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Thought I Left, Didn’t You? Nah You Should Know Better!

28 Mar

I can’t help but feel this is a case where, despite my usual disregard for my readership, I have to apologise. Therefore, I’m sorry.

You see, I’m reliably informed by the calendar on the right hand side that the last time I posted was somewhere between “ages ago” and “who the hell cares anymore?” I had honestly intended to post at least two to three times per lunar cycle, however as I will explain, things got in the way.

As I like to offer readers an alternative to reading on and a chance to “cut their losses” so to speak, here:

 

Before we move on I feel I should mention a few things. Firstly, the writing today may not be up to the same standards you’ve come to sporadically expect here. That is because I’m living in fear that the spider which crawled across my arm as I slept and was subsequently flicked in to the darkness is still lurking in said darkness, waiting for the chance to exact revenge and finish the job. Should he not show himself for a final battle shortly I believe the only option is to burn down the house.

Secondly, I am no longer living in the UK.

Sorry I meant to type "shocked" in to the image search.

Sorry I meant to type “shocked” in to the image search.

In the last few weeks I have indeed made the move back to Australia. It was decided some time before then, and I did want to keep my loyal readership informed. However between continuing full time work, packing and organising, and mastering Eagle-eye Cherry on the Ukulele, there wasn’t a lot of spare time.

From now on I will be continuing to write on here, but I’m starting to realise that to set expectations for my writing inevitably leads to disappointment for all involved. Therefore I will try to post as often as I feel I have something meaningful to write about without resorting to feeble attempts to make a story out of nothing.

Hopefully I won’t be struggling too much for content for a while, as there are still things I did overseas that I haven’t had a chance couldn’t be bothered to write about yet. In the meantime if you have an idea for a story, or a hoarder I can confront about their effect on the neighbourhood, please get in contact.

 

Safe travels, thanks for reading. J

 

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I Was Always Here, But I’m Making A Comeback!

20 Oct

BRACE YOURSELVES….this is one of those times that will henceforth be preceded by the words “I remember where I was when…”

For this is my triumphant return, my glorious explosion back on to the prestigious and lofty stage that is web-logging. After a long and unexpected absence of (insert amount of time its been), I’m back and less relevant than ever. Yaaaaaaaaaaay!

I can almost hear the collective cheers of obscure internet readers everywhere, but that may be because finally there’s a website to reliably inform people about whether or not it’s Tuesday.

But what to write about on this most auspicious occasion? I could explain my absence, but I was never that good at forging my Mum’s signature. All you really need to know is that I was unable to use my computer for a while. What’s that? There are other ways to access the internet? Why am I still asking questions to an imagined reader? I don’t know, I’d like to know why this reader is being so pushy.

Anyway, I am aware that there are other ways to access computers and the internet. However I find local libraries are frequented by all manner of undesirables. Therefore I only allow myself a maximum of half an hour per calendar month to visit, read the latest edition of Sheep! magazine, and leave without hearing anyone sheepishly (not intended) ask to borrow Fifty Shades of Grey.

Since all that leaves no time to produce a decent blog post (and you know how I’m shamelessly committed to quality), it has been difficult to keep you updated.

Fear not though, for I’m fairly sure that if you weren’t bored or scared off by the preceding months of irrelevant words and pictures, then the last month or so of silence would probably seem like a relaxing holiday for your eyes and mind.

So what can you expect from the next few weeks? Well even though I’m back on the air I may be operating at a decreased capacity. I will endeavour to post each week though. And lucky you, I will be posting about topics including, but not limited to:

  • Some of the awesome London markets
  • The BEST sausage roll in the world…ever
  • More whining about the weather
  • The guy that just walked in to Starbucks and abused someone for no reason then told him not to make a scene
  • Possible upcoming trips to Dublin or Budapest
  • An in-depth analysis of the 295 bus route towards Clapham Junction
  • Why button-up sweater vests are back (seriously they are!)

Can’t you just not wait?

Safe travels, thanks for waiting. J

Why Is It “Great” Britain? They Made A List

14 Sep

I know to the outside world it seems that this blog is a professionally run and eddited internet publication. No doubt whenever you think of how and where all the journalistic gold is produced, you inevitably conjure up images like this:

Or maybe this:

The reality is in fact quite different, and the only thing that changes in my writing environment is the billboard outside my local coffee conglomerate getting swapped. It was a welcome sight to behold when George Michael was replaced with David Guetta, let me tell you.

