keresaspa: (Seagull)
It's ate bread now given that I've been home since Sunday and, as I suspected, the Dreamwidth exodus seems to have killed this journal stone dead but the tenth annual London extravaganza probably needs to be recorded anygate.

Ergo )
keresaspa: (Obelix)
It's more or less convention that on this day every year I make a post on here bemoaning this day and disavowing my Irishness for 24 hours as I shake my head in gloomy anger at the chaos engulfing this tired town. But not this year.

No, I haven't been reborn as a "quare bai" and I won't be donning a GAA shirt and entering the melee. Rather it's hard to adopt the doleful countenance needed when, shocks of mighty, the hitherto maligned Flybe have caved in and accepted my demands for compensation for the recent delayed flight. Huzzah!

I complained when I returned home after the trip and went through a process that made about as much sense as the Voynich manuscript and ultimately was left with nothing to show for it, despite returning with idle threats of solicitors and reporting their antics to BBC Watchdog. Finally, in a fit of powerlessness, I took to rotten old Twitter and denounced them as a shower of mountebanks and, sure enough, the public calling-out moved several arses into gear and now the cash offer has arrived. Having invoked an EU directive that allows a passenger to claim compo for a flight delayed for more than three hours (so that's something else we can kiss goodbye to soon - thanks again, England) the little guy has for once triumphed. Heck I take any victory I can get these days and right now the win is gushing out of me like blood from the sacred neck of sweet Mundamala.

Oh and bloody patriotism, refuge of a scoundrel, Sinn Fein gits and all that. Still, yay.


Mar. 6th, 2017 10:25 pm
keresaspa: (Default)
*Insert weak joke about visiting Edinburgh lots before waffling for ages about most recent visit*

Therefore )
keresaspa: (Cartman)
Hell, even I think I've been away too often recently. The joys of growing up in a warzone, I suppose. And let it be known too that the following load of old rambling nonsense should have been published yesterday but my internet provider decided to give me a day of no service just to remind me who the boss is. Thanks as ever Virgin Media, I would denounce you as vermin but recent events have drawn me closer to that class of creature. Intrigued? Didn't think so but read on anyway, it's good for chilblains.

Read more... )


Oct. 8th, 2016 12:33 pm
keresaspa: (Gus Goose)
Such is the regularity with which I go to Edinburgh these days that it hardly seems worth mentioning.

But let's anyway )
keresaspa: (Diggory)
The short version of this is that London was rather good apart from the going and the coming, which were hell on earth. On the off-chance that anybody is still reading this (and I note in my extended absence that I am now down to one person submitting regular updates on my friends list) I shall expand at some length about what took place.

The Austrian stork nurtures the kites )
keresaspa: (Cartman)
Every time I post to this now I seem to begin with a note to excuse my absence due to the paucity of updates. What can I say, less than auspicious days recently. In the meanwhile however a standing engagement in Edinburgh took me across the sea once more and, as ever, I shall betell the events.

Lay on, MacDuff )


Oct. 10th, 2015 10:14 pm
keresaspa: (Obelix)
Such is the regularity with which I visit dear Edinburgh these days that it hardly seems worth kicking this thing into life just to describe the latest visit. Still, it's a pattern I've established these last twelve years or so and as such it must continue. If there is a moral to this story let it be thus - don't walk backwards, it gets on everybody's tits.

Mulch )


Aug. 29th, 2015 11:07 pm
keresaspa: (Seagull)
Hello you *waves*. Yeah, just back from Paris and that, which, of course, means I have to go on at length about the last week. Apologies in advance if this gets a bit incoherent but you should all be used to that by now.

Lundi )

Mardi )

Mercredi )

Jeudi )

Vendredi )
keresaspa: (Mikado)
The weekend just gone by was spent in Yorkshire, visiting [ profile] queenmartina and [ profile] burkesworks. Permit me to elaborate.

keresaspa: (Percy Sugden)
It's convention that I recount in some detail the events surrounding any journeys I make for the entertainment of the reading none so I suppose I shouldn't break from that tradition following my recent excursion to the occupied territory of Scotland. So without further Apu:

Edinburgh and environs )


Sep. 27th, 2013 09:52 pm
keresaspa: (Wil Cwac Cwac)
Given how rarely I update this now I suspect my occasional extended absences draw little attention but this one can be explained away by an impromptu post-birthday break to possibly my favourite city - Edinburgh.

