D4D

Slapping the Stupid with Stun-Guns

Archive for the category “London”

Burns’ Night

Last night, as you may or may not know (or care) was Burns’ Night in the UK.  For the first time, I went out for it, going to one of my favourite Scottish places in London, Mac and Wild, who had a special Burns’ Night menu for a fairly respectable price.

Being Scots themselves, the owners had made sure the entire thing was really good – the food was (as usual) great, and so was the atmosphere, with a live piper playing at the entrance (and for the toasting of the Haggis) as well as pipe-based music in the restaurant. In short, it couldn’t have been much more Scottish if they’d tried.

I’d never done a Burns’ Night properly before, and thoroughly enjoyed the entire thing. I’ve even got a copy of the whole “toasting of the Haggis” process and poem now, which makes for interesting reading…

Overall, I can see me booking myself in for another one next year – although it’s still undecided whether I’ll try somewhere else, or stick with the Mac and Wild I already know…

Charitable Christmas

This year, I haven’t been as ratty as usual about the whole Festering Season thing. It still annoys me, but I’ve been able to ignore most of the retail bullshit around the season (due to not visiting shops as much, primarily) and so on, and avoided most of the raw sentimentality and commercialism that hangs around the entire process.

However, I’ve also been looking more at some of the charity stuff that’s being done – particularly for the homeless.

One of those things – and one I’ve contributed too, both this year and in previous ones – is the “Reserve A Place” scheme by Crisis. Paying £26.08 per place reserves a place for a homeless person at one of the Crisis centres over Christmas, along with support, health checks, and a bundle of other things. I’m all for that, to be honest.

The other one, only announced yesterday, is a slightly different thing, but still pretty brilliant. London’s Euston Station, which would usually be closed for Christmas Day, is instead going to become a homeless shelter for the day, filled with decorations and tables for 200 rough sleepers.  I think that’s pretty fucking brilliant, to make use of that sheer space in a different but decent way.

It’s being organised as a collaboration between St Mungos and Streets Kitchen, with about 30 Network Rail staff also involved.

To me, as always, I think these are the things that should be promoted, that are what the whole Festering Season should be about. I truly hope they’re both successful ventures, this year and into the future.

Snowbound

Yesterday, the weather effectively enforced a day off for me, doing nothing outside.  Nothing major, but we had a fair amount (for the UK) of snow overnight, which led to lots of issues with accidents, blocked roads, etc. etc.  For my own village, the two main roads out were completely blocked – one by a jack-knifed lorry, and the other just by drivers failing to get up the hills.

So technically it wasn’t the weather itself, so much as the sheer number of people who can’t bloody drive in snow. But still, day off.

In honesty, it was much needed. As I’ve said before, I’ve been ridiculously busy for the last two years – I’ve just counted up, and I’ve had stuff booked in for 48 weeks of 2017 (I’ve counted up til the end of the month) and even on those four ‘free’ ones I was still doing stuff – and December hadn’t provided any real change in that.  That’s nothing short of barmy.

So anyway, I’d spent Saturday in London with a mix of food and theatre stuff, so it’s not like it’s been a write-off of a weekend, or anything like that. But a day of doing sod-all – barely going outside, catching up on recorded TV etc., doing some reading, etc. etc. – was definitely A Good Plan.

Whether I feel better for it is still to be determined, but regardless, it was a good day.

Operatic

On Saturday, I went to my first opera – a production of Aida at the London Coliseum by English National Opera. As with going to plays and so on, I went in with very little knowledge of Aida or what to expect.

I did enjoy it – although it’s not necessarily something I’d plan to go to on a regular basis, or to see this particular opera again. I don’t yet know – but as with other things, I’m not going to base any judgements or expectations on a sample of one, so I’ll definitely be going to at least one more production.

*Personally*, I found that the first half dragged, but the second half was better. The staging throughout was really interesting though, which did help things.

The plot/story is hideously melodramatic (in my opinion) and would’ve been rejected from most soap operas as being too ridiculous. So yeah, the odds are I won’t bother with Aida again, but there’s plenty of others I can try instead.

All good fun, though…

Back To Walking

One thing that was good about my London trip over the weekend was that it was the first decent walks I’d had since I stuffed up my feet around the walking Marathon.

Since then, I’ve taken it a bit easier – I’ve still been walking a lot, but in much smaller distances than usual. But at some point I had to get back into it, and this weekend seemed as good a time as any.  I knew the routes I’d be taking, and all the stuff I wanted to do – plus I was prepared.

So on the way to Taste, I purposefully took the Tube a couple of stations further than I usually would, so that the first walk back would be three miles instead of the usual five.  I was back to wearing the newest walking boots, and everything was fine for the three mile walk. Even with my intention to ‘take it slow’ I was back to pretty much my standard speed and so on, and that was successful.

