Onward and Upward

So I’ve covered the Sprint GT’s first service over on its own blog – I just need to start giving it the berries a bit more (although its trip computer must be over-reading…).

I also received a letter about my stepmother’s estate which was a piece of pleasant news and well timed, given I’m planning to buy a house or maybe even my apartment which may soon be up for sale.

Due to a change of plans, I had Saturday free so I decided to get the pushbike out to go for a little spin: maybe 5 or 6 miles on the advice of my Consultant Knee Surgeon and my physiotherapist at the excellent London Bridge Hospital. 11.4 miles later and I’d had a great time, keeping the cadence up and not putting too much effort through the knee. Same thing next week, I think.

GT popped over in the evening, meeting me for dinner at the O2 where we were then due to see Iron Maiden play. An excellent gig! Then over to Waterloo to say goodnight and back home to the apartment.

Up at a reasonable time on Sunday to head up to Norfolk for lunch with the ‘kids’ which was made more difficult by the completely inept road closure arrangements for the Prudential Ride London: every main road out of London to the East was closed despite the official sites claiming they’d be open earlier.

Monday saw more check-ups and blood tests – all fine – and a nice, long phone call as arranged the week before from Humberside Police to explain, as expected and agreed, that they wouldn’t be pressing charges against the psycho ex for her theft and disposal of some of my stuff (“intention to permanently deprive”), but only because it wouldn’t be in the public interest to waste taxpayers’ money on a prosecution: there was the passage of time caused by them, sadly, which they accepted was the case and they knew she would never admit guilt – she never does – and accept a caution, so the options were a full trial or nothing and the thefts were, as I told them, insignificant (I’ve long since replaced the stolen goods with better quality, newer things … a bit like I did with her, I suppose). They suggested I start a private prosecution, which is always an option, but I can’t be arsed to waste any more time on her.

But the good news is that they’ve now got the proof of what she’s really like: a liar and a thief. So that’s the end of that: maybe she’ll stop stalking me one day too?

So it’s onward and upward!

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!

Who Am I? Where Am I?

Well life’s a tad hectic just now. Let’s have a quick recap on the last week or so, shall we?

Wednesday 27th.

After work, I headed to the Southbank to meet up with GT for House of Burlesque’s show at the Priceless London Wonderground. We had front row tickets as usual, and, also as usual, I got dragged up on stage for one of the acts. Enough said…

Once I’d escorted GT to Waterloo, I headed back to the car – passing people being overheard saying “Wasn’t that Richard?” from the show – and drove off to Slough. Tricky when the M4 is closed. So a late arrival at the Holiday Inn then.

Thursday 28th

Up bright and early for a day spent training a group of project managers at a Client’s office. Good fun, but hard work. Then a rush to Heathrow for my flight to Vienna, getting in quite late by the time I’d grabbed a cab to the Hotel de France.

Friday 29th

After breakfast, it was off to the University to listen to a talk on Chinese Law from a Beijing-based lawyer, who then sat patiently whilst I delivered a talk on the use of visualisations to explain claims, prefaced by my saying that this was the history module as I incorporated Charles Minard’s “Carte figurative des pertes successives en hommes de l’Armée Française dans la campagne de Russie 1812-1813” into it…

It was low 30s and the lecture room had no air conditioning so a tad uncomfortable. Then back to the hotel to work until midnight on something for a Client.

Saturday 30th

After breakfast it was back to the University for a whole morning lecturing.

I’d checked out of my hotel, but couldn’t fly home, so after lunch I headed on to check into my favourite hotel in Vienna, the Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof: a really luxurious hotel whose staff can’t do enough to help you. GT then flew out from Gatwick to meet me for an afternoon’s exploration and meal, as well as guided tour of Vienna in a horse-drawn open cart.

