Saturday, 30 April 2011

5 for May

In a few days time, '5 on the fifth' will return. 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 see your images. 

You can either take 5 random pictures or follow this months theme (of which there are 2 from which to choose): CLOTHES or HAPPY!

Friday, 29 April 2011

London Zoo

Yesterday, we went to London Zoo as we had Tesco vouchers that covered most of the entry fee.  We arrived at Kings Cross around 10.30 and went to the new(ish) Kings Place arts centre near to the station. It's an impressive building and there is loads going on, so we must make an effort to get some culture there soon.

We walked to the zoo, via Camden, along the canal - the route we often cycled.  With the wildlife and gently flowing water, you can easily forget that you are in the middle of this huge city.

We had a good look around the zoo and saw some amazing animals.  I always have mixed feelings at places like this, but some of the inhabitants are so rare, that the zoo is the only place to keep the species going.

After about 3 hours, we grabbed a beer and then a late lunch/early dinner at Prezzo, also with Tesco vouchers.  So, it was a great and cheap day out!







Thursday, 28 April 2011

Norfolk 'n' good

Yesterday I drove Pete and his Mum to north Norfolk for a day by the seaside.

We started out early and headed to Burnham Overy. This small inland port, sitting next to low mud flats has no shop and no coffeeshop. How do they survive?! We walked the winding path on top of the flood defences a mile and a bit to the sea.

The birds sang, the sun broke through and a freezing wind tried to push us back. When we got there, we found the beach to be huge and empty... stunning.

Approaching lunchtime, we headed to Wells-next-the-sea. I went there years ago and liked it a lot. This is another town that has an inland port that fights nature as the silt builds up.

The mile walk to the beach along the dead straight sea wall was in the burning sunshine. The beach is lovely but I am told I saw it in its best light with the tide in. We read the papers and watched the windsurfers for a while. We had a lazy look around the small town before having the obligatory fish 'n' chips.

The 2 hour drive home as the sun set was a struggle.

And today has more fun... this time it's voucher day! In the meantime, here are some images from yesterday.






Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Cruel

We watched Cruel Intentions for the first time in ages a while ago. My God, is Ryan Phillipe utterly beautiful in that film!

So here are some pictures to enjoy!




Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Ely and Cambridge

We took the train to Ely yesterday morning.  It's a beautiful place, but not much to do there unless you are into Cathedrals.  We then went to Cambridge to look around the shops and look at the cute guys selling punts - they were many cute guys out and about yesterday. 

We had planned to walk round Grafham Water today, but 4 days of sunshine, food and drink has wiped us out.  So today is rest day before we embark on the next stage of the Easter/Wedding break.

I'm currently considering the next 'five on the fifth' theme...



Sunday, 24 April 2011

Birthday

Today is my birthday and I am typing this on the train home (on my iphone) after a very long day in London.

We left home 8.30am and took a train and 2 tubes to rich/trendy Richmond with the main aim of having a top lunch. Although the day started a bit chilly, by the time we got there it was warm and sunny.

Everyone is labelled up in Richmond: Hollister, Jack Wills, Eden Park, Crew, etc.  It's a very wealthy area - in fact, Mick Jagger lives on the hill. We walked along the Thames path for a while, grabbed a coffee then a Gin, before going for lunch.  We selected Al Boccon Di' Vino for my birthday lunch based on the amazing scores on Tripadviser. It's not only a top Italian restaurant, it's also voted one if the best in London - and there are 6000 London restaurants and cafes on Tripadviser.

The restaurant has no menu. You sit and they feed you. From what we remember, this was lunch (each a separate course):

Prosecco
Bread and oil
Frittata
Fried smoked cheese
Asparagus and egg
Veal and anchovies
Mozzarella and tomatoes
Chicken
Beans and pasta
King prawns
Capaccio salad
Mushroom ravioli
Artichoke ravioli
Langoustines
Desert wine
Tiramisu
Chocolate cake
Strawberries
Espresso
2 bottles of wine
Water


You may guess that we were a little drunk by the end of our 3 hour epic meal! I won't tell you how much it was, but let's say that it was a treat that may not be repeated for a while.

We walked from Richmond to Kew before getting a bus then a tube to Tottenham Court Road. We walked to Kings Cross station and then home!  Here are some pictures from the day, complete with an enhanced David mural...






Saturday, 23 April 2011

To Ireland and back

It's been hotter than Spain in Hertfordshire for the past 2 days and we've been pretty busy.

Yesterday Pete and I started the day with an unhealthy full English breakfast before looking round the local flea/antique/junk market. I'm not sure how some money make a living from running these stalls.

In the afternoon, we went to Pete's mums and while Pete was stripping wallpaper, I went for a walk in the woods with Rusty (the dog Pete's mum is looking after).  The bluebells looking stunning and the smell was almost overwhelming.


In the evening, we went to Ireland.  Not the country.  Let me explain, a few miles from our house is a village called Ireland and a gastropub called The Black Horse.  Five of us went and all found the food to be fantastic and so was the barman - and he knew it.  Of course I ate far too much.

