Tag Archives: bloomsbury bowling

Lazy picture blog (on an Olympic theme)

So here it is, after weeks of moaning I finally made it to the Olympic park. I took lots of pictures and enjoyed the day immensely.

We took in the sights, atmosphere and overall Olympicness of it all. Enjoy my lazy blog.

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Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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London 2012 and all that

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I would have loved to have done a blog all about the Olympic village, the amazing atmosphere and the buzz of the events, but I can’t. I didn’t go. I did a few very silly things in the long and arduous run up to the Olympics and so guaranteed myself zero tickets. A fact that I now regret and thought that I was over, until this morning. Here we go…

1) I didn’t go in for the draw. Way back when, the Olympics seemed to be a real pain in the bum for those of us who live in East London. Our tax would have to fund (and continue to fund long after the flame had moved on) the new stadia of various shapes and sizes. These stadia were also under scrutiny around who would get them after. The ticketing system seemed unfair and the general feeling amongst us was that they would never sell all the tickets and they would eventually go for cheap. That was mistake number 1. The ticketing was a nightmare, and I really didn’t want to end up with synchronised swimming tickets. What I hadn’t taken into account was the fact that it got me onto the village or that the village tickets would disappear the day they came out. As I said, mistake number 1.

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2) I booked a holiday in the first week of the Olympics. So the tickets did go back on sale thanks to the media coverage of empty seats. The problem with this was that I was in a caravan in Great Yarmouth (check out last week’s blog if you’re interested; don’t bother if you’re not). The tickets were still on sale when I got back but they were now in huge demand as the quarter finals and up had already started by this point so they were a) in demand and b) bloody expensive. I did try to get tickets, but all for nothing.

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3) Every other person seemed to go. Facebook and texts have been mocking me. Not in a horrible way but due to the fact that many of my friends status updates and messages have been about how great the park is and all the different coloured Olympic flags they have had the time to wander round and take. Even my Dad got a free ticket from his company, a company he retired from months ago! Just when I thought it was safe someone else would pop up with a, “lovin the park, it’s the most amazing thing in the world ever!!!!”

This though was to be topped by something far worse…

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4) I don’t have a Visa Barclay card. Just when I thought that was it, when no more needles could be inserted into my now paper thin skin, one of my old university friends posted that he had won tickets to the games. It looks to be VIP and all that (I haven’t been able to ask as he is in the middle of it) and he has amazing seats for all the events he gets to see. The problem is that he is a nice guy so I can’t begrudge him his good fortune. This is him below by the way, smug so and so.

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So that’s it. Gutted. I tried to get tickets most nights and early mornings this week but the website is a joke. Why did I think I was over it until this morning? As I came into the living room this morning my wife greeted me with an email from the borough (one of those blanket sign up for thingies) saying that they were giving away free park passes to residents. They had a thousand to give out and would do so at 9am. I chucked on some clothes, jumped in the car, parked very illegally and ran to get in the queue. 6 tickets per household, who would I ask? The queue went from the council building all the way round the block. I counted at least 800 folks queuing and I don’t reckon on any of them asking for less than the full quota of 6. As I walked past the front of the queue back to my car some horrid chav of a women (surrounded by all her chavy mates) shouted, “Look another casualty of the queue, hospitals up the road darling.” I did the only thing I could, the thing that I have been doing on face book and texts the last two weeks… I walked away without a word.

NB. It has come to my attention that I might be able to get Paralympic tickets. The nice bloke who won the tickets told me. What a nice bloke.

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Carry on camping

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So I’m staying in a caravan this week. A caravan on a caravan park. This is one reason why I’d never make a good travel writer, my lack of travel.

It’s our annual week away with the family (usually spent in centre parcs) and we have decided to come to Great Yarmouth.

I must admit to being a bit trepidatious about doing the caravan thing. It was partly to do with a change of scenery and partly to save money for the imminent arrival of child number 2. We also liked the idea of doing whatever we wanted and being allowed off site, as Center Parcs is harder to leave than a maximum security prison and harder to get into than the Olympic village. When there last year we asked some friends if they wanted to come and visit. Center Parcs wanted 50 quid for the pleasure. I’m not saying its not worth the money, but I am saying we wanted the same as Mel Gibson in Braveheart… Freedom!

So me, my son, my wife, her sister, her sisters husband and her sister and her husbands 2 kids are all sharing the same caravan. It’s one of those massive static ones, but space is still at a premium. So far, so good. Why so good? Here comes the list…

1) We are all together. Every year our family come over from Saudi Arabia. They live there in the ex-pat community and get the summer off to visit with their various families. Before the birth of our boy they used to stay with us, since then we don’t really have the space. It’s nice to all be together for a prolonged period of time, sitting around, doing as little or as much as we want. Its trying to make up for a year of not seeing each other by having a concentrated dose. Potent but effective (in the nicest possible way).

