Monday, 14 November 2011

On tour with the world famous actor Leighton Kyle

Whenever i get back to the UK i try to get out for the odd night with my world famous actor nephew Leighton Kyle. So this is an update on our nights out so far.

Cardiff 28/10/11
One week back in the UK from Greece and it was time for my first visit to Cardiff to meet up with Leighton Kyle and the footy boys Daz, Tim and Ian. Unfortunately the footy boys were under orders from their other halves to take them out on the Saturday so they bottled going out on the Friday LOL I understand guys nothing is worth the wrath of a woman.

So it was up to myself and Leighton to keep the Friday tradition going. We started off in a local that had a refurb and very nice it was too. It had a very large beer garden area built with plush seating, TVs and outdoor heating, shame that 90% of the year it chucks it down in the UK. Perhaps pac-a-macs and wellies for hire would have been a better option for the outdoor area.
On to our next regular watering hole The Pen & Wig, the music as we entered was great, so good old school indie. That soon changed within the sip of our first drinks, gone was the music with great lyrics and cool tunes and in slammed this crap thump thump thump brainless dance crap that i was creating with a ZX Spectrum many years ago. Is there anyone with talent in the music world these days? No! haha
After a rubbish period of time on the pub quiz game only winning £2 it was time to move on.
The Live Lounge was our next stop where the band that was playing was OK, I've heard better but at least they were playing and singing live which is very rare these days. A few drinks later it was time to go to our local personal jukebox bar The Old Library. As you may have read before we always end up here as it plays Indie/Rock all night and its usually quiet enough that we use the DJ as our own personal jukebox but on this night it was very very busy. As soon as we got in the music was good so we hit the dance floor where we stayed most of the night. After about an hour the night got a bit bizarre. As i was in mid mosh i felt something clatter in to my ankles, i looked down and there was a guy writhing around on a wet booze covered dance floor. He had slid in from the side on the dance floor and was throwing himself around the floor. At first i thought he was just having a laugh but he was actually trying to seriously breakdance to Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. After a few sly kicks to his kidneys he got up and continued to dance in a 70's disco style to the same song, definately not playing with a full deck. After he had worn his little arms and legs out he disappeared off the dance floor taking his stale beer soaked odour with him.
Not long after freaky dance man had left the dance floor on speeds an older guy riding a mobility scooter and mows his way through to start dancing, in his mobility scooter. First to the right, forward and reverse, then to the left, forward and reverse. Continue this movement through the whole of the song then reverse off the dance floor. The funny thing was he had great moves and had obviously been practicing his mobility scooter manoeuvres in a confined space but the song he was dancing to was "Jump Around", not once did i see that guy jump. If i was voting him on Strictly Come Mobility Scooter he'd get a 4. I was starting to wonder if I'd slipped in to a scene from One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest. My stomach was calling for food so it was time to head home for my usual kebab meat and chips with BBQ sauce and another great Friday night was over.

Bristol 11/11/11
I had missed Adam Ant when he played Cardiff as it was in May and i was in Greece but Leighton had got us tickets for Bristol as Adam Ant had added more dates.
I booked a hotel for the night, so it was going to be a good one. On arrival at the hotel it was very posh, 4 stars and we looked as if we were squatters in the wrong place. Ladies with furs and skirt suits, guys with Armani trousers and Ralph Lauren shirts, where as we were in t-shirts with skulls on and jeans with rips in, i think we brought a touch of class to the place myself LOL.
We checked in, got our room cards and off we went. On entering the room i thought they had given us the wrong keys and we had entered the broom cupboard. Our view out the window was of a wall and flat roof with a bin bag on it and just below the window ledge was guttering. 1 foot above my bed the wallpaper was peeling off badly and Leighton's bed sheets had holes in them. I guess they took one look at us and thought "yep, they get the worse room in the hotel". Wasn't a problem though, you only sleep and shower in a room after all.
We popped out for a pint and some food as soon as we got there. We went to a nice little bar called The Elephant. Now, when we go out its usually raining and we get ripped off at some point and today was no different. We had good food and pints were nice, we had a deal 2 meals for 1, both meals were 8.95 and 2 pints so i was expecting a bill around £14, nope £19.50, one pint was over £4 and service charge was £2.50. Note to self, check bill don't just pay.
We headed back for a siesta to let our food settle ready for the night ahead. 7.30pm we headed off towards the o2 Academy where the gig was. There was still an hour before Adam Ant was about to start so we popped in to a friendly pub with a friendly name "The Hatchet inn". It was an old style pub with slate floor tiles and wooden beams with rock music playing, fantastic! In there were people who were going to the gig all dressed in different versions of Adam Ant also along side them stood the old school punks as Adam originally started off as a punk before becoming an Indian, dandy highwayman and prince.
I must say though, when you see a 50+ year old punk with a beer belly sporting a pink thinning mohican, anarchy t-shirt and chaos armband it is less intimidating. In saying all that it was a relaxed atmosphere as everyone in there was there for the music and the beer.
Time for the gig to begin so we headed over and got or place near the front but the place was packed out so we ducked dived our way through. On came the man himself and straight away it was like being back in the 80's, all the flare and showmanship of when he first hit the scene with Kings of the wild Frontier. Music was spot on, voice didn't sound any different and he had the awesome double drummers that gives all his songs that amazing sound. From start to finish the fans didn't let up, after every song a huge cheer and if he had played on for another 2 hours i don't think anyone would have got bored. Amazing and loved it. There was the odd problem with fans in front of me as I'm short. One woman kept her arms up swaying them back and forth for most the concert which was a pain so she got the odd elbow in the ribs and another was dancing side to side and put her stiletto heel through my toes more than once, that hurt. In all, the concert didn't have any crowd trouble and we all left happy to go back to The Hatchet Inn. In the bar we sat down and had a good laugh and a good drink, Leighton's memory of lyrics of songs is crazy, i can just about remember the lyrics to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star LOL. Such a shame such a great bar isn't in Cardiff. Its a long way to go to listen to proper music in a friendly atmosphere. People just started talking to us for no reason and shaking our hand when they left. Really good night finished off again with Kebab meat and chips with BBQ sauce.