Today we went to Costco.  Yeah, we know how to live. We had intended to laze around the garden in the sun, but ended up drinking in town with friends.

This evening we are catching up with some TV that we have recorded.  We started with Modern Family and it brought to mind the episode when teenage Dylan sings a lovesong to girlfriend Haley.  The lyrics shock the family and it's a funny scene.  To top that , it's catchy too.  They even made a proper video for it...



And tomorrow is my birthday and we have a potentially unusual meal.  Watch this space.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Royalty and religion

Royalty and religion are not two things that I usually support.  Imagine that an alien landed on our planet and asked you to describe why one family is paid millions of Pounds to live in luxury, yet appear to be our 'property'.  You then go on to explain religion - something that people are willing to die for, yet there is no proof that the various Gods exist and many even believe the Bible to be pure fiction.

Am I asking for trouble here or what?!

My point however is in a temporary support of both of these institutions!  The only reason is that, due to Easter, we have 2 bank holidays fitting snuggly around this weekend followed by another bank holiday next Friday for the royal wedding and yet another bank holiday for May day.  Fantastic!

So I have taken Tuesday to Thursday next week off work, meaning 11 days free of work for an investment of a mere 3 days from my holiday allowance.  We have a few things planned including a couple of meals out - more to follow on those.

So for everyone in the UK, have a great few days.  It looks like it will be great weather too.

Beach pictures

Here are some stylised pictures from the weekend, taken at the seaside...



Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Being outed

I've been thinking about a friends recent coming out journey that he has just embarked on. For the record, I am really pleased that he has made the decision and without wishing to sound overly dramatic, he should be proud of himself.

On related topic, and in a Carrie Bradshaw 'Sex and the City' style...  I got to thinking, is it better to be outed than never to be out at all?

Telling someone that you are gay can be tough and as I have said before, I have never found it an easy thing to do. One option that can be good and bad is being outed. I didn't have to tell brother number 2 as he had been told by someone else before I got to him. Job done! I was also outed in my last job to a few people and that meant I didn't have to keep repeating the same thing. Perhaps I should allow it to happen at my current job?

Based on my experiences, my friend could potentially benefit from being outed to certain people and thereby avoiding the awkward questions over and over. This especially works if the person doing the outing has the full story and his blessing. But of course, you lose control and also won't know who has been told. If he is reading this, no I'm not going to out you!

As for my friends overall situation, do I know how this will end?   I do actually.  I know that quite a few people will say "I already knew/suspected" and he will realise that the only thing that changes is a lifting of the weight from his shoulders and a realisation that he should have done it years ago.

Better late than never though.

Monday, 18 April 2011

At the Temple

We spent the weekend in Kent having travelled down on Friday afternoon to stay at my parents house. Pete and I found ourselves at the local 14th century inn at 6pm for a couple of pints before having a very tasty curry.

On Saturday we left the house early and travelled to the outlet centre in Ashford. We hadn't been there for years and I was pleased to find a few items of clothing and shoes I had been looking for.

Pete then nagged me to drive to the seaside. So we started at Hythe. There is very little there (which is both an advantage and disadvantage) but we had a nice walk in the very warm sunshine.  We then drove down the coast to Dymchurch which is a depressing little run-down town full of fat chavs shouting at children (complete with trailer parks!). Despite this, we had a nice lunch on the beach of baguettes and cake before a walk along the beach.

Our route home was via the beautiful village of Lympne which has some lovely views across the valley and down to Dungeoness (a place well worth visiting as is Sandgate).

The main reason for the visit was to attend a quiz night that my Dad had arranged at his Mason's Lodge. Pete, my brother, sister-in-law and me had a team and we came second. My Dad had put together a tough quiz! Of course, we couldn't have won it or we'd have be accused of knowing the questions that were coming up.

It's worth nothing that Dad introduced me to the few people I didn't know as "my son and his partner Pete". This was a surprise and a first - not that my Dad has ANY issue with my sexuality and Pete, but I don't recall ever hearing it.

A long walk and a barbecue yesterday in the sun meant a lovely end to the weekend.  Here are a couple of snaps taken today.



Saturday, 16 April 2011

Salim Kechiouche

Salim Kechiouche is a French actor who has appeared in a number of gay themed fims. Despite being one of those straight people, he's happy playing gay.

He's not the typical guy I go for, but I find him incredibly attractive - the colour of his skin, his body, his hair, his eyes... need I go on?  I have added some pictures below of this god and here is a link to a screenshot from Grande √©cole which shows plenty of him.  Yep, he's Muslim all right.

He's not just a sexy guy, he's a great actor.  We recently watched 'The String' (or Le fil in its proper form) and it's a unusual gay film, in that no-one dies or is kicked out of home!  Catch some of his other films, but beware of The Clan as it's rather violent.





Friday, 15 April 2011

To all smokers...

Your cigarette butts don't dissolve away so please do not through them on the floor when you are done polluting the air and your lungs.

I say this because I swept up a load that were piled up on the path over the road.  The selfish idiot who parks there just threw her rubbish on the floor.  I was tempted to put the pile of 50+ butts on her car bonnet but Pete wouldn't let me!

