Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Day 30 - Plans for the month ahead

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

To end the 30 day challenge, a brief post about the month ahead.

This weekend is a special occasion in the Chapman family with my Mum and Dad renewing their vows at their local church.  They opted not to return to South East London where they were first married... the area is a bit rough now.  And on Sunday, Pete and I are going to see The Human League - we were given tickets by one of Pete's clients.

Work this month is peppered with a 2 day visit to Edinburgh (followed by a few drinks) and a day in London (followed by a few drinks).

Also this month, Pete and I are going to France for a couple of days.  We use the excuse that it's to buy presents, but it's really all about drinking and eating!

The highlight, of course, is Christmas and although there are no plans yet, I'm sure it will be lots of fun.  I have bought zero presents so far.  Pete and I have made sloe gin and chutney as 'personal' gifts and need to bottle them up.  Anyone know where I can buy bottles?!

And don't forget, 5 on the fifth is coming at the weekend too (more information tomorrow).  You can join the 5 on the fifth Facebook page here.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Day 29 - Get on your soapbox about something

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

I have a problem with the sub-class of people that feel that they need to buy expensive cars, holidays and clothes all using credit trying to impress people they don't even know! You see them all over the place in huge 4x4 cars, often with badly fitting designer clothes. You just know that they have uncontrollable debt financing their life.

Don't get me wrong, debt in itself is not a bad thing. I would advise avoiding it where possible, but to survive you may need to borrow and the majority use it sensibly. I only have an issue with those that abuse it, trying to prove themselves as successful "living a lifestyle that they haven't earned" when they are not successful at all.

Let's look at that phrase again... "living a lifestyle that they haven't earned" is interesting I think.  I would personally like to spend thousands on my house, go out every night, have 'holidays of a lifetime' several times a year, but I don't.  My income is not sufficient to fund it - I have't earned it partially due to a general laziness with my career.  If I worked harder, I could earn more I am sure.  Treating yourself is one thing, faking it is something else.

Some of the worst ones are the grown-up children expecting parents to support them. I have heard of families with the mother and father in their thirties living the high life, but it's their parents financing it with monthly handouts. Think this is uncommon? Think again!

My friend Sonny says that people enjoy their life and let the debt die with them. From just a little research, it seems that rarely happens in reality. For the majority, their actions mean that other people have to pay for their selfishness through IVAs/Bankruptcy, but mainly through benefits. They live a great life and when it comes to retirement, they have to rely on benefits to live. Debt doesn't always end on death.

Let me say again, debt isn't necessarily bad, but in my opinion it should be respected and not abused by the chavs of society who think they are something special.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Day 28 - Write a Limerick

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

Some original blogging related limericks...

There once was a man with a diary
And his thoughts were somewhat fiery
It was all gloom and doom
He used a nom de plume
It could lead to a public enquiry

There once was a guy with a blog
He found writing it sometimes a slog
It's a little bit gay
But in a good way
and he typed it while perched on the bog

There's a guy who's addicted to blogging
He's also quite partial to dogging
He wears curly wigs
He prefers farmyard pigs
And that perversion is now known as hogging

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Day 27 - A beautiful person

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

I could have chosen a movie star, a model, a person I know, but instead I have opted for an overpaid and horribly straight footballer.  Yes, you guessed it, no originality on this blog posting... it's the cute and twink-like Fernando Torres with his sexy deep voice that doesn't quite fit his young looks.

Despite his ludicrous salary, he seems down to earth and a nice guy, but it's about time he realised that we will be best friends one day and to get on with it!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Day 26 - A personal talent

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

Another vlog to show a "talent".  Made in one take!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Day 25 - The day, in detail

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

I hacen't slept well all week and last night was no better.  I must have woken up 6-8 times.  My sleep wasn't helped by a couple of dreams that were more like movies.  One was really weird; about a big TV show and I was in the audience.  The other very erotic.

I was due in London today and had to be up just a little earlier than usual, but as the sleep was so bad, I got up an hour earlier still and made a cuppa and watched the news; It was 3 degrees when I left the house for the 10 minute walk to the station.  Travelling with the masses is fine once a month, but I don't want to return to commuting - though it may be a necessity one day sadly.  I found commuting too stressful and tiring and the stupid cost of rail travel means you have to earn £8000+ more in London than locally to just break even.

The train was oppressively hot and I didn't get a seat.  Thankfully my employer paid the £28 fare.  The Victoria line from Kings Cross was sardine hell, as usual - very unpleasant.

