Saturday, 31 December 2011

The past month - December 2011

Here is a selection of the best bits from my blog over the past month:

The month started in amazing fashion with Crystal Palace beating Manchester United at Old Trafford. The opening goal was stunning.
The first weekend was really busy - visiting a number of parts of the country. In Cambridge I took this picture of a truly crazy busker.

The final '5 on the fifth' went live - it was sad to say goodbye to this monthly posting, but it had come to a natural end in my opinion.

Need I say anything about the gorgeous Dan Broughton? Mmmmmm.  And I included a posting about Charlie Siem who Pete is currently obsessed with!

I think one of my favourite images of the month is the one taken from France looking towards England when we went for the weekend early in the month.

Harry Judd won Strictly Come Dancing and he appeared on the front of gay magazine Attitude with a bulge that was just a bit eye catching!  And speaking of bulges, I included a posting on Olympic Hopeful Liam Tancock.
And after a break, I posted a 30 Second Movie from our Christmas in Paris.

And the year ends with a record number of blog postings in a calendar year. Roll on 2012.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

30 second movie #6

Here is the latest 30 Second Movie...

This is further to my previous posting about our trip to Paris. At lunch, we had a great meal. As we finished our main course, an older man started playing the accordian. A few minutes later, another man joined in.  Then an old lady started singing and a couple danced between courses!  We ordered more wine. A guitarist turned up, followed by a flute player and another accordion player!

I filmed a little (in HD!) of this unexpected entertainment to share with you:

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Dans Paris

I am back after 4 days in Paris which was a gift from me to Pete - an early birthday present for his 40th.

We got up at 4am(!) on Christmas Eve to get to the airport, arriving at the hotel near to the Eiffel Tower late morning. We started exploring - there was plenty going on including Christmas markets.

On Christmas day we had a leisurely breakfast and began a slow walk through the quiet city. A few cafes were open and even a few shops. We walked for a couple of hours and after a beer or two, had lunch on Rue Mouffetard.  It was a fun, crazy and memorable long lunch - I will explain more on the next blog posting.

We then went to the cinema to see the average but watchable New Years Eve (Zac Efron has a small part).  Its surprising, but there are so many cinemas in Paris - far more than London. Afterwards we walked up the Champs Élysées enjoying the market along with several thousand other people! It was packed and the traffic at a standstill. Absolutely nothing like Christmas in England!
On Boxing Day, it was warm with blue skies and we rented bikes and cycled miles and miles. It's a great way to see any city as you take back streets and experience so much. We cycled along the canal and went into the cafe on Rue Le Pic (the one where they filmed Amelie). The staff there looked like models! We cycled all day and were knackered at the end of it. At dinner, there was an annoying 50something American guy who talked loudly so that everyone could hear, disturbing all in the small restaurant and who looked a complete twat with curly hair down to his waist and big bushy moustache - he looked like the Lion from the Wizard Of Oz!

Today we have taken it easy with a walk around the cool area called Passy and lunch near the Pompidou. As I type, we are on our way home.

For those who don't know Paris, it still surprises me how much graffiti there is, homeless people and a lot of aggressive beggars, especially groups of Romanian women hassling you.

Anyway, to sum up... we ate a lot, we walked a lot, we had fun! Here are a few Instagram Pictures to being going on with:

Friday, 23 December 2011

Olympic hopefuls #5 - Liam Tancock

In the latest of my series of fit and cute Olympic hopefuls for team GB, let me introduce you to 26 year old, Liam Tancock. It's fair to say that Britain hasn't had much success in the pool in the recent decades - but perhaps 2012 is the year. Liam swims backstroke and has set a couple of world records! 

I wonder if he regrets that last picture...

Thursday, 22 December 2011


On Tuesday, I was in London for a "meeting" with my local colleagues Dan and Adrian - starting at 2.30 in the afternoon.  As we had finished as the top region in the country, we felt that we deserved to celebrate our success. We had far too many drinks for my levels of control and a ****ing hot curry.  I was, to put it mildly, really pissed come 10pm as I got a train home.

