D4D

Raising Rants to the Level of the Professional

Archive for the category “Travel”

New(ish) Places

As has been noted many many times here, I’m a bit of an idiot when it comes to travel, and think nothing of doing a two-hour-each-way drive for a day trip.  Somewhere in my head, I don’t really think “locally” for exploring and finding new places. As a result, I’m sometimes surprised by locations when I’m doing other stuff.

This weekend I was helping the Uborkans with a bit of taxi-work to make their lives easier. That involved nipping up to Stoke Bruerne to collect them, and dropping them off in Linslade – a dead easy journey, and not at all far for me.

I’d been to Stoke Bruerne a few times as a kid – school trips and the like – to the canal museum and so on, and I’d never realised how close it actually is to my current location.  We’re talking less than half an hour’s drive – it’s really close. Because it was a nice day, I got there early, and had a wander along a decent-sized length of the canal too, for fun – definitely somewhere I’ll return to.

Once I’d dropped them off at destination, I also finally discovered a pub I remembered from years ago, when I worked and lived in the area. So I’ll have to give that a go at some point – we never visited it the first time round, I just remember going past it on a regular basis, but didn’t remember the roads properly for how to get to it – I’d actually decided it was a different pub that I have tried and not been impressed by, which is in a similar location.  So yeah, that’s on the list.

And finally, in the evening the Uborkans had come back up to the edges of Milton Keynes, so we arranged to meet at a pub. It was in Simpson, an area I’ve been past on the main roads several times, but not actually been into at all – and it’s really nice, to the degree that you wouldn’t believe you were in Milton Keynes at all.  Indeed, it’s nice enough that it’s been added to the “yeah, I could live there” list, for if/when I decide to leave the current location.

It’s just interesting, how you (OK, how I) can still find new places in an area you’ve lived in for a number of years. I regularly bugger off far and wide, but I haven’t really explored a lot of the local area. Maybe that needs to change a bit…

London – Hamlet

Following on from yesterday’s post about London, Burgers and Hamlet, I thought I’d add some thoughts about the actual presentation of Hamlet.

The basic version is that I enjoyed it, and thought it was bloody good – although I’ve also got no solid reference points to compare it against. Technically it was still in the previews when I saw it – although paying full price for the tickets when it’s still in previews is a bit of a piss-take.  But it was worth seeing, and thoroughly enjoyed.

Happily, by the time we saw it, they’d put the ‘To be or not to be’ speech back in its proper place, rather than done as a speech at the start, and for that I’m thankful.

The staging is spectacular – as per previous reviews and thoughts, I’m a real geek for the technical side of shows, gigs and plays – and absorbing.

The play itself is, of course, equally absorbing, and interestingly done. I was surprised by how many lines and expressions from it are now in common usage – not something I’d realised at all. I thought Cumberbatch himself was good (but perhaps not excellent? I don’t know, with nothing to compare to, but he didn’t strike me as having that absolute star quality) and the rest of the cast were equally good, although at least one could’ve done with having a microphone arrangement, as his voice didn’t really carry at all.

That aside, I did enjoy the entire thing, and would happily go again, should the opportunity arise. (I doubt it will, but you know, it’s still something I’d be content to see again)  And now I need to see more Shakespeare stuff – as well as read more of it – and get a better grip on these things.

London – Meat and Hamlet

Last weekend, I was very lucky.  A friend had gained tickets for Hamlet (with Benedict Cumberbatch) at the Barbican for herself and a few others. As it turned out, one of those people couldn’t go, so the ticket was up for grabs. And I thought “Yeah, OK, go for that”. So I did.

I have to be honest, it’s not something I was eagerly wanting to see. I’m a bit of a philistine, and don’t really know Shakespeare’s stuff as much as I could/should.  Yes, I know Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet – plus bits of Tempest, but only because I’ve seen Return To Forbidden Planet.  I’d never been to see a Shakespeare play at the theatre, and really had no idea what to expect.

Anyway, things being as they are, I decided to make a day of it – and then both Honest and Blues Kitchen revealed new specials on their menus.  Well, it’d be rude not to, wouldn’t it?

The new special at Blues Kitchen

It turns out, you can park at the Barbican for the whole day on weekends for £8. That’s not far short of remarkable – and something I’ll definitely be taking advantage of again in the future.  I figured it would be ridiculously busy later in the day, so went up early, when the entire place was virtually empty.  (I’m glad I did, because the parking spaces are… entertaining, to say the least)

From Barbican, I could easily walk to everywhere else I wanted to be that day – bearing in mind, that’s “easily walk” in my terms, not necessarily those of anyone else/sane – so it was an easy day. A long one, as it turned out, but pretty easy.

