastle v West Brom game - and strangely enough arrived back at my place, but found hoegaarden in the fridge - so drank that - well all of it. So getting into bed around 1.30 after chinwagging with fellow MSN'ers it was just lovely when the alarm goes off at 4.45 - no really. Anyhoo, I got picked up by Mr Chester around 6am and we drove pretty quickly down to Heathrow, checked in via express checkin - which was nice, and tucked into some nice breakfast. We got on the plane to be told that a) the flight was going to take a little longer due to winds, and b) we werent gonna take off for a while due to some passangers checking in.
So we get on with it, have lunch, free beer, listened to some music - chatted to the nice young blonde sat next to me, had a bit of chin wag while she heated up, cooled down, heated up again - so Dr Wharton ends up getting a nice cup of tea for her - see - NICE!.
We eventually get to the airport to be faced with a huge queue at customs, due to new regulations - having both index fingers scanned and digital photos taken. Great, then hire cars, which took a little longer than expected, then to the hotel, where checkin took even longer than expected. I decided to freshen up, have a shower and meet the rest in the bar - where I get ID'd - class isnt it - 30 and still getting ID'd - must be that cream I use ;o) We grab some food, have a couple of swift ones and I decided to call it a night, well, decide to work for 2 more hours. So by the time my brain stopped functioning, it was 23 hours and I couldnt take it anymore. Needless to say, a firealarm going off at 5.50am is just what you want - no really. Turns out to be a false alarm and was only someone testing it.
We had to be ready in reception for 8.45 as we were visiting where we are supposed to be working, so american breakfast me up. We do the tour, get kitted out with security badges etc and got kicked out - so plans were made for the rest of the day - shopping or Georgetown - needless to say I joined 9 other travellers to "the largest mall in the area" - yeah ... great, I was impressed *. Although I did have a toasted subway sandwich - nice idea - simple but effective.
We're out tonight to a steak house (mmm steak) although myself and Mr Chester have to be up at 4.00 to start on this Test - fantastic - loads of beer for us tonight then.

Monday, January 03, 2005

And now, the weather

You may, or may not know, but I'm off to the states tomorrow with Captain Chester and his wife (sadly not the lovely Rachel). Random bits of information;

10 day weather forecast is here for washington dc
Web cam of the road between work and the hotel is here

For those who maybe in NY around the 10th Jan - you can get a weather report here

Massive thanks to John and Debbie for keeping an eye on my place.

60 mins run

Well, what would you expect to do in the early hours of the first bank holiday of 2005 - sleep ? ooh, I would so like to be in your shoes. I always promised to not use this weblog as a form of anger and frustration, but - my friends - this has to end this morning. At 01:55 I got a text message from Jess asking if I was still up and another at 01:58 asking if I was there. So, "being the nicest guy" I decided to jog up towards the pub and beyond - only to recieve a text message around about 2 mile away to say that Jess wasnt at home and I should forget about her. FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC - NO REALLY!!!!! You see, you could have sent that AND saved the cost of two text messages AND saved my sleep & my energy!!!! I know this sounds really onesided, but I have put my neck on the line in front of my friends. They have said to just leave it and let it go, but my inner body said no, and myself and Rich have had this before to make him understand how I feel. Needless to say, I feel an even bigger fool that I should, and probably an older fool with a number of opportunities I've put to the side because of her.

Kneel before Sir Les!

I try not to link to football websites, if possible - but Newcastle United's ex-striker - but still someone I respect as a striker has now left Bolton. At the age of 38 - it looks like this may be his final season in the premiership, sadly, however we're all hoping he can continue. Some players have asked in the past "who was king when you first started playing football" and "what was football like in the dark ages". I for one, know what impact he has at St James Park when he played for the toon.
Sir Les, may it continue - as long as you dont score against NUFC

Single ? Get a bowler hat !

Yes, strange tho it may seem (and probably doesnt make any sense due to drinking heavily since none o'clock) bowler hats attract women. As you may or not know ... I dressed up as Mr Benn for new years eve, and decided to carry this off to the quiz (where we came joint 2nd with 3 plays - oooh weee oooow). So, decided to carry the theme, minus the tie, suit, shirt and sadly the sexy boxer shorts, no one saw by wearing & the bowler hat to the quiz. Needless to say, with me, the general knowledge monkey and the sports monkey, we thought we did OK - until the final results came out and we came joint second- which, I think is pretty good going.
Anyhoo, back to the story, countless girls (well 3) started talking to me, asking where I got the hat from etc etc, then pleasent convo's appears. Anyhow those knowing me really well, know that I aint a tap up merchant, regardless what Rich reckons - but was nice. The lovely Jess, was there, but starting to understand her slowly - however sadly, seeing her going off Captain Wharton's Radar for good (good luck Jess - baring in mind she knows how I feel).
Regardless what Rich, Cherry (mmm) or whoever think - this was a massive step, and to counter-act the fancy dress theme, the quiz - I will end up with a number of random head-dresses over the yeah. One of the real nice things someone has ever said was from the general knowledge monkey saying "you are THE nicest person I have ever met" - which may not seem alot, but means alot.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Beer!

John and Debbie were very kind enough to hold a new years eve party at their gaff, so obviously it was great for me, as I only had to roll out of the door, and into bed, while others arranged taxi's and walked to eons. Rather than just a bulk standard houseparty, John and Debbie insisted on fancy dress - all themed around kids TV/film/book characters. I decided to go as Mr Benn as I've always fancied wearing a bowler hat. Anyhoo, armed with 54 cans of lager, my special potatoes and my bowler hat, I struggled to walk that massive distance of 35 paces. Needless to say, even tho I was "late" I was still the first one to arrive - so started on the Chang beer - mmm. After a couple more beers and more people turning up, it just got strange - here was Mr Benn, talking to the rather lovely Mini Mouse (ok, albeit Mr Benn was blushing alot and very shy), Shrek and Dogtanion. Later on, Mr Benn also got talking to Fred Flintstone and other random stuff. Beer started to flow (far too much for some) and everyone had a merry time, playing that dreaded game singstar. Someone had a blonde wig - and suggested I tried it on - I dont know why, coz I'm Blond to start with - crazy. John thought I looked like Boris Johnson as per the below. I think they are crazy to suggest such a thing!

Arrogant Tory Wanker (pictured centre)

Anyhoo, we saw in the new year, shook hands, got kisses on the cheek by the lovely ladies and continued drinking beer. Getting voicemails and text messages is great - just not at the sametime - I'm a simple person, I can only do one thing at a time - and thats drink beer. Anyhow, a great night had by all, and a massive thanks again to John and Debbie for putting up with drunken louts trashing their place. John has put his photos up - and available here.

Sale Sabotage

Trawling the internet can be often fun ... it can often be very scary if you come across some strange websites - but managed to find this :-

Basically you create your sabotaged poster for the ikea sale poster - and it gets posted on t'internet. Some are a little x-rated - some are amusing in the archive which you can search around. My efforts;