Thursday, 30 June 2011


In a few days, '5 on the fifth' will return for the 25th time!

I hope that plenty of people will take part (please tell your friends!). As a reminder, you 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.

To celebrate the 25th month of this little photographic challenge, the theme is SILVER (or you 
can either take 5 random pictures as usual). 

Hard Rock - lads

A few candid pictures from Sunday featuring the good, the bad and the ugly... and not in that order!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Barenaked again

I have been in London all day today at The Gherkin and am struggling to keep my eyes open now!

Last night Pete and I attended a gig by Barenaked Ladies - as previously mentioned, it was the second show by them in two days due to the freebie tickets in Hyde Park! And what a great show it was. Considering it was their 4th show in four days(!) - I was very impressed at their musicianship and humour. They really do seem to love what they do. The venue was The Koko next to Mornington Crescent tube - not somewhere I have been before. It must have been an old music hall and the layout helped build a buzzing atmosphere.

So we got home and to bed around midnight. I need far more than 6 hours sleep!

Here is a video I made, not of one of their well known tracks and not with the usual singer, Ed. The keyboard player/guitarist (Kev) had unusually spent the whole show at the back of the stage and the others had sarcastically commented on that, hence his statement at the start of the clip.

And the next gig is on Friday!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Hard Rock Calling

Yesterday, Pete and I ventured into London in the oppressive heat to Hyde Park (along with around 50,000 other people) to watch some live music.  The headline, Rod Stewart, was not a consideration.  We were there to see Barenaked Ladies (the first of two shows we are seeing) and Stevie Nicks.

Stevie has a great voice still and played a great set.  It was a joy to see her playing London again - the first time in over 20 years!!!  I only have a a couple of small critisms.  If you only have an hour, you need to play shorter arrangements and songs that the crowd are likely to know.  Anyway, here are a couple of poor images... more to follow of 'the lads' I saw in the crowd.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

A little planning

Last year was my 40th and Pete and I went to the USA on our Grand Tour, starting in San Francisco and ending in Las Vegas.  Next year, Pete will be 40 and we are considering a similar special holiday, this time on the East coast of the USA.  I have never been to New York, however Pete has been many times and I would love to go!

One idea is to fly to Toronto, then make our way to Boston and end up in New York stopping en route to see lots of interesting places.  A quick look at costs and we are finding hotels in Boston and New York to be very expensive. If you have any advice for places to stay in these cities and how to do it for less, please let me know.  We are happy to pay money (and definitely avoid hostels), but don't want to pay a fortune. We would rather spend that on food!

Watch this space...

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Extremely advance warning

In a couple of weeks, '5 on the fifth' will return for the 25th time!

I hope that plenty of people will take part. As a reminder, you 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.

To celebrate the 25th month of this little photographic challenge, the theme is SILVER (or you 
can either take 5 random pictures as usual). 

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Beer, beer and food

We have just got back from the Greek restaurant in town.  We enjoyed a lovely Meze, accompanied by a wonderful Cypriot beer that I have enjoyed for many many year called Keo.

Despite Pete struggling to eat with a full arm cast, we figured that we deserved a night out as we haven't been out for a while.  Also, neither of us has been sleeping well.

In fact, in the early hours of last night, at 3.15am to be precise, I was woken by the old lady in the house behind shouting "here kitty kitty".  Our 80 year old neighbour has been cat sitting two moggies and I assume had mislaid one.  I was awake until 5am.  The previous night wasn't much better.  I am now exhausted.

In more positive new, the next 2 weeks is our own music festival.  We already had tickets to see the Barenaked Ladies in London on Monday, but today Pete won two tickets to Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park in London - so I get to see Stevie Nicks!  Next weekend is the festival at the hop farm in Kent with The Eagles headlining and one of my favourite bands, Death Cab For Cutie.  And we have our annual Rhythms of The World festival the weekend after!

