Wednesday, August 29, 2012

London to Brighton cycle ride

"Let do some exercise", she said. "Let's go for a bike ride", she said. Little did I realise she meant London to Brighton!

Mary found a very useful write up of the route with turn by turn instructions It also had a link to a GPS route that I could download to the Garmin - all I have to do is read the [...] manual and work out how to use it as a navigation aid.

We packed some drinks, some energy bars and a packet of wine gums and off we set at 10 o'clock on the dot.


Two and a half hours later we were half way there. All the way it was perfect cycling weather - sunny, not too hot and no headwind. We bought some sandwiches at a village store and had a picnic lunch in the grounds of The Copthorne Hotel, Effingham.


We may have been half way there horizonally but not vertically - the big hills were still to come.

Screen shot 2012-08-27 at 10.58.50

The killer is Ditchling Beacon 814ft. Mary managed to cycle all the way up with one pause for breath but no walking! Respect!!

Brighton Pier

It turned a little grey right at the end but no matter - we made it in a respectable time. Not bad for a man about to get his bus pass.

Distance 53.95 miles, Moving time 04:59, Moving average 10.8 mph

Then a quick cuppa and a dash to the station for the train home a soak in the bath.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Another walk in the New Forest

Bob and Lynn had their usual August BBQ; we stayed over and, after a lesurely breakfast, went for a couple of hours strolling round the forest.

New Forest - Ponies
Stepping aside for the ponies

New Forest - Heathland path
Typical heathland path

New Forest - Heather
Heather in full bloom

New Forest - Blashford Lakes path
Shaded path through Blashford Lakes (More pictures of Blashford)

5.8 miles

A bit of forest, a bit of lakes and lots of sunshine. It was all rather delightful.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Haggis flavoured crisps

A good trip to Scotland last weekend to visit Mary's mum, May. Did the usual: take her shopping and tidy up the garden. This time there were a couple of DIY tasks for me:
  • Re-hung the doors on her new fridge-freezer so they opened the other way. One of the screws was a pig to undo so there was a lots of muttered profanities but got there in the end. Why do they have to do them so tight - with power screwdrivers presumably - when they know that re-handing may be required.
  • Installed a watering system for her pots and hanging baskets so May does not have to do any bending or lifting or carrying watering cans. Kept it simple, just turn the tap on, didn't bother with electronic timers.

In the supermarket I was muchly amused to see haggis flavoured crisps so I just had to buy a packet to try. They did indeed taste of haggis, although they were a bit salty to my palate, I say well done Mackies!

Then a lunchtime flight home so we could get ourselves down to The Alma to watch the Olympic closing ceremony. A meal, a late night and plenty to drink; I really didn't want to go to work on the Monday.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thin Lizzy at Under the Bridge

London, Wednesday 08-August-2012

Thin Lizzy clearly have amps that go all the way to 11. They say that if the music is too loud then you are too old. Bollocks to that, I say. The volume did a disservice to the music and at times it was painfully loud. Sometimes I take earplugs with me to a concert but not on this occasion. It is telling that many musicians wear earplugs. One of my nephews is in a band and he advised earplugs to their concert! It was certainly a visceral experience. The walls of the city shake.

Thin Lizzy at Under The Bridge - TL 02
Thin Lizzy

More pictures from me:

Thin Lizzy at Under The Bridge - Mosh pitThin Lizzy at Under The Bridge - VIP seatingThin Lizzy at Under The Bridge - TL 01Thin Lizzy at Under The Bridge - TL 02Thin Lizzy at Under The Bridge - TL03Thin Lizzy at Under The Bridge - TL04

The support band, Biblecode Sundays, were excellent and set the scene for the main act. Obviously it could never be the same without Phil Lynott but we've seen The Blockheads without Ian Dury and still enjoyed it. However it is a matter of opinion - T.Rex without Marc Bolan? Queen without Freddy Mercury? and others...

What I can say was we had a good time. The set lasted about an hour and a half and they did the greatest hits. My personal favourite is "Dancing in the Midnight" and it really got to me. I consider that I do not have a musical bone in my body but I cannot imagine a world without music.

Cowboy Song recorded live that night

More Thin Lizzy at Under The Bridge from YouTube

The VIP tickets we reckon were worth the money: a seat, a glass of champagne and bar snacks - mini-burgers, fish and chips, mushroom risotto and - appropriately as part of the Irish festival - Irish Stew.

And then a short ride bus home. Damn I love this city.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Thames Path 03 - Kew Bridge to Hampton Court

Sunday 05-August-2012.

The upstream march continues...

Thames Path 03 - Mark (me), Bill, Mary, Pete, Alan, Blanche, Andrea
Mark (me), Bill, Mary, Pete, Alan, Blanche, Andrea

We caught the train over to Kew Bridge joining the same train from Clapham Junction as Andrea & Allen. We were joined this time by a couple of A & A's friends Pete & Blanche and usual suspect Bill.

