A few questions about 2010

20 December 2010

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Bought a flat, got engaged, appeared in court in Brooklyn, New York…

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I try my best not to make them. It’s always a disappointment when I don’t keep them. But I remember last year’s:
· Love a little more;
· Worry a little less;
· Be more honest;
· Be a little smarter;
· Pause a little more;
· Keep up the exercise;
· Say what’s on my mind, but not so much that it’s destructive;
· Work a little harder, but not drive myself into the ground;
· Be a little more me.
And I believe I have kept every one.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes, my sister. And I am now a very very proud Uncle for the first time.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
I don’t think anybody who was very close to me died this year.

5. What countries/cities did you visit?
Oh my! USA (New York) Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Scotland, Italy (Venice, Naples and Sorrento). That can’t be it surely?

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

More luck, more money, more job security.

7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
8th March, a special birthday, and a special proposal. And the party a few days later.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting a new job just weeks before people from my old one were made redundant.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I tend to block failure from my mind.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes, norovirus, and numerous colds and strange muscle/stomach things. No broken bones this year.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My new Digital SLR. My flat.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Anyone who’s coped with me.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
I tend not to be appalled and depressed, just disappointed.

14. Where did most of your money go?
On the new flat probably! Rent, mortgage, fees and furniture. And travel.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Moving flat, getting engaged, and going on holiday!

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
I’m not sure there’s a particular song, but an album: The ArchAndroid by Janelle Monae. There’s also Empire State of Mind.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you…
i. happier or sadder?
Happier, my happiness increases annually.

ii. thinner or fatter?
About the same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I’d had the time and willpower to do more exercise. And reading, I certainly wish I had read more.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
More of nothing – literally. You know those days. They’re rare, but they happen.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
In Canada with my partner and family I hope. If my rescheduled flight leaves, after I was thrown off one on 18th December after 5 hours on the tarmac.

21. How will you be spending New Years?
In the midlands with my own family for “second Christmas”

22. Did you fall in love in 2009?
Yes. All over again.

23. How many one night stands?
None.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Hmmm. This year has been coloured by Family Guy, the Winter Olympics, Ugly Betty and Glee.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don’t think I hate anyone.

26. What was the best book you read?
Peter Mandelson’s autobiography.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Janelle Monae!

28. What did you want and get?
I want for very little.

29. What did you want and not get?
Probably job security.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
The Ghost – about a ghost writer. Incredible movie.

31. What did you do on your birthday?
Went for dinner, got engaged, and had a special birthday party a few days later.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More holiday in the sun.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Very “me”.

34. What kept you sane?
Friends.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Hmmm. Good question, and one I am not sure I can answer.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I’m not going to answer this but people who know me know what my general political views are. There have been many many issues that have stirred me this year.

37. Who did you miss?
My Gran.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Hmmm. They’re not new people – I have known them since before this year. But only met them properly this year: David E and Chris M. But they’re both out-shone by the best new person I have ever met: my baby Niece, Imogen.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
Life is what you make it.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Our love will sail in this ark
The world could end outside our window
Let’s find forever
And write our name in fire on each other’s hearts

41. Was 2010 a good year for you?
It was, yes.

42. What were your favourite moments of the year?
I’m having three: my birthday, lying on the Barcelonetta, getting the keys to my flat

43. What was your least favourite moment of the year?
Being sat on a plane for five hours in a snowstorm, going nowhere – and the subsequent cancellation and inability to get through to Air France. Oh and getting a summons in New York together with the subsequent court appearance.

44. What was your favourite month of 2010?
Can I have three? February, March and July

45. What was your favourite song from 2010?
I’m sticking to Janelle Monae’s whole album here…

46. What was your favourite record from 2010?
See above

47. How many concerts did you see in 2010?
Three?

48. Did you have a favourite concert in 2010?
Scissor Sisters. And Goldfrapp.

49. Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year?
I tend not to get ashamed of things I do.

50. What was the worst lie someone told you in 2010?
I can’t think of a lie I told.

51. Did you treat somebody badly in 2010?
I don’t think I did.

52. Did somebody treat you badly in 2010?
I don’t believe so.

53. How much money did you spend in 2010?
Too much!

54. What was your proudest moment of 2010?
Becoming an uncle.

55. If you could go back in time to any moment of 2010 and change something, what would it be?
There’s nothing I’d ever change.

56. What are your plans for 2011?
Keeping a job, and getting married.


Exploring Catalonia

19 July 2010

We’re off to Barcelona today. Well, flying to Barcelona, staying in Sitges and Barcelona, then exploring Catalonia by car. Building on my love of maps I decided to try and map the holiday. Click here to see the full itinerary.


Pasty white boy…

19 July 2010

…going on holiday to Barcelona in mid-June? I’d better pack protection!


NYC: Signs of America

1 March 2010

There are some very amusing signs around New York. Here are just a few.

Receiving King Charles

The Midas Touch?


