Paris

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 )

Edinburgh

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.

DC talk

Mar. 24th, 2012 09:07 pm
keresaspa: (Ye olde Harry Secombe)
Despite living in Belfast (not sure if I've mentioned that I live there yet, but now you know) and being nominally a Cliftonville supporter (I was a regular around 1996-98) it has been several years since I put in an appearance at an Irish League ground. Today however, on a whim rather than anything else, I finally broke my duck. It hadn't been my intention as such but the others are out of town, I woke up rather early for a Saturday and it was much too fine a spring day to lounge around watching Jeff Stelling so I opted to get back to the match. I was faced with a straight choice between Crusaders-Carrick Rangers, Glentoran-Ballymena or Donegal Celtic-Cliftonville, the only three games in Belfast today. Glentoran-Ballymena was rejected immediately as they are far too loyalist and their ground is too hard to reach if you don't know all the back-streets round the Oval like the back of your hand (which I don't). My previously mentioned loyalty to the Reds meant that spending an afternoon with the Crues was hardly desirable and, although Seaview is easy to reach, their loyalism tipped the balance in favour of the Fenian derby.

Donegal Celtic Park is a good seven miles away from me and the club are recent additions to the Irish League scene so as a result I had not been there before and indeed had never actually set foot on the Suffolk Road in my life. Still luckily the bus goes straight past it, although keeping an eye out for the stop in the wilds of the west had me somewhat on tenterhooks. Despite my Red allegiances I ended up taking my place amongst the home support at the stadium. Well I say stadium for, whilst admittedly Donegal Celtic Park does have a rather picturesque location in the mountains, it is stretching credibility a bit to call it a stadium. The part I was in consisted of about a third of a stand, with two much smaller bits of seating whilst facing that was another third of a stand with a big walkway leading off the Suffolk Road. Behind both goals was a grass verge with no stands whatsoever. Spit and sawdust doesn't do it justice.

The action, such as there was, was pretty ropey too. Cliftonville were clearly the better team and had the upper hand for most of the match, apart from a brief period before half-time when DC got a head of steam going. DC played pretty defensively but neither team was any great shakes with stray passes being hit left right and centre, not helped by a very poor pitch, and the game getting a bit niggly (well, between the teams it was, the supporters, being all Fenians, mixed freely as they saw fit and at least one Cliftonville supporter spent the whole match in the DC stand). Martin Donnelly, a rare Northern Ireland international in the Irish League, was by some distance the Reds best player whilst Liam Boyce also looked a cut above the rest during an off-the bench cameo. Mention must also go to two Cliftonville players by the name of Scannell, with the mumblenews doing the announcements informing us that Cliftonville featured "number fee, Ronan Scallion". For DC the main player was Ryan Henderson, invariably referred to by the supporters as "Hendo" and clearly the blue-eyed boy amongst the watching dozens of the Upper Falls. However the mob of little girls to my left, apparently part of the Donegal Celtic ladies youth teams, only had eyes for Darren Murray, a strapping spide who huffed and puffed to little effect in attack and had his name shrieked for the entirety of the match by said little madams, apart from when they were going round with the buckets fundraising. In Gerard McVeigh meanwhile DC were cursed with a calamity keeper who from the word go was flapping at crosses and straying out of position. In his defence he made one good save in the first half and he couldn't do very much for Ciaran Caldwell's Cliftonville opener not long after half-time but the Reds second goal was laughable with Boyce hitting the post, the ball hitting McVeigh and going in the net to howls of derision. The announcer charitably told those of us in attendance that the goal had been scored by Liam Boyce but if that doesn't get given as a McVeigh own goal then I'm a Dutchman (which I am partly, but never mind). In the end a 2-0 win for Cliftonville was more than justified and if anything DC, who are anonymous in mid-table unlike Cliftonville who are chasing a European place having only very recently dropped out of the title picture, were lucky to get away without a bigger hiding.

Either way though it was good to get back to the blood and thunder of the Irish League after all these years. Despite being a dundering-in and despite being nowhere near me DC Park provided a grand old way to spend a fine Spring Saturday. I may well have to start going back to the football more often as it's a good laugh and the anticipation of a match is exhilarating despite the generally poor standards of play. Good show.
keresaspa: (I got the last dodo!)
Jolly old fun had today showing my man [livejournal.com profile] burkesworks round the seedy underbelly of this dirty old town I call home. Well, what visit to Belfast would be complete with seeing the brutal beauty of the Falls and Shankill as well as the rather more resplendent, if sadly derelict, majesty of Crumlin Road courthouse? Let the tourist board say what they want, the real Belfast is in the estates not these ghastly Titanic vanity projects that they are throwing millions at. Plus there's nothing I like better than having a captive audience to dump all my pointless knowledge. Glad to see you, mucker and haste ye back. Oh and a heads up for the pair of you - Frank Carson's cortege is liable to a royal pain round Clifton Street tomorrow morning. Even in death he's a wheeler and Wilson.