I'll leave off details about the flights. Suffice to say both reasonable as flights go, but I still hate flying. My base for the trip was Motel One on the corner of Market Street and Cockburn Street. A very central location thankfully although it was a peculiar place to say the least, with rooms having no wardrobes, only two badly positioned electrical sockets and a television that only worked properly when it felt like it. Seemingly it was part of a German chain as all signs and handouts were primarily in German but the rooms were certainly well designed, if a touch minimalist for my taste. The inevitable problem of keeping milk cool also struck (as it does it nearly every hotel) and my twin solutions - filling the bin with cold water or thrusting the milk bottle into the toilet - both proved unsuccessful with the remains of one Poundland effort even ending up curdled. Still, I didn't come here to talk about milk, did I?

So after arriving at the hotel on Monday I set off on my travels, with the Gorgie area of the city my destination. I had no previous dealings with that side of town but had designed a route from Google Maps and was surprised to find that, for once, my plans proved fool-proof. I arrived at Tynecastle in good time and got my ticket for the forthcoming League Cup match between Heart of Midlothian and Queen of the South. The Hibernian-Stranraer game was also an option but I figured I had previously been to Easter Road and that match was on Tuesday, for which I had other plans. The rest of the day was spent arseing about the familiar old streets, battling with an unseasonable heatwave and struggling in vain to find any supermarkets. Is there a law in Scotland banning supermarkets within three miles of the city centre or something? A nice haddock supper made for a fine repast that evening although it left the room ponging somewhat. Such is life.

Tuesday, as stated, was already earmarked for a specific purpose and that was a day's excursion to Glasgow. I am by no means a strong road traveller but the relatively short coach journey between the two cities played severe havoc with my stomach and a boak was avoided by the skin of my teeth. Glasgow is a city I have criticised on here before and I stand by those criticisms - it is horrendously ugly, having obviously been smacked about by town planners in a similar fashion to Belfast (if you must put new buildings beside old, at least try to match the architecture styles a bit) and the frankly ridiculous levels of drunks and junkies wandering about, regardless of the time of day, is very tedious and makes the whole place seem rather unsafe. However I still enjoyed my time there as it has greatly improved as a shopping venue and I could happily have killed a couple more hours there, even if the habit of checkout people saying "first, please" instead of "next, please" struck me as rather odd. One big gripe though - my God, have the accents ever been diluted! I'm a big fan of the Scottish accent in general, it being one of only two British isles accents I like, but a lot of the Glasgow kids sound like they're from the East End of London these days. Such a shame; you have a lot to answer for Eastenders!

My old stamping ground from 2011, Leith, was my first port of call on Wednesday and I meandered down that seedy old road nostalgically, notwithstanding the incessant pishing rain. Keeping on the two years ago riff, I spent the afternoon knocking about what I believe is called Newington (an altogether more refined area than the run-down republican interface area of the same name in Belfast) before heading back to the hotel. My plans to get a self-made salad for lunch were again thwarted as, just like two years ago, self-service salad bars are still absent from supermarkets despite being as common in Ireland as drunk people. Still, to each his own I suppose. That evening was the match and thankfully the rain had finally done one as I didn't fancy taking the relatively long trot out to Tynecastle in the middle of a downpour. As I took my seat in the Main Stand near the halfway line (always the best spot) I drank in the scene. Tynecastle is more dilapidated than Easter Road, although to be fair Hearts are in dire straits financially so it's only to be expected. Still it's a grand old ground nevertheless and credit to the Queen of the South supporters, who made an ungodly row throughout despite being only a small section of the 8,000 strong crowd. As to the match itself it was, quite frankly, bloody brilliant. Hearts played below their capabilities and the Doonhamers inevitably raised their game making it a blood and guts affair in which Hearts lost the lead three times before going through on a penalty shootout. They both went above and beyond in the entertainment stakes and I left the stadium exhilarated, having watched what was probably the best match as a spectacle that I had ever attended. It was well after eleven before I got back to Princes Street but, as always seems to happen at Edinburgh matches, an unofficial walking bus of supporters ensured total safety in numbers.

