Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Interview #1

My first blog interview is with Dominic, a German guy who I had the pleasure of working with in London. His English is excellent and he's one of the most confident and impulsive people I've met. He managed to thoroughly enjoy the social side of London and spent a lot of time eating his way around the capital. He now lives in Austria and has a beautiful girlfriend called Nicole and a dog called Charlie.

What do you miss about London ?
Nicole and I miss London quite a bit and I must say that I regularly think about the time living there. Naming all the things would be a 100 page document but here are some that I particularly miss about London :
- All the markets, particularly Borough market and Spitalfields.
- The fact that everywhere you go you find something new and meet a lot of different people with all kinds of backgrounds. I found that this is pretty exotic.
- I find that people in London are open minded, friendly and most of the people I got to know were always up for a chat. If you disagree you should come live in Vienna (lots of grumpy people!)
- I miss the “go for a beer after work” habit ;-)
- All the good food and the different varieties of food (we even discovered that, if you go to the right places, traditional English dishes can be very tasty!)
- Public Transport (although the tube is way out of date and can be a pain to ride, you should see the tube in Vienna - this is even dodgier). I often find myself arriving at a platform in Vienna thinking:"10 minutes to wait, this is torture"
- London is always busy and there are heaps of things to do. You can go out every single night of the week (if you want). This is not the case in Austria
- Shopping on Sundays and the opening hours of shops. If you want, you can even get the most exotic foods at 3 o’clock at night at the next Turkish shop.
- The British humour.
- A Restaurant called YumYum’s in Stoke Newington and the Chicken Katsu Curry at the Japanese Canteen
- Episodes of Little Britain, the Simpsons, Family Guy. Its sooooo crappy when they dub it on German/Austrian television. WHO finds that funny?

What is your favourite phrase or word in English?
“Worcestershire Sauce” and “the dog and bone

Did you find anything strange about the British lifestyle when you moved to London ?
- The opening hours of pubs. Fortunately they changed that while I was there ;-)
- English breakfast, Brown Sauce (though I got to like it in the end)
- Eels in jelly, urghhhh!
- The health system and the poor hygienic standards at most GP-practices and in hospitals
- Saying “Thank You” to the bus driver
- People buying properties which you wouldn’t even give to asylum seekers in Germany, paying a huge amount for it and financing the whole thing with an interest-only mortgage. Now that proved to be wrong after all ;-)
- Putting beans on toast is just wrong!
- What’s also strange is that people in Britain don’t say something like “Bon Appétit” when they start to eat.

What did you miss most about Germany (other than your family)?
Sausages and bread.

[note: you will see a food theme appearing here!]

Did you travel to other parts of Britain ?
The Isle of wight, Portsmouth , Ipswitch ;-), Eastbourne , Southend on Sea (which I would not recommend). Birmingham, Bristol & Manchester for work. I wish we would have got around a lot more. A shame that we didn’t visit Scotland .

What did you think about the British view of Germans?
When I first got to the UK I thought that being German, I would not really be welcome as a lot of People in Germany think that Brits don’t like the Germans. That proved to be wrong and I never really have made any bad experiences due to my background. I would say however, that I am not a typical German bloke. There are a couple of stereotypes though which I learned to laugh about (some, only some might even be true). Here's a list of my favourites:
- All Germans are fans of David Hasselhoff (I must admit in shame, I liked him in Baywatch as a 12 year old)
[note: I think Dom did get a little tired at our Hoff jokes]
- All Germans measure and control everything (I caught myself timing my tube rides down to the second)
- All Germans wear white undershirts underneath their shirts
- Germans have no or very little humour (now that’s not true is it?!?)
- Germans drink a lot of beer (guilty!)
- All Germans speak English with a strong German accent

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Five on the fifth #1 - coming soon

Coming soon!

I read this excellent blog a while ago that gets readers to post 12 photographs taken throughout the day on the 12th of the month and post links to them. I like this idea a lot having completed my project of A year and a day in pictures. However, I think that 12 photographs is too many, so I thought that I would blatantly steal this idea and go for...

So your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to taken 5 random photographs (on a fancy camera or on your mobile phone) and post them on the 'net somewhere on or after the 5th of the month. I don't expect great success early on, but I hope that someone will take part!

You just need post a comment with your name, location and link to your blog/picasa/flickr containing your photos and I will update the blog entry so that the link is on the main blog entry. All will become clear!