And finally a strange coincidence came to light yesterday, perhaps another that might be placed into the recently discussed file known as Twilight Zone. Consider the evidence:

*29th February - David Jones dies.
*1st March - David Jones becomes manager of Sheffield Wednesday.

Who says that Leap Day isn't a magical, mystical time? If Ena Sharples turns up at Hillsborough and calls the burly Scouse play-off blower her grandson then we'll know this really is the world's final year after all.
keresaspa: (Fletch)
So goodbye to Don Fabio then. The time he should have took John Terry's part was the time he whipped him (so he dirtied some mare that had previously gone round with his team mate, big fizz) whilst the time he should have distanced himself from Terry he backed him (innocent until proven guilty sure but the sudden resurgence in racism in football needs to be nipped in the bud and Matthew Kelly was off Stars in Their Eyes when he was under allegations of noncery). He flip-flopped over goalkeepers at the World Cup to the extent that he effectively killed off Robert Green as an international and saw his team humbled by a mighty Germany side in the same tournament. On the other hand he blitzed the European Championship qualifiers and had turned England in a hideously dull and ugly side that nonetheless was so infuriatingly frustrating to watch that they recalled memories of the reprehensibly attritional Greece team that bored its way to victory in the same tournament in 2004. Given that Harry Redknapp was cleared of being a geezer (there's no justice like rich man's justice) on the very day that Capello pissed off, given that he has spent the last two years virtually offering sexual favours to the FA in return for the England job, given that he is adored by the press and given that his managerial record of a single FA Cup win and two clubs bankrupted (possibly a third if Tottenham ever actually look at the king's ransom he has blown there) is second to none in the game it is inevitable that old putty puss will be in charge before long. Of course that raises the spectre of the aforementioned Tottenham Coldpricks waving their man off into the sunset just as they are in the middle of their doomed attempt to win the league. Some chance, meaning that either a wholly unsatisfactory for both Tottenham and England arrangement in which Redknapp finishes the season with Spurs whilst also managing England part time might follow, or else a rush job where some stooge like Stuart Pearce holds the fort just long enough for the team to collapse into mush only for a liberated H to pitch up in June to start as new boss a week or two before the start of the tournament in the manner so beloved by Nigeria before each first round exit at the World Cup. Obviously England remain favourites for the European championships despite this (they're England after all and as such must be favourites for every tournament they enter despite only having won one out of twenty in which they have participated) but the odds just might have gone from 50 to 1 on to only 10 to 1 on. Personally I reckon when Fabio signs his contract at Anzhi Makhachkala, Terek Grozny or some similar mysteriously minted Russian side he will be glad to get away from the whole circus and to leave all the entire crock of shit to Redknapp. And believe you me, having spent today in the rarefied climes of Portadown (a landlocked town in County Armagh, obviously) I know a crock of shit when I see one. To gaze upon the vacant lots of the Meadows on a wet February afternoon is to truly wonder why people don't worship beauty. And you think you have it bad, Fab?!

Still if Ken Snyder had ever stopped his God-bothering for five minutes he might just have become Brute Force. Really makes you think doesn't it? No, me neither.

Me again

Sep. 30th, 2011 08:19 pm
keresaspa: (Mrs Mack)
Sorry about the sudden break in communication there (like you even noticed) but I have been out of town since Monday. Yes as a late birthday present I hit the road and spent four night in Edinburgh. And a fine time it was too.

It is fair to say that if somebody is at an airport there is an overwhelming probability that they will be either a numb-nuts or a poop-nose. Certainly that is very much the case at Belfast International Airport and my intense hatred of flying was not altered by either experience this time. It's not just the flights themselves (even though they are extremely unpleasant) it is the whole rigmarole that goes along with them, be it having to turn up for a journey a good two hours before it happens, the fact that airports are never anywhere near the places that they are named after or all the unnecessary security fascism that continues a full ten years after the Twin Towers. I mean we can board buses without all that rubbish and they get blown up all the time. So as a consequence of flying being generally crap it was well after four before I arrived in Edinburgh proper and that meant a mad dash from my hotel to Easter Road to get there before five. Yes, for some reason I decided I would go and watch the Hibernian-St. Johnstone match and so I had to get to the ticket office before it closed. No problem in the end leaving me a bit of time to knock about Greyfriars and Cockburn Street where a hipster record shop proved a surprisingly good source of Turkish psychedelia. I managed to explore bits of Leith in the evening before settling down to a fish supper. Kudos to the Scots for continuing to use "supper" rather than the English invention of "and chips" but a big thumbs down for the choice of condiments. Salt and vinegar are, of course, a must, but brown sauce on a fish supper is wrong on so many levels that I don't even know where to begin. The hotel itself was reasonable but I was forced to rescan their Freeview box as it wasn't giving me Challenge TV, which is obviously essential viewing.