Thursday brought a welcome return to fine weather and I decided to get a bus day ticket and explore a few places I didn't know. My first port of call was Corstorphine, a suburb near the airport, and a pretty place the former village was. I killed a while there before returning to the main drag and boarding a bus for Musselburgh. I fancied a spell by the seaside and it seemed as good a place as any, although after nearly three quarters of an hour on the bus and still nowhere near the place I gave up and decamped at an out of town retail park by the name of Fort Kinnaird. As a monument to capitalist consumption it was slightly unnerving and its complete lack of facilities played havoc with my suddenly weak bladder but still, it was somewhere different and I had been mixing Musselburgh up with Helensburgh anyway. My third port of call was Ocean Terminal, which I felt compelled to investigate as it seemingly had a bus running to it every thirty seconds. When I got there it was yet another shopping centre, although this time a vast one nestled in a gentrified area reminiscent of the horrific Titanic Quarter in Belfast. My only thought was that a lot of fine historic dockland must have died to make way for such a monstrosity. To finish the day I partook of the local delicacies by devouring a haggis supper, which I was amazed to find consisted of a long sausage shaped slab of haggis bunged in batter and deep fried. Like haggis isn't fatty enough on its own! Probably not a good idea to eat offal with my blood problems but what the hell, I'm getting needle-stabbed next Friday so they can worry about it then (expect ferritin levels in the mid hundreds).

Home today, albeit with a little time for wandering around in Greyfriars and the surrounding area. All in all though it was a wonderful little break. I don't visit Edinburgh that often but whenever I do I'm always reminded why I'm so fond of the place. A wonderful city and the perfect place to dawdle a few days away.
keresaspa: (Lester and Eliza)
That period of extended silence that nobody noticed round these parts was caused by my being in Leeds at chez [ profile] queenmartina. I travelled over on Friday by my least favourite method (flying obviously) on what proved to be a total bloody nuisance of a journey. I suppose the flight itself was reasonable enough but the whole rigmarole associated with flying, be it the travelling to and from vast, soulless warehouses in the middle of nowhere, all the security wank, the inevitable stabbing pains in the back of the head and the interminable hanging around really gets on my tit-end and I'm always very glad when it's over. I'm also not sure whether or not an author as intense and, frankly, bonkers as the great Gérard de Nerval was a good idea for in-flight reading as the surreal, existentialist insanity of Aurélia did rather unnerve me whilst travelling in a giant, floating sardine tin but live and learn. By the time I arrived we had already passed the eye of the day so a bit of arseing around the town was all we could manage.

On Saturday [ profile] burkesworks and myself took off to nearby Halifax in order to slake my inevitable desire for watching 22 idiots chasing a bit of a balloon. The town of Halifax was a new one on me but I have to say it was a remarkably presentable place, teeming with grand old buildings of the type that the planners in Belfast would have "accidentally" burnt down years ago in order to replace them with glass and chrome horrors on which no sod could afford the rent. That and slightly ropey ex-England and Leeds midfield spoilers see it as a good place to set up fish-flogging emporia. Or something like that. The match itself was eventful both on the pitch and off. On the pitch Halifax Town will have been chastened by the comparative hiding they took from Stockport County, a club one level below them. Mind you given that Halifax went bust recently but have now returned to the top level of non-league whereas Stockport have gone from the second tier of league football to the sixth tier overall in just over a decade in the grand scheme of things they should feel better.

Halifax's ground, the Shay, was once proverbially ramshackle but it's had a right good overhaul in recent years and we took our seat in a well-appointed main stand, not far ahead of an odd looking individual, who appeared a cross between Necro Butcher and a scarecrow. Had we known then that we know I suspect we would have sat elsewhere but Necrocrow, clearly a local maniac, proceeded to spend the entire match talking to no-one in particular about all sorts of weirdness. It's fairly standard practice at these sort of levels that if a player has recently arrived at a club from the other end of the country and/or has been signed on a short-term deal that he is put up in a hotel locally at the club's expense. Such an arrangement can annoy supporters if the player in question doesn't perform on the pitch but for Necrocrow it went further - the player in question was, by virtue of living in a hotel, a Nazi who provided nothing but death. He was detested for the fact that his only profession was football but another player who was part-time and also worked as a barber was roundly condemned as "namby-pamby" and needing to be hit with a medicine ball as Necrocrow respected no profession other than hod carrying (although his insane ramblings, combined with his scrawny physique, rather suggest that his own money is derived solely from mental disability payments rather than carrying shovels of bricks up ladders). Other gems he told us included the fact that the world would run out of water in five years (something else that I think was somehow hotel boy's fault) and that Chelsea and England full-back Ashley Cole is afraid of grass (so what's that stuff he's been making his living on for the past fifteen years?). A chap behind us eventually tired of Necrocrow's warped stream of consciousness and, after advising him in the vernacular to "stop away, then", began throwing in expletives and threats of violence to the hotel hater. Only I doubt Necrocrow will ever stop away, being one of those bizarre supporters who goes to every match home and away, not to mention reserve and youth team games, despite publicly claiming to hate the club and everything associated with it and despite his attendance appearing to fill him with so much anger. Nutter, but he'll be at the Shay until he dies and then his ghost will come back to spend the entire match complaining about how cold Hell is and how bad Asmodeus' arse stinks.