Too much music?!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

At the races

Yesterday I travelled to Newmarket for a series of meetings with colleagues based in the East of England. My employer no longer has a local office in that part of the country, so we use meeting rooms when required and yesterday was the main racecourse at Newmarket.

It was very strange walking through the public areas, all clean and ready for the next meet and into the large, new stand without seeing a single person.  We had rented a couple of the executive boxes at the top of the main stand and the place was deserted.  It was rather eerie but a great location.

I saw a few horses in the distance exercising, but that was it!

Sunday, 19 June 2011


Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of Pete and I getting together. I made a comment on twitter that is equates to 36 years in straight years and was berated by several people. It was a joke! OK, not a good one, but I try not to take myself too seriously over such matters and I don't see such a comment as suggesting that gay relationships are any less important that straight ones. It's a play on stereotypes and such things can be funny.

We went to a birthday party last night in Hertford. With Pete's mega-arm-cast, we thought we wouldn't stay too long but still managed to get home after midnight. The birthday girl, Melissa enjoyed herself and I expect a heavy head this morning.

Hertford is a lovely old market town with some impressive buildings and some nice bars and restaurants. We started in one that was quite classy, apart from having a bouncer with a Scorpion tattoo over the whole back of his shaved head... nice! We then went to a bar called The Hertford House Hotel that was packed. I know I will sound old, but I have never enjoyed bars where you are crushed up to the next person and have to shout to be be heard. Luckily, we pushed our way through the crowd (and there were many many cute lads there) to a reserved area.

We had a good time and I think we should make an effort to go back to Hertford for an evening soon (once the cast is off), if only to play 'spot the cute lad'.

One more thing... on the way to Hertford, we were listening to the Radio 2 comedy awards - a live programme with some amazingly talented comedians.  Well worth catching it on the iplayer.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Read the signs

Here are a few silly pictures of road signs around the world... just for your amusement:

Friday, 17 June 2011

Dear friends

It's been a dull week with so little happening, that I have struggled to find anything entertaining to blog about.

One bit of news... Pete now has an even bigger cast on his arm following a visit to the fracture clinic. You would not believe how heavy it is. He is completely fed up!  He has decided not to attend a festival we were going to.

A couple of quick thoughts on the holiday that I have been mulling over:

At Luton, on the way to Faro, the airport was full with tired but happy Barcelona fans following the Champions league final the night before.  There were so many grinning faces!

The was a purple man drinking beer at 6.20am. Now, I like a beer but come on! It's dawn and he is with his grandchild and this man is drinking.  I pity the grandchildren.

On a similar topic, the English people in our hotel were mainly older (50-70 years old I suppose) and the majority were obese and tattooed many times over. A fine stereotype. I like a small tattoo, but not all over the body.

A man on the plane was answering his daughters question who was reading the in-flight magazine "Where is Malibu Daddy as it has some amazing houses?". He replied, "it's in the Caribbean dear". What an idiot.

And finally... Portugal is incredibly green with rivers and streams everywhere, much to my surprise.

Hopefully normal blogging will resume soon.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

One day in Athens

At the hotel on holiday, there was a table in reception where you could leave books and magazines for other guests.  There was a BBC magazine that I had not read before called Focus.  It's a technology and science publication and included a double page spread that showed one of the most amazing photographs I have ever seen... One day in Athens by Chris Kotsiopoulos.

It was taken over 24 hours with hundreds of images stitched and blended together and it's pure genius! Click on the image to open it and see it in greater detail.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A meme!

I've not done one for ages!

1. Your ex's car is on the side of the road, on fire. What do you do?

Leave a note saying hi. What else?!

Would you go out to eat with Charlie Sheen?

Yes - it would be useful to have a knife nearby.

3. Who was the last person to comment on your Facebook status?

It was Sonny - about the Grand Prix on Sunday. And what a race it was!!!

4. What is the last thing you spent money on?

A bought an aerial lead.  Rock and roll lifestyle eh?!  I spent nothing at all today!