The meeting was just off New Bond Street at a company that we have a strategic alliance with.  This office has the craziest art.  I may have mentioned this before; they have a glass wall with glass shelves and on each shelf are a number of stuffed toys that have had cavity wall insulation pumped into them which has expanded and exploded from any hole in the toy. Yes, they are as weird as they sound.

Anyway, it was a dull meeting but I did my best to liven it up with many sarcastic comments! This doesn't always go down with my boss.  Lunch was fantastic however!

Afterwards, I met Pete at the Apple store on Regents Street and we walked a winding route via Jermyn Street and a nice pub to Fopp.  After ambling for a while we ended up in a dreaded Irish pub in Bloomsbury.

We walked to Kings Cross station and got a fast train home.  The carriage was full of very sombre looking people, mainly playing on mobile phones and 2 loud French people who may have been arguing or were just loud.

We had intended going to Prezzo as we had vouchers, but we eventually ended up back at home with a takeaway Chinese delivered to our door.

And so to the end... we are watching Modern Family on Sky.  And as I am dog tired, I think bed at 10 is likely.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Ashes

This posting is NOT part of the 30 day challenge...

In celebration of The Ashes starting in Australia, here are a couple of pictures of England cricketer Stuart Broad.  I am not a massive cricket fan, but this cute guy could turn me...

Day 24 - A personal objective for the future

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

As someone who has liked to make list of things "to do" (and usually postpone), I find that work has dragged quite of lot of my ambition out of me.  Two redundancies and a dull job will ruin your faith in employers.

Anyway... here's a personal objective I will share with you: I want to write a song.  I have lots of ideas.  I need to get the ideas out of my head and recorded.

It's a good time to update the kitchen list...

- Visit the local comedy club
- Go to the dog track DONE
- Cycle into London
- Watch the local non-league football team DONE
- Visit Pete's Uncle and Aunt in Oakham DONE
- Go to both local theatres DONE 1, 1 TO GO
- Have more dinner parties DONE
- Poker night DONE
- Go on a photo treasure hunt in London

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Day 23 - A favorite song

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

To choose one favourite song is impossible for me.  I have hundreds of songs that come and go as favourites. I have mentioned before that years ago I owned a jukebox that played 7" singles.  I made a list of singles I wanted to buy and stopped when I got to 200.  I bought hundreds of singles over a few years, mainly at local record fairs for pennies.  Happy times.

So how can I complete today's task?!?  Well, I am not sure I can or even should.  And even if I did put a song on here, would you care?  But to ensure I complete this 30 day blog challenge, I will share one of my fave's with you - it's Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac.  A stunning rocking song with a blistering guitar solo and an interesting story behind it (find out more here).

But... my challenge for YOU is to go to your CD collection or computer and select an album you haven't heard in its entirety for a while and give it a spin from start to finish.  Enjoy the whole ALBUM as it was intended.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Day 22 - A self portrait

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

I tried a couple of hand drawn efforts, but eventually decided to use a free site to play with a photo...

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Blog extra extra extra!

This posting is NOT part of the 30 day challenge...

A recipe on my blog?!  What was I thinking?  How very dull.  So to lighten the mood, here are some pictures of Richard Fleeshman who is currently getting some press coverage as he is in a new musical version of Ghost.

He is a pretty good actor and singer/songwriter so I understand.  I have seen little of his TV work and heard one of his songs!  I just think he looks rather sexy...

Day 21 - A recipe: Triple cheese and onion strata

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

I have cooked this a couple of times and it varies on the strength of the cheese and the quality of bread.  It needs light a fluffy French bread.  It makes a cheesy feast with soft texture like a soufflé.  It's great as a starter with some relish...

  • 1 baguette, ends chopped off and discarded, cut into ½in slices and left to go stale

    6 spring onions, roughly sliced

    150g mozzarella, roughly chopped

    50g parmesan, shaved or grated

    100g mature cheddar, broken into pieces

    100ml oz sour cream

    5 free-range eggs

    Some milk (quantity varies)

    Small bunch fresh chives, chopped, to garnish


    Arrange the baguette slices in a layer in a 25cm square dish.

    Put the spring onions, mozzarella, parmesan and cheddar into a food processor. Add the soured cream, eggs and milk, then blend until smooth. You want a mixture about the same consistency as yorkshire pudding batter.

    Pour the cheese and egg mixture over the bread in the dish one layer at a time - has to fill the dish with liquid to avoid dry its when cooked, cover with cling film, and leave in the fridge to soak overnight.

    When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180C/360F/Gas 4.

