Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Weekend Away

October 11th, 2011 No comments

Having taken a few days off work to relax and catch up on some work that has been on my to do list for months, I found myself sat on a train at 9am on Saturday morning heading to Guildford to see my friend Jess.

Jess is currently head of membership at the AHS and a former president of Southampton Atheists. She is also a singer and lawyer-to-be (check out her YouTube page if you want some personal serenading for charity!)

I have been to Guildford a couple of times before, a few times back in the day when my friend Dom worked down South and more recently when I went to a Guildford Skeptics in the Pub meeting when I was down in the area for work.

I rocked up to Guildford station after a fairly event free trip down and Jess and I went for a wander. I was counting this weekend as a holiday, so first port of call was the tourist information centre for postcards and stamps! I also discovered that there isn’t an awful lot to do in Guildford that is touristy.

We hit the pub so I could write my postcard and accidentally found ourselves quaffing the local cider before lunch. Although the lunch issue was rectified with a trip to Sainsburys and then the bus ride out to the Manor house that Jess lives in. That’s right, the trainee lawyer that lives in manor house! I am definitely in the wrong career.

A few songs later (and half a bottle of single barrel Jack Daniels) we had some tea and then hit town for a night on the town Guildford style. We managed to avoid the students and cheesy music by heading to a piano bar with an over 21 policy at the weekends.

I haven’t really been to a piano bar before, so I was rather impressed with the live music (even if it was a little predictable in places) and the fact that I felt rather young in the presence of all the other professional partaking of a cocktail or two. What I wasn’t impressed with was the speed of bar service. I had to queue in excess of 10 mins at the bar every time, this meant pre-queuing was essential (i.e. we started queuing for the next drink before we had finished our first drink). Jess got happily drunk and started strutting her stuff on the dancefloor (with her trademark “arm up, dip the knee” move getting some admiring glances from our fellow partygoers).

The Sunday was rather more sedate, with a late breakfast followed by several hours of us putting the world to rights, I caught the train back to Leeds at around 4pm and after a long delay in Peterborough I got back in time to catch some TV before bed.

All in all a rather pleasant way to spend a weekend.

A busy year already

January 9th, 2011 3 comments

Opera North - Carmen

The second week of January is upon us and it seems my diary is filling up faster than I could ever have imagined. I have developed a very bad habit in recent years of making big plans and not really following through with them, with perhaps the exception of the trip to Europe I did last year.

To try and counter that, I am going to post up the things I have planned right now so that I will hopefully see them through. It will also remind me to blog about the events and give me a lot more to say in my review of 2011, rather than the the relatively dismal look back at 2010.

The first major highlight of 2011 I have already organised is a trip to opening night at Opera North’s production of Carmen with my friend Aislin. I really love the opera and have only really started up going to see them again since I met Aislin. It is really cool to have a friend that likes some of the more obscure hobbies that interest me like opera and ballet etc.

Carmen was a natural choice for me to go and see as it is one of my favourites. I have seen a couple of productions of it, although both times were amateur ones, so will be great to see a professional performance.

I am hoping to squeeze in a few more operas this year too following the success of Turn of the Screw last year and what I am sure is going to be an epic experience at Carmen. It will also be my very first opening night!

Dungeon Ghyll

Next up is a trip to Langdale with some of my family. Langdale is one of my favourite places int he whole world despite its relatively unglamorous reputation in comparison to the rest of the Lake District. For me though, the valley has everything I could possible want from a remote, relaxing holiday destination. It is quite simply a stunning part of the country, a long glacial valley with a few vllages spread out along the valley floor and walled by soe impressive hills. The valley is home to three of my top 5 Lake District pubs, the Old and New Dungeon Ghyll hotels and the Wainwright Inn.

February also sees Andrew’s stag night, which will be an interesting experience as it will be my first ever stag do. Andrew is getting married in Jamaica in March which i can’t afford to attend, so it is my intention to make sure he gets a fantastic send off! Whilst I am talking about Andy, I should probably plug his great football blog that is probably his one true love (sorry Laura).