On a whim I boarded the train on Tuesday morning and spent the day in scenic Glasgow. Some decent shopping was had but I must say I found the layout of the city very confusing and the fact that a good percentage of the population seemed to be permanently pissed was a little disconcerting. Not a bad day but I'm glad I decided to make Glasgow the city for the day trip and Edinburgh the city to stay in as I much prefer Auld Reekie to Glesga. So about five o'clock I was ready to mosey only to find that my ticket kept being rejected. Consulting with a guard I was told it was an off-peak ticket and as such was invalid until half six unless I paid a bit extra to upgrade. Checking with the ticket office I found out that the "bit extra" was actually £8.40. What a rip-off! Suffice to say I told them to shove it and arsed about for an hour and a half.

A pre-planned route, drawn with the aid of Google Maps some time earlier, was followed on Wednesday, taking me up North Bridge and that as far as Salisbury Place, along the Grange Road and stuff before eventually jigging down Brunsfield as far as Fountainbridge. Inevitably on Google Maps things like that look a straight run that should take about 45 minutes. Inevitably in real life however street signs go walkabout, turnings appear out of nowhere and 45 minutes turns into three hours before you know it. The baking heat, apparently the hottest 28th September on record, didn't help but it was a pleasant enough way to spend the afternoon. Never in my life have I seen so many people who look just like Michelle McManus and I was equally overwhelmed by the ratio of branches of Greggs to supermarkets with salad bars (the mystery of those table-topping performances in the world heart attack leagues becomes less mysterious) but it was a fine way to spend a day nonetheless. The evening was spent at Easter Road in a weird mix of summer and autumn with shirt sleeves temperatures combining with floodlights from the word go. Having not been in a big stadium for around a decade I was initially overwhelmed by the size of the place and took a brief dizzy spell. Before long however I got used to it and I actually seemed very close to the action when it kicked off. The game itself was a belter. In quality terms it was well short of the English game but streets ahead of our local scene and it was interesting to see how inconspicuous the referee was. Challenges that might have brought a red card in England were ignored and the game flowed better for it. Approaching the game as a neutral I soon got caught up in cheering on Hibernian and they didn't disappoint, scoring a couple of excellent goals and a penalty and even conceding a late one to set up a grandstand finish. Top stuff, the Hibees were worth their 3-2 win and Ivan Sproule looked a hell of a player, one eye or not. Magic!

The scorching heat continued on Thursday as I spent the day wandering around the city. I've been to Edinburgh plenty of times before but have never seen a lot of the sights and so I rectified that by taking in the Parliament, the castle, a bunch of old churches and graveyards and the punishing Calton Hill, where I found myself feeling somewhat overcome by heat stroke. By that stage the early darkness was arriving again, combining once more with scorching temperatures, a combination that seemed almost otherworldly. But it was good stuff either way and I thoroughly enjoyed my time catching up with this fine old city again. The journey home was hellish to say the least, involving as it did four hour waits, pissed-up loyalists and standing in the lashing rain for half an hour waiting on a bus but who cares about all that as everything else was just dandy. Good show.
keresaspa: (Terry-Thomas)
Hello again. I arrived back from London yesterday and now the inevitable load of waffle about what I dided must follow. So sit back and enjoy or run along and play, whichever you prefer.

Cut for length )
keresaspa: (James Connolly)
As part of a recent determination to loose some of my bulk (22 lbs so far, but I'm not getting into that as weight loss discussions really bore me and so I'm not inflicting them on anybody) I am attempting to walk a lot more and so today I took a run out to Park Centre, an out of town shopping centre on the largely loyalist Donegal Road but near the republican Falls Road. Unexciting place really but for once I was in the area for a reason other than blood sacrifice so it gave me a chance to explore a little bit. And as you know by now that means photos for you all to "enjoy".