    Take the strata out of the fridge and uncover. Bake for 30 minutes, or until completely cooked through

    Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chives.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Day 20 - A hobby

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

Photography is my main hobby and you can see examples of my efforts around this blog and on the many 5 on the fifth posts.  I take a lot of photos and quite like long-term and one-off projects. The next project I have in mind is to take black and white portraits of people - it's a challenge to take quality images and the lighting needs to be just right.

Music is also a hobby, i.e. listening and appreciate music.  A site that I check out occasionally is called TUBE - The Ultimate Bootleg Experience.  The link changes a lot due to copyright issues... surprise surprise.  It has lots of live recordings and some unreleased material. It's well worth checking it out.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Day 19 - A favourite quote

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

During my years in the closet, I had a sub-conscious weight on my shoulders which was exaggerated every time I avoided answering questions about my gay life or worse, simply lying about it.  A quote that summed up that period well is:

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive"

Sir Walter Scott

Lies are about being gay seem to be toxic.  As I have mentioned a few times on this blog, I am still not 100% 'out' and it saddens me.  At 40 years of age, I still have yet to master coming out fully, despite being out to all family and friends.

A long while ago I posted some of my favourite quotes and they can be found here from a very wide selection of people!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Day 18 - A favourite television programme

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

I have a number of favourite TV programmes and would happily include many classic British comedies and series. I would have to choose The Simpsons in my top 3 I'm sure, but I have selected another American series to show 'excellence'... Frasier.

Frasier divides people, I believe because it has very strong characters that may not appeal to all. I have seen every episode from day one, multiple times and often watch a few episodes each week on Comedy Central.  American comedy can often by highly formulaic and cliched with a requirement to teach the audience something. Frasier broke that mould and didn't shy away from making highbrow jokes and also took some risks with storylines and even the script.  The are many occasions when Daphne uses very 'English' language and jokes.  What American viewer would have laughed when she commented on Bobby Charlton's hair?

It has some killer situations and lines, here are a few classics:

Daphne: Roz, is everything all right?
Roz: Yeah, I'm fine. It's just that my hair is huge and this dress is a joke.
Frasier: No, nonsense, Roz. You look divine.
Roz: No, I look like Divine.

Frasier: How can we possibly use sex to get what we want? Sex *is* what we want!

Niles: Her lips said 'no'... but her eyes said 'read my lips'

Frasier: You know the expression "Living well is the best revenge"?
Niles: Wonderful expression. I just don't know how true it is, you don't see it turning up in a lot of opera plots. "Ludwig, maddened by the poisoning of his entire family, wreaked vengeance on Gunther in the third act by living well."

- Niles is aghast at having to play Martin's 'boyfriend'
Niles: They think the best I can do is an old man with a cane!

Any finally, for those who may have wondered what a plan of Frasier's apartment looks like, wonder no more...

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Day 17 - A piece of art: Mondrian

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

When you visit a museum that has modern art on show, you will hear people saying "it's all rubbish" and some of it may well be!  But when you ask at the end of their trip, 99% will say that they really liked at least one piece of art.

I have extremely broad taste in art and I cant say the modern art per se, is my favourite 'style'.  However, my choice for this blog posting may not be to everyone's taste - but it fascinates me and I may never know why.

The best space for modern art I have ever been to is Tate Modern in London.  And in one of the rooms is a painting in oil by Piet Mondrian that caught my eye many years ago.  It really is one of those art moments that is impossible explain.  This is just an image of back lines and coloured blocks, but it jumped out at me.  Very similar paintings by Mondrian do nothing for me, so the style alone is not what draws me in.  I hope you like it and get to see the real thing in London.

This is 'Composition with Red, Yellow, Blue and Black' from 1921:

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Blog extra extra!

This posting is NOT part of the 30 day challenge...

I was in London today for an appointment, then an exam (which I passed!) - something else for the CV. I met Pete before travelling home. Here are a couple of iphone pictures I took today...

Day 16 - Songs that are guilty pleasures

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

Here are some good, but mostly bad songs that can clearly be classed as guilty pleasures as I like them all! There is however, a theme within these songs... my childhood.  Each of the tracks comes with a fond memory attached.