We had a really great time chatting - some silly, some very serious and some random conversations. I am lucky to work with interesting and witty people.

Wednesday was planned as a "working from home day" and I sat sorting spreadsheets for several hours while my head reminded me that beer is not always my friend.  I was also dog sitting for Pete's brother.  This isn't the greatest picture due to the low light and not wanting to use a flash, but this is Max. He sat next to me for the whole day and having known me since he was 6 weeks old, he's more than happy at our house (he even knows where the dog biscuits are kept!)...

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

This is your life

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

So long Kim

As you will have heard, North Korean oppressive dictator Kim Jong Il passed away over the weekend. He was just 69 years old, but laid claim to golfing skills that would make greats like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Walter Hagen weep with envy.

In 1994, the man "set a record" that is likely to stand forever. Playing his first round of golf on a regulation PGA style 18-hole course, Kim Jong Il scored 11 holes-in-one while he carded a stunning 38 UNDER par. Seventeen bodyguards were on hand to witness and attest the score.

Sadly, the golfing world outside of North Korea has yet to accept this round of golf as legitimate.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Quick quiz

I heard this is on the radio today and was surprised...  Don't look up the answer - have a guess first and I will post the answer as a comment in due course:

You are sailing from the Caribbean to the Pacific ocean via the Panama Canal.  When you travel along the canal, what direction are you travelling in?

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Gaydar in need of a service

We had a team meeting in Edinburgh on Thursday (though I went up on Wednesday morning for more fun fun meetings). The usual 30(ish) was augmented with guests from other departments. We had various presentations and some lighthearted quizes in the afternoon.

At the end of the day, I was presented with one of three awards up for grabs as the "best overall contributor to the team in 2011". As you may have picked up by now, I do enough to get by at work, but this year I had a little luck with being involved in a couple of important projects and also looking after some of our most important and successful clients. The nice thing is that the award is for voted for by everyone in the room.

In the evening, we went out for a meal and then on to a bar. The attendees by this point included one of the days guests: he is 23, blond and cute. He is on a graduate placement with the marketing dept and was ultra confident. We chatted about films and the year he just spent in Paris. He was a bit camp with a lovely local Edinburgh accent, fit and with a gay ribbon on his coat. Now I would have betted money on him being gay, but I was wrong! He explained how he met his girlfriend in Paris. The guy was straight! My gaydar was way off. Calibration required I think.

Friday was a crappy journey home, with delays at the airport. I was glad to get him... very tired and in need of sleep catch-up.

Thursday, 15 December 2011


Pete went to a classical concert recently as a guest of one of his clients and bowled over by the guest violinist - Charlie Siem. 
Now poor Charlie has so little going for him: he's an Eton educated guy who is a renowned musician that plays priceless violins, is a model for Dunhill and drives a Porsche with Swiss plates (Pete saw it). How sickening that my genes weren't as nice as his!  He sure is talented - there is a BBC News clip here.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Ye olde thorn

You learn something new everyday...

When you see a cliched sign that says "Ye Olde Shoppe", we are all tempted to pronounce the first word "yee".  However, the "y" is actually a tudor letter called thorn that was sometimes shown as the strange letter shown below.  The sound of thorn was a "th", thereby turning "Ye" into "The" that we use today. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Harry with a little Attitude

I've found out that Harry Judd isn't the 'nice bit of rough' I thought he was - he went to the very very posh private school at Uppingham.  Anyway, he's still very sexy and appearing on the front of gay magazine Attitude.  You could take someone's eye out with that bulge! 

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Calais and beyond

Pete and I have spent the weekend in France, mainly eating. As I am far too tired and full to type, here as some pictures I took yesterday on a beautiful crisp December day - including one from the top of the cliffs at Cap Gris Nez looking across to England...