5. Do you think you gained or lost weight this past month?

I had been running and losing weight.  Then I got injured and went on holiday soon after - so all weight is back on!

6. What's the best film you saw in the last month?

7. What did you wear today?

A suit, a nice lightly checked shirt and tie.  i.e. the uniform.

8. Congratulations! You just had a son. What’s his name?



What was the last CD you bought?

Stevie Nicks - In Your Dreams (and it is excellent!)

10. What are you craving right now?

I don't want to write what I am thinking!  ;-)

11. When you buy something and your change is 2 pence, do you keep it or tell the cashier to keep it?

I put the money in the charity box. 

12. What was the last voicemail you received about?

It was from a colleague asking me to call him... I haven't yet.

13. Have you ever blocked someone on Facebook?

Not yet!

14. Scariest thing you’ve experienced in the last year?

Landing in windy weather at Edinburgh airport.

What kind of car do you want?

A Porsche Boxster please.

16. What do you order when you go to Burger King?

I don't eat crap like BK or MacDonalds.  Once you haven't eaten a burger for a while, the stench of the area around one of their "restaurants" is overwhelmingly bad.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Some holidays snaps

Here are a couple of pictures I took in Portugal...

Sunday, 12 June 2011

30 second movie #3 - Quotation (the directors cut)

Following on from the recent posting of my third '30 second movie', I have made a couple of subtle changes, plus added a new contributor.  So here is the directors cut with a list of the contributors, in order:

Rob (who I have known online for years and never met!)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Book reviews #1

On holiday, I read 3 books while sitting on the beach. Considering we didn't spend that much time sitting around, I surprised myself at finishing 3 actual books!

Here are my reviews that I will add to Amazon for the first time:

I Left My Tent in San Francisco by Emma Kennedy (2 out of 5 from me, 4 out of 5 from Pete)

Pete loved this book and laughed out loud on many occasions. I found it a bit annoying and far too obvious, but did laugh enough to say that it's worth a read.

Supposedly based on true experiences of 3 months in America following graduation from Oxford University. I am sure that no person would be so naive and stupid (despite being a brainy graduate) and also unlucky.

I cant believe that the situations that the author found herself in were real. This style can work if put across purely as fiction, but silly setting after silly setting was a bit much for me.

If you want an easy quick read that is humorous, then this book is for you. If storylines where you can see the story coming for a light year away, then read with caution.

11 minutes by Paulo Coelho (2 out of 5)

I was surprised to find this book was written in such contrasting styles and lacked any natural flow. There was far too much "she said this, then she did that, then she went here" etc. It sounded like an A Level student's story. The book then introduced an alternate approach with whole chapters that made little or no sense - in both the writing style and content.

I was confused at the rants about love and suffering and it meant that the limited enjoyment I had experienced, soon disappeared. By this point in fact, I cared little for the main character.

I was disappointed with this book both the style and the storyline, especially considering that it was written by such a renowned author.

Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver (4 out of 5)

This latest James Bond book, written in the style of Ian Fleming, ticked all of the boxes... Action, intrigued, gadgets, locations, humour, sex, style etc.  The book licked along at a perfect pace and the plot just implausible enough to work.

Although set in modern times, I found myself picturing a young Sean Connery rather than Daniel Craig as Bond. Having a history of watching Bond films, this added to the enjoyment.

I think that Jeffery Deaver should write the next few Bond films as the current script writers are missing the the humour and storylines that the best Bond films have.

Thursday, 9 June 2011


So we are back from our fun filled holiday in Portugal.  We dropped off our bags I took Pete to the local hospital to get checked over as his arm still hurt.

To recap... Pete slipped in the shower and landed badly, so he eventually went to see a doctor who couldn't decide if it was fractured or not and then went to the hospital in Faro, who's expert said it was probably damaged ligaments.

They were wrong.  Pete now has a plaster cast on his whole arm, which was "clearly broken".

