Movember

Well, November has been an interesting month…

I decided to join in with Movember again this year: fundraising for men’s mental health. A good cause. But yes, I end up looking more ridiculous than usual and hating the annoying slug festering under my nose! At least tomorrow I can shave the bastard off or at least trim it right back!

Tonight, I’m supposed to be going to their Gala Parté at the Roundhouse Camden, but I came down with a heavy cold this week which is on its way out – thankfully – but is on my chest right now, so I can’t really be arsed. And I’m a little bit down at the moment, if I’m honest, but shh! That’s our secret, right?

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The 6th was the Bring Me The Horizon gig at Brixton. A good one, if I’m honest, although the band’s lead singer was a knob trying to look big in front of the predominantly young, female, screaming audience. More noise from them than from the stage.

That Friday it was the PurplePort London Social: it was good to meet up with some photographers and some models, including Sakura Star who’d previously said she was keen to work with me on a somewhat noir bondage and fetish project going forward: she has some excellent work on her portfolio already.

The next day it was off up to Norwich to see Norwich City beat West Ham United and thereby save Chris Hughton from the dole queue for a little longer…

The following week was fun at work: I was put forward for a major commission in Canada without my knowledge so I had a meeting planned with my boss – the owner of the business I work for – which never happened as we’d heard that I was needed in Chicago for a meeting which was then cancelled at short notice as they’d gone with a local company instead of ours. So that’s parked for another day…

I had a couple of days off that week to recharge and the Wednesday was a good opportunity to have one last thrash on the Sprint before winter sets in. I headed off down to Sussex, for a “Bigboy Breakfast” at Wesson’s Cafe, stopping off en route to get a warning for a dodgy numberplate as it’s too small, apparently. Oops! Must order a legal one: the bike never came with one because the vanity plate came later. The that night it was off to the O2 to see Vampire Weekend and Noah and the Whale in concert. GT and I stayed for three songs, it was that rubbish…

At the weekend, GT and I were off to an 80s party in the evening: her goth’d up (more so than usual thanks to crimping her hair) and me with a poodle perm wig, Frankie Say Relax t-shirt, white linen trousers and some horrendous white canvas shoes. A late one at that, DJ-ing from my iPhone with some 80s tracks. And then there was the Sunday…

GT had a race first thing in the morning, so while she was gone I got up, bathed and had a coffee. When she got back I made more coffee and joined her in the bathroom whilst she had a post-race bath. I told her there was something wrong: I felt she wasn’t that in to me any more – we’ve been seeing each other for nearly 3 years now on an irregular, regular basis – and that it’s become more pronounced since she was promoted, working longer hours with shifts, etc. GT agreed that she seemed to have no time to put in to a relationship these days to make one work, so we agreed to split up rather than just going through the motions. We then spent the afternoon shopping in Kingston and had dinner before I left.

The following weekend was all about gigs and bikes: on Saturday it was off to the NEC for Motorcycle Live. A chance for me to buy some new Goretex Alpinestars SMX Plus bike boots in black for next summer’s Austrian Eurothrash. It was also great to bump into Emma Kate Dawson for a chat and a catch-up.

Then on the Saturday night I saw Queens of the Stone Age at the Wembley Arena and as I had a spare ticket – I always buy two out of habit – I invited Sakura Star along as I knew she was at a loose end having just split up from her bloke. She showed me some great photos that another photographer had taken of her in a fab leather and feather dress which are now on her profiles having got clearance from the designers and we had a few drinks before the gig. QOTSA were excellent and SS was good company.

Queens of the Stone Age
Queens of the Stone Ages

Then on the Sunday night it was off to the Hammersmith Apollo with GT to see the Pixies who were also absolutely superb.

The Pixies

 

The Pixies

Last week was busy: London, Birmingham and Manchester with lots of different hotels and lots of travelling. And there’s more to come soon when I pop over to Toronto to speak at a major event.

