Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Happy New Year

Em and Dan
Ok so not quite New Year, although it will be for my lovely  friend Lu in New Zealand in a few hours time, bless her, not seen her for 5 years or more, but NZ is a bit too far for me to travel.
I had a fab Christmas with another great friend Em, and her partner Dan and Em's mum and Dan's parents, way too much to eat, seemed to do nothing but eat both days, Em and Dan did an amazing job with the food, really was superb, just need to get out cycling now to burn it all off! I managed to not get carried away with the drinking, which I am pleased about, after recent events I am not that interested in drinking, certainly not to excess, so that has got to be a good thing.
Can't believe there is only one day left of 2014, will be so good to see the back of it, it really has been a rotten year, started off awful and has ended pretty grim, actually  that's not strictly true, as I feel really good now, just bit of a rubbish time up until a few weeks ago. I do feel very positive about 2015, I have loads to look forward to, and now I only have myself to look out for so it should be rather good.
Boxing Day

Gin Cocktails
Despite what I said earlier about drinking, I did visit a Gin Distillery, ok so I was only the driver and I had a non alcoholic Cocktail, but I did buy some Bombay Sapphire Gin and very nice it is too, the site  in Hampshire is well worth a visit, have a look at http://distillery.bombaysapphire.com/

Crosby Beach
Last Sunday was one of those perfect winter blue sky days, heavy frost, very cold and not a cloud in the sky, so I jumped on the train to the other side of Liverpool, just up the coast and had a lengthy walk from Bootle past Liverpool Docks and onto Crosby Beach. Was a really fab day, and it brought it home to me so clearly that this is what I enjoy most, out exploring with my camera, I don't need all the grief that I have had in the past year, I have some great friends and I have a great hobby so I am really very lucky. The main reason for going to Crosby, apart from it being really rather nice, but was to see some statues on the beach, around 100 of them in fact! They are life size cast iron figures by Sir Antony Gormley, and they are really rather good. There is something rather haunting about the way they stare out to sea and appear to be walking out into the water as if driven by some unseen being, calling them, reminds me of the Eloi in HG Well's "The Time Machine" well worth a visit, some details here  http://tinyurl.com/kan5mxm
The Talbot, Bootle
No I didn't go into The Talbot, Bootle is not the most salubrious of places and it does seem to have its fair share of dodgy pubs, although the people are great, they just don't have time for people with more money than sense.
A very Happy New Year, see you in 2015!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Merry Christmas

Westminster Bridge

St Paul's
                                Trafalgar Square                                    
A few days in London last week was fun, a walk round looking at the lights and a trip  to the 02 Arena. The streets were heaving at this time of year, but was still good and if you are prepared to walk there are still plenty of interesting quiet corners. I went into Foyles bookshop for the first time in years, quiet it certainly wasn't, but interesting it was, you could spend hours in there, if of course you are interested in books.
Phoenix Theatre
Almost opposite Foyles on Charing Cross Road is the Phoenix Theatre, now home to 'Once' the musical. I really want to go and see this, loved the film, it was so moving and real. Ronan Keating is now starring in the musical, not 100% sure that he is ideal, more likely getting a well known name in to boost ticket sales, but I may be proved wrong, some friends are seeing it this weekend so I will see what their verdict is. Before 'Once' 'Blood Brothers' played for around 21 years at the Phoenix and that was a truly memorable show, and for a while one of the Nolan sisters played the lead and she was really very good.
Frozen Yogurt

The other day I had a trip into Manchester on the train, £5 return, so why drive! I wouldn't have driven anyway, I am not a huge car fan, spent way to much on them when I was younger, so if I can I walk, cycle or get the train. The idea of Manchester was for Christmas shopping, which went well, but I did manage to buy myself a few presents as well and also got rather side tracked by some second hand bookshops including Empire Exchange, which is more a collectors shop rather than just books, some great wacky stuff in there.
Empire Exchange
There are still some very sleazy backstreets in Manchester city centre and some decidedly dodgy looking clubs and pubs, I kept focused on the job in hand and resisted the temptation to go in any of them.
Little Lever Street
A quick mention of another exhibition at the Pyramid and Parr Hall in Warrington, that is coming to a close. Cantered around the anniversary of WW1, there is some superb artwork on display, from local schools and colleges and also a very moving Audio Visual display.

Pyramid and Parr Hall
I no Christmas can be a very difficult and sometimes lonely time, (I spent last Christmas in hospital) but make the best of it if you can, Merry Christmas.


Saturday, 6 December 2014


A year ago on my birthday, December 1st I was in hospital, this year I was in Paris, after a 1600 mile drive round Europe. Luxembourg City, Swiss Alps, Milan, Lake Geneva and Paris.

Luxembourg City

Swiss Alps

Really was a stunning week, only a couple of slip ups with the driving so I think I did pretty well, even driving into the centre of Milan and Paris. Paris was nuts to drive in, the big roundabouts are a free for all and the orbital motorway makes our M25 look like a drive in the park! High spots were driving high into the Alps on a closed road to get to the top and find the road completely blocked by snow, then the sun came out and it was really stunning, although a local did give me a real telling off as we shouldn't have been there.

Milan Cathedral


View from the bedroom in Biella Jailhouse

Staying in an old jailhouse in Biella in Italy was quite something, the most beautiful setting, all cobbles, old buildings and few cars. The Eiffel Tower in Paris was very special, lit up at night with the top disappearing into the mist, all of Paris was very special, really would love to go back. The low spots were a couple of arguments with my friend, culminating in a horrendous fight in Paris on my birthday, we are now no longer friends. I do feel awful about it, we had had such a great time, and it was my fault, I said some things I never should have, it had been building up for sometime, I just lost it, my ex friend can be very rude and has very bad moods, and I think I just couldn't take it anymore. I do feel sad, as when it was good between us it was very good, and we had been best friends for some years, but deep down I new something like this was going to happen eventually, so now at least I can move on and get on with my life, it won't be easy as I will miss her something rotten, we would talk every day on the phone, sometimes for hours, so there is going to be a big void in my life, but what was the alternative? Holding my tongue and being walked all over? I am a soft touch, but even I have limits.