More pictures of murals and that so cut )
keresaspa: (Ray Meagher)
It's funny the things that can make you feel like you are back in your childhood again. My peregrinations today took me to the northern outskirts of the city centre where, upon exiting one of those seedy underground walkways frequented by glue sniffers, dragon chasers, national Bolsheviks and similar human carrion, in order to cross from Whitla Street to York Road I was greeted by the below sight.

Fun for the whole family )
keresaspa: (Cookie Kwan)
So the big snow finally went and a sudden unexpected heat wave of sorts has replaced it. For my part it is something of a good thing as at least my heat is (sort of) working again although having to sleep in the living room (with precious little actual sleep being had due to an aversion I have to being too near the floor) and the disruption it engendered did rather make the whole Christmastide a bit more of a chore than I would have liked. Still the snow was, in retrospect, picturesque and, as is the case with every fall of snow we have now, must be recorded for posterity thus:

Snow )

But the snow is now a memory and yesterday a venesection was due with the promise that I might soon be given a respite by being switched onto once every three months rather than once every fortnight. No sooner had I set out to catch the bus than I noticed something unusual about the two big houses facing my stop.

The story continues )

So that's the end of that chapter. Another attempt will be made tomorrow when I will no doubt be told that there are no doctors in the entire hospital and that I should come back every day for the next six months on the off chance that one deigns to grace us with his presence. Either that or I'll touch for another sprog who has never done the blasted procedure before, doesn't know how to clamp a simple tube and doesn't know what ferritin means as happened last time. Fun all the way.

Oh and I suppose, just in case anybody is reading this, other than the usual hordes who descend on this journal wanting only pictures of Lorraine Kelly and Juliette Binoche (always give em what they want), I should say a happy new year to all. Which I just did.
keresaspa: (Karl Marx laughing)
Well my annual London pilgrimage has come to an end and I'm still feeling a tad worn-out. However between seeing one of my favourite bands, visiting the resting place of my leader, catching up with some good friends and adding to the collections it was well worth the effort. Permit me to elaborate.

The third way )
keresaspa: (Rasputin)
Were I a sensible man I would be in bed right now, sleeping off the after effects of the week in London. Still, despite my physical exhaustion, I still feel compelled to come on here and report on events whilst I can still remember them in relative detail. A silly boy I surely am but these things need to be recorded for posterity before I go senile. So without further ado:

2009: A London Odyssey )

So all in all London proved a rare old treat. Good times had with delightful people, plenty of exploration done and loads of new stuff to keep me amused. Top banana, although now my bed is calling me too much to resist so I'll end this hoo-ha and let you all get on. Ta-ta.
keresaspa: (Captain Mainwaring)
Yikes, what a day. I decided to go for a stroll whilst I wait for an e-mail from the honcho (long bloody wait, son). Something in my head told me to take a walk up the Donegal Road just to see what was there. Nowt, in a word. Bloody ghost town. But I digress. Now, I'm not terribly familiar with the Donegal Road but I was labouring under the impression that a number of streets link it directly to the Lisburn Road, with which I am more familiar. Wrong again, chum. I took a chance on Donegal Avenue and soon ended up lost in the maze of backstreets that constitutes loyalist south-west Belfast. A good half hour of fannying around finally led me to the back of Windsor Park from where I had to navigate one of those pedestrian fly-over things that attract all sorts of glue-sniffers and booze-bags. This eventually led me to yet more interlocking slum streets before I finally ended up at near enough the Balmoral end of the Lisburn Road (completely the wrong end for where I was going, but at least I finally had an idea where I was). All this with a constant spray of that hateful fine rain that soaks you through and the resulting oppressive heat that invariably accompanies it. A pleasant day in some ways, a bloody waste of a day in other ways. Next time I get the notion to wander, somebody slap me. That being said, I haven't been over Cregagh in a while!

Oh oh woo!

Oct. 14th, 2004 03:25 pm
keresaspa: (Captain Mainwaring)
I knew it. Went to see the old honcho today and the bugger has only gone and sprung two essays on me. Saucy git. He's lucky he didn't cop an unfortunate one for his trouble. I'm not too fussed really as I've sort of been expecting them and they are just retoolings of already written ones. Still news like that always feels like a kick in the goolies.

Sleep has completely left me these days. After three nights of nothing I attempted to tire myself out on Wednesday by taking a stroll out to Carlisle Circus and back (about ten miles or so) but to no avail. Tried to bed down early and lay there wide awake. Finished up watching the tail-end of the Kerry-Bush debate and was struck by how nervous and gibbering the two of them were. Kerry just about shaded it but it was no great shakes. Still anybody would be preferable to four more years of old Mr Inbred so he'll have to do.

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