I hope that you will take part!

New to this blog? Take a look here

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Phallic food

I have found a unexpected satisfaction in growing vegetables in the our garden. We have potatoes, onions, carrots, peas, beans, tomatoes, courgettes, peppers (hopefully) and despite starting with many seedlings, just one remaining cucumber plant.

When we went on holiday, I moved the grow bag containing the cucumber plant on to a chair and the lone plant has had it's first born. Unfortunately, this picture shows the result... it tasted great however once it was freed.

Friday, 26 June 2009


I have been in Edinburgh all week attending a team meeting and various other sessions. It was tiring and only partially productive, especially considering the expense.

I was going to have a rant about Luton airport and Easyjet, but such petty comments were overshadowed by the news of Michael Jackson's death, which filtered through late last night. Despite not being a fan, you can't deny that some of his songs were brilliant. As we know, he was dogged by personal and financial problems in recent years and I hope that we can remember his music rather than rumours and his plastic surgery decisions.

A proper posting will follow tomorrow.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Holiday snaps

Rather than only post a selection of the 600+ pictures I took on holiday that featured sea and scenery, here are just a few unusual images that I have picked out - click to make bigger, especially the bottom one. For more misc pictures, please have a look here.

1. The awful views we had to endure - this was our ship at Skjolden
2. Yummy food in Bergen - Pete tried some
3. Interesting promotional text in Torshavn
4. Taken from the daily "newspaper" on board ship
5. Google Earth image showing our ship in the longest Fjord in the world
6. Panoramic of Bergen

Saturday, 20 June 2009

66 Degrees North

Pete and I have been on a bargain holiday – a 12 night £3000 cruise for £700! And it was fantastic and made a change to the usual sunshine holiday. Now I know what you are thinking, aren't cruises for old people... well the cruise up to the Arctic circle (66° north) was packed with wealthy oldies and we were some of the youngest but it really didn't matter. It appears that age is no barrier to having a good time and we met some lovely people including the couple from Barnsley who we shared our dinner table with.

Here are some highlights:

Food: So much food – 40 tonnes in fact for the 900 passengers and 350 crew! (The head chef told us). The meals were amazing, in between the cakes and more food.
Sunsets: Seeing the sun trying to set at gone midnight and then not bothering is a great thing to see. We had 4 or 5 nights where it didn't get dark.
Fitness room: To make up for some of the food, I went to the gym about 7 times and the sauna too.

The crew: All so friendly and willing to make every day an event. We even had a camp Filipino waiter called Thomas who wanted us to introduce him to a nice guy in London.

The itinerary:

  • Day at sea exploring the ship.
  • Stop 1 – Bergen, Norway. The place is stunning, sitting in a wide valley at the end of a fjord. It was the most expensive place I have ever been to. A pint of beer is £11! Despite the fact that they have rain 275 out of 365 days, we had sunshine and missed the Springsteen concert by 1 day.
  • Stop 2 – Skjolden, Norway. A tiny village at the end of the longest fjord in the world – 60 miles of amazing scenery. Opening the curtains to see the bay and mountains was a 'wow moment'. We walked around the area rather than taking one of the expensive excursions.
  • 2 days at sea was next which meant enforced relaxation, some presentations and entertainment and we watched a couple of films too. We started to see whales on this part of the journey and there were dozens over the next few days.
  • Stop 3 – Isafjordur, Iceland. A small town in the western fjords in brilliant sunshine. We took only excursion to a deserted village in the middle of nowhere only accessible by boat. It was an incredible day and I took loads of photos.
  • Stop 4 – Reykjavik, Iceland. I had visited a few years ago, but didn't get a chance to look round. Pete and I spent a few hours walking round a truly cool and cosmopolitan city. Well worth a trip if you get the chance.
  • Day at sea
  • Stop 5 – Torshavn, Faroe Islands. Another surprise for me as I had expected a basic town in this remote place, but found a small sophisticated town with lots to see and do. As with all the places we visited, the scenery was impressive. I think that the football stadium may have been big enough to seat everyone in the city!
  • Stop 6 – Invergordon, Scotland. A bit of a dump and a poor choice of stop. Nothing to see here so we went back to the ship and had a jacuzzi in the sunshine and ate cake.
  • Day at sea and then home.

All in all, it appears that the calm seas and sunny weather was pure luck, especially around the north of Iceland. And we also got a bit lucky picking a cruise line that didn't rip you off and had great evening entertainment.