Hofburg Palace
Orson Carte

Sunday 1st

After a leisurely breakfast, it was time for more shopping, sightseeing and a bit of culture: the Albertina where they had some expressionist work plus a great photographic exhibition of work by Joel Sternfeld which really put me in the mood for the Route 66 trip later this month. After lunch, we headed off to the airport and tea in the lounge there before boarding our evening flights to Gatwick and Heathrow.  Due to a change of plan as I was flying out on the Thursday, I then headed straight up to Manchester and the Holiday Inn MediaCityUK.  Just in time to catch the last half hour of the Euro2012 final with a club sandwich and cider! Slightly embarrassing, though, as they’d checked me into a room that was already occupied by a couple … who were fortunately not there when I walked on in!

Monday 2nd

I drove to my home-from-home in Manchester, the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly where they take very good care of me. A long day at our Manchester office followed but a nice meal was the pay-off later.

Tuesday 3rd

A very long day at the office, finishing at 7.30pm before heading back down to London, popping into the office at midnight to drop off my laptop and some papers.

Wednesday 4th

A day off, so I headed over to GT’s to pick her up en route to Everyman Racing in Leicestershire for a few soggy laps at the wheel of a Ferrari and an Ariel Atom before driving back home.

 

Thursday 5th

A day in the office, and confirmation that I’ll be going to Paris in July and August to train some more clients on their contractual obligations and how to best cover themselves. Finished quite late and changed at the office, because I was meeting GT at the O2 Brixton Academy for the Lacuna Coil/Marilyn Manson gig which was superb! Good to see future-wife Cristina Scabbia rocking it. 🙂

Phew!

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.

Househunting

A busy weekend: Saturday started off fairly well with an opticians’ appointment to have a contact lens check at Surrey Quays. On the plus side, there was no change in my prescription but on the minus side I was then forced to go food shopping in Tesco with my glasses on (due to the yellow dye they put in your eyes to check fit).

Then a very enjoyable evening in Epsom with a drink at the Assembly Rooms, followed by a meal at the excellent Cinnamon Spice Indian restaurant and then on to the Barley Mow for more drinks.

Sunday saw lots of bike racing on the telly – MotoGP and BSB – interspersed with househunting. It’s about time I sorted myself out something for the long-term and with my divorce pending, now’s the time to start looking if I buy new.

So off I went to see Berkeley Homes’ Kidbrooke Village Development. This isn’t too far out of London – 15 minutes’ train journey from London Bridge (near my office) but as it’s early on in the development, there’s nothing there yet in terms of shops, bars, restaurant and amenities. Lovely place though but the lack of my own secure and powered garage is still a major issue. Perhaps it’d be better to buy a house in Rotherhithe near where I am as this is a short bus ride from work and I can even walk it (and do!).

Then back home for a Thai stir fry and TV including “Salt” which I’d recorded. And copious wine…

London is drowning and I live by the river

I will shortly be starting a new full-time job in London which means that I shall be moving to a flat to live in during the week. Commuting isn’t an option even though living near the far end of the train line means at least I ought to be able to get a seat, £6000 for a second class ticket is money wasted especially when it’s two hours by train each way and another half hour from the rail stations to home and the office. Six hours’ travelling each day isn’t exactly my idea of fun … and that’s when the trains are running to time, but there was a recent issue with a new bridge closing the line outside Liverpool Street and more recently shuttle buses after a power line was brought down by a train.

So I have taken a lease on a flat in Rotherhithe overlooking the Thames.

The landlady insures the property itself and her own contents – it’s being let furnished – but I need to insure my own contents so I got some quotes this morning and will be going with More Than. A number of other insurance companies wouldn’t quote because the property is within 400m of a river, though it would have to be a major catastrophe for the Thames to rise to the degree of it overflowing its banks and water levels reaching a second floor flat, I’d have thought!

Oh and I shall also be adding on cycle cover for the first time: £25 extra to cover a bike, as if I buy one to get around on, it’s more likely to go walkies in London than it is in Norfolk.