Tag Archive: birthday

Q2.5 – 2018

Three months later…

Yup, I’m getting worse.  Again, I’ve had a few odds and sods in development but not progressed to a finished article.  However, I’ve some clear space to get a few jottings down.

What’s the headline news?  My 40th birthday.  No, that’s not quite yet – I’m still choosing to call myself 39½ –  but I’ve been planning like mad for the birthday.  It’s all arranged, now I just need to show up.  I won’t commit to telling the world what it is just yet but I think it’ll make for some good reading.  I’ve been considering some vlogging as I’ve never done that before and I’m fairly good at making stuff up on the hoof.  I can work the video edit software on my iPad so will see.  

Since August/the last blog entry – Griffin Games has recommenced but at the Owl & the Hitchhiker in Holloway.  Bigger pub, nice food but lousy lighting.  As for the Griffin – its deterioration continues.  The former ruby lounge has been turned into a pool room with the ceiling being decorated with fake ivy…ugh.  My quiz team have been going to the Southwark Tavern where they haven’t won yet but have come second a bunch of times.

Gaming news – I’ve added a few more titles to my collection (and haven’t weeded out some of the rubbish): Super Mario, Star Trek TNG Fluxx, a couple of room escape board games and a couple of micro-expansions to Munchkin.  On the console front, I’ve bought Jackbox 5, Far Cry 4, Jedi Academy (now that original Xbox titles are on the console) and downloaded most of the Games with Gold titles on offer.  Still quagmired in Fallout 4’s survival mode with the game becoming increasingly unstable and prone to repeated crashing.  Whilst the no-save feature is challenging, it means that you can lose a great deal of progress if the Xbone has a fit and dies.  I wondered if the Xbone X might run the game more smoothly but I’m not shelling out all that money on a new console just to finish that damn game.  That said, Black Friday is coming up…

Oh, and my favourite piece of news is that I saw an app version of 7 Wonders has been released so naturally I snapped up a copy together with the Leaders and Cities Expansion packs. More on that soon.

The bathroom – in late September/early October, the bathroom was refurbished and it looks pretty snazzy.  I’d offer a photo but do you really want to look at the porcelain wot I sit on and defile?  The two weeks of the work were quite an ordeal to get through.  The sheer amount of dust kicked up by the project was ever omnipresent and forced me to keep all the internal doors closed.  This reduced the amount of light in the flat as well as impeded air flow.  Also, I really should have put up dust sheets, especially over the electronics.  Dunno how much contamination seemed into the TV, Xbone et al through the heat vents.  Anyway, as the lounge and kitchen were contaminated, I felt compelled to retreat to my bedroom as that was a relatively dust-free environment for the two weeks.  It was amazing how this “retreat” affected my mood as I just felt like hiding away from the world until the works were done.  Once the flat was back to normal – or whatever passes for being normal – first thing I did was to get out the house and have a day of indulgence.

Travel – I’ve been to Swansea twice in the past few months, and to Southampton (for the first time ever) to try a new driving test simulator we’re funding.  Although I crashed the car a bunch of times (note that I’ve never, ever driven an actual vehicle), I didn’t roll it unlike la Ringsell.  I’ve a week off next week and was thinking about a couple of days out the office but nothing is springing to mind.  Not essential though.

And to bookend this blog post with the last one – t’other week was the last London Video Gaming Market for 2018 (back on St Patrick’s Day 2019) and I convinced Darren to come along for this one.  Bought the below, this is cross stitch rather than bead art.


Locked In Again


It’s April and once again, I feel like a little public self-flagellation, fessing up that I’ve not been the best blogger/diarist. Mainly as most of March was “more of the same” rather than something new and different. I wrote the below two paragraphs a couple of weeks back but quickly grew bored and left them to languish in drafts. But I feel I need some filler so here they are in their unmodified and unsexy glory.

The rest of my birthday went by fairly calmly and quietly. Played a couple of games, had a burrito, watched the Changeling (George C Scott) and went to bed. Not exactly a raucous affair but what I wanted in the end. Did a little gaming with Paul and Darren in Brixton the following day and then the main event on Saturday: Eldritch Horror followed by dinner in Belgo’s. We failed at the latter (barely got one mission completed before Nephren-Ka woke up) but had a blast necking fruit flavoured beers and stuffing our faces with fatty foods. They tried to drag me off afterwards but I was struggling to remain awake so had a drink at Retro before succumbing to unconsciousness.