I got to Barbican, parked up, and wandered. I knew where I was heading – but hadn’t actually clocked how close things were. It was about a mile, so not a long walk at all. (As always, for my values, not necessarily those of anyone else)  As a result, I was there far earlier than expected, and well before they actually opened. So – a further walk and explore was the result.

Once they opened, and I’d ordered, the Blues Kitchen burger was absolutely stonking. Best I’ve had in a long time…

The Pig KahunaThen a walk down to Honest – again, about a mile, maybe a bit further – and more of the same. I wasn’t overly taken with that special – it was still good, but not actually all that special.

From there, I had quite the wander – bits I didn’t know all that well, so spent some time mooching around, making discoveries, connecting parts of my mental map of London, and all that kind of thing.

post_burger_walkAnd then eventually back to Barbican, where I spent a very relaxed time on the Lakeside Terrace, reading and people-watching.

I’ll comment about Hamlet in another post – but safe to say, thoroughly enjoyed it.

Getting back was a doddle too – I’d expected the car park to fill up for the evening, which didn’t happen. So the performance finished at about 10.30, and I was home just after midnight. All told, a very civilised way to do a Saturday…

Ten

Ten years ago today, I finally passed my driving test. How time flies when you’re blatting round the country, and all that.

Prior to passing, driving had never really bothered me – I’d usually lived in places with decent public transport links, and when I hadn’t there’d always been friends, or lifts.  It also helped to own very little for a lot of that time – there were a few occasions where I moved by train, and could still do it in one journey, albeit with three or four bags.

However, now I wouldn’t be without my driving licence (and car, naturally – or at worst the ability to rent one whenever needed) and would hate to lose it. If something were to happen that made me lose my licence, I’d have to change everything – house, job, life in general. It would emphatically not be fun.

It still surprises me, though, how much I’ve changed in that ten years, and how much my attitude to driving has changed too.

Because I was such a late adopter of it – pretty close to mid-thirties – I thought I’d stay with using public transport, and that I wouldn’t drive much. Oh, how wrong I was.

In that ten years, I’ve covered *at least* 180,000 miles. That’s just a calculation based on the two cars I’ve owned, and doesn’t include hire cars, Herself’s car when we were together, or any other journeys. With all that included, it’s probably damn close to 200,000 miles in ten years.  Considering I’ve had some years (like this one) where I’ve been working far closer to home than others, that’s still quite an average to have been covering.

As I’ve said before, I really don’t think anything of a day trip involving two hours driving each way – one of those can add 4 to 500 miles to my total on its own.

Oddly, the general attitude to driving and miles seems to be a family trait – my brother covers even more miles than I do, Dad always used to cover a fair amount too, and none of us think anything of doing journeys that most people class as “too far”. Or maybe it’s just being daft that’s a family trait…

Staying Still

This coming weekend is my first one fully ‘at home’ in about three months. As such, I’m looking forward to it for downtime and some peace and quiet.

However, I feel almost guilty about staying home, and doing Not Much.

My brain keeps on saying “Oh, but you could do a day-trip to [x], [y] or [z]“.  And it’s right, I could. But I don’t really want to – except my brain doesn’t believe it.

It’s odd. One part of me wants to just have a down-weekend, a time of not doing a lot, and most emphatically not driving any significant distances. But the other part obviously does want me to do all of those things.

It’s a bit schizoid, so I guess I’ll have to wait and see which side wins out in the end. All very strange.

Pooh and Pooch

Yesterday was a warm and rather relaxed and pleasant day. All very surprising.

One of my friends is involved in the organisation of the World Pooh Sticks Championships, which was held yesterday at a new venue for the first time in thirty-odd years.

pooh_monday

She’s also recently bought a new dog, a Cavachon (Cavalier King Charles mixed with Bichon Frise) who’d had her final jabs and was finally allowed out in the world. So it seemed like a great idea for getting her to meet lots of people and dogs, and see how she did.  And that was my work for the day, which was obviously a real hardship.

And it was a good day all round.  The competition was a success in its new venue – with loads of people visiting and watching – and Pooch was excellent. She’s had a really positive first Big Day Out, and was knackered by the end of it.

Now that is what weekends are for…

Out and About

The end of this week is another busy one.

Thursday, I’m in London seeing Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer at the Hackney Empire.

Then for the weekend, I’m in Manchester, seeing friends and attending the Grillstock Festival in the city centre. I went last year and it was good fun, so a repeat visit should be entertaining.

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