Curtains

02/07/2011

So I’m officially calling it a day with STBB. It’s still pulling in between 5 and 30 hits a day (mostly with searches like ‘Penelope Cruz tits’) but I haven’t updated it in ages and have no intention of doing so in the future.

I have setup a Tumblr (I have a MacBook Pro after all, it would be unhipster not to) on a URL that will be live imminently, helloyouitsme.com. I’ll be putting random stuff on there as and when I feel like it (including the odd travel blog, especially with a 3 week trip round Vietnam, Laos etc. coming up), but definitely not with the same mild OCD fueled fervor that made me post a blog daily on my past journeys. So drop in and have a butchers.

Thanks for keeping me company on my adventures, adios reader(s).

Staying put

01/10/2010

I’m really not doing very well at keeping this up to date am I. In my defence I am rather busy with my job, beating Red at Street Fighter IV on the XBox 360, studying for exams etc. etc. The only reason I’m getting round to posting this now is that I’ve been off sick (soul destroying as a contractor!) the past few days with a viral infection that has given me a rather bad case of Kieron-Chris*. Anyway, I’m not really travelling any-more so this has become ‘The stay-still log of a bugger’. More on this later though.

Okay so first off I need to issue a retraction; in my last post I said I had yet to see LCD Soundsystem live, this was a big fat fib as I actually saw them a few years ago at the Manchester Academy. Splendid and tremendous they were too. Right, glad we got that cleared up.

I’ve been listening to The Black Keys a fair whack lately, both new and old stuff. Dan Auberch is a serious contender to Jack White for the modern dirty blues and garage-rock crown, if not the King incumbent. Go get their stuff – all of it.

Rugby league has definitely become my sport of choice over here as I was into it as a kid and Aussie rules footy does very little for me. Sydney Roosters should probably be my team as they are the local one but I have been to a few New Zealand Warriors (formerly Auckland Warriors) games as my house-mate Red is very much a Kiwi (“Want some chips bro? Have a chip cuz”). With there being loads of Sydney teams there’s plenty of opportunities to watch them over here, I got out to see them at Manly and also against Rabbitohs at the Olympic Stadium (Manchester should have had that!) in Homebush. The season is over now but next time round I might get into it properly.

I finally had a trundle round Darling Harbour (quite touristy but impressive none the less) recently as me and Claire went on a whale watching trip. The trip itself was a bit of a washout for me personally, as I got pretty sea-sick (without actually barfing) and had to spend most of it off deck, it may have been related to being on the razz the night before though. I think I did see a tail out the window a couple of times but that was about as close as I got to Moby Dick and pals.

Surry Hills and Crown Street in-particular seems like the coolest area in Sydney (though Newtown is good too), it’s close to where I work so I have had plenty of oppurtunity to explore the vintage shops and pubs. The Cricketers and The Shakespeare are probably my favourite 2 bars in Sydney so far, the latter doing great cheap grub so fast becoming a regular haunt.

The Broken Social Scene gig at The Metro I went to with Claire a couple of weeks (well, months now actually) ago was pretty good, they certainly bring plenty of energy to the stage. It’s a decent venue too with good views and bars everywhere, I’ll be looking out for other gigs there in the future.

I ran the City2Surf 14K run a few weeks back (erm, actually thinking about it was months again), it was quite the experience. 80,000 people running from the city-centre to Bondi beach, it took me 1 hour 23 minutes which isn’t too bad considering I very much neglected the training side of things. Next year I’ll be looking to shave a fair few minutes off that.

Wandering down into Bondi Junction the other day I was greeted by a young pair of buskers playing all sorts of weird stuff with a pretty unique and individual style, the highlight being the Jungle Book medley they belted out. I dined on a Japanese pizza (very much like this one) while taking in this spectacle, a most enjoyable half hour or so it was.

My pal (and personal scooter mechanic when on British soil) Joey has asked me to mention his plumbing business here and I am very happy to oblige. If you’re in Chester, The Wirral or North Wales {basically any of those parts where they talk funny) and you need your u-bend sorting or a dog’s bollocks power-shower fitting, Joey is your man. Cavalry Plumbing – “You’ve used the cowboys, now call the Cavalry.”

The company I now work for (Nexus) have offered me sponsorship and I have accepted, all the paperwork still has to go through though so it’s not all 100% yet. What this basically means is that I won’t be coming home or going travelling next March and I will probably be here for a couple of years at least.

Never mind that though, the biggest thing I have to report in this post is that I FINALLY GOT A VESPA!!! Have a look at the beauty below, it’s a 1963 Vespa VBB and was restored about 18 months ago by Gasoline Scooters. The engine has been replaced altogether and it now has a 150 LML in, but the frame is original and that’s what matters for me. It just means I get the benefit of modern power and reliability. I did pay considerably more than I would have liked to but I should get most of it back when I come to resell and I will get plenty of joy out of it in the meantime. Saga over eh.