A memory from the Roller Disco at Greenways every Thursday and Saturday for around 3 years - this is the sadly missed Kirsty MacColl:

When I was just a babe, this was a hit and I would sing along to the Top 20 on Radio One.  This is Bread:

This is a classic and not really a guilty pleasure as it is such a well crafted song.  My Dad would play stuff like this a lot, it's the Everly Brothers and Bye Bye Love:

Again, when I was younger, during the school holidays BBC1 would open at 9.30am and close again at 10.30am after Why Don't You and an episode of The Monkees, this is one of their lesser hits:

Monday, 15 November 2010

Day 15 - Architecture

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

Looking in awe at a man made structure, whether big or small, is a surprisingly satisfying thing to do.  Here are just a few of my favourites, selected from the places that I have been fortunate to go inside:

30 St Mary Axe (the Gherkin)

Burj Al Arab

The Royal Albert Hall

The Louvre

And... the whole of Venice!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Blog extra!

This posting is NOT part of the 30 day challenge...

Yesterday, my friend Sonny, Pete and me went to London for an overdue celebration of Sonny and my 40th birthdays.  Having considered many venues, we decided on a late lunch at The Ivy.

I drove to Sonny's apartment near the Imperial War Museum and we started the expensive marathon at The American Bar in the newly reopened Savoy hotel with cocktails of course.  The lunch at The Ivy was excellent as expected (and as pricey as expected) and we enjoyed the atmosphere for over two hours.  We tried to get into Paramount in Centre Point but were not on the 'guest list' - I assume that there was a party looking at the fireworks ending the Lord Mayor's show.  So we slummed in at stunning The Soho Hotel with more cocktails, followed by double espresso's at Bar Italia on Frith Street.  And then on to The Rockwell for more cocktails, then The Ship & Shovell ending up in The Old Vic pit bar for wine.

It was possibly the most expensive day I'd had eating and drinking (other than when an employer was paying!).   We stayed at Sonny's place and had a fry up at a greasy spoon this morning followed by a walk to clear our heads.  A fine weekend!  Here are some images from the last two days...


Day 14 - A funny image

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Day 13 - A movie star: Louis Garrel

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

Some guys are stunning, some beautiful, some cute and some are just 'interesting'.  Louis Garrel is an interesting looking man who is a fine actor and has also modelled (and has no problems getting naked for the camera).

This Frenchman, who also speaks fluent English and Italian has starred in many films and is obviously not allowing himself to be typecast.  His choice of films varies from the serious Dans Paris to the slightly odd, but enjoyable, The Dreamers (in which he masturbates in a room with his sister and friend after losing a bet).  He has even been in a musical - Les chansons d'amour in which he has a sexual fling with his girlfriends teenage brother.

I think it's a shame that he hasn't made more films in English.  A list of his films can be found here.

He has a cool style with his moody looks and seemingly uncontrollable hair...

Friday, 12 November 2010

Day 12 - Recommended a place to visit

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

I could have chosen many wonderful places I have visited, but have decided to keep it simple... and a little more local for those who may be visiting London and have half a day to spare.

My recommendation is the Thames Path from Tower Hill tube to Greenwich via Rotherhithe.  This 6 mile route takes in some of London's many historic sites and apart from a dodgy part in Deptford, it's a very pleasant journey that is mainly along the Thames.

You can cycle or walk the whole route and there are plenty of pubs and restaurants to stop at.  You get to see Roman ruins, posh yatchs, Tower Bridge, modern buildings, ancient buildings, parts of the old docks, wildlife (yes, in London!), the best view of Canary Wharf, some lovely old pubs and Greenwich, which is a great place to visit anyway.

My preferred walk is shown below, but there are two options for the first mile or so.  You either cross Tower Bridge or walk via Wapping and then the very very short train ride under the Thames to Rotherhithe.

Tower Hill Underground
Lookout and Roman Wall

The Tower Of London
St Katherines Dock
Tower Bridge crossing the Thames
Shad Thames
Design Museum
Bermondsey Wall
The Angel Inn
Rotherhithe Street
Stave Hill and Ecological Park
Hilton hotel (for the views)
Greenland Dock
Cutty Sark
Greenwich town centre and market
Greenwich Park and Observatory

If you still have some energy, walk through the Greenwich foot tunnel, through the Isle of Dogs and up to Canary wharf.

I am happy to provide more information if you leave an email address on a comment.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Day 11 - An old photo and a new photo of yourself

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

This is so very depressing. Two images taken in the same place: a 14 year old horny kid and a 40 year old horny kid.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Day 10 - Make a vlog

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

So here is the second vlog I've ever published. The first can be found here.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Day 9 - Recommend a few blogs

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

Having considered this carefully, I figure that there is little point in recommending the blogs that you see on this page under 'selected blogs I read' as you can surmise that these are great blogs (so take a look!).