Thames Path 03 - Isleworth

The weather was variable, mixed sunshine and showers. We passed more historic and interesting sites: Syon Park with its house and pavilion, the Old Deer Park including the original meridian (PDF) which predates the Greenwich meridian and Teddington lock where the Thames ceases to be tidal.

Thames Path 03 - Lunch at La Tasca, Kingston-on-Thames 02
Lunch at La Tasca, Kingston-on-Thames

After a substantial lunch we set off again through the throngs enjoying the now sunny weather.

Feeding the swans at Kingston

We crossed the river over Kingston bridge and a pleasant stroll to our end point at Hampton Court Palace.

Thames Path 03 - Hampton Court Palace Gate
Hampton Court Palace Gate

Thames Path 03 - MapMyRide route
MapMyRide route 11.61 miles

Despite what the picture says, MapMyRide reckoned 12.93 m (20.8 km):

Distance this leg 20.8 km
Previous legs 43.9 km
Total so far 74.7 km

Thames Path 03 - Mark (me), Bill, Mary, Pete, Alan, Blanche, AndreaThames Path 03 - Syon HouseThames Path 03 - Syon House, meThames Path 03 - Isleworth PavilionThames Path 03 - IsleworthThames Path 03 - Old meridian
Thames Path 03 - AlanThames Path 03 - Teddington LockThames Path 03 - Feeding the swans at KingstonThames Path 03 - Lunch at La Tasca, Kingston-on-Thames 01Thames Path 03 - Lunch at La Tasca, Kingston-on-Thames 02Thames Path 03 - Hampton Court Palace Gate
Thames Path 03 - Hampton Court Palace frontThames Path 03 - MapMyRide route

20120805-thames-path-03, a set on Flickr.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Toots and the Maytals at IndigO2

London, Friday 03-August-2012.

Part of Jamaica's 60th anniversary celebrations. Off to IndigO2 to watch Toots and the Maytals.

Cr*p iPhone photo

We dined at Gaucho beforehand - the classiest of the restaurants and eateries at the O2. A starter of ceviche (raw seafood) followed by delicious steak, then off the the venue. We were upstairs and had a relaxing drink in the nicely spacious and uncrowded bar while waiting for the music to begin.

Support was Toots Junior and one of the backing singers (Chantelle Ernandez) who had a solo spot. Then the man himself for a hefty dose of ska and rock steady ending up with Monkey Man for the grand finale. Another fine musical evening :-)

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Everyday differences in Puglia: Tomato Bottling

We have been out for the olive harvest and the grape harvest but not, that I recall, for the tomato harvest. That is because we rarely come out during school holidays.

I had read about the frenzy of passata making in Annie Hawes' Ligurian trilogy and it should not surprise me that it is an Italy-wide phenomenon. The glut of tomatoes at this time of year and their prevalence as a basic ingredient in Italian cooking make this inevitable.

The evidence of all this activity is there in the supermarkets:

Tomato bottling - pans
Big pans for boiling the jars in the Fasano hypermarket

Tomato bottling - press
A tomato press in a local furniture store

Tomato bottling - equipment
Tomato buckets and burners for the pots in a Locorotondo supermarket

And what should I find on YouTube but our neighbours Mino Maggi, with sister Zia and wife Carole, demonstrating the bottling and boiling of tomatoes.

How different from rain-soaked England!

Trullo Azzurro logoTrullo Azzurro: beautifully restored trullo in delightful, secluded valley near Locorotondo, Puglia, Italy. Available to rent on a per week basis, sleeps 4-6. For more information visit

Friday, August 03, 2012

Dr John at Under The Bridge

London, Thursday 19-July-2012.

Another musical legend at our local music venue Under The Bridge - this time Dr John.

We got there in good time as it is unreserved seating. There was a bit of confusion on the door as we were fitted with VIP wristbands by a newbie doorman. Mary breezed in ahead but the head doorman spotted the error and removed mine :-(

VIP tickets gave access to the back raised area with seating and nibbles on trays. This was a "Good Thing" for Mary's foot but a bad thing for me standing in the mosh pit. I blagged my way in "to talk to my wife" so we could sit together. To be fair we did not avail ourselves of the free food (as we had eaten beforehand), nor did we get a drinks voucher so my conscience is clear.

When we went to see Taj Mahal they did not segregate off the VIP area, it was all one, I am not sure if this is going to be a regular feature. We are back there again next week to see Thin Lizzy and this time we are splashing out on the VIP tickets - because we're worth it!

The iPhone is crap for photos in low light fortunately UTB post official photos on Flickr:

The good Doctor was on fine form and a good time was had by all.