The true nature of BBS actually entails teetering on the brink of various catastrophic problems. Of the two most common dangers, one is toppling into complete irrelevance despite having relevant travel things to report on. Curiously, the other is running out of travel things to report on.

Luckily when things seemed their most dire, I remembered a loyal reader had sent me a newspaper list titled ‘What Makes Britain So Brilliant?’

I thought it would be an interesting idea to peruse this list and pick apart some of the reasons why Brits incessantly refer to their homeland as “Great” Britain. Seems awfully presumptuous to me. First things first, I thought it deserved a better title. So here is a selection of the top reasons why “Great” Britain should be renamed “Better than the hat with plunger” Britain:

By the way, that’s not an insult to Britain. How cool is that!?

(Editor’s note: all the reasons in quotation marks are taken from the article verbatim, it should not be misrepresented that I am British)

  1. “The Earl of Sandwich’s groundbreaking concept of putting a savoury filling between two pieces of bread.” Hard to argue with this one. Though I did do some research a three second browse of Wikipedia to discover that the rough idea of a bread-like substance surrounding different types of filling had been around for some time (thousands of years in fact). However it must be said that if The 4th Earl of Sandwich wasn’t such an enthusiastic gambler that he didn’t have time to leave the poker table for a proper meal, the humble sandwich may not be the staple it is today.
  2. “Our politeness – no matter how irritated we get, we are always too British to say anything.” This doesn’t however, mean they won’t whinge about the weather, the government, immigrants, the government letting in the immigrants, and immigrants controlling the weather.
  3. No matter where you are in Britain, you’re never far from a pub.” This one is true and a credit to British society. One of the few things I will gladly declare that Britain does better than Australia.
  4. “Cream teas. In case you’re wondering, Cornish is jam first, Devon is cream first.” I’ve actually no idea what that sentence means at all. If anyone knows and it takes less than two sentences to explain, drop me a line.
  5. “Our international language. Travelling abroad is a doddle.” This one I understand perfectly. Basically if the person at Starbucks (who doesn’t get paid enough to care if you get your caramel macchiato or just the contents of a wrung out washcloth) doesn’t understand you the first time, you should speak louder and slower before getting frustrated that everyone don’t talk like us the way they should. Or you could go to Australia or the United States.
  6. “Some of the very best museums and galleries on the planet. Free.” I actually agree with this one too. If you like looking at things (and I do!), this is the place to be.

OK that’s my pick of the reasons why I now live in “Better than the hat with plunger” Britain, and maybe you should too. Or at least visit us over here. Despite all my “wry humour” (as my writings have been referred to in the social media) it is an absolutely fantastic place to be. And if you don’t like it, I promise there’s other places nearby.

It also occurs to me that posts may become less frequent as I’ve sadly resumed the drollery that is regular work. I will endeavour to keep updating you on all things “travel-y” and otherwise.

Thanks for reading, safe travels. J

Embrace the Progress! Supermarket Tourism

30 Jun

As this goes to print (it doesn’t actually get printed, I’ve just adopted the jargon of the journalism industry), I’m keenly aware that I’m in direct competition with irresistible headlines such as The Sun’s “JAWS IN CORNWALL, E.T. IN ESSEX!”

Why go on? Especially faced with such blatantly sensationalist and untrue claims. Unless they were quoting from the Retro Cinema Club’s schedules for Cornwall and Essex respectively, in which case I apologise. How embarrassing.

Whatever the case, it is my firm opinion that the world needs good  adequate amateur travel-related words that attempt to be humourous. Since I don’t see anyone else stepping up, it falls to me.

Today’s topic typically takes the form of something not that “travely”. By now we’re all aware the main reason I love travel is for the food. Now most people would probably think this is limited to cafes, restaurants, local street food, and the token loosely cultural item at McDonald’s.

Turkey’s “McTurco” is basically a regular burger with flat bread instead of burger buns. Mmmmm cultural!