I actually read many more and here are a couple that I think are excellent, all of which have awful layouts and are much easier to read through Google Reader:

Londonist is a blog that has many contributors and focuses on anything to do with London from politics to sport and culture to transport.

The Big Picture is a photo blog on the Boston.com website and features some stunning photography from around the world and is "inspired by publications like Life Magazine, National Geographic, and online experiences".  I recommend that you take a look through the archive.

Queerty is a gay news blog that is relevant and not too obsessed with Lady Gaga like many sad blogs are.

And finally, just for the smutty fun of it, Tottyland features pictures of fit guys.  It's not high art, but I don't care!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Day 8 - A news story

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

Here is the news... in my life.

On Friday night, Pete cooked a birthday meal for his mum - a fine beef in beer. Afterwards, we sadly stood in the rain with sparklers as it was the 5th of November!

Early on Saturday morning, still full from the night before, we drove to my mum and dad's house in Kent (via Decathlon and a couple of other shops in Lakeside). After a pit stop, we travelled to Battle in East Sussex. I had been there 30 years before on a school trip, but this time we had a leisurely look around the impressive Abbey and site of the Battle of Hastings before enjoying a cream tea in an incredibly old building.

We then made our way to Bexhill-on-sea as we were seeing Laurie Anderson in concert (a favourite of Pete's, not mine).  I'm sad to say that the drive into Bexhill was depressing.  It is a run down seaside town with empty shops everywhere and everything in need on a coat of paint or pulled down.  The only good part was the De La Warr Pavilion.  This art deco building is now a cultural mecca.  The art installations however, will appeal to the trendy wealthy people in East Sussex and not the local people I'm sure.  I found one exhibition of photographs to be really poor.  It's one of those art moments where I am embarrassed to look, as it is so bad.  We gave up with Bexhill and went to Hastings for dinner (though that town was looking rather sad as well and not the vibrant place I remember from the cricket club summer outings).

Back in Bexhill, the concert itself was not my cup of tea, Pete loved it.  Laurie seemed to have attracted every weirdo for 50 miles, including a couple of trannies, one of which was wearing a red beret with a picture of Mickey Mouse and a swastika on it!  At least the sunset was nice to view.

On Sunday, we went to watch one of my nephews play football (it was cold!). He was playing at my old school which has changed completely since I was there. Pete was clearly getting bored with my school stories especially those that start "see that building over there..." or "I remember when...".

I cooked a couple of huge Lasagnas and took them round my brothers house on Sunday evening where we watched football (and what a lovely surprise to see Fernando Torres so I took a picture of the TV!) and some dumb down TV. A pleasant evening, though one of my nephews has become a teenager that can only use one-word replies.

 And now back to work exhausted!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Day 7 - A photo that makes you happy

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

I have thousands of photos stored on my computer and could choose dozens and dozens that raise a smile.  I have decided to choose one of my favourites from the holiday in the USA this past summer.

The holiday was a major event, carefully planned and executed.  We saw and experienced so much and this image takes me back to Route 66, the desert, the heat, the food and some amazing times.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Day 6 - A YouTube video

This posting is part of the 30 day challenge...

I have looked back over my blog to present something from YouTube. I love this! Meow meow meow meow!

And here is one of the funniest comedy sketches ever: it's Pete 'n' Dud...

And to end with, I don't subscribe to much on Youtube, but I think Charlieissocoollike is a great guy - young, confident, talented, funny and a bit mad - check it out.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Day 5 - Five on the fifth #17

Welcome to 5 on the fifth, a monthly posting that benefits from audience participation. You take 5 photographs on the 5th of the month (or the days leading up to the 5th) - post a comment here with your name, location and link to the site containing your photos and I will update the blog entry with your information. Remember to mention my blog on your own blog, so that your visitors get to see the other contributions. You can take 5 random pictures or follow my suggested theme - this month it is: "Recycled".

You can join the 5 on the fifth Facebook page here.

My own pictures are below the links of those who kindly contributed:

My time, Dublin
Pete, Herts
New Leaf, Arizona
Jason, Brighton
Daniel, Sweden
Adam, Berlin
Howard, Delaware
Andrew, Bristol
Torchy, England
Mr Urs, Zurich
Dennis, Kent
Pookie Pie, London
Made in Scotland, London
Peter, Texas
Erik, San Diego
I am Witness, On location in San Francisco

1. Recyled Henge
2. A ceramic ashtray transformed into a piece of iconic art in our home
3. The council men actually working
4. Water bottles recycled into drums
5. Shelves in my garage made from supports from a double bed