At least that should keep me busy and my mind off relationships past, present and future. In the meantime, I’ve booked next year’s holidays to Fuerteventura with my ‘kids’ to go with the Austrian Eurothrash.

Reflective

Work’s been quite hectic of late, as has my social life (which is no bad thing, of course).

Friday and I was off up to Soho and the Jazz After Dark to catch up with a mate, the excellent James Gillespie, who was over in the UK from Fuerteventura to play a few gigs on a whirlwind visit. Really good to catch up with him and his partner Jess plus a few other people I’d met at the Rock Island Bar as well as a few of James’ family members. Lots of drinks as always – ciders, spirits and shots! It was a great night out and even being grabbed in the bits by a friendly transvestite on my way home didn’t faze me!

Saturday and I was up bright and early to go and look at a house in the next block from mine in the same Crescent: a fair sized house for me with an even nicer garage which has the potential to double as a photographic studio due to its size and the high ceiling height for backdrops, lighting rigs, etc. We’ll see.

The it was off to see GT for lunch and an afternoon watching three hours of “Django Unchained” – spaghetti westerns reinvented for the 21st Century. Then it was off for another excellent curry at Cinnamon Spice.

A nice lay-in on Sunday before heading to Covent Garden for more retail therapy at Dr Martens with GT before I made my way home to pack and change to get to Paris by Eurostar and my hideously expensive but comfortable hotel.

A long day Monday in meetings and giving presentations to the MD of one of our larger Clients, made more difficult by a streaming cold {sigh}. Drinks in the Eurostar Business Lounge obviously help you care less.

Finally back home; my cabbie is also riding down to the Pyrenees this summer, apparently…

Working from home today so that I didn’t spread the sniffles; I took the opportunity to cancel a couple of remaining credit cards having cleared all the balances over the past few months. There’s something cathartic about doing this and cutting up the old ones. They were a safety blanket for me at times over the past years but with the potential to bite back, so it was good to cut them up and cut off more past times. More ties with the past severed for good.

If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be…

So after spending a great few days on Corralejo chilling out in my hotel and spending the evenings drinking and listening to live acoustic rock music with friends in the Rock Island Bar, it was back to normality with work for a couple of days before I headed up to Cleethorpes on the Sunday.

The view from my balcony
The view from my balcony
Coffee time
Coffee time

The plan had been to head up to Cleethorpes to drop off some old Court papers and some crap the ex-girlfriend had sent me with her parents but the ex found out about my plans – she reads my Tweets and this blog to stalk keep up to date with what I’m doing – and threatened to stop them from seeing the one remaining daughter she hasn’t thrown out if they saw me. Nice, eh? Mind you, as it turned out, that was just as well because an accident on the A17 delayed my getting there until later and I had plans to meet up with some old friends for a lovely meal out in town as their treat. Great to catch up with them and to have a load of laughs about Stuff.

Monday saw an impromptu diversion to Covent Garden on my way home for more Christmas Shopping for GT and my daughter (some killer heels for GT that were a leeetle more expensive than I thought but hey, she’s worth it) and then home.

The Tuesday night found GT and I going to KOKO Camden to watch Fear Factory‘s gig. Sadly this was disappointing. They mentioned they were 7 weeks into their tour and it had clearly taken its toll on the lead singer’s vocal chords as he was unable to sing in tune or make much noise for higher notes.

KOKO London
KOKO London
Fear Factory at KOKO Camden
Fear Factory at KOKO Camden

Wednesday and it was another gig: this time it was the Prodigy at the O2 Brixton Academy. We hadn’t realised when we booked the tickets that this was a late show, with the Prodigy not coming on until after midnight and finishing at 1.30am! On a school night! Oops! So GT and I had a meal and a mooch around and then went in to watch the support artists around 11.30pm and then waited for the Prodigy to come on and do a blinding set. They can still definitely do their thing.