I had looked at a small-frame Primavera a few weeks prior to getting this one, I liked it but turned it down as it was stupidly over-priced. The test ride was great fun though as the seller was an Italian guy who worked in the movie business over at Fox Studios, I got to tear-arse around the site for 15 minutes. The casting directors must not have been about as no offers were made, my visions of being projected to fame were scuppered. I guess the remake of The Great Escape (on a Vespa) will have to wait eh.

In other news, Simon has left the house and is now mooching round Asia for a bit on his way home to Northern Ireland. Catch up with his travels and travails here.

I saw ‘Inception’ at the IMAX for my birthday, blimey it’s a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream within a … It’s enough to make you reach for the paracetamol.

So with the sponsorship thing making it very likely that I’m going to be here for a good while I’m going to suspend blogging for Sydney. I will however post when I visit other parts of Australia (like when I got to Adelaide next month for a wedding) and to any of the islands, I might even venture into Asia. So once more, I plead with you to sign-up to the email list to be automatically notified of all STBB updates. Dead simple it is, just whack your email address in where it says so in the sidebar at the right of your screen up near the top. Easy as peasy innit.

Summer is most definitely on it’s way and apparently Sydney really comes alive then, that should be good it should. Being English, I’ll probably just end up whinging about it being too hot though. TTFN then reader(s).

*Dyer-Rea

Hadouken

23/07/2010

Once more I’ve been neglecting my bugger blog responsibilities, soz.

I’ve now (well, probably about 2 months ago) moved out and into a room that became available at Simon’s, so I’m still in Bondi Junction. It’s a lot more relaxed, I didn’t really like where I lived before as I wasn’t on the same wavelength of some of the people I lived with. All good then.

The Sydney film festival was running a while back and me liking my flicks, I’d earmarked three or four for my viewing pleasure. I only actually made it to one in the end as I had to work when some of them were showing. The one I did see was excellent though, the biopic of Ian Dury ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll’. Andy ‘gis a fish’ Serkis turns in a captivating performance and the whole thing is produced with a brilliantly stylish edge.

My Vespa hunt continues, I’ve been to see 4 or 5 and I’ve bid on some but lost out and not bid on others at all. I’m just enjoying being a bit of a nuisance and getting my 2-stroke fix on other people’s scoots. Since I’ve been here I’ve ridden a Sprint, a Super and a VBB amongst others and also have a session booked in on a wee Primavera for later this week. Magic.

One of my my new house-mates (Redster) has recently reached the big 30. Him being a Kiwi, a load of his pals and family performed the Haka at the do. Unfortunately me and Simon missed it by about 15 minutes, doh. A long night of drinking in the Oxford Street area of the city followed. Memories are hazy but I do recall having my picture taken with a Brian Fontana lookey likey.

Red convinced me and Simon into attending the Supernova pop culture exhibition the other Sunday, a festival of all things weird and geek really. We were initially sceptical and disparaging but he talked us round with promises of people dressed as Chun-Li (spinning-bird kick!!!), the chance to meet cult D-list actors from the early 80s and the opportunity to hang with the ‘R2D2 Builder’s club‘. It was ace purely for comedy value, well worth the $25 in.

I doubt I have ever been in a room with so many virgins over the height of 5’5, there were plenty of ‘individuals’ present.

The highlight was not having pictures taken with a Dalek (ooh watch out Davros’s troops, there’s some stairs over there), watching crap Australian wrestlers strut around the ring dramatically, or even seeing the original Incredible Hulk signing autographs (well sat there waiting for someone to join the queue to get his autograph). No, it was the Kamehameha contest (grown/not grown men and women pretend to force fireballs out at each other in a variety of interesting and strange ways), comfortably won in the end by someone dressed as Raiden of Mortal Kombat fame.

We couldn’t be bothered (but probably should of) hanging around another another couple of hours to see the Japanese manga girls karaoke competition or the question and answer session with the sound effects geezer from Police Academy (I can’t remember his name but I know it’s not Mahoney or High-tower).

This week I have mostly been listening to ‘This Is Happening’ by LCD Soundsystem. I thought it was good on first listen, I think it’s great now. One of the most inventive bands about and yet I’m still to see them live, this needs to change. Also been getting an airing is Metal Cares by Picastro which is very odd with strange banshee like wailing aplenty but it’s also a rewardingly cohesive album full of treasures, not one to be dipped into ad-hoc.

Blimey, Red has just bought an Xbox 360. Much hilarity was had creating derogatory wrestlers of each other in some WrestleMania lark (see this Facebook album for proof) and HD graphics have finally arrived to mine and Simon’s perpetual FIFA clashes, the beautiful game never looked so good.