In common with the rest of the British isles, Sunday in Leeds is a very truncated day on which things open for only a few hours so we managed only a bit of mooching before the shutters went up. It wasn't helped by the fact that the Gay Pride march was taking place that day. Put it down to a lifetime of living in Belfast and having to endure the Orange Order but all parades, regardless of their purpose, get royally on my wick and the annual rainbow flag procession is no exception. Rain worthy of the Book of Genesis arrived later on so I beat a retreat and left them to it. The rain continued through the night and into Monday although by the time we ventured out it had more or less dried up and we were able to pay a visit to Leeds Royal Armoury. I had been troubled a series of vivid nightmares the night before, the sort I only ever get when running a bad temperature (and sure enough I feel a tad on the flu side today), and as such I wasn't at my most chipper but we still managed to see the sights on offer, some of which were captured here. Some more Medieval hunting tapestries would have been a good addition as the wonky rabbit head in this one raised some ribaldry but in general it was a nice place which I must revisit at some stage when in better fettle. With the day done I took my leave for an evening flight home, a surprisingly bearable effort which, uniquely in my experience, actually left and arrived early. Wonders never cease. And at least I wasn't detained for questioning by the PSNI this time, as I was when I arrived back from London last month.

As I said earlier I'm feeling somewhat ropey now (although I put that down to a soaking I took in Ballymena in the middle of last week) but it's good to catch up with the kith and kin once again and to add another ground to my expanding list. Good show.

Cor blimey

Jul. 17th, 2013 10:13 pm
keresaspa: (Albert Gladstone Trotter)
Hello you. Yes it was London time again recently but I got back too late last night to record my exploits. Never fear, I'm here now to "entertain" the reading some with every minor detail. "Enjoy".

Hit it )
keresaspa: (Piggy Banks)
Well, that's me for a while as I'm off to London at a ludicrous time tomorrow morning. I am looking at the weather forecast with a sense of sickness and foreboding as it appears temperatures on Saturday will likely hit around thirty degrees. Far too much for a very sweaty, very lardy man such as myself (though, fifteen is far too much for me frankly) and as we all know heat is bad, heat in a city is worse but heat in a city on a Saturday is worst of all. If you see a large pool of goo bobbing down the Thames in a few days time you'll know it's just me and that I've melted.

Just a quick one as I must go and prepare for the horrendous horrors that await me i.e. early morning car travel, flight and underground trains. Have fun, won't you.
keresaspa: (Piggy Banks)
In a diversion from the norm I found myself heading eastwards this weekend for a spell in Yorkshire. As those of you who also subscribe to the Winter Palace will already be aware [ profile] queenmartina has bade farewell to the delights of Glencairn, Ligoniel, Turf Lodge and the Village and swapped it for the delights of Otley, Gildersome, Potternewton and Morley by swapping Belfast for Leeds. With this in mind yours truly was roped in to add rippling muscle/sagging flab (delete as applicable) to proceedings by accompanying her over for the Big MoveTM.

Friday started with a minimum of fuss. A taxi ride to the Middle of Sodding Nowhere Airport (Belfast International to you, Sunny Jim) saw the driver take a tortuous route through the mountains beyond the Glen Road (where GAA grounds abound for some reason) although ultimately it proved a fairly sensible option, avoiding as it did the worst of the traffic. The flight itself was equally painless, being virtually empty, leaving on time and arriving early. Leaving Leeds Bradford Airport, another taxi hauled us to leafy Headingly, the location of the new homestead, where [ profile] burkesworks and a load of boxes awaited. A session of my speciality - donkey work - followed, trailing the boxes upstairs and decanting the contents from therein. Too knackered for owt after that so a jaunt out locally for a bite of pizza was all that could be done that night. Were I only a fan of either cricket or rugby league I would have been laughing as the flat overlooks the Carnegie Stadium but neither the sound of leather willow nor portly northern gentlemen twisting each other's ears appeals.