Boris Magic Touch – Incorporated

Anti-healthy health-food cafe/store


Earthmatters, Organic Foods, Free Delivery, We Are What We Fat

99 Cent Dreams


Red Hook, Brooklyn: “99 Cent Dreant, Everything 99 Cents or More”


Goods are clearly marked-up at 99 Cent Dream, Manhatten: “99 Cent Dreams, Everything $1 and Up”


That explains things a little more… They appear to have blacked-out the neon sign saying “Everything 99 Cents or Less”


I Love Man

18 August 2009

So I’m on a train now, returning already from the Isle of Man. I was, after all, only there for a wedding on Saturday (which I must say was an amazing and stunning affair).

It’s a very beautiful Island. Part British seaside-town (Douglas, at least), part Celtic and mildly irish it is a fascinating combination of cultures.

It is a self-governing Crown dependency and the head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann, but is not Monarch. It is neither part of the UK, nor the EU. But foreign relations and defence are the responsibility of the government of the United Kingdom. The Island is inhabited by about 80,000 people, and it’s approximately 32 miles (51 km) long and between 8 miles (13 km) and 15 miles (24 km) wide, and has an area of around 221 square miles (570 km2). A passport issued on the Isle of Man says “British Islands – Isle of Man” on the cover but the nationality status stated on the passport is “British Citizen”. Despite this, because the Island doesn’t have membership of the EU you do not have the same rights as non Mann British citizens. It’s complex huh!

Yet one of our taxi drivers spent 25 minutes ranting rabidly about those foreigners coming over and taking their jobs. Not me, mind you “those non-whites” he said, although quickly clarified “non Islanders, I mean” – like who? – “you know, those Asians, and the Eastern Bloc, those Bulgarians”. It was like having a taped version of the Daily Mail played on a loop for the journey down country roads where at any point he could have pulled over and stabbed the two gays in the back of his car (!) He even blamed “the British Government” for selling the Isle of Man down the swanny.

The Parliament of the United Kingdom has paramount power to legislate for the Isle of Man on all matters but it is a long-standing convention that it does not do so on domestic (‘insular’) matters without Tynwald’s [the Manx parliament] consent. Apparently, the Isle of Man has had several disputes with the European Court of Human Rights because it was late to change its laws concerning corporal punishment and sodomy. The Isle of Man was once known to be rather homophobic, and gay sex has only been legal since 1992. More recently the age of consent was equalised – in 2006.

Despite the fact that whenever I said the name of the Island I tripped over my own words accidentally saying I Love Man, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to grow up as a young gay man on the island. Even on our short trip, the hotel “double (not twin) room please” scenario and looks and [rather blatant] stares made me an uncomfortable gay outsider. I’ve obviously been to worse places (Warsaw, pár example, or gay pride in Galway where a man outside the bar wielding a rather large kitchen knife forced us to lock ourselves in), but provincial attitudes aren’t really my scene.

It reminded me on some ways of my growing up in small-town midlands. My home town is about the same size. But I could escape easily. Half an hour on the train to Birmingham allowed me, growing up, to get out of the town which could at times feel choking. Small town middle England isn’t for me. But on the Isle of Man (OK the landmass is significant, but there are still only 80,000 people) it’s not as easy to escape. There are no 30 minute train rides: it’s a 3 or 5 hours ferry ride to England.

I’ll try to post some of the amazing pictures when I have a moment. If I have a moment. I’m off to Bristol for work then to Copenhagen and Stockholm for a holiday this week. Right now, though, I just want to get home and to bed.


Flying South

23 January 2009

So last Friday, after leaving a job I’d been doing for 5 1/2 years I went on a short holiday for some winter sun. Well, I had some time off work so thought, why not! It was the kind of holiday I’d never had one to go on before. Three hen parties, lots of young families and the odd gay boy flying with EasyJet to Las Palmas airport in Gran Canaria with us.

We had an “oh my gosh I’m on the kind of holiday parents take” moment, you know, when you arrive at the airport, hire a car and drive to the coastal resort to pick up the keys for your accommodation. It was certainly not like my normal holidays which more often involve a train or bus from the airport for a city break.

We stayed in Playa del Ingles which, in itself, is multiple holiday destinations: the hen parties and ‘lads’ holidays, families, gays and hundreds of snowbirds – though these were mostly older German couples there for a quite some time.

The beach though was amazing, the dunes great to walk over, and the weather warm (not hot, but warm) and hot when the sun was clear. We also spent a day driving inland – well worth doing if you ever find yourself on holiday in Gran Canaira… Amazing scenery although scary roads (narrow, mountainous, winding and with large coaches driving in the opposite direction). We drove to Fataga and San Bartholomew.