Sadly I was up the next morning rather early owing to the need to get a train down to Cardiff as I was going down there with work. So bleary eyed, I staggered down to Paddington and on to Wales. Like Dublin, the weather was quite nasty (damn the Celtic fringes) for a good chunk of the day and put off any vague sightseeing/entertainment plans. I’ve been to Cardiff twice before but both those trips were just for the day so this was a time to actually have a proper gawp around. Naturally my first stop was the Board Game shop, Rules of Play. It’s sited in an Arcade so not much floor space (probably less than Orc’s Nest) but was very nicely organised and arranged. Couple of Welsh language games in the shop – novel as well as the usual selections. Would go back.


What else then? Had a second trip to Cardiff on 20 March, rain was far worse than the first visit. And I bought the Cthulhu Monster pack for King of Tokyo and the board mat for 7 Wonders. I only wanted one item! Otherwise, March has been a pretty quiet month. For Mr Beer’s Birthday, we went to the “Secret Escape” Room Escape game. It has, I was relieved to discover, nothing to do with that annoying woman on the adverts for the similarly named company. The premise: disappearance on a 1960s/70s film set. We escaped though we did require a lot of help, I think. Some of the clues were quite cryptic and did not flow organically. Still, there was a fair amount of fun had.

Speaking of room escapes, Tuesday night we revisited Time Run as they have a second game added to their repertoire which played differently to the first one. This time we were required collect items in each of the rooms that we were due to escape from to use in the final room. Our score was 97/100 + 13 bonus points so 110/100. Don’t know if it’s the record for the game but it certainly was the best score that day. I shined in the Russia room where there were a lot of problems like “Keep Talking or Everyone Explodes”.

Last night we finally finished Risk Legacy (the usual Wednesday mob) and I unexpectedly won. Everyone had a “last gasp for glory” style run by amassing tonnes of soldiers and going on an all-out attack. Actually, Brendan, Paul and myself did two gasps and mine was the successful one. But it was an epic finish to the game lasting two hours. I’ve had a stinker of a cold this week so was drinking copious amounts of brandy to keep me going. Feel much better today.

I’ll write a separate blog post for my adventures in Malta.

37 years old – it passed me by fairly unremarkably. Upgraded phone, new board game (Spyfall), upgraded broadband to fibre optic, hummus bros lunch, skipped the quiz and went to bed after an hour of random GTA mayhem. Not much more to report. 

The Berlin/Brussels four day extravaganza (he said sarcastically) was last week. Flew out to Berlin from Heathrow on Germanwings rather than the usual BA because that was the cheapest flight (thank-you stupid work policies). I think I might have been the only Brit on the plane. Owing to a massive delay at baggage reclaim, didn’t get to the hotel until just before 8 so quickly unpacked and headed straight back out to Zsa Zsa for a Latvian Burger, Erdinger Kristall, Käsekuchen and cocktails. Es war sehr geschmecks. 

Day 1 of the trip was pretty much confined to…classroom type training. Clearly I wasn’t the only one who balked at the thought of a diplomatic dinner but the moral of the story is to be careful what you wish for folks as I received emails demanding briefing on work-type stuff. I was utterly knackered by the end of the first day because I only slept fitfully the night before so it was a very weary Joe who was in Euro Kebap on Frankfurterallee eating Currywurst and working on three drafts of a document. After three hours of toil, I had to throw in the towel and beg for assistance from colleagues as my brain wasn’t making the necessary connections (it worked – one replied almost immediately saying exactly what I wanted and needed her to say). 

Day 2 began ridiculously early owing to an early morning tour of the Reichstag. Was up at 6.30 (5.30 UK time), fed, watered, out and then Parisier Platz for our meeting point. Did the tour (didn’t get to go to the roof because of ice – apparently), then to the Chancellery, lunch (Caras, naturally), more meetings and then a dash over to Tegel for dinner and my connecting flight to Brussels. I did manage to throw a load of Schokolade into my suitcase from the shop (Ritter Sport and the usual large bag of Riesen pieces)Owing to delayed planes, my stay at Tegel was much longer than envisaged and I didn’t stumble into the hotel until just before midnight. And the meeting lasted about forty minutes rather than the full hour (even more galling). Still, at least I managed a more leisurely lunch rather than the more hurried approach that had been de rigeur the last few days.

Went into work the next day utterly zombiefied. If I’d have known, I’d have taken the day off but again, there was just too much going on. I have never felt that drained of energy and it was only four days of travelling. Hardly running marathons or toiling in a mediaeval field. Friday wasn’t much better though by the time Saturday came around for our steakhouse & chocolate making trip, I had enough reserves to make it through the day.