Friday, 9 December 2011

Playing the game

I had my end of year review with my manager yesterday in London. He is a big fan of challenging people in meetings and had some interesting and also silly questions for me. Sometimes I feel like I am playing the game to get through these ever lengthening meetings. I am probably not an easy person to manage - I have opinions on how we do business and am vocal in team meetings. I have found working in a large company to be too restrictive, but it's a job in recessionary times and worth keeping for that reason alone.

However, I am the enviable position of working in the region that will finish top in 2011 (out of 8 regions) and I also look after more top clients than anyone else.  This will change in 2012 with new targets etc, but for a few weeks, I will milk it!

In other news... Pete and I watched a film called I Am Number Four.  It's not high art, that's for sure, but it did feature the stunningly gorgeous Alex Pettyfer.  He acting skills are not great, but I could look at him all day!  For the record, the film was quite watchable and I assume some would compare it to the Twilight films - but it's far better than the story-lacking Twilight series. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Dan Broughton... beautiful

I mentioned in a previous blog that I had found Dan Broughton.  He's currently the "house boy" on the Englishlads website so if you pay your money, you get to see everything.  He started public life as "Mr Gay UK 2007".

He is one of the most beautiful guys ever!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The miracle of t' 'net

A big thank you to everyone who took part in the final '5 on the fifth'.  There were some great photographs shared this month and I was pleased that the final posting had some old names contributing.  When you look at the locations across the world that have taken part over the past couple of years, it shows how the internet is just a stunning piece of technology.  People in the USA, Columbia, France, Australia or just down the road in London have the opportunity to come together.

So what's next?  My plan is to introduce the replacement for '5 on the fifth' in January and will ask you for ideas for its ongoing content shortly.  I am currently struggling to name it - so watch this space!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Five on the fifth #30

Welcome to last '5 on the fifth'.  Remember to mention my blog on your own blog, so that your visitors can find the other contributions. You can take 5 random pictures or follow my suggested theme: WINTER WEEKEND.

Complete the form below including your name and location in the 'link title' field and like magic, you will appear in the list of contributors.

My final 5 images are all iPhone images. My winter weekend featured a little shopping, a peruse around an old bookshop, some coffee and a run in the country at sunset.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Last weekend

Here are some images that I took last weekend that I thought I would share...

- Dog in Oakham
- Busker in Cambridge
- Essex coastline

Friday, 2 December 2011

December movie update

Here are the films that Pete and I have received from and watched on TV and DVD over the past few months in reverse order, with my ratings out of ten from my movie list on the IMDB.

Pitoche (2010) 7
Funny French comedy starring the great Catherine Deneuve as a trophy wife who takes over her husbands business when he falls ill.

Retreat (2011) 7
A thriller that didn't quite hit the mark despite featuring a very fit looking Jamie Bell.

Shutter Island (2010) 8
I enjoyed this and understood the ending perfectly. Why are people confused?

Happy Endings (2005) 7
A surprisingly good comedy with a few nice twists.

You Again (2010) 1
Awful, rubbish, stupid, lazy, shit.
Ghostbusters (1984) 6
Not quite as good as remember, but fun all the same.

The Girl Cut in Two (2007) 5
Silly story.

Chico & Rita (2010) 7
Interesting animation and great soundtrack - though the story could have had been structured far better.

Shine a Light (2008) 7
Rolling Stones documentary/performance film.

The Line of Beauty (2006) 7
Gay TV mini-series. Strange ending.

Water for Elephants (2011) 5
Bad acting, rubbish story. It gets a couple of points for the CGI elephant.

Star Trek (2009) 6
Hmmm - still not sure.
Rango (2011) 7
Amazing animation and not bad story.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) 7
A fitting end to the saga. 

I've Loved You So Long (2008) 8
Depressing French film - but clever and well acted.

Attack the Block (2011) 7
Pretty funny horror. Loved some of the characters, especially Pest.
Morning Glory (2010) 5
Full of cliches and stupid over-acting.