Of course, returning to London after six days was quite a shock, cold, wet and rainy – a months worth of rain fell in just 12 hours yesterday. Despite how much I love living in London, and how much I wouldn’t want to live in Gran Canaria, it does sometimes make me whether somewhere warmer would be more enjoyable – perhaps I’ll become a snowbird myself… Or perhaps I’ll just keep hoping – as usual – that we get some kind of summer in London this year. And if not then I’ll keep my promise to myself to go to South America next winter…

At least after all my wisdom tooth problems I can start to eat properly again and, even better, cook properly! Now I have to start preparing for my new job… an exciting task ahead of me


holiday food: blog 1

29 July 2008

So a step into food blogging. Other than a blow by blow account of a wonderful holiday by train between Paris and Italy how else could I blog a trip like this?

With first stop Paris, and an inability to get seated in our restaurant of choice we ended up at a meat-dominated grill. I say meat, but to a vegetarian this meat was almost walking off my partner’s plate. Or just swimming in blood. They did, however, cook a fabulous Omlette for me. The following day however, we managed to make a reservation at a restaurant recommended to me by a masseur – (!). Le Petit Prince de Paris, pretty hidden away in the Latin quarter with very rich food and flirtatious Garçons, I was very impressed. They made a vegetarian plate for me and the Pistachio Crème brûlée, lit at the table, was probably the most memorable part of any holiday meal…

One of the days in Rome a transport strike meant getting between our accommodation and the city was difficult. We were unsure where to go and ended up at what we think may be a chain restaurant. However unlike the feeling you get when going to Little Chef or Nandos and similar, you realise that Italian chain restaurants cook fresh pasta and use fresh ingredients. And there I tried Trofie for the first time. A short and relatively dense gnocchi type pasta (cooked with saffron and courgette/zucchini) I was so impressed I simply needed to buy a box before returning.

[More food related blogs to come]


Returning

27 July 2008

I’ve unashamedly been keeping my distance from the news recently – holidays are great for that… and had no real desire to get back into it too much since my return. More dismay for the labour party isn’t something I want to engage in too much, but I appear, unfortunately to have missed some interesting thing I would normally have been blogging on.

Despite the exuberant gayness of the weeks I’ve missed I haven’t heard any more from Heinz, despite the fact the Advertising Standards Authority won’t be investigating. Yesterday I bought Sainsbury’s organic baked beans… I also missed out on the fun of Iris Robinson’s descent into madness and it’s implications for the Tory and DUP partnership. Lighter news I missed may have been a second resignation in two months for Boris Johnson, and another appointment. I’ve even not commented on the Evening Standard’s assertion that there are more gays in the London tory party than on Old Compton Street (they’re trying to fight political correctness don’t you know)…

And sadly I was somewhere travelling through the Alps while the Pride parade, attended by 825,000 people (!), and Boris’s pink stetson, were winding their way through London’s streets. I’m also missing this year’s Europride in Stockholm after the holiday took all my money and time over the last few weeks. And the need for a night in led to me missing a plethora of acts on the final night of G-A-Y at the Astoria (although it appears Kylie didn’t show up)… I’ll be sad to see it go…

Anyway, to make up for this I’ll take some time today so ignore the politics and write an entry on another favourite topic of food – what else could I write about after a holiday in Italy???!!!


Madhur Jaffrey update etc

22 June 2008

Madhur Jaffrey update, Florence and Sparkle Motion (random blatherings)

After finding Madhur Jaffrey, tonight was the first opporunity to try cooking her food from scratch, and I must admit to being very impressed…

Three dishes: Neela’s Aubergine and Potato, recepie available here, with an earthy flavour – you can taste what aubergine actually tastes like, Mattar Paneer (recepie here) creamy, sweet and spicy indian cheese with peas, and Mushrooms with onion, garlic and ginger – fabulously tomatoey, savoury and citrussy flavours…

It was a fair amount of work but an absolute triumph for both of us, so I had to update!

Still looking for somewhere to stay in Florence in the meanwhile, have found a few options with Tripadvisor but haven’t had the time to search prices etc yet – the website has a great map function, displaying the top hotels on a map which you can zoom, move and re-load to give the top 25 hotels in whatever area you choose.

I’m busy watching Donnie Darko to entertain myself this evening before another hectic week at work…

Sparkle Motion!


Italy: where to go?

15 June 2008

We have been planning a trip to Italy for some time. However, unforeseen circumstances mean we are rather frantically trying to organise exactly what we’re doing and when! What we DO know is we get into Milan by train mid-afternoon on the 5th July, we then have a train to Rome (which we can change if we want or need to) and we’re leaving on a night train from Florence on 18th. Pretty much everything’s up for grabs around that. The original plan had been Rome for a week, Tuscany for a week. We’re desperate for a bit of beach and trying to decide if there are any decent ones in Tuscany… we saw this rather attractive looking place but a lot of other beaches in Tuscany are apparently rather over-developed and with sections of beach owned by hotels – which isn’t really what we’re after. Terracina is another option. Do we want to head up to Tuscan beaches or go somewhere else for a bit of sea and sand first before Tuscany?

I simply can’t decide… we’ve posted a Thorntree entry so if anyone has any advice feel free to share it with us!


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