So, London Steakhouse in Chelsea, not bad. Portion control was ok though the others disagreed. It was also quite difficult restraining myself into…correcting general restaurant behaviours. I know, I’m such a snob but when you hear people saying “can I get/grab” – it does kinda rankle. I feel a little bit of a hypocrite, given my general stance on formality but if you’re in a more upmarket venue, there is a certain etiquette to these situations. Then again, we were definitely not the worst table – a middle aged couple next to us had a domestic in the middle of dinner which was highly amusing to all involved. 

I made a classic blunder of not booking a lane at Hollywood Bowl so we couldn’t bowl a couple of frames after lunch so we went to the pub and then another pub closer to the chocolate making venue near Haggeston. There was a suggestion of going to Draughts until I pointed out the £5 fee for what would be little more than an hour’s worth of gaming. Chocolate making – was pretty much the same as the one we did with work about ten years ago (and I cannot believe it was ten years!) with the usual lecture at the start, some sampling and then some making. The chocolate cocktail (voddie, chocolate liqueur, ganache & drizzled dark) was pretty nice as it happens and I think I might make some next time I have people over. Then it was time to go home, by which point I was wiped out and begging for bed. 

And this week – one game of Risk Legacy, 7 Wonders, Room 25, bought several packs of 7-Up from Tesco as they’re selling it ridiculously cheap, found out we won the Griffin season prize (London Steakhouse AGAIN!! And powerboating on the Thames), work craziness and having a couple of serious rows on the phone with people.

That’s yer lot for now. Not much else to report – another sorta self-indulgent post but it’s the first in almost three weeks so excuse the minor display of egoism.

Regent’s Bridge Gardens

Second weekend living in Vauxhall is coming up; I only hope there won’t be a repeat of Sunday morning where at 5.30, I was woken up by the sound of what I thought was a drunken hen party clamouring down the road picking up parked cars whilst screeching loudly. Turns out that there’s reasonably open parking available nearby to which some of the party-goers take advantage of.

All moved, all unpacked and as of yesterday evening, there are no further outstanding tasks to undertake after I bought a free-standing clothes rail. I hope, sincerely hope that this is my last move in a long while. If I have to pack my stuff up into crates and boxes one more time…newsreaders around the world will conclude their reports with “before turning the gun on himself” (thank-you season 5 of Roseanne).

The flat is quite nice though full to capacity – no more serious purchases without operating on a strict one-in, one-out basis; books, clothes and electricals. I’ve used the swimming pool twice now but not yet the gymnasium as I don’t have appropriate footwear and I ain’t doing it barefoot. Andy S was my first guest though not for long as Papa John don’t deliver to Regent’s Bridge Gardens and Team Science are coming over for some hot gaming action on Sunday. I had a couple of days off last week to help with the whole moving in thing though it wasn’t as nice as having a full week off as I was back in on the Thursday.

The birthday – that was obviously last Saturday and it was a very quiet affair, busier than being 30 but very little happening in terms of productivity. First order of the day was to put together my bag and headed straight out for breakfast at Parma though it was 11am by the time I ate so it was effectively brunch. Had the mixed vegetarian grill with a stack of toast whilst reading my book; good stuff. I then went out to try and sort out the sale of my old desktop PC. After multiple delays in CeX’s testing, I found out after all that my PC was not worth selling and so I prowled the backstreets of Fitzrovia before finding a skip in which to dump the damn thing. But I was able to sell my old monitor so took the cash from that sale and treated myself to some new games.

I also hit the heavy highs of buying myself a new fitted sheet for my bed – it’s two single divans pushed together which is Superking, apparently (and I thought that was a cigarette). Massive but the seam in the middle is an annoyance. Still, my king sized duvet barely covers it and I’m not willing to spend more cash on appropriately sized bedding. I also swung by Forbidden Planet, picked up the usual titles and treated myself to a Pirate Munchkin set. Also wandered past the Apple Covent Garden Store but resisted going in brandishing the credit card. Went home after shopping, opened my cards, read my comic books, had a late dinner, watched a DVD and went to bed just after midnight.

I know, not the most exciting day and I would have been pleased had someone arranged a dinner or something but alas it was not to be. However, I haven’t ruled out marking the day later in the year, perhaps when the weather is more than a little favourable and do something then, perhaps after the usual crop of March and April birthdays are over.

Had to go up to Camden for some daft reason on Sunday – possibly buying more games (that was part of it), cannot remember why and walked back home to Vauxhall (in my nasty brown, feet deforming shoes as my Merrells were still wet from Friday) calling in Wasabi on the way home for a Tofu Curry. That was last weekend in a pinch. This weekend is birthday heavy (other people this time) starting with tonight.