But you’d be mistaken. A wise person once opened my eyes (metaphorically) to the fact that supermarkets are one of the most culturally fascinating places in any new place you visit. This is handy since you will find a supermarket or at least a convenience store in most developed places you go these days, except maybe New Zealand.*

Why do I find something so mundane, so interesting? Well, you’d think having posted myself a question on my own blog, I’d have a definitive answer ready. But I think such predictability would add much un-needed quality where its not needed.

In truth I’m not that sure why I love browsing the shelves of lurid packaging, weird shaped breads and drinks with infused flavours I associate with fabric softener. I’d like to think its because given the majority of developed-country citizens shop in such places, the supermarket gives a fascinating insight in to how they cook, eat and live.

Take for example, the scene friends and I witnessed on a trip to St. Petersburg. Rather than wasting precious shelf space on more bread, cereal, fruit, or organic pot-set yogurt, an entire aisle of a very large supermarket was devoted to vodka. And who am I to complain? When we saw the rate at which locals were loading up on pine-infused potato juice, it became clear that no one was there to stock up on pointless solids.

Like I said, I’d like to think I find foreign supermarkets so interesting for the insight into modern culture. But really, I’m afraid it probably has more to do with things like this:

If you were expecting a sophisticated and discerning palate, you’ve come to the wrong blog.

Somehow, they’ve managed to get all the flavour layers of a Mars bar in to a single liquid. Why this hasn’t reached Australia yet, I’ll never know. I could write a whole review of Mars milk now, but I might save that for when ideas run critically low.

As far as I’m concerned, new experiences are new experiences. Whether that’s getting a delicious $1 meal from a Vietnamese street vendor, writing yourself off on pine cone vodka in St. Petersburg, or simply enjoying a chocolate bar-flavoured milk drink in London. Who cares? As long as you try something different.

Thanks for reading, safe supermarket visits to you all. J

*Please, no New Zealand-related hate mail. It’s a joke. Now you can go and pick on a country smaller than you to make yourself feel better.

Voluntary Servitude: My Festival of Giving

24 May

I like to consider my life a positive whirlwind of activity. If I’m ever at a metaphorical loose end, I feel compelled to metaphorically tie it so I don’t trip and fall flat on my face in steaming cesspool of metaphorical inactivity.

By this I mean I usually end up at Starbucks thinking of tenuous ways to crowbar Ludacris links in to a travel blog.

Nevertheless I have even more exciting news! Continuing my love affair with the great nation of Denmark I have decided to do some volunteer work there. Coupled with my environmentally conscious bicycle travel here in London, I’m assuming some sort of Nobel Prize is just around the corner.

There are many ways a person may devote themselves or their time to others in need:

  • some people travel to remote African villages to dig clean water wells;
  • some teach English to underprivileged kids in Cambodia;
  • others run, swim, cycle or personal transport unicycle astronomical distances on a nice Sunday when they should be hungover;
  • and still more devote themselves to fellow humans by badgering the living shit out of them on Oxford Circus until they either send a £2 text message or sign over the deed to their house.

My approach is slightly different . For me, volunteer work involves going to a famous Danish rock festival (Roskilde) and serving alcohol to those who need to drink to enjoy themselves and are not “just there for the music”.

Of course I’m only going so that I may keep the great people of Denmark, and probably other countries, hydrated. When I signed up I didn’t even know that I’d get festival entry, some food, all drinks AND a T-shirt. I assume the T-shirt will carry the obligatory sexual double entendre:In any case, it’s a whole lot more helpful to mankind than the people on Oxford Circus and any other area with high pedestrian traffic. Though I’m told many of them actually get paid to accost me despite the fact I have earphones in and am clearly already occupied working out how to get to the M&Ms store. Stay tuned for a review of the M&Ms store.

But I digress (douchy writer speak for “I can’t be bothered complaining anymore”). My summer is actually shaping up pretty well. Not only that, the weather finally seems to be on the turn here in London. As such, I’m planning to debut my summer writer’s outfit very soon:

Yes the wrinkles are meant to be there, duh!

Safe travels, thanks for reading. J

Call that a Drought? THIS is a Drought!

15 May

I’ve heard many ludicrous claims over the years (not to be confused with Ludacris claims). For instance, a friend of mine once told me that “man, Bowling For Soup are gonna be the next big thing!”

