Tuesday, 13 September 2016

London

I took Anna to London a couple of weeks ago as a belated birthday present - I had tickets to see Macbeth at the Globe Theatre. Anna had wanted to see a play there ever since the theatre was rebuilt so it was a good present! We headed up early and had lunch at the Swan Restaurant next to the Globe - it was very nice in there and the food was lovely and reasonably priced. I did feel a little underdressed in just black jeans and a t-shirt, but it was boiling hot and I really didn't want to wear anything smarter when I knew I'd be standing in the Globe for three hours!

Yes, standing - we had groundling tickets. I'd done a fair amount of research before booking and found that you get the best view standing (no pillars in the way) and the seats were uncomfortable anyway. Groundling tickets are only £5 so superb value. Here is a panorama showing the view from inside (you can only take photos whilst the stage is clear). This was our view in the first half, right at the front.

The play was brilliant - I studied Macbeth at school and parts of it came back to me throughout. It was uncomfortably warm, I can't imagine how the actors must have felt up on stage! The porter scene seems to divide critics but I thought it added some much needed comic relief to proceedings, and there were a few other such interjections throughout. Standing for three hours wasn't a problem - I've stood much longer at gigs and festivals, and I'm healing pretty well from surgery.

Afterwards we spent a little while looking around the Tate Modern, and then had dinner at Cheeky Chicos - the food was good but the place was quiet, I guess it's busier during the week. We then revisited a few Sam Smiths pubs with the aim of updating my website, but I never cope well drinking in heat so we only managed four before heading back. Overall it was a lovely day, the child-free time was much appreciated!

The kids are back at school now, Nicky is in junior school and has a new class to settle into. It's hard to believe it's his fourth year at school already! I've also been back on the bike a few more times, although I haven't been sleeping well recently so have been too tired to go out this week.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Isle of Wight

We had a lovely week in the Isle of Wight, although tiring - as is to be expected with three kids, there wasn't too much relaxation! The weather was kind to us and we didn't have any rain. Despite some stress about my surgery the wound was fine and didn't cause me any pain all week despite the long drive and setting up of the caravan.

We went to Blackgang Chine again, taking advantage of their 7-day ticket and going for the late night opening on the Monday as well. I think they're at the right age for it, in a few more years I think they'll be too old. Nicky was extremely excited about the hedge maze, rollercoaster and water slides, as well as the fact that there were several Pokéstops and gyms dotted around - shame the phone signal wasn't strong enough to play Pokémon Go too much!

We went to Carisbrooke Castle for the first time and got some wooden swords and shields to play with - I'm sure we'll live to regret this! We also revisited several places that we went to last time such as the model village in Godshill, the Griffin pub complete with hedge maze, the Caulkhead pub with pirate ship in the garden and more. We also managed a couple of days on the beach - the first time at Ventnor we also hired a beach hut for the day, it cost £15 but it was nice to have a base to keep things in.

Since coming back I have mostly been watching the Olympics, especially the cycling. I've also managed a couple of rides on my road bike which I'm very pleased about, nothing major (only 5km and 8km) but taking it easy to begin with!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Lazy

Not updated in a while, haven't been feeling great, either physically or mentally. My surgery wound has healed up without problems but I've had a couple of painful stretches recently so having to take it easy for a while longer. We're off to the Isle of Wight next week and I don't want to damage anything before that, so the bike will have to wait a while longer...

Mentally I'm a little stressed for various reasons. The Brexit vote result really didn't help, if Article 50 is ever invoked (I don't think it will be) things will get much worse. The only positive is that I'm paid in dollars and so got a relative pay rise, but am still uncertain about my future work.

Nicky and Kitty both had great school reports and they're off for the summer now. No school run for six weeks, phew! I hope that the sun stays here for the next couple of weeks so we can relax on the beach!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Recovery

I had my hernia repair operation on Tuesday and have spent most of the time since then in bed. Whilst in hospital I was well looked after before and after. The operation was done under a general anaesthetic rather than the local I had been expecting. It was rather strange to be discussing drinking on a beach with the nurse one minute and then waking up with everything done!

I'm still a bit sore but I'm able to move around a little more now. I have spent a couple of days binge watching season 2 of Daredevil and playing games on my phone, but I was able to get some work done yesterday. I'm very much looking forward to getting back on the bike in a few weeks, I imagine the lycra won't fit quite so well for a while!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Manic Street Preachers at Liberty Stadium, Swansea

It was a long weekend but ultimately worth the effort!