Video Game catch up – I purchased three Lego games on the Xbox (dirt cheap) and the Simpsons game. Spent this week playing through Lego Indiana Jones 2 and nearly finished the last part. Nothing on the 3DS and played some Wii with Andy. Also downloaded Civilization Revolution as my freebie from Microsoft now that the flat has interwebs again. Of course I’ve yet to actually play one of my free Xbox games as I’ve been favouring other titles but hey-ho.

That’s your lot for now, I’ve got places to go, people to see and liquor to be drunk.

Still 34 and zero days

Hey gang, just boarded the 2128 service back to St Pancras and am waiting to begin the journey home. If you’re the sort of person who likes a little zest in a blog post, you might want to tune out now cos this one will be a little on the tame side alas.

So when I jumped off the train desperately attempting to upload this blog post by finagling the last of the free wifi, it was a little after 11. The station was pretty much the same as the last time I was here aside from a little renovation work. In my 34 years of existence, I don’t recall Nottingham station to ever have changed apart from the introduction of security barriers. Oh I’m sure there’ll be a few anoraks who can tell me what exactly has changed in that time but to me, de nada.

Thought I’d begin my day with a brief stroll through Broadmarsh Centre (aka Westfield Nottingham). Last time I was here, I recorded that this centre had been hit pretty hard by the recession. Many of the former shop occupants had still gone and in their place were cheapo bargain stores. Well, it’s nice to report that some of the real tatty places had moved on and there were slightly better stores in their stead. However, it wasn’t exactly the bustling centre which challenged Victoria Centre for supremacy in the 1980s. It’s main problem is that it hasn’t found a large tenant to occupy the feature store which used to be an Alders, prior to that a Co-op Department Store. Until that happens (and I think they should work really hard on M&S up the road), they stand no chance.

Wandered up past Market Square, swung by Game and picked up three bargains (two games I used to own: New Zealand Story Revolution and Star Wars Fatal Alliance + Great Giana Sisters) and then carried on to Victoria Centre. That’s still a little busier although the shoppers weren’t exactly armed with carrier bags full of goodies, even during the lunch peak. Oh the cafes and other eateries were heaving; you can’t come between a Nottingham person and his/her cup of tea. I dunno, I guess I just don’t see a lot of hope for the city. The industry is gone, the Internet has an ever increasing share of the retail sector. People weren’t smiling around the city – it was really noticeable. The only happy looking person was the man selling me cakes to take round to the Ancient One’s house. Though he kept calling me sir – I’ve never felt comfortable with that form of address.

Speaking of cake, it was a fancy cupcake stand, kinda like Lola’s in Selfridges but actually, far more creative in design. Johnnie Cupcakes (he said reaching for the box). They had this beautiful giant cake of…well…I can’t say as I dare say it violates copyright law. They had 12 cakes for £18 so without thinking, I bought 18 of the suckers, meaning to say 12. I paid for my mistake though rather than apologise and ask him to put some back. That’ll teach me to read the signs properly.

Swung by the shop where my sister works and completely surprised her – was totally rewarded by the dumbstruck look on her face but alas I didn’t prime my iPhone in time. That was fun. After calling into a few clothes shops in a desperate search for either a black hoodie or a black zip up top, I decided to call it quits and I made my way down to New Basford. The walk up Mansfield Road is a bit of a challenge but with a heavy backpack and a heavy carrier bag full of stuff, it was even more difficult. Still, I made it without waving down a bus which was pleasing – kinda like my post work walk come early.

Made a lunch of a couple of cheese salad cobs (in Nottingham, it’s a cob) washed down with a Fentiman’s ginger beer, then a Crabbies. Caught up, watched daytime television (who the hell gave Alan Titchmarsh a show I will never understand) and waited for my mother to arrive which she did a little after six. Unfortunately, Helen goofed and let it slip I was in town so there was no shock value to be had. Gah! Again we caught up, such as we could – there was in depth Newspaper analysis going on y’know. And I found out that she’s joined the denture brigade.

Nuff said.

That was pretty much it, walked back to the station, boarded the train, here I am. Why did I come here? Complete spontaneity. I wanted something to do, I had an idea and I acted on the impulse. Behaving totally within character and I was in a good mood, I thought I could handle a trip up north. As I said in my Berlin and Brussels travelogues last year, sometimes there’s nothing more satisfying than just walking around, observing people going about their every day business and seeing the heartbeat of urban life. It’s a simple hobby but a fascinating one. There’s much to see, to think about, infer and consider.