Loathe as I was to miss my weekly dose of live football [ profile] burkesworks and myself took our leave on Saturday afternoon to go and watch the famous Bradford Park Avenue (their words, not mine) taking on the might of Solihull Moors in the Conference North. It was a new experience for yours truly, as I had never experienced the English game at this level before, but I found the Horsfall Stadium to be a decent ground that would not have looked out of place in our own Irish League. The action too was of a decidedly Irish League standard, with Avenue (or "Aven-yooooh" as the elderly chap close behind us was wont to howl at irregular intervals) very much in ascendancy for the vast majority of the match, particularly down the flanks. Unfortunately for BPA, who seemed unsure whether their club colours were green and white or red, yellow and black, they were well short of quality upfront and what should have been a thumping win ended up only a 1-0 triumph. Still, good larf and a worthy substitute for my usual fayre, whilst the mini-museum in their clubhouse was fascinating to the point where I reckon I could do a decent job on Mastermind answering questions on Len Shackleton following my visit.

I spent the Sunday in the city centre, although the shorter opening hours meant that I didn't get to see everything as I would have liked. A tip of the hat to the St John's Centre, a small shopping centre which contains two music shops and sundry discount retailers, a combination that I can only presume was designed specifically in anticipation of my visit, given my well documented love of buying CDs and discount tat. Smashing. I've been informed there is a market I should visit and a doll's shop that is likely to weird me out and be darling in equal measures but they will have to wait for another time as they were closed. Boo.

Monday was when I took my leave. After a scout round the local hokeys to see what could be seen we caught the bus out to a slummy area that resembled our own Harryville, from where I bade goodbye to [ profile] queenmartina and [ profile] burkesworks to get on my way back to the airport. With the weather having taken a sudden and unexpected turn to the apocalyptic the journey home was inevitably more of an ordeal with the plane delayed (only for a while admittedly), my stomach taking a boo-boo near the end of the flight and a long wait in the lashing rain for the bus back to Belfast from Middle of Sodding Nowhere Airport. Still, I made it in the end as this post demonstrates.

All in all a decent break from the norm. I'm feeling a might unwell today, due to a lack of sleep, the general pains from the donkey work and kipping on a settee, not to mention the fact that the snow made a brief return last night, chilling me to the bone but doing my bit and seeing new places was a fine way to spend my time.
keresaspa: (Boycie)
That's me back from England then. I'm nursing an injured right leg for my trouble but it was a fun time as I shall now elaborate upon.

keresaspa: (Lester and Eliza)
It's all gravy now of course. Well, there was a kerfuffle where the end of dinner was interrupted by a delivery of shopping arriving at the front door at precisely the same moment as the phone decided to ring but for now I am happily ensconced with my feet up, enjoying the latest effort from Amy Macdonald (a marked improvement on the previous one, so well done young lady). That will go tomorrow obviously when the blue funk descends. The day before one goes away is always right pain in the arse after all. The very act of packing is an insufferable chore, trying to balance bringing what you will need against taking too much and fighting in vain to keep ironed items from wrinkling too much. Then there's the fuss of changing one currency for another (they might keep telling us that we're British but try using some of the local money in England and see how far you get), not to mention my old fear of flying kicking in again. I haven't flown since October and it was during a balmy Indian summer that I did so, thus the prospect of flying through the rain that now dominates every day is not exactly making me feel chipper. On top of that I really do find the tube from Heathrow to King's Cross deeply unendurable. The thought of an underground train, as appealing as Lord Kitchener made it sound, is something of an anathema to a claustrophobic like myself but to be on it for the guts of an hour, having just endured being in a floating sardine tin, is all quite upsetting really.

Once I'm finally in London and off the tube it will all be fine (barring six days of diluvian rain of the sort that has infested Belfast for several months now) but it really does make you wonder when the hell they're finally going to get round to those teleporters they promised us. Right now the head of a housefly and being shot by the Brobdingnagian Geena Davis seems decidedly preferable to being crushed for over an hour a blooming aeroplane. Holidays, don't you just love 'em?!


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