Thursday, 1 December 2011


Following a football team that has almost gone out of business twice, constantly has up-and-down seasons and disappoints at inopportune moments can be tough.  However, last night was very special. Crystal Palace travelled to Old Trafford to play a Manchester United team that featured 8 full internationals in the Carling Cup.  The Eagles won 2-1. A fine win whichever way you look at it and certainly not a lucky one.

The first goal, from a team that hasn't scored in 5 games, came from Darren Ambrose - a player who can be brilliant, but often ineffective this season... 

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The past month - November 2011

Here is a selection of the best bits from my blog over the past month:

I continue to enjoy watching the modest, yet sexy Harry Judd on Strictly Come Dancing.

I complained to H&M about their pants.  They did reply by the way - but just a placating email!

The dull and uninspiring official Olympics posters were launched this month. I expect the Games (and build up) to be far more exciting!

I blogged about our trip to Windsor Castle and various pubs. One of my favourite photos of recent months was featured:

Another famous coming out - professional footballer David Testo.

Pete and I attended Ladies Night, as hosted by my Mum - you got to see a nice picture of us with real bow ties!:

After a long gap (and a lot of nagging), I had a guest blogger - James all the way from Argentina.

And a rant all about the out of date public sector pensions.

Monday, 28 November 2011

As one door closes

I am mulling over a new idea to replace 5 on the fifth, which ends next Monday. I hope that you will consider being part of the new challenge - watch this space!

We may be upset, but we must battle on to the 5th of December and share our 5 photos with the world. So, the final '5 on the fifth' needs to feature as many people as possible!  Just take 5 photographs on the days leading up to the 5th and publish those on your own blog and then add the link to my blog so that others can find your images. 

As always, you can either take 5 random pictures or follow this months theme:

Winter Weekend

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Guest Blog #6 - James in Argentina

This is by my latest guest blogger (it's been a while!). My friend James is currently living out an adventure working in Argentina for a year (don't mention the war!). I'll explain all about James another day, but here are some initial thoughts on his life 7,000 miles away:
My first impression of Argentina when I arrived was that it was cold, crisp and with lots of really nasty concrete high rises on the way from the airport into town. Queen were playing on the radio in the cab and not a day goes by without my hearing an 80's anthem....

In the city center there are huge expansive roads and large blocks of buildings clustered together. On foot, the city sprawls and is full of surprises, grand architecture of all different types and influences, mostly really scruffy, way past its prime. Lots of litter, smashed pavements, graffiti and murals break up the spaces
 between different buildings. Tourist maps are very deceiving. Places look clustered together, but the amount of pavement to cover is considerably more than meets the eye. I must have walked for 3 hours at least to make way from the serviced apartment into the financial district and back again. I passed many independent shops and cafes on the way. One of the charms if you like, is that there are very few chain stores - Tesco has yet to make its ugly way here and dominate an otherwise healthy mix of family run businesses.

The strangest thing I have seen is the people who pick through bins outside the office at the end of the day. Small armies of guys efficiently pick through bins wherever they happen to be, for plastics, paper, electrical, cardboard etc and take the good stuff away with them. Weekly there are marches through the financial district and around the political centre, really big drums, fireworks that sound like bombs - this took some getting used to.

I recently saw a podgy little kid who walked through a pretty packed train carriage with a satchel and a well rehearsed speech, that I could not make out. He then produced 4 juggling balls and then effortlessly went onto skillfully throw these things into the roof of the train and catch them on his head as they fell, whilst juggling others and catching those on the back of his neck in a 2/3 minute rendition that left me speechless, all the while the train was moving and lurching around - it did not distract him one bit. I wish I had filmed it and put it on YouTube - his skills were incredible!