We left home at around 9.30 on Saturday, Google reckoned the drive to our hotel just outside Cardiff would take three and a half hours. I was hoping we'd have time to check in and rest for a bit before carrying on to Swansea. Ha! The traffic was horrendous on both the M25 and the M4, meaning we didn't check into the hotel until nearly six hours after we arrived. It meant rushing around and getting ready quickly as I didn't want to miss out on a parking space.

In the end we got to the park and ride just after 4, and randomly bumped into an old friend that I hadn't seen for a long time. It was great to catch up and the weather was lovely in the afternoon so we sat around outside the stadium having a drink. We also met up with a couple of other groups of friends during the evening who we hadn't seen for a while.

First up were Public Service Broadcasting. I'd only heard the first album on the drive down but the band were pretty interesting - a support act I might investigate further, amazing!

Public Service Broadcasting
I hadn't seen Super Furry Animals for a long time - I think the last time was in 2001 in Southampton! They've not released much recently and so I wasn't expecting the set to be any good but I was emphatically wrong - it was brilliant! Definitely the best support act I've seen, a great set - one of the highlights was the new song "Bing Bong" where Gruff donned a Power Rangers helmet but had to hold the mic up to the visor!

Super Furry Animals
Within three songs of the first Manics set I knew it was going to be better than the Albert Hall gig - for starters I couldn't hear myself singing as everyone else knew all the words too! The atmosphere seemed much happier and people just wanted to have a good time. It was good to see a string section on stage and the trumpet player was excellent. It still seems strange to have A Design for Life as the second song but I guess they can't do much about that if they're playing the album in order!

Manic Street Preachers
The second half was also excellent, even if it did start to rain - Nicky Wire said some of his best gigs were in the rain and it was nothing to worry about, just as a flash of lightning illuminated the sky! No-one down the front was especially bothered though, we could just jump around to keep warm! The new Welsh football song was played and the crowd sang along enthusiastically - it's a shame the England team don't have a similar song this year, the only times we've done well in recent history were when we had a good official song (Italia 90/Euro 96). Despite having been driving all day and jumping around all evening I wish the set could have been longer, but I really enjoyed it and not even a long wait for the park and ride bus could spoil it.

We went home the next day via Cardiff - Anna really wanted to go to the Doctor Who Experience and we also saw a few related landmarks around the bay. The drive home was much better thankfully. I'm still knackered now though, I'm getting too old to do this too often!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Clacton and Manics

The weekend in Clacton went pretty well, the caravan is still in reasonable shape and there's nothing we need to worry about before the Isle of Wight. It stayed dry all weekend so putting the awning up and packing it away was straightforward - nice to not have to worry about it being dry! I still don't especially like towing it but there were no major dramas. The most disappointing thing was the breakfast in the Toby Carvery on the Sunday morning - I'd been looking forward to it but there wasn't a great deal of fresh food available and we had to wait 15 minutes for clean cups for hot drinks.

Last Tuesday we went to see the Manics at the Royal Albert Hall. They played the full Everything Must Go album as well as a second set of assorted songs.

The support band were Editors.


I struggle to think of a support band I've ever enjoyed - I can remember the really bad ones (Goldie and My Vitriol were particularly bad) but there's never been one that I really enjoyed. Editors did nothing to change that. I'm sure I've seen them before supporting someone else but it was presumably equally forgettable!

The first half of the Manics set was Everything Must Go, the first Manics album I owned and one I've listened to many, many times. It was strange to hear A Design for Life as the second song! The band were great but the crowd was really disappointing, a most un-Manic crowd - even though we were three from the barrier a lot of people didn't seem to recognise half the songs and there wasn't as much jumping as you might expect.


The crowd seemed to improve in the second half. Massive kudos to the girl with the sign in the photo above - one sign said "Did you learn Patrick Bateman?" to which James said "Never", the other said "When is the IKTZ (I Killed the Zeitgeist) 10th anniversary tour?" to which Nicky answered "The songs were so shit that I've forgotten them all!" The highlight for me was definitely "Nat West - Barclays - Midlands - Lloyds", one more I can tick off from Generation Terrorists. I hope they'll play some more rare ones when we go to see them in Swansea this weekend.

Two weeks today and I'll have had my hernia operation! It can't come soon enough.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Waiting

I've finally got a date for my hernia operation at the start of June. I should be back home the same day and will hopefully be fully recovered in about six weeks. The recent sun has brought out cyclists everywhere which is making me pretty jealous!

We're taking the caravan to Clacton this weekend, mainly to make sure that the caravan is ready for the Isle of Wight in August (I won't be able to drive for a few weeks after my operation) but also because we could really use a break! It's pretty cheap for the weekend, I guess because it's off peak, but hopefully the good weather will stay around.