On the way back – a different route, as I was heading to central London – for another three miler, it was much harder. Miles five and six, in particular, hurt bits of my feet still.

Fortunately, I had a backup plan, and it all worked out fine. I had a lot of time to kill once I got to central London, so I ended up using that time, getting the tube back up to where I’d parked the car, changed my boots and socks, and then headed back to the same place.

All told, I covered 12 miles on Saturday. My feet got sore, but there was no damage. That’s definitely a win. And once I’d changed boots, it was all fine again.

I do think that the boots haven’t helped – it’s not just that they’re still not properly worn-in, but also there are design differences between the new and old ones that rub in all the wrong places. I think I’m going to have to look at some other alternatives, different boots and talking to retailers and so on that actually know what they’re doing.

Annoying on the score of the boots, but all told I’m happy with how things are going.

Weekend Of Idiocy

The weekend just gone was the one that had been noted as being a completely daft one, even by my standards. It involved a lot of mileage, a fair amount of walking, and a piss-poor amount of sleep.

Saturday had been “planned” for a while, with a full day in London – starting off with the festive version of the Taste festival at Tobacco Dock. I’d got in early (as usual) and walked down to Tobacoo Dock, getting there in plenty of time.

Also as usual, the organisation of Festive Taste was… kinda flawed. The tickets said it started at 12-noon, the email from the ticket people said “Ooops, sorry, we meant 11.30“. Except it actually opened at 11. Genius.    And once we were in, it turned out that none of the food places were actually starting until at least 11.15, and in some cases nothing was ready ’til 12.  Not good – but standard.   The Festive version also appears to be far more focused on booze than on food, which (for me) is annoying, but there we go. It was still worth going, but I was out within 90 minutes.

In the evening I was at the theatre, seeing Stockard Channing in Apologia. It’s an interesting play, and I really enjoyed it – there may be more thoughts later, I’m not sure yet – and then headed home, getting back at around half one.  Which would’ve been OK, except that…

On the Sunday I was on the road by 7.30, heading up to Middlesbrough to see friends, and then on to Durham in the late afternoon to see the Lumiere festival, one of my favourite events. Again, I’ll probably write more about it later on – for now though, The Guardian has great pictures of a lot of it here.

A great day, but a long one – and then drove home, getting back about half two on Monday morning. It would’ve been earlier, but it turns out that the M1 was closed (and hadn’t been announced anywhere when I was driving up) for two whole junctions, and the diversion that was in place added a good forty minutes to the drive. Which was a pain, but there we go.

And even that would all have been sensible (ish. Kinda) if it weren’t for the fact I was also on-site in the other office on Monday morning, so I was in Chesham by 8am…

I really am an idiot.

Situation Standard

Yet again, I appear to now be idiotically busy over the next few weeks – well, really ’til the end of the year, what with one thing and another.  I still don’t quite know how I end up doing this to myself, but it’s pretty much standard behaviour these days.

I’m not complaining – in general I like being busy, and prefer it to days doing nothing  – but every so often I look at the calendar, and the board that holds all my upcoming tickets, and think “Lyle, you really are a bloody idiot“.

So, just in the next six weeks, and in no particular order, I will be…

  • Seeing Sir Ian McKellen as King Lear in Chichester (and staying overnight, possibly stopping off in Oxford on the way back)
  • A one-day conference in Birmingham, which may or may not happen, depending on other work commitments/stuff
  • A day-trip blitz run to Sheffield
  • A day in London doing a food festival in the morning, and a play in the evening
  • followed the next day by a day-trip run to Middlesbrough and Durham (for reasons I won’t go into now, as it’d identify the dates I’m away)
  • a weekend in Newcastle (which is, of course, not the same one as being up in Middlesbrough, despite proximity and so on)
  • A day trip to Cambridge
  • An evening in London, via Oxford (there’s reasons, but yeah, still idiotic)
  • And at least two other visits to London (with another one in early December)

Not just those travels, but somewhere in there also needs to be

  • Finally getting the starter motor on my car replaced (a hassle/fight that’s taken way too long, and will get written about some other time)
  • Seeing a number of films, which I’ve already got tickets for
  • other (more local) food things
  • Working (of course)
  • And finishing off two other projects.

In short, all a bit mad.

I know I’ve said it before – but for next year I need to start doing a little bit less, not being so booked up, and allocate some downtime for myself.  I just need to get some perspective on it all – because ‘downtime’ for me is also car-time and driving-time, it’s time where I can just float a bit, figure things out and so on.

Mind you, that’s also what I’ll be doing over the next six weeks, so I can figure bits out and what I want to do (and how) in 2018…

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