A few Adam Ant Concert pics.
On leaving the gig we were handed numerous flyer's for live acts coming to Bristol over Christmas and a few of them i wouldn't mind seeing. These are the ones that caught my eye the most. Obviously to make more money some people are now becoming solo artists singing songs of bands to save splitting the money which is a great idea

Jake That, if you missed Take That on tour this is the next best thing.
If you like the songs of Iron Maiden but want to listen to them a bit more laid back then Brian Maiden's your man.
Pour some sugar on me with the sweet sound of Geoff Leopard.
And deservedly voted the 5th best Pet Shop Boys Tribute act, classic Pet Shop Boys but without the huge electric bill.

I'm heading off to my fourth home tomorrow Simbec. Got another medical study to take part in so its a few days of needles, 4 meals a day and newspapers in bed, its a hard life LOL

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Don't cry for me Argentina, i'll do it myself boohoo!

So as i told you in my last update i decided to go on a little vacation, didn't want to go to far so i chose Argentina. Well, after all its only 23 hours of traveling away. To get from my house to the hotel it was almost like the film "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" as it took every form of motorized transport to get there but i didn't have a travel buddy with me. Shame, John Candy would have kept me sane haha.

So i left Swansea at midday on Wednesday caught a taxi to the station where i boarded my train to London Paddington. The train journey passed without incident apart from my baggage falling on my head from the rack above as i don't like to leave it near the doors in the suitcase rack. Good job my brain had left the skull years ago so my bag had a soft landing. From there it was the Express shuttle to Heathrow. OOOOooooohhhh! Aren't they posh, TV and WiFi. The Welsh version of that shuttle is to the Valleys and all you get on there are used snot rags and empty Special Brew cans. At Heathrow it was time to board a flight to Madrid for my connecting flight to Argentina. Flights were booked with Iberia and i have to say they are much better than any other airline I've used so far. Couldn't sleep on that flight so decided to play the "Spot the happy trolley dolly" game. This is where you look at all the flight attendants, spot which ones are actually smiling then decide if they are really happy or just a fake cheesy beaming grin. My decision on the first flight was 1 was naturally happy, 1 was a cheesy fake and the other 2 just couldn't be arsed to smile as they would have broken their make up.