So in terms of a birthday, it’s not perhaps the most exciting, action packed of days. But I did exactly what I wanted, made a few people happy and had cake. Is there anything more to be said than that?

Greetings good citizens. The prologue…

Ok, perhaps it’s a good thing I’m not Frankie Howerd though I do enjoy watching Up Pompeii on YouTube. Why am I glad? The rug.

So anyway, as you have ascertained from the title of this blog post, I’m 34 years old today. It’s finally here and as several people have pointed out, I’ve officially outlived Jesus. I’m currently in the First Class Lounge at St Pancras station waiting for a train to go to Nottingham. Whilst I let that point sink in, lets rewind a little.

Another busy week this week though not with the manic intensity that has become de rigeur lately. It’s the sort of week that has been a preparatory period of time, getting us all in readiness for the ordeals ahead. February is over and March is here; beginning the final sprint ahead of Easter, the end of the Financial Year and everything in between.

Griffin Quiz: no Joey or Ceajay and Robyn decided to absorb Jad’s germs so we were only seven much to my consternation. Our A and B teams tied for second place overall though with David the second trying to crack jokes about my advancing years, every point we scored off of the B team became a juvenile game of one-upmanship. We were the only team to have gotten Alex’s common links round (5 years of compulsory religious education, baby) so the was a great deal of smug gloating to be enjoyed.

Have been worried about weight management this week, not least as my newest pair of jeans have been feeling excessively tight. This could be down to the cut rather than my waistline as I can still do up the tightest notch on my belt with no problem but its still enough to put me in panic mode. So I forewent the chips at the quiz (it’s the one time in a week I typically allow myself those high-calorie treats) and stuck to the Aubergine and Goat Cheese gratin.

Probably a futile gesture, there’s been a high intake of cake and biscuits this week what with one thing and another. Going back even further to Monday – went to a meeting in the City in the afternoon. There’s something about the City whip inch I just don’t like. It’s too labyrinthine. The streets are like canyon walking and the people…earn far more than I. Anyway, after the meeting, I availed myself of all the leftover biscuits. About a dozen packs worth, I was very proud and my colleagues at work were rather grateful.

That evening was a Risk Legacy event, I was the last to arrive as my driver (the good Doctor) had a car battery issue. I didn’t press the point as he gave me £10 for the taxi ride. Anyway, we managed to get in two games and I have to report that it was an utter sulk fest. First Jad got into a mood because Rob derailed his plans immediately. Then Joey managed to manoeuvre his people into a dominant position getting rather smug about it all. I made my comment about hubris leading to nemesis (thank you Star Trek). So we all naturally ganged up on the boy and took him to pieces.
In the second game, Rob shafted himself with a lousy starting position and Joey took him apart. Jad meanwhile was card-raped twice but the fallout zone spread quashing his chances a victory. This is when the dice totally turned against Joey and he went into hyper sulk mode. The rest of us could barely contain our laughter as he had a strop worthy of any five year old. I couldn’t resist pointing out my warning earlier, just to twist the knife. By the end of the evening there was a lot of ill feeling but no lasting damage. Just one of those evenings where stress isn’t necessarily expended, more added to.

Jumping to Wednesday, yeah, the spa trip. Now I may or may not have mentioned that I wanted to use my spa voucher on my birthday as a treat on my day off. Of course, the last of the great procrastinators here really should have booked this much further in advance as the only time I could find a slot was Wednesday evening so I had to wriggle out of work (thank you Stella for that). There’s always something lurid about leaving early, a deep, perverse pleasure as I watched my colleagues chewing down the last of their Pret sammiches.

The Wellbeing Spa at he Hotel Rafayel in Battersea was me destination. Not the easiest place to find it has to be said. Oh it’s clearly marked on the map but the entrance to the spa was all but invisible. Finally I cast aside my male pride and asked reception for directions; bloody spa was on the third floor. Anyway, once I got there, I was shown around and told to indulge myself before my treatment. Stupidly, I forgot I was in a mixed gender spa rather than an all male one and I hadn’t brout anything with which to cover little Joe with. Thus I had to forego the jacuzzi and whirlpool (bloody yummy mummies and their nudity taboos) and loitered.

Eventually I forewent the facial in favour of the back and shoulders massage – first time I’ve had one from a woman before mainly as I prefer some firm pressure and my latent sexism makes me doubt I can be squeezed and pulped as hard as a male masseur. What can I say; I’m a sucker for a pummelling. But the masseuse was quite good nonetheless. Not very chatty but she knew her craft and she did ease the knots in the blades. I wish the appointment was for a little longer but hey ho. There’s always next time and all that.