This means six weeks of fun ahead!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Sun sold here

'The Sun sold here' - a rant from the poolside...

I have seen this sign only twice in Portugal, but it still saddens me.  A whole swathe of the UK feel that this dumbed down piece of rubbish is worthy buying and more worryingly, they believe the content.

I have complete dislike for The Sun and all on stands for.  Therefore, I also have no respect for those that buy this embarrassing publication.  This newspaper is full of mistruths and fabricated and exaggerated stories. 

But worse still, it is the negative stance in most stories, tinged with a layer of anger than concerns me. It is 'blame culture' in print, with no solutions offered and obstructive viewpoints throughout.

A certain level of hatred seeps into their text, some with an 'almost' hidden level of xenophobia, racism and homophobia.

People in other countries must wonder if we really are a nation of drunk overweight idiots, obsessed with celebrity (i.e. people who are famous for doing nothing) and believing we are better than other nations.

The misleading stories and blatant lies do nothing to educate or inform the reader. Mud sticks and the editor knows that too well.  Lies may be retracted, but it's too late by then.

And finally, free speech is something we should crave, but The Sun abuses our rights and I could only wish that it failed one day.  I sadly know that it won't.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Five on the fifth #24

Welcome to '5 on the fifth', a posting where you share 5 photographs taken on the days leading up to the 5th of the month. 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: NEW.

You no longer have to leave a comment with your details (though comments are welcome) - just 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 images are stylised iPhone images from my current holiday in Portugal...

Friday, 3 June 2011


It's been a strange day here in Portugal, where we are on holiday. Pete slipped in the bath and landed badly, so he eventually decided to see a doctor as his arm is causing serious pain.  The doctors couldn't decide if it's fractured or not and he's been to the hospital in Faro, who say he has probably damaged ligaments. It's his right arm too, which has various implications.

We have spent some days exploring locally and others lazing on the beach. It's mighty hot and the sun very powerful which drains us pasty Englishmen.

We have rented as car for few days and will drive up the coast and into the mountains. The laid back car rental lady gave us an extra half day for nothing, I suspect so that she didn't have to open at 9am.

Just a note on the hotel - it's full of fat old people and the food is 'adequate'.  We have eaten out as well and the local stuff is great, as is the local beer (which is nice and cheap!).  More on this when we return. In the meantime...

It seems that footballer Ronaldo advertises everything here on Portugal.  I imagine the conversations between marketing people and his agent go something like:

Marketing man:  we would like to pay Ronaldo One Million Euros to advertise...
Agent:  Yes, OK.
MM:  but I haven't told you what the product is yet...
Agent:  yeah... OK, where's the money?
MM:  but what if Ronaldo has never heard of it, let alone uses it or like it?!
Agent:  yeah... OK, where's the money?

Also, you can only buy football shirts with his name or Figo on the back - no other options.  All this for a closeted footballer! 

Thursday, 2 June 2011

June 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.

The Time Machine (2002) 4
Awful film - stupid story and acting.  If you want to see a better version, check out the 1960 original.

Burlesque (2010) 6
Pete's choice and I got what I expected!

(2010) 1
Insulting, lazy movie making. See my review on this previous blog entry.

Blue Valentine (2010) 4
Annoyingly bad.

I thought that this may have been overhyped, but it's actually very good indeed!

French Film (2008) 7

I do like a Harry Potter film and this was the best for a few years.  Looking forward to part 2.

Loose Cannons (2010) 8
Very good Italian gay film with some serious themes and also some funny bits too.

Great story and acting.  British movie making at its best.

Scream (1996) 7

Monsters (2010) 7
Made on a tiny budget, but that doesn't show one bit.  Well worth a view.

Le fil (2009) 7

Into the Wild (2007) 8
Depressing and surprising.  Long film, but gripping all the way through.

One of the best animations I have seen.

"It's in the trees... it's coming!"