2 hour wait at Madrid and being as it was getting late all the shops and bars were closing so i quickly bought myself a bottle of Rose wine and Parma Ham Ciabatta. Haven't the Spanish ever heard of butter? There wasn't even mayonnaise put on the bread, it was like eating dry wall with leather in the middle. Time to board the flight to Madrid as i walked on to the plane i was met with lovely reclining seats with a personal reading light and TV with remote. Now this is the life i thought. You have to remember i haven't done a long haul before so then my joy quickly turned to dread as i was lead towards a curtain. Then i realised that those seats weren't for me. I stepped through the curtain and was met with rows of 8 seats (2x4x2) as far as the eye could see with with lots of heads moving about trying to get comfortable for the ordeal of a 13 hour flight ahead of them. Now you know in "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" they stepped from reality in to a wonderous fantasy land, this was the opposite of that. They lead you past wonderful luxury seats to your chair of torture. Its almost like they're trying to say "Here you go sir this is what you could have been sitting in if you weren't such a tight ass" LOL.
The films on the flight were "Rise of the Planet of the Apes", "Super 8" and "Cinderella: Story of a Song". Seen the first movie, wanted to see the second movie and pass on the third movie. First came the food mmmmm lovely pesto and broccoli gnocchi (pasta) with coleslaw and a lemon cheesecake, of course this had to have a bottle of wine to wash it down and all free, now that made it taste even better. Time to settle down for the films and before i had even seen the opening titles of the first film i was asleep. A few hours later i woke and had slept through the first two films and woke up just at the beginning of the third. OH MY GOD! not only was the seat torturing my body i now had my eyes and ears being bombarded with American teenage cheese. If there had been a hijacker on that flight at that moment i would have told them to shoot me now and don't use me as a hostage just to put me out of the pain from watching such an awful film.
13 hours later i was touching down, Thank God!

Off i go to line up for my papers to be checked with immigration officers and someone caught my eye. First i saw a guy with a Paul Weller modfather haircut, it was a guitarist who used to be in Oasis (the band not the clothes shop) then i saw another guy with a modfather haircut, then another, then a few well built guys and then from behind them stepped none other than Liam Gallagher. See even world famous rock stars have to line up for immigration. he ended up the other side of the waiting rope from me. I didn't want to bother him for a picture with me as I'd just been on a similar flight to him and he must get so fed up with people asking for pics so i took a sly one so i didn't get smacked in the gob LOL. As me and Liam lined up we had a little conversation about what i was doing out there and what he was doing out there and he said he was a big fan of mine and read this blog religiously, he asked for my autograph but no pens available. I bet his kids won't believe him that he met me haha.

Liam asking a fan to get him some "Cigarettes & Alcohol" from duty free.
Outside was my transfer mini bus waiting for me to whisk me off to my hotel. I was booked in to Monserrat Apart Hotel in the heart of Buenos Aires.

It was a lovely place with everything you'd need for a relaxing holiday you can see the pictures for yourself on the website but they don't show the roof terrace so here's one i took earlier.

The roof terrace where i spent the odd hour singing "chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey, chim chim cheroo" with a crap cockney accent.

So down with bags, in to the shower and off out to explore, not without getting dressed first of course.

I really couldn't believe how close the hotel was from the centre of Buenos Aires, 10 minutes walk at the most and when i hit the centre i was blown away. Forget London, Forget Paris, Forget Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (yes its that place in Wales not just me having a fit on the keyboard). This place was amazing. The main centre has, wait for it, 10 lanes of traffic each way going through it. It was that dangerous to cross the road it had a countdown on the little green man (which over there was white) for when it was going to turn red.

I took a walk across town first to find the building where Eva Peron addressed the public and gave her speech in protest at the arrest of Juan Peron her husband. The building is called Casa Rosada or The Pink Building, i wonder why?

About an hour away from the centre by car is a great shopping centre but its all stalls of arts & crafts which is called Puerto De Frutos which is set up along a riverbank. You could have furnished a whole living room from this centre with everything from sofas, to artwork, to ornaments and wouldn't have cost you more than £300. I couldn't believe how cheap it all was and none of it was "tat" like you find at UK arts & crafts stalls.

A few pics from Puerto De Frutos

Back to the centre of Buenos Aires and went for a longer walk to see what i could find. On one building either side of it were huge pictures of Eva Peron. She is adored by almost everyone in Buenos Aires and it shows through out the whole of the city but most of all on this building.Near this building is a statue of Don Quixote who is a fictional character but the novels that were written about him are classed as major works in Spanish literature and it is said that he traveled around Argentina on one of his many travels.

But for every upside to a city there is a down side and this was the amount of homeless sleeping on the grass banks at the sides of the main road through the centre of the city. Such a sad sight to see but again the UK has just the same homeless problem as here.Football out here is everywhere, from football parks up to the huge professional stadiums. As i drove past self built slums they even had an area set aside made as a football pitch in the middle of the slum. Its a religion, its in their blood from when they're born. I saw a football being kicked on almost every corner by kids from the age of 2 up to the odd pensioner joining in, it really is one thing that unites Argentina and judging by the huge billboards above the high buildings rugby is catching up to it but it will never be as big as "the beautiful game".

The stadium of the Argentinian football team Club Atletico River Plate as i passed it on my travels.On to my favourite pastime, Food & Drink, not so good on it when its included in a quiz game.