After the spa, I had my tea and cake in the lounge whilst watching the helicopters take off and land at Battersea heliport. They almost didn’t make a sound in doing so until I realised the thickness of the glass of the window overlooking the river. I think c4 explosives would have a hard time penetrating the thickness of it. Couldn’t hang around too much longer, there were errands to run. First stop was John’s new venture, the Roebuck pub in Oval. Main reason was to check it out for my next board games afternoon and I’m happy to report that it passed with flying colours.
Menu looked awesome and I was very strongly tempted to stick around for dinner as the artichoke platter sounded exquisite but duty called and I had to go and get a hold of Andy D at the Griffin to double check menu choices for Saturday. That was all sorted out together with a quick mental planning session vis á vis decorations.

Donnerstag wasn’t anything special other than a quick catch up on Mutual Recognition of Driving Disqualifications (don’t ask) and the usual million requests for briefing and questions. Went to have my pre-birthday coffee with LJ at Pat Vals where somebody else was marking a birthday. We Pisceans are everywhere you know. To my shame, I had really had the time to go out and get him anything but he indicated a preference for an Amazon voucher so next time I swing by Sainsbury’s, I’ll pick one up. Oh, that’s right, I wanted to bitch and whine about the complete lack of public recognition over my contribution about a Consultation I helped put together at the last minute. I was warned over Gardulla by her former hirelings.

So why was I at St Pancras? Why am I spending my birthday heading towards the midlands? After my spa day was moved (and that was going to be today’s centrepiece), I was at a loss for things to do. On a whim whilst in the spa lounge, I looked up train ticket prices and saw a day return on EMT in first class was £45. So I thought ‘why not’ – actually, I thought ‘ferque it’, forgot my little euphemism there. Standard class was only £5 cheaper and I can abuse the privileges of the train, the lounge and all that. So here I am, somewhere currenty between East Midlands Parkway and Leicester sat in my hefty seat, digesting my vegetarian grill breakfast tapping this blog entry out.
Between you, me and the security forces monitoring my blog (I _did_ mention C4 explosives earlier), there’s only one reason to go to Nottingham. I’m going incognito therefore it’s going to be one HELL of a surprise when I show up unannounced on my birthday. Sufficed to say, I’m prepping my camera to take pictures of stupefied facial expressions for my general amusement.

Anyway, not that far to go, another ten minutes left of travel and then…well, we’ll see. I’ll keep y’all apprised.


Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus

It was quite nostalgic, playing my first game of Age of Empires 3 in ages whilst on the train hurtling toward Swansea. But like most RTS games, you can’t limit yourself to just a single experience so I played a second game on Saturday, again as the British crushing Spanish and Portuguese scum in skirmish maps. But other than that, it was a game free weekend – Zoo Keeper Battle excepted.

The reason? Well partly as I went on another Rome binge and watched all bar the last two episodes but also because there were any number of chores that needed undertaking on both Saturday and Sunday and they just needed to get done.

First on the list was ordering the decorations for the birthday. Scaled back the plans a little from the first list of goodies assembled though I did treat myself to a Pickelhaube. Just so I can live out those Kaiser Wilhelm fantasies, of course. I asked for them to be delivered for next Saturday and I received an email this morning which states they’re coming tomorrow. *sigh*

After a fair amount of procrastinating at home, I finally left the house after three on Saturday and the first stop was Borough Market. I’d never actually been there so I was somewhat anxious to see what was what. Apart from the moronic tourists, it wasn’t too bad though clearly one needs to get there in the morning as by late afternoon, there are a lot of “sold out” signs in abeyance. The German Deli was all but depleted whilst the olive stall was insufficient to my needs. Annoying. There were other stalls which took my fancy but I staved off temptation (the organic cake stall is worth mentioning).

Borough Market backs out on to Wine Wharf which is the rear entrance to Vinopolis and I decided to pop into the shop to see if I could track down the Spanish Wine I liked. Found some Lime Tree hiding at the bottom of the racks so nabbed me a bottle for £7.99 but couldn’t find any Duke of Clarence Madeira which was disappointing. Though I hurried myself out of the shop as there were many more errands to run.

A brief walk along the South Bank then followed – weaving in and out of slow-moving tourists, getting stuck behind those glued to their smartphones and general blood-pressure raising ensued. Crossed the bridge at Embankment, walked through Covent Garden and arrived at Forbidden Planet for another comic-book buying binge as well as birthday gift hunting for Mr B. Success remained elusive, at least in the latter category and so on to the next destinations – Soho generally. I popped in various shops, hoping for inspiration to strike but nothing stood out. Had there not been a rather large queue at Gerry’s, I might have plumped for a bottle of something (Absolut Mango maybe).