We left shortly after and I got home around 3.00am which was just as well as a taxi was booked to collect me at 6.45am to take me to St. Pancras International for a trip over to Paris to see a Client. Back that evening, arriving around 8.45pm which was just as well as I needed to be nearby at our works Christmas do at a Comedy Club. Lots of laughs – why do I always get picked on by the headliners? Same as the Burlesque Shows – and they’d saved me my dinner which was nice.  We got thrown out around 1.30am and we grabbed some taxis to get us home.

Friday and it was time for dinner in Epsom with GT and some friends and to see Indian Elvis in action!

Indian Elvis
Indian Elvis

The food at the Cinnamon Spice is really excellent and we enjoyed a couple of bottles of wine with a great meal before heading home.

More shopping over the weekend and a lovely lunch out in Kingston at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant. Recommended.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day saw drinks with friends at their pub and a lovely meal cooked by GT – part carnivorous for me and part vegetarian (and delicious) – with some of the contents of the Fortnum & Mason hamper I’d been given.

Boxing Day and I was off to Norfolk to see my kids and to watch Norwich City (mainly in the rain and doing OK against a strong Chelsea team).

Today was mainly spent driving: back from Norfolk via Diss to buy Amy a replacement Ka after hers got written off; then on to my Mum’s for lunch and presents; then to Egham to get Amy home and off to work.

Phew!

The Thing About Weekends…

… is that they’re always over too quickly.

Having come back from Venice, we were out a couple of nights later for the Fields of the Nephilim gig at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Great gig it was too plus we had Vietnamese food beforehand at the nearby Westfield shopping centre. And then the weekend.

As it was GT’s birthday a few days afterwards, I popped out to the Apple Store whilst I was up in Norwich seeing Norwich City beat Stoke and bought her a MacBook Pro to replace her ageing laptop, which I set up for her the following weekend … when we weren’t spending Sunday messing around the countryside paintballing!

Epic weekend. Especially singling out the Competitive Dads – what is with Surrey? – for slaughter!

Meanwhile at BlueCo, I was up to Glasgow training a Client which I decided to do with my replacement iPad. That still leaves me with my old iPad at home which Jack suggested I give him. And GT didn’t help by asking why I needed two and pointing out that I could always buy myself another one later.

Another gig the day after – Seether at the Electric Ballroom up at Camden – which was quite different from the Neph one due to the demographic of the audience, shall we say…

Jack led me astray after a great weekend this weekend – Manchester United getting beaten by City! – and gradually wore me down into saying yes he probably could have my old iPad and yes I probably should order myself an iPad mini. So I did. Two weeks’ delivery but somehow that translates in Cupertino to delivery on 10 December. After I go to Fuerteventura, when I was hoping to use it on the flights. Ho hum.

Bit of a weird time at the moment. A colleague and friend at work died the week before last with a heart attack. I’d guess he was early to mid-50s? Scary stuff, especially as he was into mountain-biking and wasn’t unhealthy. And last week an old and dear friend died from MND.

Makes you re-evaluate your life and think about those who mean the most to you.

Radio 1 Hackney Weekend 2012

Well that was a great weekend!

After an horrendous, six hour drive down from Manchester on Friday night – idiots who can’t drive in a straight line on a road with one-way traffic crashing into each other – Amy and her housemate drove over to stay the night.

Saturday morning dawned bright and dry and found me cooking the sausages and eggs they’d kindly brought over before we headed off to Hackney Marshes, arriving at around 11.00am and queuing to get into BBC Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend 2012.  Somewhat bizarrely, we were asked to show our tickets five times before we actually got into the main area. Bizarre, because after the first gate and ticket check, there was no way for someone to have sneaked in.