I had read up on what Argentina is famous for. Steak i already knew about but i had never had Empanadas and if Greggs did Empanadas i would be one fat bloater. They are very similar to pasties but with a light thin short crust pastry which are cooked in advance, then when you order them they are slide in to a clay oven to be heated up and boy are they good. I had a chicken stuffed one and a parma ham and mozzarella one, never tasted a pastry like it ever. every bite had so much flavour with herbs and spices and you can taste exactly what it is in the filling as its all freshly made and put together that morning, in fact i want one now, time to book a flight back i think.

My little Empanadas, awww don't they look cute.On to one of the bars i decided to visit to partake in the sipping of a light beverage. Alhombra as you can see from the pictures stood out like a beacon amongst all the other buildings. This was my type of bar and that was before i even stepped inside. Outside was weird and wacky inside was classy. So i took my seat at the bar and ordered a Havana Club Rum with Sprite. This was service of the highest standard. First i was given a empty glass with a bottle of Sprite on the bar, then the barman poured in the rum, shortly after followed a plate with lemon slices and behind that came a miniature ice bucket with tongs and a long spoon to stir my drink once I'd finished adding all that i wanted to add. Now that's class. Wonder if i could do that with cocktails in my bar, just leave all the ingredients on the table and say "get on with it" LOL.

Alhombra, the pictures speak for themselves.Me with the barman Jesus, he had class.While at Puerto De Frutos i sampled some more rum, just for business reasons of course and came across a bar called Epoca De Quosos that had seating made from old boats and the boats actual seats were left in to be used as side tables. Hmmm. mental note:- nick some boats for bar.Time to try some of that famous Argentinian Steak so i went to a restaurant called "Pamplomas". In there i met up with few other brits who were also on their travels John, Steve, Nikki, Tristan, Emily, Ambar, Kerry, Robert, Patrick, Owen, Karen, Sam, Judy, Katy, Sarah, Chanis, Abi, Tom and John. As you can see I'm crap remembering names LOL. what an amazing group of people, great company, friendly as you like and a bloody good laugh, i enjoyed every minute of their company. So i sat down with them for a steak. Now if there's one thing wrong with Buenos Aires its that hardly any of the workers in the public tourist sector speak English. You can imagine what it was like for 20 of us trying to order our food and asking for how we want our steak cooked. Everyones came back wrong, i asked for Med/Rare but it came back Medium but never the less it was a great piece of steak so it didn't matter one bit the way it was cooked. I was looking forward to having Chimichurri relish with it but none came. Then as i was about to finish my last mouthful out came the Chimichurri, DOH! That stuff is so good. Over there when you order steak thats exactly what you get, just steak. No salad, No rice, No fries just a plate of meat, just how i like it.

The Pamplomas restaurant where the brits took over and lost, damn that waiter & chef! LOLI met up with guys quite a few times to be honest and every day we did meet was a pleasure, i even met them at the airport going home, who would have thought that.

And on that day when it was time to go home a hero was born.

And he would be called "Owen". I love an underdog and I've never met anyone who had forgotten their passport but on that glorious day Owen made my dream come true as he had forgotten his passport. I now know what a passport forgetter looks like and its pale and shaking or was that the booze from the night before? never the less i salute you sir.

Another 13 hour flight home and this time i watched every film as i couldn't sleep. "Captain America", "Harry Potter Deathly Hallows part 2" and "The Smurfs"(pile of Kack) and to get my own back on Iberia for the small seat on such a long flight i stole the inflight blanket, hahahaha, in your face Iberia Airlines.

Another 2 hour wait at Madrid but this time the terminal i was in was alot bigger and cause it was 6am everything was just opening even a bar called "Ars" i was told the beer tastes like pooh in there, BOOM BOOM! Do you get it? Ars, Pooh, oh please yourselves

The bar "Ars" where the beer and wine flows like diahorrea LOL.I gave that a miss and found another bar to have my breakfast as it was 7am, so i thought i would go Continental/British and ordered a plate of Olives (Continental) and a half of San Miguel (Brit abroad breakfast).

Another flight on to Heathrow and a mad rush after collecting bags to get to the Express to Paddington to catch my connection to Swansea which i just made with 2 minutes to spare. After so many cramped seats i decided enough was enough and upgraded to first class to take me home. That was the best £60 ever spent, big wide seat, free tea and snacks, free newspaper and all table service just a shame i fell asleep through most of it after i had downed a pint of bitter. Oh how i had missed you my smooth chilled beer. Over there its all lager, lager, lager, lager, Shouting...Lager, lager, lager, Shouting, Mega mega white thing, Mega mega white thing, Mega mega white thing........... sorry got carried away there thinking back to my DJing days haha.