And while I am on this topic, a business owner I once spoke to told me this (I am paraphrasing a little):

"I never knowingly employ smokers.  If someone is stupid enough to poison themselves, they cant have much self control and I want people who are positive thinkers."

An interesting and exteme take on smokers, don't you think?   However, he continued...

"And let's face it, smokers take more breaks during the day and even the ones that say that they take a shorter lunch break always underestimate the time it takes to smoke."

I know a few people that will have perfect come backs to all points in this blog post!  Smokers, in my view, are often excellent sales people as they have well rehearsed sentences to overcome every criticism of their smelly habit.

Here endith the posting.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Portraits

I mentioned a while ago that I intended to take some portraits of friends and family. Well, I have started and am using the room at the back of the garage (the room that I built), as a studio... of sorts.

I have found it quite a challenge so far. Getting the lighting right and the knife-edge between blurred and in-focus is very slight with the lens I am using. For the first time, I am shooting in RAW format and then using Photoshop Elements to edit the image, taking out skin blemishes etc.

After 9 victims, I have some mixed results.  My friends 8 year old son would not keep still so a perfectly focused shot was never going to happen.  My favourite so far is a shot I took of my niece and I have had it printed so that she can give it to my brother on his birthday in May (see below).

I have set up a new blog to show a few of the shots online - mainly so the subjects can see them without emails flying about.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Monday already?!

It's been a surprisingly warm weekend in the UK. On Friday evening, I went for a run - it was too hot to run, but I managed 3 miles non-stop, which is the longest I have run for a long time.  I am slowly getting to a level of fitness that I then want to maintain.

Pete and I walked to his brother's house on Saturday afternoon - it took just over 2 hours and our reward was beer and a barbecue. We ate far too much food and I felt very uncomfortable!

On Sunday we also went for another walk.  The 'big house' close to Pete's Mum's house has gardens covering dozens of acres and the owner had invited the local people to walk around them to see the Spring flowers.  We saw a herd of Deer and Max the dog decided that swimming in the lake was a good idea.

A song called 'Couches In Alleys' came up at random on my iPod yesterday and as I think it's a wonderful acoustic song, I decided to share it with you.  It was originally released by 'Styrofoam and Ben Gibbard' (Ben is the writer of the song and main man in Death Cab For Cutie).  The version they recorded is very strange and can be heard here.  The version below however is Ben Gibbard doing an impromptu version acoustically and it's great.  I included it in my list of top tracks for Death Cab For Cutie some time ago.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Return of the Zac

It's been far too long that I shared some gratuitous images of Zac Efron... yes, this is the cultural section of my blog!




Saturday, 9 April 2011

30 second movie #2 - Hertfordshire skies

Following on from the French Market 'movie', here is the second in the series of '30 second movies'.  This one has some time lapse action of the skies over my house.  I've added some guitar over the top so both movie and music are copyright me!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

April Movie Update

Here are the films that Pete and I have received from Lovefilm.com and watched on TV and DVD over the past few months (sorry for the delay in posting this) in reverse order, with my ratings out of ten from my movie list on IMDB. 

 Afterwards
(2008) 6


 Kick-Ass (2010) 8
I loved the silly action and some of the lines were memorable.

 Cruel Intentions (1999) 7
Classic movie with the gorgeous Ryan Phillippe.

 Christopher and His Kind (2010) (TV) 7

 The Illusionist (2010) 8
A stunning animation from the makers of a favourite of mine: Belleville Rendez-Vous.

 Micmacs (2009) 8
Mad French film from the makers of the wonderful Amelie

 Easy A (2010) 2
Full of stupid story directions and cliches.  I found it annoying.

 White Material (2009) 5

 Another Year (2010) 7
Mike Leigh film - you either love or hate his movies.  Apart from a couple of redundant scenes, this was very thought provoking.

 London River (2009) 5

 V for Vendetta (2006) 8
Atmospheric and full of twists.


 The Social Network (2010) 7
Impressive script, but I came away thinking how none of these mega rich kids deserve it.

 Undertow (2009) 7

 Rope (1948) 8
Hitchcock at his best - made with long unbroken scenes, unheard of at the time.

 Plan B (2009/I) 6
Interesting gay film that would have achieved an 8 if the editing had been better - too many scenes dragged.

 Loggerheads (2005) 7
Pretty good gay film - not the usual plot.

 Certified Copy (2010) 1
Lacking in every area you can imagine.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Sexy footballers present my blog

My own Blog TV with some virtually cute guys...

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Five on the fifth #22

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 - which this month is: BLUR

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.






Here are my images... all blurred and in 1970 polaroid style!

- Selected words from a personal ad'
- The Royal Mail
- Noticed in London (only knew who he
   was after seeing Goodnight And Goodluck)
- Me
- Tulips from Holland




Saturday, 2 April 2011

Another trip to London

Here are some pictures from London yesterday, which ended up with far too much alcohol, but we had a great curry and a few laughs along the way.

- I have no idea what they were doing on the South Bank
- A hot dog stand
- Look closely... it's a skateboard graveyard on the bridge support thingy