But I was able to swing by Fat Bar for a quick Kopparberg. Pub was full, presumably because of the Rugby (Wales-France) so I didn’t hang around too long and it was on to HMV. Chose several purchases, had my customary wobble and left the store with nothing as the thought of paying for my birthday and the Berlin trip kept bouncing around my head. By this time, it was definitely time to head home. Had a quick sweep through Westfield and eyed up stuff for myself rather than Lee – including a Raclette cooker. After picking through the few bargains at Morrisons (and considering the birthday gift of a cake), it was home to a Salad & quiche + ice-cream and then resumed my Rome binge.

Sunday was an utterly miserable day, at least in terms of the weather where the damned precipitation just didn’t let up and turned into snow by late evening. Rather cleverly, I put my final load of laundry into the wash in the morning but failed to actually switch on the machine for three hours. But once it was complete, was time to resume my birthday gift hunt.

Rather than scour Westfield a second time, I thought I’d try Stratford Shopping Centre and decided to implement a plan I had come up with some years ago – pick a financial limit and stock up on poundshop tat. Mostly edible stuff but with a few other bits and pieces thrown in with a Vauxhall Griffin twist. And topped it up with a Café Nero gift card. Because of my panic, I finished my errands early and so found myself at Retro Bar at dead on five.

Lee arrived a couple of minutes after five with Sean in tow (the rest of them were still eating at Nando’s after the Transport Museum shindig) and the next six hours were spent getting nice and liquored up. As always, it was good to catch up with people I haven’t seen in a while and the pissy tramp aside, everything went rather well. Tagged along to…a certain venue off the top of Charing Cross Road which I’m ashamed to note. I have never really felt an old fart before last night where I think I had about a decade on everyone else there. Finally I had to wimp out at quarter to one as I was fighting hunger and fatigue. Nearly picked a fight with the bouncer as he was just being a complete demroid and had no control over the queue but I decided to let it slide. He told us to join one queue and then ordered us to go join another one whilst getting snotty about it. Douche-bag.

Ah well, bought a sammich from Subway and was able to walk in all the fresh snow after getting off the 25 in Stratford, hearing it crunch satisfactorily underfoot. Huzzah!

Adrian Mole is 45

Happy Birthday to Adrian Mole who if Sue Townsend isn’t going to kill off any time soon, would be 45 today. And of course it happens to be the same day as the author herself so birthday greetings to ST. Here’s hoping to another Mole book though with his many neuroses, I’m not sure a happy ending is possible…

In a not-entirely unrelated rant, I was very disappointed with April Fools Day yesterday – wikipedia’s front page was spectacularly lame, Memory Alpha was bad, Wookieepedia was worse whilst Memory Beta didn’t even bother. Wikia sites normally have the best collaborations to mark April 1st but it was like the office interns were put in charge. I’ll give to the Wikipedia appeal if their efforts next year far surpass yesterday’s bag o’ crap.

As promised, one lowdown from Saturday. The day began innocuously enough, perhaps better than expected as normally nerves act as a stimulant preventing sleep but I managed to get in seven hours before my bowels forced me to do the ten metre dash in the morning before I rose from my bed. I chucked my final load of laundry into the machine before sorting out articles to take to the pub and it definitely ruled out public transport. Between my laptop, a bag o’ treats and the two boxes of decorations, it would have been an extremely difficult to cart it all down to Vauxhall so it had to be a car journey. Of course, this wasn’t made any easier by the severe lack of petrol in London thanks to the fuel hauliers…

Anyway, once again there was a lack of listening issue at home – I told the Doctor that I wanted to be at the Griffin for 3 to begin to set up. The Doctor claims I said that I wanted to leave the house at 3. I swear that’s the reason why he drove like a lunatic on the south circular to the pub, accelerating like a mad man and breaking just as fast. It was like being on a Waltzer for an hour and I really wanted to barf by the end of the trip. As he was doing me a favour, I kept my mouth shut.

We got to the pub closer to four and began to set up – I had bought too many decorations as there wasn’t enough room for all the banners and pennants but there was plenty of room for the other decorations like the flags and the spiral so they went up. Overall it took two hours for us to transform the room into something resembling my plans and vision and once we did it looked rather good. I promise to post something to the next blog entry; right now the pictures are stored on my phone. The Mexican theme worked and I laboured tirelessly on the Spewnicorn Pinata – the end result is ghastly but all in good fun.