So thats about all i got to say on that.........for now!

I only scratched the surface of Buenos Aires and so wanted to see much more but with a very short time limit i was restricted. In saying that i've decided to go back with Helen in March for 2 weeks so we can explore alot more of what is a great city.

Ok my 2 typing fingers are knackered now so have to quit this keyboard so until my next update in 2 weeks time i'll say "Adios".

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

11 days home and 10 days of rain, BRILLIANT!

Well its been a typical home coming in sunny South West Wales, Rain with a peek of sunshine every 5 mins per hour, don't you just love the UK.

I'm settled in our new home and it just gets better every day i'm here apart from the lack of warm sunshine and a pool but we're about to join the gym so that will fill in my spare time. Toys R Us are holding back on starting the night shift as business over this year is 30% down but they have said i can work evenings, any hours i want if i wish which was very generous of them. I will give it a week and then decide what to do as i may take myself off for a few days from tomorrow, now where shall i go? I need a few answers on a couple of questions:-
Which country did Maradona play for?
Madonna had a hit with "Don't cry for me .........?
Which countries national dish is Empanadas?

I've been out and about looking around the new area where i live. So this is how my location has changed. I started off in a capital city Cardiff, in between i live in a Resort Kalamaki, then moved to another city Swansea, after a city i moved to a town Carmarthen, now our new home is in a Village. So its City, Resort, City, Town, Village. So going by those moves my next destination is a Field LOL.

So i left our home and went for a wander. To get to the centre of the village i have to cross a major A-road via a subway beneath a roundabout. On entering this subway i was hit with some amazing mosaic pictures. Now the picture you can see below is a greek mosaic picturing a hunter which is hundreds if not thousands of years old, look at the fine detail made by the tiny tiles used in this mosaic.
Now here is the mosaic pictures i found in the underpass where i live which must be at least tens of years old. I will go through the fine artwork picture by picture.

Here we have the age old sport of "Rugby", this is a game played by 2 teams with an odd shaped ball. As you can see from the picture it shows the ancient tribes of Wales and Scotland in battle. In the year this mosaic was made the people of this time had the same hairstyles and same size heads, 2 blocks by 4 blocks. Also they were giants, as you can see they are the same size as what is known in the sport as "posts".

Here we have a picture of the work that every Welsh person did many many years ago, Miners. Men, women, cats and dogs were all sent to the pits to work but you could only work down the pit if your head was 1 block by 3 blocks and 2 blocks deep so the rugby tribes were not allowed down the pits due to head size.

And here the picture depicts one of the first every prams to be used in Wales. The poor baby, not going to get much sleep while being pushed around with square wheels.

I must say i found those mosaics quite nice and warming as there was no grafitti over them and it sort of gave me a child like feeling of years gone by and they looked like figures that i would make as a child with my stickle bricks.

I ventured further in to the centre and came across the local cinema. Again this took me right back in time to when my father used to take me to "The Plaza" cinema in Cardiff not far from the family home where i saw such films as "Bedknobs and Broomsticks", "Robin Hood", "Sword in the Stone" and "The land that time forgot". The Plaza has been knocked down now with flats now standing where the cinema once stood. So to come across an old time cinema still open was so cool. Unfortunately its only open on Mon, Tues and Fri so i'll have to wait to see the inside and take some pics.

Now i know the cinema itself is still set in the 40's-50's and a bit behind the times but it also seems the films are little behind the time getting here as you can see from this picture for the Hugh Jackman film "Real Steel". Only 42 days late for release LOL.

We have 3 places to go for the odd sherbet. One is a bar/restaurant called "The Pheonix", wonder if the landlord is called Potter, it does have a quiz night on a Wed haha.

The other is a working mens club that i popped my head in to today but i stood out like a sore thumb as 1/ I had my own teeth, 2/ Neither of my ears has a wrap around hearing aid and 3/ I could walk in alone without the aid of a walking stick or mobility scooter.

And the final public house i didn't even bother stepping foot inside as the pub sign is of a persons hands in handcuffs. I'm sure its a great little establishment but will try it on Mothers Day around 1pm, should be safe then LOL.

But in saying all that it is a lovely area where we now live and it will take me time to get used to it as i am a city dweller after all and not having everything on your doorstep is a big change for me but i do have my new motorbike all road ready but due to the rubbish weather since i been home i've only got out on it the one good day we've had and that was to get it serviced and M.O.T.'d.

So thats your lot for today but i will update it in 7 days time with what i did for the next 6 days.

Peukallal Folks!