There is so much to tell you about each place, but I would bore you. Let me end by saying that the Icelandic guys with blond floppy hair are a very pleasant sight and that the phrase “All's well” ended the Captains announcements in his thick Norwegian accent.

So... All's Well.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Icelandic guys rock

I'm back from holiday and will post all about that later. We've had a great couple of weeks in Norway, Iceland (where the guys are rather nice) and beyond. And the last 2 days have been great too...

18th June - 10 years ago I met Pete

19th June - I passed both of the exams I took!

More to follow...

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Welcome to my blog... where have you been?!

My blog is now a year old, it had a false start but has been become an enjoyable hobby for me and a great way to communicate with the world. I am on holiday for a couple of weeks (and probably will be unable to post), so I thought it may be useful for any new visitors to have a guide to my blog...

Getting to know me:
One way to get to know a bit about me is to look at the 100 things about me entries, which is an ongoing series. Another way is to look at my blogger profile. As I type this, I am 39 (going on 18) and live with my partner Pete in Hertfordshire, England.

So you're gay eh?!:
Yep and there are plenty of gay themed postings and some that involve coming out and the ongoing "struggle" with being gay. If there are entries that sum this up, it's this one and this very recent one. You don't have to be gay to read this blog of course!

Some cute guys:
There seem to be many pictures across the blog of cute men. Just scroll through
these postings for examples! Many of them are football related cuties as you will see and Fernando Torres (sex god in shorts) gets many mentions. He's on this screen again in the Best of 2008 posting.

Some rants:
The original idea of the blog was to rant about the problems of the UK, but that soon changed to become a varied mix of topics. Here are a few of those rants however.

Varied topics:
I have tried to include a wide mix of subjects in the blog. Maybe Music, Movies or Photographs are your thing. And I have had some guest bloggers too and am looking for more.

The best of the blog:
On the right hand side of the main blog page is a list of the blog entries that I think are the best ones. Check 'em out!

Following my blog:

I find the best way to follow blogs with varied and regular postings (like mine!) is to use a blog reader site. Google reader is good and so is this one:

Follow The State Of The Nation UK

It allows you to collect all of your blogs together in one place and receive emails as they are updated (if you choose to receive them).

So... I hope you like what you see and that you will visit again sometime soon... maybe even tell a friend that I exist!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

30 St Mary Axe

Today we had a team meeting in London. Usually we have meetings in a drab room near Liverpool street station, but after waiting a year, we had the meeting today at the top of 30 St Mary Axe..... otherwise known as The Gerkin, an icon of the London city skyline. It is truly impressive inside and out. Here are some pictures I took of the building and the view of course.

From the top:
- 2 views from the ground
- Mad window cleaner
- Tower Bridge and The Tower of London
- Rotherhithe, where Pete and I used to live
- Mayors office (left), The Olympic stadium (right)

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

So ****ing gay

A few years ago a colleague called Ben said that the piece of work in front of him was "so ****ing gay" and then realised I was near him and apologised. I was seriously insulted and he knew it. The use of the word gay appears to be the in thing for children and immature people as a general put down and not in a sarcastic or humourous way. I find it depressing and personally as abhorrent as someone using the N word.

A couple of bloggers have commented on this topic recently: World Wide Punk has first hand experience and so this is gay compares to other minority group insults while uhm... tries to see the funny side. An article here suggest that parents need to do more - but at least we have Ashton Kutcher supporting us! God help us all.

We need to turn the use of the word gay around completely and use it as a compliment all of the time! For example:

To say nice things to a man on his appearance: "He dresses so gay"
To state that you approve of a joke: "Your humour is so gay"
To show favour for a guys football skills: "That pass was well gay"
To say that someone did a good job: "You're so gay for pay"
(maybe not the last one)

On a similar note, a recent episode of Family Guy received many complaints. I love Family Guy simply because it's funny and can certainly go waaaaay over the line. I saw the "gay episode" this week and although it was funny in places, it wasn't one of their best. The use of the gay stereotype as a running joke didn't work and they seemed to rely on gay guys acting like little girls because they had ran out of ideas. I'm not camp and don't mince around and I don't know many guy guys that act like that. However, the scene that received most coverage was an orgy and I couldn't see what there was to moan about as it wasn't very funny!

And finally... on this beautiful day in Hertfordshire, I have some important news to share with you: I have achieved a feedback score on eBay of 500!