2) We have the big room. The upside to this is all the storage, the down side is we have to share it with the boy. The small rooms hardly have enough space to walk between the beds, let alone put a ready bed (a blow up mini bed with the duvet attached) between them. No one has complained yet, I think they are worries that we might give them the big room, 2 year old child included!

3) My nieces look after my son. This one speaks for itself. They chase after, get ordered around by, play with and generally entertain him. It’s a 2 way street though as they get some great video footage of his antics to show their friends back home. He loves it, they love it, me and my wife LOVE it!

4) The facilities. They have a bar and a pizza place. And some stuff for the kids I ‘spose. Soft play and a pool if it rains, a park and the beach if not. They are all in good working order and have all been enjoyed by the younger among us. To be honest, I absolutely love the ball pool and will jump in it whenever it is quiet and empty enough to stop me squashing a small child. My son thinks this is hilarious (my nieces have footage of this as well).

So there you have it. Would I caravan again? Probably not. Not that it’s not fun but we’ve had our break from the maximum security wonderment that is Center Parcs and am eager to go back. It’s like ordering Chinese food, you may try something new every now and again but you always go back to your favourite. Haven holiday park and campsite has been a nice bit of lemon chicken, but next time I’ll order the sweet and sour.

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend and feel free to share this post.

All pictures were taken on site at Haven, Caister-on-Sea and Great Yarmouth.

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He’s just a rascal.

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In true British fashion I expected the opening ceremony to be awful. I’m happy to admit that I was wrong. The ceremony was funny, interesting, spectacular and above all else culturally relevant. Where did this cultural relevance come? One man, Mr Dizzee Rascal.

Before the ceremony began the BBC did a very lengthy build up. Veeeery lengthy. It included a picture/video montage, another look at the torch relay, a chat to Olympic champions, yet another look at the torch relay and lots of pundits filling time. All of this was nice. What was great was the Dizzee Rascal segment.

Mr Rascal took us around east London and spoke very passionately about the area. He shared where he grew up (a council estate in Bow) and chatted to the people he met, some young and some old. It felt very real, not contrived or a show. He spoke about the diversity of London with pride and actually brought a lump to my throat.

Having lived in Bethnal Green and Bow for the better part of a decade I also agree that the Olympics has gone to a part of London that really needs it. The regeneration of the area has been huge and the investment by the council massive. I may not agree with where all the money has gone but it has gone on the local area.

I’ll put up with the Olympic lanes, the closing off of my local park, the massive influx of tourists and not being able to use the public transport system, all because of the words of a grime rapper from Bow. His pride in this area (the jacket he wore onstage at the opening ceremony had E3 stitched on it, our local postal code), the way he speaks about London and his love of all things ethically and culturally diverse in our great city.

London has an effect on people. I was not born here but I feel that it is my city and I couldn’t be prouder. I know loads of people who feel the same.

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A God Damn Disaster?

It had all the makings of a great night.

1) Son dropped off at parents. Check.
2) Meeting friends and Sis at a pub. Check
3) Friends band playing an awesome venue. Check.
4) Bowling alley booked. Check.
5) karaoke booth NOT booked. Check.

And it didn’t disappoint.

The first sign of a good night in the making was that we walked into the pub about 20 seconds before our friends Alex and April. We sat, we chatted, we had drinks and we waited for my little sister to show. This was the second sign of a good night as my sister was only 15 minutes late. So we sat drinking, chatting and having a laugh without having to do that sly looking out of the corner of your eye thing, while hoping the person you are talking to doesn’t notice,  while waiting for someone who hasn’t shown up yet to show.

We strolled up to Bloomsbury bowling and walked straight in. No cover charge for us (as we were bowling), no queue and it was the same story at the bar. The fun part was walking past the karaoke booths and trying to guess what the drunken groups of girls (stereotypical I know, but true) were singing and watching the dance moves. Some of them were really going for it.

So far, so good.

We then went to the diner part and ordered food and then the band we had come to see started to play. Bad. The diner table had a direct view of the stage and the audio was being pumped throughout the venue, Back on track! Even better than that was the fact that the bowling alley we had booked was as close to the stage as you could get.

The band themselves were great. A mixture of guitar twanging, drum thumping, bass pounding Rockabilly originals and unique covers.   The lead singer interacted well with the audience through both his banter and rockabilly growling tones, the double bass filled the stage with both its size and sound (and was expertly played), the rhythm guitar was driving and didn’t falter and the drums were a skillful mix of background metronome and foreground fills (and even a solo).

Better than all this though was the fact that I was winning the bowling.

Next on stage was a burlesque act. I shall say very little about them due to the fact that some of my students may read this. They did what all burlesque acts do and did it very well.

Our great night ended with 2 wonderful things. A) we caught the last train home and B) there was still a slice of pizza left in the fridge. Spot on.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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