Amy and Sophie
Amy and Sophie
Hackney Weekend
Hackney Weekend

Once inside, we wandered over to grab an ostrich burger and  cider before the acts came on to the various stages. And there were some cracking acts: in my case, I watched Deadmau5 (fabulous and loving the two electronic mouse helmets), Emeli Sandé (what a voice!), My Panda Shall Fly (great name, amusing self-deprecation), Paigey Cakey (not my thing but well done), Example (OK, I suppose), Ed Sheeran (absolutely great set, well done – one man, a guitar and a loop machine keeping us in thrall for an all too brief 45 minutes). Nicki Minaj (whose outfit let go after the strain of her miming), Lostprophets (fabulous set and the cover of “Earthquake” with secret guest Labrinth was really good), Jack White (rocked it) and finally Jay-Z who was supported by guests Rihanna, MIA and Kanye West to close the night off. And the best thing was the rain stayed off until late on the Saturday evening so we didn’t get particularly soggy either.

Ed Sheeran at Radio 1 Hackney Weekend 2012
Ed Sheeran at Radio 1 Hackney Weekend 2012
Lostprophets at Radio 1 Hackney Weekend 2012
Lostprophets at Radio 1 Hackney Weekend 2012

So a great time with a bit of pratting about thrown in for good measure:

Owling Under the BBC Studio
Owling Under the BBC Studio

So thank you so much BBC Radio 1 for such a great weekend and so well-organised to boot!

Happiness

A beautiful, sunny day today! I left Manchester this morning and drove through the Peak District to do a presentation at an immensely impressive off-site fabrication park near to Worksop. Due to the amount of traffic, my speed was forced lower which meant I could actually sight-see as I was driving along and made my journey so much more enjoyable.

The middle of the afternoon found me heading back down to London and I chose my preferred route, via the A1 and M11. What this meant was that I ended up driving back down the route I used to travel twice a week when I was living in Cleethorpes and hence was very familiar. As it was still hot and sunny and with the music playing loudly, my mood was its usual positive one, genuinely happy. I did find myself reminiscing about the times I’d done this same journey as I passed Grantham, my former turn-off onto the A46.

I thought about the good times I’d had as a result of those journeys and how ignorance had been bliss; ignorance of my being conned, betrayed, deceived and then blatantly lied to before I left forever. And then I was reminded about how much I’m enjoying life these days without all of that baggage and how I’m at peace with what happened. I’ve already forgiven but not forgotten. It appears that what doesn’t kill you does indeed make you stronger: in my case it taught me that I could still be generous whilst suffering fools and con-artists graciously and to value family and friends more. And it meant that I could have true happiness without hassle and heartache. And that’s got to be good.

It's better to have loved and lost than to live with a psycho for the rest of your life
This was on my Facebook Newsfeed recently!

So I’m back in London tonight but heading back up to Manchester in the morning, this time by train so I can have a leisurely breakfast and a snooze in First Class. Work hard, play hard, love lots and live life to the full: looking forward to seeing more stunning European Cities (like Vienna, again in June) and then my Big Trip in the summer.

Weekend Break

Well what a great weekend that was!

Nipped over to GT’s after work on Friday for a lovely home-cooked meal before an early night as GT was up early on Saturday morning for another cheeky 20 mile run before breakfast! She’s almost ready for her seventh marathon in three weeks’ time; her third London Marathon.

So when she got back, I got up and we headed into Epsom: GT to get a pedicure and me for a coffee and porridge at Caffè Nero. Then we set off for our weekend destination…

GT was a tad hungry by now, so shortly after leaving hers (and returning to pick up some undies!), we stopped for lunch at the Bear in Oxshott. Lovely food too with huge sandwiches and excellent fillings plus some great choices of starters and sharing platters.

Then on to our hotel for the weekend: Luton Hoo where one of GT’s friends was celebrating her birthday that evening. I’d had a cunning plan and booked us a room in the Mansion House itself as I had (incorrectly) assumed we’d be eating in the main house rather than one of the other buildings on the estate so we wouldn’t need to walk anywhere or go out in the cold that night.