Perhaps it was naïve of me to actually think people would arrive precisely when I’d asked them to but to me, a promise is a promise though in complete fairness, I hadn’t counted on the Victoria Line being down. I blame Boris and hope to see the overfed turd kicked out in a month’s time. But slowly and surely people arrived over the course of the evening. I’d say about 40 of the 65 or so accepted attendees put in an appearance which was great and the balance of people seemed to work.

So in praise of the Griffin, a good chunk of the most excellent food did disappear. I only wish that I’d actually packed some Tupperware to take some of the food home as I’m loathe to wasting it all. The cocktails were superbly prepared and I think I guzzled about nine of them, perhaps more…my recollections are somewhat blurry. And the staff were rotated between the main bar and upstairs quite nicely which allowed for everyone to join in. I was very pleased and contented with how they accommodated my control freakery and the efforts they went to in order to ensure that I and my guests had a good time.

Finally time was called on the event around 12 and rather than stay on and tear up Soho or Vauxhall, we decided to go home though I insisted on a less rigorous car journey back to Stratford, preferably along the river (as the road surface would be smoother). Got in, checked a few messages and then slept for 11 hours! Great times and as I remarked to H this morning, perfect end to the best month ever.


Just to say I have a great group of friends and I would like to thank them all very much for Saturday.

More in the (chronologically) next post but thought there should be a unique entry by way of acknowledgement

Smarch Second

Smarch 2nd was a Friday and the day began with another oinkfest as Mandy coerced me to put the leftovers in the fridge. But as the food was on my desk, it went down a lot more slowly compared with Thursday. Still managed five mini-donuts…

It was another quiet day at work and I was able to get a fair amount of junk done before having another Pimlico-inspired walk around the Tachbrook Street Market vicinity as well as a wander towards Victoria Station in a vain effort to pick up a few more Streetpass Hits. Either my 3DS is knackered or people just aren’t carrying their toys around with them as much as they used to. Had an afternoon meeting right in the middle of a sugar crash so my contributions were negligible to say the least. Rather than go straight home, I detoured to the Griffin to pay the deposit for the sound system and had a coke. I also had my leftover treats with me which were straining I got home and cooked an absolutely foul dinner made up of mis-matched pieces from the fridge which were on the edge of expiry. It definitely beat that lousy lasagne I cooked earlier in February. Played more Paper Mario, went to bed.

Which brings us neatly onto the weekend. Now the only item worth reporting on was my brief foray out at Westfield on Saturday. The mission was to get birthday cards for all of March’s birthdays + Brendan who has until recently been sunning his ass in Zud Afrika. But I bought a couple of gifts whilst I was out and about which turned into “gifts for all”. John Lewis and Game were the target destinations and I think I did ok. Let’s see how some of these go down with the recipients but if nothing else, they’re tasteful (tasty too – Godiva chocolates). More Paper Mario, more days between shopping trips, some sleep catch up but some nasty cold temperatures outside which wasn’t entirely pleasant.

Mundeh was a day where I got to catch up with Kevin from HO and Mr J whose birthday is on/was on Thursday 8th. It’s fair to say I overdosed on coffee though calories were kept to a minimum thanks to the wise choice of a biscuit and a cornflake nest cake rather than something more solid and stodgy. Lee and I exchanged gifts though we knew what they were as this year we stuck to the “you get me x, I’ll get you y” without massively reinterpreting the rules. We also had a quick side trip to Argos where he bought a red 3DS for his other half John. As it’s kinda the wrong time of year for sale purchases, the pressure was on to make a shrewd buy but it ultimately came down to the “now” factor as there was a decent secondary offer in Argos and whilst something better could be procured at a reduced cost, he had to strike whilst the iron was hot.

Tuesday was your bog-standard quiz day but after my birthday…dark spot, I didn’t feel like boycotting and leaving people in the lurch. Or missing out on a drink or to check in with Andy at the Griffin. Quiz seemed easy but there were plenty of questions we just failed to answer properly and slipped from second at the break to third. We did win some “crap books” – one of which I kept and forwarded to the Ancient One as it was on Fred Dibnah. The others were a Jeremy Beadle book, a book by Jane Tomlinson and a book on the 2007 Rugby World Cup. I suggested giving them to a charity shop to sell though we think that between the four of us, there might be a home for all of them to go to. The evening was a sober affair as I only had a single Crabbies and Diet Coke the rest of the time. We won over £5 on the quiz machine afterwards and I was able to quickly catch up with Stu.