So the World Cup hasn’t really been a classic has it, moments of quality here and there but little that will live long in the memory apart from those soddin’ vuvuyawatzits and shot after shot ballooned over the crossbar. England were on the whole awful too, ‘ghost goal’ ‘n’ all. There’s lot of work to be done and someone needs to convince Don Fabio that Emile Heskey is of international standard not.

Santo, Sam and Ed’s World Cup Fever has been the best bit for me, the vast majority of Australian TV programming is terrible but this show is consistently funny and entertaining. It’s like an Aussie version of Baddiel and Skinner’s Fantasy Football League.

My contract at Canon finished last Friday and luckily I have secured another one (3 months probably with another 3 extension) with these, I start next week. With that I have decided that I will be staying in Sydney and not moving Melbourne for now at least, I’d like to go but it would be a bit of a mission and it just makes most sense financially to stay here.

The best bit about the new job is that the office is in the next suburb along, Paddington. It will take me 10 minutes on a bus as opposed to a 2 hour plus round-trip in the previous one, whoo! On my daily train commute I sometimes encountered an incredibly chipper and cheesy on-board announcer. Everything is announced in a 70s radio DJ parody style. “Guuuud morning passengersaaa, the next stop is Wynyardaaaa. Please be careful when alighting from the trainaaa. Thank you for travelling with City Railaaa”. Quite funny the first few times, soul destroying 19 times in.

It occurred to me recently that it’s been ruddy ages since I’ve been to a gig so I’ve been looking out for them. I went to see Little Red at the Oxford Art Factory last weekend (ace live, they combine loads of different styles effortlessly) and Broken Social Scene is coming up in a few weeks.

I heard the awful news the other day that Chris Sievey (aka Frank Sidebottom) had passed away from cancer. He was a complete one off, taking daftness to previously untouched levels (Hit the North!). The ‘Frank Sidebottom’s Magical Tour of Timperley’ open-top bus ride I went on a few years back was possibly the funniest experience of my life, not bobbins and really ace. Cheerio Frank, I hope little Frank gets along okay without you.

By the power of Greyskull

30/05/2010

What follows is a random sequence of memories of the past month or so in a rather erratic format, forgive me this.

Australian traffic-lights, what are they all about eh. You have to wait ruddy ages to cross and then you only get 3.7 seconds to do it. Sort it out Australia.

I caught the City vs Spuds ‘Champions League play-off’ a few weeks back in the city. To do so I had to get up at half 3 in the morning to get to the pub where Sydney’s blues hang out for 05:00 (or 20:00 in Blighty). I was tired (2 hours kip) and it was dark and unusually cold. It felt more like Manchester than Australia’s south-east coast.

I had an almighty sprint to catch the 378 bus as it was early. But catch it I did which was lucky as it was the only one for a good while. I did think to myself is all this really worth it, it transpired that it wasn’t.

City didn’t turn up in the 2nd half and consequently won’t be in the Chimps league next season. Mancini and his lovely scarf are still going to be in the hot seat though apparently.

I think I’m going to give up on that Cheers bar. For starters it’s a crap generic sports bar and I’ve also seen 2 games there and had 2 terrible results. Early morning home streaming for one is the future.

3 schooners (little drinks for big Australians) of Boag’s (quickly becoming my down under budget beer of choice) before work probably wasn’t the best idea and left me feeling a tad sleepy. A bacon and sausage butty (my phone keeps trying to put bitty, that would have been quite a different snack) from the staff canteen mitigated the drowsiness somewhat.

The Flaming Lips have recently covered Pink Floyd’s ‘Darkside Of The Moon’. As you might expect, it’s mental. Come hear for yourself here.

Another album worth a listen is ‘Horsefeathers’ by Horse Feathers. It’s along the lines of Guided By Voices with more angst in the vocals. At times it’s in danger of sounding a bit like the modern day awful generic American ‘punk’ bands catering for teens with nails clad in black nail-polish all around the World, but it always pulls itself back before doing so.

I’ve bought a 2nd hand guitar from a French geezer advertising on Gumtree. It’s a Fender Squier and he wanted 150 bucks having paid 200 for it new several months earlier. I offered him a ton and his come back was 140. I said I wasn’t paying more than 120 and a deal was struck, not bad considering it came with a capo that must be worth $20. In the words of Terry Tibbs – “Acoustic guitar, talk to me”. Terry Tibbs, he’s good isn’t he. See.

Reluctantly I got my haircut some weekends ago, something I always dread as my barnet chop explanatory skills are a bit shoddy. It’s also difficult to find somewhere that isn’t going to charge you the GDP of Suriname for the privilege or is fairly priced but the barber would have a heart attack if you didn’t ask for short-back and sides. Anyway it didn’t go too swell.