Josh Ritter

I have two trips abroad planned for April this year. The first is to go an see a band I really like play live in Dublin. Josh Ritter is doing a few dates in Europe as part of his tour and Dublin was the cheapest place to go and see him play. The other two cities he is doing in British Isles are Edinburgh and London and at the moment, both of those places are more expensive to get to and stay over in than Dublin. So look out Emerald Isle, I am coming for a party.

I plan to head over to Dublin on a Thursday and stay until Sunday, hopefully getting in a tour of the Guinness brewery as well as maybe seeing some of the sights and sounds of one of Europe’s capital cities.

The second trip in April is a little more ambitious. I hope to go and visit a friend of mine who is currently working for the British government in New York City. I am hoping to get out there for a week or so around Easter time to take advantage of the bank holidays (meaning I have to take less annual leave from work). I have never been to the Big Apple before, other than layovers at the airports there. I am not usually a city fan and prefer countryside and remoteness over the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s most populous conurbations. However, it is one of those cities that is everyone’s must visit list and that includes me. I want to be able to say I have see Time square, visited central park and been up the Empire State building.

Yankee Stadium, New York

I am going in April so that I have a chance of catching a ball game at Yankee stadium but I haven’t actually checked the schedules to see if this is going to be possible.

Following that is not going to be easy, but I have plans to go on holiday to Malta at the start of summer with my mum. Normally I would never consider Malta as a holiday destination, but on seeing the photos and stories my mum and auntie told when they visited the island a couple of years ago I was instantly sold on the idea. Malta has a rich history, perhaps best known for its role in the second world war where the nation and its people were awarded the George Cross for resisting the axis powers.

Lincoln Cathedral

June sees the long awaited marriage of two good friends of mine, Bryony and Chris. They have been together for over five years and I don’t think anyone could imagine them not getting married. The ceremony is taking place at Lincoln Cathedral and I have the honour of being one of the ushers. I have been to quite a few weddings over the years, but this will be my first as a participant (of sorts) and the first of my generation of friends. Technically Laura and Andrew get married earlier, but as they will be in Jamaica and I will be in Leeds I don’t think it counts.

The final plans for 2011 are less entrenched than those above. I want to try and get back to Venice in the Autumn as I had such a fantastic time there last year and would love to spend a few more days there, perhaps an extended weekend. I aim to also spend more time in my role on the management board of the AHS as I feel that the next 18-24 months for the organisation could be key to its continued success.


August 19th, 2010 2 comments

For all those that didn’t know Kieran, Chris, George and I are heading to Europe for a three week road trip in September. In fact three weeks today, we will be doing stuff in Amsterdam that is probably unwise to post about on a public website!

Eurotrip the movie.

We are planning to take in ten countries in ten days before spending a week chilling out in a villa in the Bordeaux region of France. I intend to use the week recovering from some serious European madness.

The plan is to visit the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Monaco and France and to basically relive our student days living out of suitcases, eating rubbish and drinking unsafe quantities of alcohol.

As part of the trip, I am hoping to trial some new post types which will hopefully include some video and audio posts as well as the more traditional text and picture ones you are used to. Of course, any trip would not be a trip without constant updates of Twitter. if you want real time updates then either follow me or just search for the trips official hashtag (#ertrip2010).

Kieran Doesn't Know

Also, as Kieran is the sensible one amongst us, we are employing a “Kieran Doesn’t Know” theme (based on the Scotty Doesn’t Know song in the Eurotrip movie) to avoid his veto on some of our more extreme ideas. I would appreciate any mention of Kieran to be accompanied by some mental (or actual, if you prefer) singing of the Scotty Doesn’t Know song but replace “Scotty” with “Kieran”.

Any recommendations on places to see in or around the following cities (or the countries mentioned above) then feel free to contact me, or leave a comment. Cities we are hoping to visit: Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brugges, Nuremburg, Munich, Luxembourg City, Salzburg, Venice, Verona, Saint Gallen, Zurich, Lausanne and Monte Carlo.