D4D

You can't polish a turd.

Archive for the category “Travel”

Dickhead

There are times where (as many people already know) I’m an absolute dickhead. This is the (fairly short) tale of one of those times.

One of the reasons I wanted to visit Toronto (which I finally did earlier this year) was because I’ve been a fan of a band called the Cowboy Junkies (who I’ve written about several times, and saw twice in November) for a very long time – since the first time I heard their “Trinity Sessions” album, in fact.  The Trinity Sessions was an album that was all recorded at the Holy Trinity church in Toronto, with only one ambisonic microphone to pick up all the voices and instruments.  It’s one of my all-time favourite albums.  However, I’d never seen a picture of the church. (This is relevant)

Then, on the anniversary of the recording of Trinity Sessions, they put a photo on their Facebook page of the church

And I thought “I recognise that church“. It turns out we’d gone in and visited it while we were in Toronto, and I hadn’t even realised it was the same place.  Indeed, we only went in because it looked interesting (and was hidden away down a little side-street, so we’d only glimpsed the place and its architecture) and it turned out to be a great little find, because it’s beautiful inside, as well as having an absolutely massive organ. (Fnarr)  And I knew it was called the Holy Trinity church. I just hadn’t connected the two.

So it took me another six months to realise that I’d actually been in the place, despite all the clues that were there.

And that, in this case, is why I’m a dickhead.

A Very Foodie Week

It’s become a bit of a tradition for me to make my birthday into a bit of a foodie thing, since starting off the whole “Eating on my own” thing with the Michelin-starred restaurants a couple of years back.

This year I’d taken the week off and booked a week in Northumberland, which made it even more fun.

So this year my actual birthday meal (well, the day after, but it counted) was at L’Enclume.  One heck of a drive across-country – two and a half hours each way – but still better than the five hours each way it would be from home.

Then during the week was an evening at House of Tides – which I love, and rarely miss taking the opportunity to go to when I’m in the North-East.

And finally, while I was in Manchester I visited a very new place, Mana, because it sounded interesting. (And it was!)

So it’s been a foodie week, and very enjoyable. But I might need to walk a lot over the coming week or so to make up for it…

Nasturtia

So far this week, I have been Unwell.  It was very similar to the episode in February where I was also spectacularly Unwell – thankfully this time wasn’t as bad, but it’s still been no fun.  Well, I say it’s been better, whereas actually it’s been just as nasty, but in different ways – and I’ve been more prepared this time to deal with the warning signs early.

In February I wasn’t sure what had caused it – I’d had a meal at a (now closed) Michelin-starred restaurant, and was pretty certain that it wasn’t food-poisoning in any way that I recognised.  This weekend was the same, no real idea of causation – although I’d had another couple of spectacular meals in the preceding days.

However, there’s only been a couple of common ingredients through the various meals, and with the whole set of symptoms being so similar, they’re what I’m looking at in particular.  (And this is also where it’s really useful to have taken photos of the stuff I’ve eaten, to be able to use them for reference on stuff like this)

The conclusion I’m being drawn to is that I have a *really* unpleasant reaction to either nasturtiums or marigolds. It takes about 24-36 hours to kick in, and then yeah, no fun at all.  In the case of this week, the lunch I had in Manchester on Saturday was very heavy in nasturtium garnishes, and I think that’s what triggered everything.  And looking at WebMD (via a Google search) I found that nasturtium can cause stomach upsets (look in the “side effects” tab) – which is one nice term for what’s affected me on both occasions.

I may at some point decide to experiment a bit, by trying another meal with nasturtium garnishes and see if the results are the same – but it’s not something I’m going to be eager to do.

In the meantime, it’s not an allergic reaction – and I’ll never be dramatic enough as to claim it as one – but at the same time I think it’s going to be something I might need to start mentioning to restaurants when I book in. Which sucks, but when all’s said and done, it could be a lot worse.  And at least I’ve now got a fairly good idea of what’s going on.

Daft as a Brush

In an ongoing thread, there are times where I realise I really am a silly sod. This is another of those things.

A fair while back, the Cowboy Junkies (one of my all-time favourite bands) announced they were coming to the UK. It had been a fair while since they’d been here last, and even better, it was happening the weekend after my birthday.  However, that was also the end of the week I was already booked up to spend in Northumberland, which was a Friday to Friday booking.  And they were playing Manchester on the Saturday, and London on the Sunday.

So I figured what the hell, it’ll be a weekend, and booked tickets for both Manchester and London. Well I was up in the area anyway, and the London one was billed as being different to the Manchester one (although that has since changed). So why not? (Other than mileage, of course)  I’d drive over from Northumberland to Manchester on the Friday, stay in a hotel overnight, do the gig on the Saturday night, and then drive home afterwards. Easy.

And then the plan changed a bit. When I saw the play Queen Margaret in Manchester, I realised how painless the journey was by train. So instead I figured I could drive home from Northumberland on the Friday – allowing me to get laundry and so on done in the evening and so on. Then on the Saturday I could get the train up, have lunch somewhere new and fancy that had grabbed my attention, then walk down to the hotel, check-in, drop off bag etc., go to the gig, stay overnight on Saturday, train home on Sunday morning, then down to London for Sunday night.

Yes, I’m an idiot, and an absolute loon. But I cut my mileage by taking the train, and improved my own safety by not driving home from Manchester late on a Saturday night. So that, at least, was sensible…

Doing Less while Getting Out More

This week, I’ve actually been away – I decided to take a week off around my birthday, and it all worked pretty well.

The other part of it was to actually do a bit less than usual – I made sure I hadn’t planned in stuff for every day, so I could do some down-time as well – and even for the days where I was doing stuff, I aimed to not be doing loads. (Although I did still drive over 1,000 miles over the week…)

All told, it worked out pretty well.  I had one daft day with a lot of driving, but the rest was a lot calmer. I even had a couple of days where I did very little, although enough that my nagging brainspace was still appeased.

Who knows? Maybe there’s hope for me yet…

Already Booking

Every year I say “I’ll do less next year“.  “I need the downtime“, I say. “I can’t keep on living like this” (or, others say to me “You can’t keep on living like this”) Every damn year.

And then every year stuff starts happening from October where I go “Oooh, I’ll book that“.  And suddenly I discover/realise that I’ve already got at least one thing booked in per month through to this time next year.

Plays, shows, activities, exhibitions, travel. It’s all in there already.

There really is just no hope for me.

Troilus and Cressida, RSC

As part of my ongoing education about Shakespeare plays, I went with my friend M to see Troilus and Cressida at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon on Saturday.

As usual, I knew sod-all about it beforehand – I’d figured some of the basics (that it was around the Trojan war and so on) but that was it.

It’s an interesting production, with extra percussion and sound created by Evelyn Glennie, and in some ways feels like it’s a mix of Stomp and Shakespeare. (Which isn’t a bad thing, in my own pantheon of opinions/preferences)  It’s also a fairly modern staging, with shipping containers taking the place of tents and so on, whereas the costuming (and in some cases lack thereof) is more traditional. So it’s a bit confused, but in a way that I liked.

I was, to be honest, less taken with the play itself. It was interesting enough, and enjoyable enough, but at the same time I don’t know that it’s one I’d make a big effort to see again.

Weirdly, Troilus and Cressida themselves aren’t really major roles within the play – they’re on stage a lot less than most of the other primary characters.

All told, there’s a lot of focus on political intrigues and deal-making as well as the war itself, and it makes for a complicated script and set-up that can sometimes be confusing.

So yes, I enjoyed the entire thing and I’m glad I went. But there are other Shakespeare plays I’d prefer to see before seeing Troilus and Cressida again.

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