Luton Hoo
Luton Hoo

And we were greeted with a pleasant surprise: we were upgraded to a Mansion House Suite – usually a £500 night option – which was heroically impressive with its own sitting area, a massive bed, a lobby and separate bathroom, walk-in wardrobes, etc.

Manor House Suite
Manor House Suite

The bottle of champagne I’d ordered was there chilling in its ice bucket and so everything was great as we spent the afternoon with a photoshoot and sipping champagne. GT said she could easily get used to this! My favourite from the shoot is on my photography profiles/pages.

Time then to get dressed for dinner: GT in a new LBD and heels – GT had brought a selection of stilettos with her including the Jimmy Choos, of course – and me in a suit and tie.

We then realised that Lu’s birthday dinner was actually taking place in the brasserie which was a short taxi ride away – the hotel has a fleet of its own taxis to ferry guests around the estate – so off we went for more good food and wines with great company before heading back to the main house for a nightcap!

The next morning we had a late start with a leisurely breakfast in the restaurant before heading outside for a walk around the extensive gardens (and a quick play on their croquet lawn) before coming back for a pot of tea in their gardens in the warm spring sunshine.

More Tea, Vicar?
More Tea, Vicar?

Sadly, we then had to pack and head off home after lunch. A memorable weekend!

Midweek Blast

Well what an evening that was!

On my way in to work this morning, I got a text from Purge asking if I was up for a rideout down to Hampshire. After much contemplation – I finish work late and I’m flying out to Athens later today – I decided that yes I was.

And so it came to pass that I headed off from the apartment down to meet up with Purge, Matt, Pal, Agent64, Pathfinder Rob, Mr Bosch and MP at Alton Station Café, which I found out was a bike meet! From there we blasted off down to bike night at Loomies where I happily scoffed down some chips with sliced mushrooms and chopped bacon, topped with melted cheese. Fantastic!  Just as I was leaving, Young Burchy showed up on his 7R so it was good to meet him too.

Not so good was Agent64 getting a puncture in the rear tyre of his ‘Blade thanks to stone chips all over the A31. Bugger!

Despite the evening getting much colder now, we then headed off at a spirited pace to the Pub With No Name at Prior’s Dean where we grabbed a pint and sat outside watching the darkness settle in. I left around 10pm to head home but decided shortly after setting off that I was getting quite cold and should stop off en route at GT’s place for a coffee to warm up, so I used the SatNav’s Bluetooth link to my iPhone and Scala headset to ring her up and invite myself over. Good call (literally)!

Then home at midnight and 135 miles later, only to be greeted by the bad news that YB had dropped the 7R after an incident with a deer on his way home. Bugger!

 

RIP Grib

I found out today that a young lady nicknamed Grib died in July when riding her new Fireblade, killed by some idiot who chose to do a U-turn on a dual carriageway in front of her.

She was an experienced road rider and club racer but even she was unable to avoid the collision that took her life and robbed her partner, Tony, of the love of his life.

RIP Lucie.

Shakedown Run

So after a bit of a nightmare journey to get to Birmingham, I did the deal and Wilf was wheeled out of Roger’s workshop. At which point it began raining…

We’d fixed the TomTom Rider’s RAM mount to the clutch lever bolt and I plugged in the address in Grimsby and off I went. A couple of coffees later and I set the TomTom to my home address. One annoying thing was that when riding, I was not allowed to change my destination to a previously stored one, no doubt due to some idiotic ’safety’ feature. No doubt they’d want me to pull onto the hard shoulder to do this … where a number of accidents happen!

Anyway, on arrival home, I checked the trip statistics and discovered that my moving average speed for the 380 mile journey had been xxmph. Oops! Best not put the number.

OK, my back ached a little but having spent five hours in the saddle, it had turned out to be a remarkably good high speed tourer. Maybe I need to rethink my choice of bike for the RBLR1000, a 1,000 mile ride in 24 hours I’m doing for charity.