My usual reaction to such claims sits somewhere between humour and disinterest, mainly because I want to get back to talking about how The Knack were harshly done by. But when the source of the claim is a reputable news outlet, I generally take notice and reach for my douchy writing notebook. On this occasion it was the BBC’s assertion that much of Britain is in the grips of drought.

Britain? Drought? At this point I thought it much more likely that I’d misheard and Britain was actually beset by trout:

This may be a dramatisation

However, it turned out I’d in fact heard correctly, and much of the UK has experienced two years of below average rainfall. Now back in Oz, as this guy will tell you, we do two things right. Hunting knives and droughts. I’m not saying Britain isn’t in drought, but I’d implore most Brits to have a little perspective and not start beating your water drums until you’ve had over a DECADE of below average rainfall.

When water restrictions prevent you from crying without spreading the tears on your chrysanthemums, then you’re in a bit of trouble.

Luckily Britain has some cool, calm and collected heads down at the water department. And they’ve managed to employ the “irony technique” to combat this crisis. This approach consisted of introducing a “hosepipe ban” a little while back. Since it didn’t stop raining for a month thereafter, I can only assume this was a direct (and ironic) consequence of introducing the ban. Another job well done.

In other information that will pad out the rest of this post interesting news, I’ve decided a decent bicycle trip is in order for me this summer. Given the opportunity to say so, none of my friends or family think this is a bad enough idea to tell me not to do it. That, or everyone back home is too busy watching The Voice. 

In any case my only choice now is to go ahead and ride from London to Dover. From there I will undertake a Top Gear-style challenge and attempt to convert my bicycle in to a pedal-powered jet-ski (or take a ferry, whichever costs less). Upon arriving in Calais I will then reassemble my bike and use nothing but my croissant-fuelled legs to power me towards Brugge and possibly Brussels. If I don’t land a job as a Belgian beer/chocolate taster within 72 hours, I’ll probably make my way back as well.

If it sounds foolhardy and ill-planned, that’s probably because it is.

Thanks for reading, safe travels. J

Why Travel? Who cares? Just do it!

12 May

No doubt you’ve been looking forward to the resumption of regular posting here. I know the feeling. Since I was too young for Vanilla Ice the first time round, I knew my life would never be complete until I knew he was back performing ‘Ninja Rap‘ to live audiences again.

I’m almost never one to let complete laziness stand in my way though. So despite my best efforts to the contrary, this past few days I’ve been doing some serious journalistic contemplation (thinking). Not just about what happened to the career of Joshua Jackson (as so often plagues my thoughts), but about the reasons us humans travel.

I’m not just talking about my general aversion to anything approaching real life responsibility, every Australian in London has that. I’ve been contemplating the type of travelers we are, as illustrated by the things we do when we travel to new places.

I recently used my “tweeting feed” to inform loyal followers that this is the reason I travel:

I applaud the use of sustainable wood blocks rather than conventional plates.

It may seem slightly excessive to travel several thousand kilometres and various time zones for a coffee and croissant. Fair enough too, but we all have different reasons to travel and I don’t have to explain myself to you or anyone. Leave me alone. My reason to travel is food. On the other hand Lil Jon travels the world in search of the finest Crunk Juice.

I’m told to this day, the best can be found high in the Tibetan mountains where “Crunk Monks” extract it from a natural spring.

Others travel for the history. I most certainly appreciate this, but for me this is best in small doses and preferably when it is not annoyingly touristy (“no I don’t want to buy a replica you’ve fashioned out of match sticks.”)

Still more travel for the social aspect. This is one of my favourite reasons to travel, and comes second only to food as far as I’m concerned. After all, what better way to get to know people than to sit around a cheap hostel sinking (insert cheapest drink here)? These people will be friends for life and a source of free accommodation in whichever city it is they inhabit. They’re most likely fantastic people too (you all know who you are).

Sadly there is one reason some people travel that is less fun than an hour of power with Crunk Juice. That is the people who travel only so they can tell others how awesome their travels were. I’m well aware of the irony of writing this on a public internet weblog, but at least you have the choice of navigating to something more interesting.

I love swapping travel stories and hearing about others’ experiences, but some people tend to want to crowbar their travel stories in to any and every conversation. I’m sure they were awesome, so was Vanilla Ice. But crucially, I choose to talk about Mr. Ice only when I know my audience is interested in white, early 90s rap.

 

Word to your mothers, safe travels. J