I found somewhere that looked half decent, not overly pricey and with a hair-dresser who looked reasonably stylish and like she had half a clue what she was doing. Unfortunately she was busy and I got the gay bloke from Derry who was neon-orange in skin tone, dressed like he was on a darts team and had a very dodgy comb-over despite only being about 30. The front was okay, though not what i asked for (via a pic on my phone to negate the need for my poorly articulated specification) but the back looks like a 1930s dictator effort. Ah well, it grows back eh.

The weekend before last there was a 80s Mod revival exhibition at The Powerhouse Museum as part of a larger 80s exhibition. There wasn’t that much to it really, just a few Vespas on display and a couple of items about what a Mod is. I timed it to coincide with when Sydney scooterists were due to visit though to have a look at all the scoots on display outside, including these 3 gorgeous GSs. Actually on linking to this photo it has just occurred to me that one of the said 3 GSs had ridden off prior to me taking my happy snap, what an inconsiderate bugger eh.

I’m closing in on a Vespa myself actually, more news to follow in a post shortly hopefully.

The 80s Are Back exhibition itself was pretty cool and gave me a chance for some childhood reminiscing. Commodore 64, He-Man figure complete with Battle Cat (I owned 1 headless He-Man and 4 Skeletors as a kid, a psychiatrist would have a field-day with information like that), Lost Boys poster, Stone Roses album cover etc. Brilliant stuff.

The rest of the museum was a bit dull really, but I guess it didn’t help that I’d been out the night before in Bondi and had only had 3 hours sleep. They did have an ace ‘Trainspotting’ exhibition though which contained some amazing award winning photographs from railyards and tracks around the world.

I had a quick mooch around Paddy’s Market near China Town after that. It was alright, the usual sort of hectic trading-post really. Not the best place to have a nasty hangover kick-in. I nearly bought a radio-controlled helicopter for $30 but saw sense at the key moment.

Blimey, there’s two Irish bars very close to where I live and they are constantly packed with folk from the Emerald Isle at all hours. Every-time I walk past them there’s an extremely drunk Irishman arguing/scrapping with a bouncer, his girlfriend, or another Irishman. Why not just do it all at home and save on the airfare.

The other night I finally went for a proper look The Rocks area to see the harbour bridge and Opera House (though I do go over the bridge twice a day for work). I picked (or more accurately, Claire did) the worst night weather-wise since I’ve been here for it. Awful torrential rain. Despite this I still got some good pics, it’s so much better having a decent camera.

I also had a lovely emu (don’t mention Rod Hull!) pizza at The Australian Hotel. One of the better pubs I’ve been to but I am finding that most pubs/bars here have very little charm or character.

Another place we took in was Customs House. There’s a massive model of Sydney under a glass floor that you walk over, that’s helped me get my bearings a bit.

No one told me Sydney had a monsoon season, it’s being throwing it down for 2 weeks now. Sort it out Australia.

When I said more news on the Vepsa front may follow in a future post, it has actually become this one. I went to take a look at this over in Manly. It was advertised as a 1968 Vespa Sprint, though with a bit of research I actually think it’s a Sprint Veloce (don’t mock me). I enjoyed taking it for a spin until it died when I gave it some in 3rd gear, it could be something and nothing but I’m not taking the risk. It’s a shame as if I could have knocked him down considerably on the $3500 asking price (well over what you’d pay for one in absolutely mint condition in the UK and this had a fair bit of rust) I would have definitely been interested. Still I got a nice ferry trip across the harbour and got to ride an original classic Vespa so it wasn’t a wasted trip. The search continues.

If you have any interest in the Manchester music scene you may find this interview very interesting as I did. They’ve got a point I reckon.

Sayonara for now reader. Enjoy the rub cub.

Maybe Melbourne

02/05/2010

Hello, it’s been a while so I thought I should check-in if only to stop Google destroying my search rating.

Erm, I’ve not really done that much to ‘write home about’ in the period between this post and the last one. Sorry about that. Erm, I could mention some tunes I’ve been listening to. Yes, I’ll do that.

The album ‘Listen To’ by Little Red is ace, upbeat indie/pop/punk with touches of soul and doo-wop, check out this as a fine example. Other honourable mentions go to Julian Casablancas of The Strokes fame for his first solo album ‘Phrazes For The Young’ and to Joe Gideon And The Shark for ‘Harum Scarum’. This tune is mint, bit like The Fall when they’re on their game. “Like Lars Von Trier”.

Simon’s hat party was good, full of daft hats as you might expect. There was an impromptu 11 man $22 hi-octane Pro Evolution Soccer 3 tournament held. Of course I made it to the final (with Italy, the draw out of the hat was reasonably kind) but was robbed by some git with England on pens after leathering him all game. Ah well.

When my contract finishes at the end of July I’m considering moving to Melbourne which is supposed to be more of a European style city. I wouldn’t say I don’t like Sydney but I’m not sure it’s the right sort of city for me, I haven’t really found too much on the alternate/music side that would intrigue me. There’s also not been one bar so far that has caught my interest. It could just be that I haven’t been looking in the right places though and I may feel completely different in a few months. Besides it depends on the work situation, if I don’t think I can get a decent paid job in Victoria I won’t be going but my initial research suggests the IT job market is pretty strong down there too.

Little Red are from Melbourne, could be a sign that could.

I’ve finally got round to updating my Flickr feed, it’s got the pick of the photos from my European tour and North American expedition as well as the early fruits of my Australasian adventure. Italy and Spain are probably the best from Europe. Take a look at the link on the right sidebar.

Also, I’ll encourage you once more to sign up to the mailing list also on the sidebar. Until I’m travelling full time again (roughly that’s going to be March 2011) it’s the best way to be informed when I post a new blog as they are going to be few and far between. Go on, there’s a sport.

After having now lived a couple of months in this country, I’m now getting a grip on the general Australian psyche. They’re a simple very direct bunch, none too subtle and call a spade a spade. I mean just look what you see when you go sock shopping.

Gonna take pollution down to zero

30/03/2010

So I’ve got a job haven’t I, a 5 month contract as a Server Analyst with these working on site for these. I wonder if I’d get the sack if they find out I have a Panasonic camera?

I’ve been there a few weeks now and it’s nae bad, the people I work with are quite a good laugh so that helps. The dosh isn’t too shoddy either so I should hopefully be able to save a few bob for my post Oz globe-trotting machinations. These early morning rises are quite a shock to the system though I can tell thee.

The early morning rises have been regularly supplemented by even earlier early morning rises to catch the mighty blues in action via online streams. I’ve been meaning to get down here to meet up with this lot but it hasn’t been possible due to work and lot’s of inconvenient Sunday and Monday fixtures. I’ll correct this soon.

I was in the the local K-Mart the other day in Bondi Junction when I saw this sign. I of course demanded to know what the jaffa this was all about from a checkout lady, apparently it refers to bedding. Weird these Aussies I tell thee.

The weekend before last I had my first look at Bondi Beach. It was only a quick mooch with Simon and some of his house-mates but I enjoyed it none the less, some of the world’s top surfers were there for an exhibition which was quite cool. I mean to checkout the rest of the great beaches Sydney has to offer in the coming weeks.

After that we went and had a look at an amateur rugby union tournament in Waverley which loads of Kiwis had come to play in. Blimey there were some rather large chaps knocking about and having seen ‘Once Were Warriors’ I didn’t plan on picking a fight. One of Simon’s house-mates (Red) is a Kiwi himself and I spent the rest of the day and night with him and a few of his fellow countrymen, was a good laugh.

Two albums I’ve been enjoying muchos lately are ‘Epcot Starfields’ by Windmill and ‘Teen Dream’ by Beach House. Both are very different in many ways but similar in the fact that they are immensely atmospheric. Choice.

Last Saturday I went for a 2 or 3 hour walk around Centennial Park to take a load of photos with my new camera, specifically ones at sunset. I got some good shots of all sorts of different birds, to clarify I mean ones with wings, to clarify further I’m not talking about sanitary products. I really enjoyed it. Photos will be up on my Flickr feed in a week or 2.

When I got in from the park at around 20:30 all the lights were off and 2 of my house mates, Victoria (French) and Romi (Spanish), were eating in complete darkness apart from a couple of candles. Possible reasons for this that ran through my head were: they had decided to become Luddites, World War III had been declared and blackouts were necessary, they were having a romantic meal for 2 (ay, caramba!). The real culprit was Earth Hour, a climate change awareness event that originated in Sydney a few years back and has spread around the World. This would mean that I would have to wait an hour before having a proper butchers at the $4.50 Abraham Lincoln/Jewish hat that I had just purchased for Simon’s forthcoming hat birthday party. Christ I felt like an eco-warrior, you know like Captain Planet or Swampy.

Other areas I’ve had brief visits to in the last couple of weeks are Paddington and King’s Cross (can’t these lazy flamin’ drongos think of their own names eh). I’ll withhold judgement on both though until I’ve had a proper look at them.

Search of the day ‘chum rag: hashing’. I really don’t know, you tell me.

Send the whinging pom back

10/03/2010

Well here we are again. I’m about to embark on another adventure and where as on previous voyages I’ve not really been nervous, I am a bit this time round as it’s a different sort of travelling, i.e. the static kind where you don’t actually go anywhere. After nearly a year as a Prince of Bumdom (that could be construed in an entirely different way than I intend) it’s time to get a job which is crucial to how long I last in Sydney. I’m confident something will turn up though, after all I’ve got a mint new Fred Pez pinstripe shirt to swing the balance in interviews.

My sister Boacher Bowen (who lives in London) came with me part of the way to Heathrow to see me off. It would be an eventful outing. First off with the taxi from Hornchurch to Romford station, after I’d put my bag in the boot the driver brought down the lid a bit too early and gave me an almighty wallop right on the top of my bonce. No concussion, mercifully as London’s biggest airport might have been a tad difficult to navigate with blurred vision.

Next up we got a National Express train (I thought they only did buses, smelly ones at that) for the 15 minute trip to Liverpool Street station. The train was pretty busy and although there were seats available there weren’t two together and there wasn’t much room for my luggage. So we went right down to the bottom of the train and in a 4 seater little cubicle which was still part of another carriage we plonked ourselves down. We then noticed a sign on the window after a minute saying first class, but didn’t think much of it as there was no difference between that and the other seats, this would prove to be a mistake. A short while later and a very official looking official was informing that we “Have committed an offence on the railways”. Sitting in a different colour seat from the one you’re supposed to isn’t exactly murder on the Leyton Orient Express is it.

Anyway, when the train came to it’s destination we were escorted to another miserable jobsworth who wanted to fine us 20 sherbets each. Jog on. Big Sis Bowen started to get a bit angry at this point where as I adopted the sarcastic approach, neither were very effective. After lots of tooing and throwing we had to give our address details or face the old bill’s top men. I informed numpty number 1 that I didn’t have an address as I was a few short hours away from moving to Australia and looking for one. He said that I needed to provide one. 10 Ramsay Street I said. He didn’t appreciate this. Eventually they let us go when Boach had given her address, though not before a solid proclamation to numpty 1 and 2 that the fine would not be getting paid.

After this little ordeal we met up with my brother-in-law (well pretty much) for some grub at O’Neill’s and what would happen to be the first background tune we hear? Only bloody this one.

Then it was goodbyes and the Piccadilly line from Kings Cross straight into the airport, nice and easy.

I’m now just spending the last bit of Blighty dosh on my person on a pint of Guinness while watching the Ireland vs Brazil game and waiting for my departure gate to be announced.

This Cathay Pacific plane I’m on is massive, I’ve never been on one of these bad boys before. It has 10 seats to a row with 2 corridors separating them. Thankfully it’s a Bowen* 747, much better than one of them iffy Airbus jobbies I reckon, ahem.

It’s 11 hours to get to Hong Kong and then I think about the same again from there to Sydney, a film marathon might well be on the cards.

One of the flight hostesses just spilt beer all over my lap, though she is very sorry as she has now assured me several dozen times and brought me enough napkins to host and impromptu origami tournament. I’m starting to think all these little slices of bad luck I’m having today are leading up to a biggy!

Over the 2 flights I wangled 4 films in in-between stuffing myself with every complimentary bit of grub and drink available and poor misguided efforts at sleeping. Un Prophète and The Damned United were both good and A Serious Man and The Invention Of Lying were not so good. As usual all my thoughts are available here.

My entrance through customs in Sydney went smoothly so here I am, made it.

I got the train down to Simon’s in Bondi Junction and now it’s time to get on with all the malarkey to make this a home for a while; Australian sim card, bank account, tax registration, flat hunt, job hunt. Blimey. Though after being up for about 50 hours, a kip might be in order.

If by a big stroke of luck I can get a well paid job here, I think I may have to get myself an old cheap Vespa if I can to get about on. This sort of weather is what scooters are made for. This is the point I meant to end this post but I never got round to it, so I may as well continue.

I’ve not really seen or done anything interesting or touristy yet (not even seen the Harbour Bridge or Opera House!) as I’ve just been trying to get the initial bobbins I mentioned sorted so I can relax and know I’ve got spondulicks coming in.

After being here the best part of a week however, I have now sorted a bank account, phone number (this lot appear to offer the best deals), applied for tax and medical registrations and rather importantly, sorted somewhere to live. I’m moving into a house-share later today in central Bondi Junction. The place seems nice and I’ll be living with an Australian, a Belgian, a Spaniard and a Frenchy. Hopefully it will work out well.

A big thank you to Mr Logan for putting me up for the last week and for taking regular beatings from me on Pro Evolution Soccer 3 on the PS2 with somewhat humility.

The last few days I’ve also been hitting the job hunt trail hard by mithering agencies and getting my CV out. The market seems pretty good, if I don’t manage to secure a preferred (and better paid) server admin role, desktop support should be easy enough to get.

I’ve not seen any snakes or spiders (of any note) yet but I did see a wee lizard running round the house the other day and when I went for a run in Centennial Park just before sunset I saw loads of massive bats (wingspans like birds of prey!) which will make for some amazing photos when I get to grips with the features on my new camera.

The pic is of a lovely old Vespa 150 that is wasted as an ornament in a restaurant just down the road from my new place. Having now had a quick look at scooters on the market over here, relieving them of this somehow may be my best option as prices are extortionate.

By the way, I thought I’d got away with it but I’ve awoke with 4 mosquito bites this morning. Damn them blighters, damn them to mosquito hell.

Lastly (honest), I’m doing a spot of scootering related blogging for my mate Dave who in involved with Armadillo Scooterwear. Not all the articles are mine but there’s a fair few which are, have a butchers here if you like. TTFN.

*Okay, I know it’s not spelt like that

Men at work

07/01/2010

Hello, it’s been a while hasn’t it. So I thought I’d post a quick update for my travel and STBB plans (or lack there of for the latter).

First off I’ve decided against moving my site to paid for hosting so I can switch to WordPress.org as to be frank, at the moment the benefits don’t actually outweigh the ball ache of doing it. I may revise my views in the future. I have added a couple of extra widgets though, one of which is the option to sign up to an email notification list for new blog posts.

I’m also in the process of uploading selected pictures from my four months on the road/rails in Europe to my Flickr profile. This will take me a while as I’m not signed up to the pro version and therefore only have the meagre bandwidth of 100MB per month. Take a butchers if you wish via the sidebar on the right.

With regards to actual travel plans, I’m no longer going to Wellington in New Zealand as I’m not sure how easy it would be to find decently paid work in my particular field (the hugely exciting one of Information Technology). I do hope to do a month or so of touring around NZ before I leave Australasia though, all just depending on how things go with work (and the money it provides). So I’m now going straight to Sydney (hands up how many of you thought that to be the capital of the non Fosters drinking, corky hat wearing, kangaroo shooting land down under) in very early March.

The reason for the delay is I hope very much to be at this. A dedicated fan or a foolish numpty, you decide. Either way Manchester City Football Club have never been to a proper final (or semi-final for that matter) in my 27 years on the planet, so if they end up being there in less than 2 months, so will I. In the mean time I’ll be doing my best to live frugally and not spend all my remaining funds on beer.

I know a few lads out in Sydney (one being Simon, my travel buddy for the Californian leg of the USA trip) so that should make my integration a bit easier.

As planned, I finally got a netbook (this one) which is making this whole blogging lark much easier. I also invested in a decent camera to improve the quality of my snaps. I opted for this bad boy, I just need to figure out how to use the bugger properly now.

The picture is the Facebook profile picture of an Australian chap I met in Hamburg. That’s him ‘controlling’ the one on the left. It makes me howl every time I see it.

So TTFN and I’ll hope you’ll join me when I venture into a whole new hemisphere. I may post an entry before then, I may not. Sign up to the email updates and you’ll know if I do.

Sweet home Manchester

01/12/2009

After my 3rd sub 4 hour night’s sleep in a row (sometimes considerably so ‘n all) I’m looking (and feeling) like a good candidate as an extra for ‘Shaun of the Dead – Part II’. So I feel like just hanging around the hostel until I need to leave for my flight at about 14:00ish but this would be quite the waste when considering how much of Paris I’ve still to see. This means I’ll head off to Montmartre for a couple of hours trundling.

While on route to Montmartre some obnoxious middle-aged man had the dreaded ‘turbo folk’ blaring from his phone while swigging a can of lager with his wife next to him. Cretin.

To take my mind off the cretin and his cretinous tunes, I listened to the latest episode of ‘Matt’s Today in History’ which covers the D.B. Cooper case, an incident I was already familiar with but was glad to learn more on. I hope he is running a bar in South America somewhere with no one any the wiser.

My first stop was to the flea market that the girl on reception at the hostel had recommended, though I can’t think what possessed her to do that as it was bobbins. Maybe I was just at the wrong one though.

Then I grabbed lunch at a little bistro La Dolce Vita grill. I had lasagne and it was crap, it was actually cold in the middle and as the plate was very hot I suspect it had just been bunged in the microwave. I
didn’t have time to complain and couldn’t be bothered either. But it was a pretty disappointing €9 spent when the place looked quite nice.

After that I paid a very brief visit to the Sacré-Coeur which was nice, all very crisp and polished. It wasn’t as big as I’d have expected though.

On the way down the steps at the front of the basilica I was greeted by 7 or 8 African scammers. I knew what their game was straight away as I’d heard about the same thing in Milan. They walk up to tourists and try and place a ‘friendship’ bracelet on their wrists, then they try and demand payment for it. Anyway one of them walks up to me and starts giving it “Excusez-moi” and I just said “Not interested” several times while still walking, I could even see the bracelet in his hand. He straddled to the side and in front of me though with his hand on my chest all the while trying to block me, he had seriously overstepped the mark in terms of personal space. I wanted to give him a whack and leg it but I don’t think that would have been a very wise move with 7 of his pals behind me. He eventually got the message as I just pushed past him. They really wind me up though, get out of my face and do one.

I wasn’t overly impressed with Montmartre as a whole, I was told to expect a cool bohemian vibe and I didn’t get a whiff of it. I had very little time there though and didn’t get a chance to explore so I expect I just missed the good bits. As I often say, for another trip.

Nearly €10 to get to CDG airport on the light railway when it only takes half an hour if that. I’ve found that a lot of cities like to exploit their tourists with this sort of thing but plenty more don’t (Manchester being in the latter category). I should make a name and shame list.

Bugger, my flight is delayed an hour. All is not lost though as there is a PS3 demo unit in the departure lounge.

Ah, maybe it is as 2 annoying posh kids have caught sight of me playing it. I’m now trying to teach the pair of them FIFA 2009 but the poor sods are clueless and have no aptitude whatsoever for video games, I blame the parents. I’ve given up and left them to it, total lost causes who should never be let near a console again.

Actually my flight is delayed an hour and a half, flamin’ budget airlines. It’s not too bad I suppose though.

I take that back, what a bag of shite. The flight is now cancelled altogether apparently, though they are being pretty quiet with the information. They mentioned something about another flight at 20:35 (3 and a half hours after we were supposed to leave) but if it’s an already scheduled flight I presume they will have to source a much bigger plane. Now I’m stood in a large queue (and have been for half an hour) and I’m not really sure why.

The queue was to issue us a new boarding pass and they also gave us a €20 food voucher, that’s something I suppose. I made sure I got every cent’s worth out of it (in fact I actually went 50 cents over) and had an Italian salad with mozzarella and parma ham, a large bag of crisps, a chocolate chip muffin and pint of Heineken.

As the new departure time was approaching things weren’t looking promising as the plane wasn’t even in, one fella waiting had a WiFi connection and was checking the Manchester Airport site which was showing a new arrival time of 23:00 (which would turn out to be correct). He new more than the bloody staff who weren’t saying much at all, what a joke.

There was another FlyBe flight to Birmingham going out from the same departure lounge so I took on a few young Brummie lads on FIFA and gave them all a lesson they won’t forget for a while. Awe struck they were.

I’d been through belt off, wallet and phone in the plastic tray, security malarkey 3 times in the end as the toilets (and the cafes) were outside the lounge. “You again” said one of the officials to me at one point.

We eventually took to the skies at about 22:15, around 5 and a half hours after we should have done. Oh well, it could have been a lot worse.

So there we go, another trip reaches it’s completion. I’m now back on the ever faithful Blighty soil and ruddy glad to be so. Let’s have a look at a couple of stats for the duration of this European expedition to finish off:

- 27 countries visited
– 40 magnets collected
– 19 magnets missed (boo!)
– 2 live football matches witnessed
– 73 pizzas eaten
– 1439 pints of lager drunk*
– £15.04 AdSense revenue generated
– 8400 hits direct to this site
– 11206 hits on Lonely Planet site
– 0 Frenchmen with good sense of humour met

While you’re here you may as well have a look at my fully completed old skool analogue map below. Quite the route eh.

I’ll be back in STBB HQ at some point in January for my New Zealand jaunt, I hope you will join me. I’ll post the occasional update on my travel plans here so feel to check back in and leave some comment abuse every now and again. It’s been emotional.

* Including 1 courtesy of this lot.

Hey Mona

29/11/2009

Today the only thing on my agenda was The Louvre as on yesterday’s tour the girl told us that if you spent 30 seconds looking at every piece without a break (apart from when it’s closed) it would take you over a month to see everything, crikey. I spent around 3 and a half hours there quite happily and if I’d have got there earlier I’d have spent longer.

Once I’d seen The Mona Lisa (which is what today’s blog title is a reference to, just in case you suspected it was to Bo Didley’s ‘I Need You Baby – Mona’ covered with some sucess by Craig McLachlan amongst others) and The Venus de Milo it was just a case of wandering around aimlessly and seeing what treats I came across.

The place is huge, I never walked in the same room twice. Well worth the €9 entry fee (though once again it would have been free with my student card if I was but a year younger). I definetely want to return for a longer look at a later date.

In fact I haven’t seen a quarter of what I wanted to. There’s at least another 3 museums I want to see and plenty of other sights besides that I haven’t had a proper look at. Paris is high up on my return to list.

I did intend for this post (as well as yesterday’s which I’ve only just had a chance to edit and upload) to be more detailed but as I’m doing most of it on my phone and it’s half 2 in the morning so it shall not be. I did some of it on the PCs here before but they are painfully slow and at €3 for an hour (most of it spent waiting for pages to load), a rip-off (as is the food and drink at this hostel). Also there was an annoying man next to me alternating between dreadful humming and a little girly snivel. Roll on netbook.

So this is the last night of this particular trip. I can’t figure out if it’s gone quickly or slowly, a bit of both perhaps. Which would surely mean that it’s actually run at your bog standard and traditional 60 seconds a minute, 60 minutes an hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week time etc. time, no?).


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