San-Telmo, whilst not strange per se, it is in a time warp - it has the largest collection of brick-a-brak imaginable. Huge indoor markets full of stuff. Old stuff. The type of stuff usually only found in the odd shop found in Greenwich, Brighton or Crystal Palace. There is a whole indoor market that sells old stuff, clothes, watches, records, furniture etc but also has  butchers and green grocers set up in the same market also - an unusual combo! 

I'm missing the British staples of Indian and Chinese takeaway. The Argentines know absolutely nothing about spice nor flavour! Most food is unseasoned but of good quality and generous portions, but  almost always bland! Apart from the ice-cream which out here is second to none. I never knew about Dulche du Leche - it's on every menu and is hard to avoid if you find it too sickly sweet - which it is really. It's true also what they say about the steak and red wine, great steaks! Different cuts of meat that you cannot get in the UK. The flesh of the cow is the same (obviously) but butchered differently to give cuts that I think just simply do not exist back home. It's true also though that they over cook, a rare here is really a medium and if you are not careful they go for well-done 9/10. I also would not order a 'Don Pedro' as a dessert again - look it up!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

My boy

I came across this very old picture a couple of days ago by accident. My cat was called Gnasher (he used to bite a lot as a kitten hence the name) and we had him for about 14 years. He died 9 years ago.

He was delivered to us late one night along with his sister Miff. They were only a couple of weeks old and the nasty owner was considering something horrible for them. My brother made the decision to take them straight away. We placed the tiny kittens with our two Golden Retrievers and they were inseparable from that moment on. I often wondered if the cats thought that they might be dogs themselves.

Gnasher loved people and would come when called every time. He was a great cat and a wonderful pet to come home to. His sister was aloof and did her own thing!

I still miss him.  Silly eh?!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Public sector pensions

Unlike many rants, this one is coming from a position of knowledge...  Next week we will see a huge strike of public sector workers who have been lied to by the unions.

In the past, public sector wages were lower than those in the private sector. A generous pension scheme offered to public sector workers was said to have compensated them for this lower income. In some ways, it made sense as the workers contributions were actually paying for those in retirement and therefore the schemes were self funding. But now, the cost of the various schemes is significant and growing dramatically. They are unjust when compared to benefits received by the taxpayers who are now funding the schemes.

Times have changed and public sector workers have wages broadly equivalent to comparable jobs in the private sector (something the unions overlook).  The big difference is that public sector workers enjoy pensions that are guaranteed and worth the equivalent of over 15% of salary per annum to fund... Private sector workers can only dream of such benefits, with most receiving around 5% of salary into a pension that has no guarantees.

The plan by the Government is for a reduction in public sector benefits, but still a very fair scheme - far better than 95% of private sector workers. Remember that the unions have negotiated wage increases for the public sector people when the rest have static wages or even reductions. Yes, the Government is asking for workers to contribute more for lower benefits - it seems unfair on the face of it, but it is not. Accrued benefits are maintained and the eventual retirement income will still be impressive and guaranteed. In addition, those on lower incomes are unlikely to see much of a difference anyway under the plans.

The fact is, if you were to construct a public sector pension scheme today, you would never consider the current terms. They are too costly and too generous. Something has to change.
I believe that the unions have misled their members to promote their power. They have provided poor information knowing that most people don't have the true facts to hand. I do not support the strikes, especially knowing that negotiations are still ongoing. I hate blackmail and I hope the unions fail.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Olympic hopefuls #4 - Aaron Cook

In the fourth of my series of fit and cute Olympic hopefuls for team GB, let me introduce you to Aaron Cook. Twenty year old Aaron is a Taekwondo master and like so many other young guys, has the obligatory mobile phone self-portrait online.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Some hatred in the world

I came across this image on Instagram and it enraged me.  I left a comment, along with a few others, stating how we found this picture a little insulting.  The God loving owner deleted the comments and started quoting the Bible.  Amazing how Christians pick and choose the parts of the Bible that suit them and ignore the many parts about stoning women for doing almost anything normal.

If you have an iPhone and use Instagram, please leave a few comments.  She obviously loves reading them: