Tag Archives: travel

Trouble and strife

Trouble and strife.

I am very happily married. Honestly, I’m not just saying it. We still talk to one and other, we enjoy each others company, we laugh and joke (mainly me joking and her laughing, but that suits us both). Life is good. Smug? you bet.

The thing that I have started to notice though is that our relationship has become more and more dependent on the level of knowledge we have about each other. The sayings we now share (no idea who brought which particular saying to the relationship), the short hand or gibberish, the fact that I know she will not be interested in what I am about to tell her, and the fact that I tell her anyway.

The other day I was trying to explain the end of the premier league season to her. To me it was the best final day to a season I had ever witnessed. I started the conversation with “I can’t believe what happened in the football today” silence followed. “I know you don’t care but i’m gonna tell you anyway”

Her: OK, but don’t expect me to remember it.

Me: So basically, It all came down to the last 2 minutes. United thought they had it in the bag as City were drawing. The full time whistle blew at United but City still had 2 extra minutes to play.

Her: OK

Me: So as the seconds ticked by United really thought they had it and in the dying seconds of stoppage time City scored. You should have seen the look on the United players faces

Her: I wonder what time the supermarket closes today.

It’s my own fault for boring her with football, star trek, star wars, star gate, athletics, snooker…you get the picture. The fact is that I think love is letting me ramble on regardless without telling me to shut up.

The other thing is that of the relationship shorthand. Can you pass me the thingy? And in a moment or two it’s in my hands. Did you get the stuff? And usually an affirmitave or negative response follows, but she always knows what I mean. It gets better though. Sometimes I don’t even need to finish what I am saying and she will be able to respond. “Did you…?” “yep”

Some people may find this kind of thing annoying, I find it endearing. I love the fact that whole conversations worth of understanding can pass in just a few words. The best part though is the fact that she knows exactly which part of my back to scratch.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I promise to be less cheesy next week.

As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address www.andrewauthor.com

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Pregnancy (a manly approach to)

My lovely wife is pregnant. Again. And I couldn’t be happier. It’s funny really as we have been trying for a few months and almost started to panic that it wouldn’t happen. Strange to panic as the average time it takes is about a year (according to Internet sources, not the most reliable I know). It got me thinking about the panic of my younger years, when I found myself in the midst of a birth control ‘malfunction’ and thought I was going to be a dad at 18. The chances, it would seem, were very slim.  I’m not suggesting we throw the pill and condoms out of the window (the pigeons my choke on them for starters), what I am saying is that the chances of my early fatherhood were much less than I thought at the time. I’m still not sure that this information would have calmed me down at the time though. Either way, we have just come back from our 12 week scan and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. A very serious, sentimental and shared experience. The problem comes in the form of my brain and the thoughts that go through it. Let me try to explain. 1) The first thing they do is check how many babies my wife is carrying. What if its 2? Or 3? Or more? The logical thoughts on this are a) as long as they are both healthy b) how are we going to afford that and c) wow, that’s gonna hurt. My brain works in a different way. My thoughts were as follows a) I hope it’s a boy and a girl b) at what point do I suggest the names Luke and Leia and c) how can I convince my wife to call them Luke and Leia? Not the kind of thoughts to share at this tender, loving moment. I had a crack at a star wars name with my first born. I suggested Anakin and my wife liked it. She then realised where it came from, and that was the end of that. His middle name is Luke though. By the way, just one baby being carried by the wife. 2) Alien. That film has a lot to answer for. The beautiful symbiosis of mother and unborn child has forever been tainted by things bursting out of bellies. I can remember feeling my son kick for the first time. All I could think was Alien. Another wonderful, loving, sharing, caring moment ruined by my stupid brain. The scan room looks like something out of a science fiction film too, with it’s gel and scanner, flashing computer screen and roll ball mouse thing. Makes it kinda cool though. 3) Boy or girl. I really want to find out the sex. I want to know because I can, science affords me that luxury. I can’t really understand the counter argument of ‘it’s a nice surprise’ All that means to me is that the child spends its first 3 months on this Earth in yellow. No blue, no pink, just yellow. Couple this with the fact that I live in a flat in London, I need the space. Clear out the old stuff if it’s a girl, give it hand me downs if it’s a boy. This is where my brain comes in to play. It would be nice to have another boy as a) it would save me money and b) I wouldn’t have to go shopping for kids clothes as often. I also like the fact that when he grows up, he can’t get knocked up. I would, of course, be happy with either. So, all that’s left now is to explain to my 2 year old son that he will soon be sharing his toys, tell my family the good news and have a beer. That’s why the blog is on Sunday this week. My dad, mum, grandma, nan, sister and boyfriend (my sisters, not mine) are all at my flat (squeezed in amongst the toys) for Sunday lunch, the announcement and celebrations. Hurrah! As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address www.andrewauthor.com

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I don’t like that band but…

I love one of their songs.

I was talking to one of my friends the other day about music. I stated that I have got to a point in my life where I have a playlist of a few hours (7 hours, 51 minutes, 27 seconds to be precise) where I love all of the songs. Don’t worry, I wont list them all here. I then realised that the fact that I had such a playlist has coincided with my use of iTunes. In the good old days, when I used to like one song of a band I didn’t really like I wouldn’t bother buying the whole album. But now, I can get whatever songs I like.

So here it is, my list of songs that really make my day. Songs that I never skip on my playlist. Songs that can make me smile. Songs where I don’t really like the band but love one of their creations.

1) Kiss ‘God gave rock ‘n’ roll to you II’
This one I put down to the end of Bill and Teds bogus journey. They go off to write the song that unites mankind. I personally think they pulled it off. I tried looking for this song for ages but was under the false impression it was Z Z Top. I think it was the connection with the beards Bill S Preston esquire and Ted Theodore Logan sported.

2) Ben Harper ‘Walk away’

I had a friend who was effortlessly cool. She was like the person Ben Folds describes in his song ‘Kate’ (When all words fail she speaks. Her mix tape’s a masterpiece). I stole one of those mix tapes and this song was on it. Sorry Sara, I still have it if you want it back.

3) Alice in chains ‘Them bones’

When I was younger I spent a great deal of time round a friends house. There were 2 reasons for this: 1) he was a mate and I enjoyed his company and 2) his parents went out often. We used to get drunk and watch films, usually the same ones over and over. One such film was street fighter 2, the animated movie. It was a manga style film that had a fight scene to the above song. The fight was between Ken and Bison, in case you were interested.

4) Blind melon ‘No rain’

It was covered by a band I saw and fancied the singer. Got a snog off her eventually.

5) Squeeze ‘Tempted’

You will hear me singing this at the top of my lungs if ever you shower with me (offers on a postcard). I think it was in the film Reality bites. Anyway, it’s in my vocal range and I think I sing it amazingly. Not sure my wife agrees.

6) Bon Jovi ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’

I once played on stage with Bon Jovi. Seriously. It wasn’t as cool as it sounds though, I was pretending to play the trumpet. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I used to be in a drum corp (marching band) and we got asked to mime the start to one of his songs. Me and my fellow band mates stood on stage, in front of 60,000 people and faked playing for 30 seconds. Rock and roll baby!

So there you have it, a useless list of songs I like.

Before I sign off this week, yes I have tried the other songs from the bands in question. I just don’t get on with them.
I know some of you will love whole albums and discographies of one or two of the above bands. I also know how frustrating it is when I love an artist and someone says ‘oh yeah, I like one of their songs’. Well, you can take a stand, or you can compromise…

You can work real hard or just fantasize
But you don’t start livin’ till you realize – “I gotta tell ya!”

God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to everyone
God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Put it in your soul.

Bet you sang that in your head.

As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address http://www.andrewauthor.com

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Why are ginger blokes funny?

It seems to me that all the ginger men I know are funny. Not funny looking or funny weird, but funny ha ha. It was a blog I was reading the other day (the ginger fight back, give it a go) that got the cogs in my head turning. Are ginger men born funny? Or does it develop over time? Is it nature or nurture? What I mean is, does the fact that they get mocked because of their hair (I’m not condoning it, just stating facts of the schoolyard) mean they develop a self defence funny bone? A self deprecation that led one of my friends to walk around wearing nothing but a box which said ‘ginger nuts’ over his own (they are a type of biscuit for those that don’t know). I shall attempt to use some other genetic examples to quantify my theory.

1) Are all fat pepole cheerful? I once heard someone tell a large lady near me “if you’re gonna be fat, you could at least have the common decency to be jolly”. Let me set something straight from the off, this is not an attack on anyone, but if you are big boned or fat, you generally have a rosy completion and a cheeky, chubby face. This, to my eyes, gives you a cheerful quality. I think we could call it the Santa effect. And to be fair, most large people I know are very happy and laugh often. They are also great at hugs, but I digress. I also know some real miseries who are portly, so this does nothing to help prove my theory. Next.

2) Are all short men angry? I’m not, but then I’m just below average height. And once again, let me state that this is not an attack on dwarfs (even though one was called grumpy) or little people. Many famous leaders where short blokes:

Alexander the Great
Napoleon
Hitler
Sarkozy
Berlusconi
Cruise (maybe not)

All under 5’6, all wanting power, all angry about being short. Napoleon even had a complex named after him (in the psychological sense, not the building sense). I think then that this is nature. And why do short blokes date tall women? Anyway, next.

3) Are all pretty people arrogant? Yes we are. Only kidding. I think that this is more a nurture thing. I know some very attractive/pretty/sexy people (I also know some proper ugly ones, just to show I’m balanced), and it seems that some are very lovely and others are so full of themselves that they become repulsive, despite their looks. This viewpoint is not one of jealousy as my wife is attractive/pretty/sexy, so I’m not jaded by being turned down by the gorgeous folk, I married one. This to me is about upbringing. My wife is down to earth and doesn’t know how pretty she is, those who have been told their whole lives ‘you’re so gorgeous, you should be a model’ feel entitled. It reminds me of a song by the streets, Fit But You Know It. As an aside, I went to school with this guy below (yes, me and David Gandy are the same age, and have surprisingly similar dress sense). He never got the girls then so I hope his late blooming has kept him grounded.

So then, what have we learnt here today? Not much really. I think that the ginger blokes I know are funny because they learnt, at an early age, to laugh at themselves. My hair is all but gone and I can now laugh at bald jokes, I think it’s given me an avenue of comedic thinking I had never really gone done before. So in that respect, gingers are ahead of the curve.

Keep on being who you are my ginger friends, I may not be one of you, but pretty soon I’ll have so little hair it won’t matter anyway.

As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address http://www.andrewauthor.com

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Up in the sky…(or the Boutique and Bistro in the clouds)

I remember, many years ago, smoking on a flight to America. I was 16, away with a group of friends (most of them older than me but not all over 21 so the drinking thing wasn’t too awkward) and we had 3 smoking seats between 7 or 8 smokers. It was the longest game of musical chairs in history. I understand why they stopped smoking on planes, I also understand though that the air is recirculated less (due to the lack of smelly smokiness), and so the lack of smoking directly links to the increase in picking up coughs and colds while up in the sky (and why do they still have the no smoking signs?). The point is that flying has changed massively over the past 20 years.

I also remember when you got lots of free stuff. Nuts before take off, drinks throughout the flight, snacks as well as meals, headphones, ear plugs, eye blankets (I think the correct term is face mask but eye blankets sounds better to me). Now, you get food that tastes of plastic, the drinks cart comes round every couple of hours, you have to pay for headphones, you still get the nuts but they are now mixed in with pretzels. I think that flying has become like a long train journey. It’s so ordinary and everyday that you forget how good it used to be. The following things have happened to me in planes over the last few years…

1) I had a leaky seat. Well, it was the ceiling really. It still worried me and made me study my crash card more carefully.

2) My TV didn’t work. This was responded to with the utmost malaise. The promise of a DVD player that took 3 hours, and having to ask 10 times, to come. The film choices were pretty dire too.

3) They ran out of booze. This one was terrible. It was a morning flight, heading out to the crazy world of Vegas, and so I decided to wait until a decent hour to have a beer. At 11.30am they announced that the bar was closed due to lack of alcohol. I complained and was told that some people were very drunk and rowdy…

“Good for them, I’d like the same oppertunity”

“We are very sorry sir, but we can’t discriminate on who we serve alcohol to, so we can no longer give any out”

“So you haven’t run out?”

“No sir”

And try as I might, they didn’t give me a beer. They also have flights where they need to have enough for the round trip and so cut you off at a certain point. If they can fill up on fuel then they can fill up on beer.

But this isn’t the main point of my Blog today. The main point is that of the budget airline. They have really gone the extra mile in separating you from your money. They offer very small items (of the brands you know, so you think it will be bigger than it is) for a very big price. The can of beer that is the same size as a can of Coke, the packet of Pringles that is a third of the usual size, a bag of chocolate that has less than a handful of sweets. Grrrrrrrrrr, here comes the rant… The seats are too small. The leg room is rubbish. You have to fight and scramble to get aboard to sit together. You have to pay for your bags. They constantly use the intercom to try and sell you stuff. There is no entertainment. They all wear orange. And breathe. This is all nothing new, what has changed is the pretension of these airlines. While sat in my small seat, waiting for the trolley, the following announcement was made.

“If you would like something to eat or drink, or if you would like to purchase some of our special offers in perfume of spirits, then why not take advantage of the Boutique and Bistro”

I have heard some exaggeration in my time, I am a man so prone to it myself, but to call the food trolley a Bistro and the duty free a boutique? Words fail me, and that happens as often as a freebie on a budget flight.

I am flying home today with the orange airline, wish me luck.

As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address http://www.andrewauthor.com

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Insert clever name here…

What a year! It’s been a year of mostly ups for me and very little downs, I know how lucky that makes me and I am aware that I am in danger of becoming sincere and sentimental so I shall stop it immediately.

This year has meant 4 more of my books being published, a new website with an awesome name (www.andrewsbooks.co.uk), a rediscovery of my love of poetry, a virtual fistful of new apps for my phone, some great trips, an attempt to regrow my hair and a new found DJ. So here it comes, my best of 2011 list…

1) Poetry: I uses to like poetry at school and then I didn’t. It wasn’t a conscious decision I suppose it’s just where do you come into contact with it in your every day life. As I teacher I really enjoyed teaching it this year. The best compliment I got from a child was “you made me think about the world in a weird and different way”. Love it.

2) WordPress: I really like the WordPress website and the fact it is so easy to use. The disadvantages are that checking your stats is addictive, how many views? How many followers? I can’t help myself! The massive advantage is the WordPress app, it’s awesome. It means I can blog and add pictures direct from my iPhone. This also means I don’t drive my family mad by being constantly on the computer.

3) iPhone: blogging tool, camera, mp3 player, texting, making calls, sat nav, tv, Internet access and game console. Who needs a laptop? My favourite things on it this year have been sky go (I can watch up to 12 sky channels on my phone, including 6 movie channels), as it means I don’t have to watch kids TV all the time. Sonic the hedgehog is a great time waster as well, the mega drive version of course.

4) Squidge: what a great year for the Squidge books it has been. I have loved writing them, James has loved drawing them and proving house have loved putting them out. I think this shows in the quality of the finished books. Check them out.

5) Jaguar skills: a DJ who has been around for a while but is new to me. No one knows who he is, well they do but they don’t. Let’s try again. A DJ who keeps his identity secret. The best thing to do is have a look. Jaguar skills link.

I think that one of my favourite things though has been coming up with the names for the blogs. I’ve left this one blank so you can join in the fun if you want.

Have a happy 2012. Hope the new year treats you well.

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It’s grim up north?

Well no, it’s not. Having just got back from a small town outside of Leeds (Heckmondwike), I found it rather a relaxing experience. Yes the journey up there was long and full of delays, yes the M1 is a horrid motorway and yes, the boy screamed for a large part of the journey. But when you get up north certain things change for the better. Here comes my list of northern wonders. most of them car based…

1) people drive normally. Someone said to me the other day that driving in London is like driving in a race. I think she was right. I turn into a real arse in London traffic. I don’t let anyone out or in, I put my foot down when I don’t need to and I swear (a lot). Up in the Leeds area I was let out by a nice lady, in turn I let someone else out. I can’t remember the last time I was let out in London (and in turn I can’t remember the last time I let someone out).

2) crossing the road. Where I live you have a 50/50 chance of some one in a car stopping for a pedestrian even on a designated crossing. Where I work this percentage drops to zero. When visiting my friends, a young man (in a hot hatch sported up car with a very loud stereo) let us across the road and it wasn’t even a crossing. His music still sucked though!

3) the pace of life. People walk around up north, they don’t march. If you stroll in London then you get barged past more often than not. If you don’t run off the tube and to the escalator then you get pushed along. This happens irrespective of age, ability or what you are carrying (even if what you are carrying is a small child). I can’t see the need to run between stops, 20 seconds isn’t gonna make that much difference, you’re not that important.

So there we go. I really liked my visit up to Leeds, it was relaxing and rejuvenating. Will I be moving up there? Not a chance. I like the pace of life down here as much as my friends like the pace of life up where they live. We do like to visit each other, but as Dorothy said ‘there’s no place like home’. If only I had some ruby slippers and didn’t have to use the M1 motorway.

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The journey

Sorry for the lack of blogs the last couple of days, Christmas and all that.

I blog to you today from a little town outside Leeds, that’s right, I’ve gone national! Nothing to do with the books or author stuff, just visiting friends. It’s the journey up here that got me thinking about travel in general.

There are certain rules I tend to follow when going on a long journey. Wether or not these rules make the travel easier is debatable, although they do make me feel better and more in control. An illusion I am sure as I can’t control the roads or any form of time tables. So here are the rules I follow…

1) when driving, get as far as you can before you stop at the services. Even if you or your copilot need a wee, I go by the ‘one more services’ school of thought. I suppose the real reason behind it is the hope you might do it in one stint. This gives the driver (usually a man) a real sense of pride. Why? Got me there.

2) it’s ok to be delayed before you are in the vehicle. Delays at the airport are pretty good these days. Not that they don’t happen, that’s not the good part, it’s that you now have shops and pubs. Last time I was at London Heathrow I was disappointed that the flight was on time. As soon as you get on the plane though it’s a different story. 5 minutes delay in the air feels like an eternity.

3) don’t get false hope in a traffic jam. You are sat for hours, moving millimetres at time, fighting to keep as close as possible to the person in front in case someone pushes in and extends your journey time by 20 seconds. You feel miserable (a feeling made worse by a screaming child) and then the traffic starts to move. 10 miles an hour, 20, 30, 40, you start to hope, you think this is it, we are going, the jam has ended. Then 30, down to 20, then 10, then stop. You are left feeling worse than before because you dared to hope.

4) take plenty of sweets (unless on a train). I like a good Murray mint or a Wethers original. The worst kind is the flaky chocolate as you show up looking like you’ve had an accident. Why not the train? Sweets don’t mix with beer.

The other thing that really makes me grumpy is when the information thingys tell you to stick to 40 and you haven’t moved in 10 minutes. This leads to me shouting at inanimate objects!

May your roads be clear and your flights on time.

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Going underground

One of the best things about where I live is the public transport system. Not a very exciting opening, but bear with me and I shall explain.

The other night my wife took 2 hours, in heavy London traffic, to travel 5 miles. She commented on her Facebook (she told me about it as well, we do speak occasionally) that she could have walked quicker. In fact, in 2 hours you could have almost completed the London marathon. Not me, a fit person.

Although I moan about the underground (some call it the tube or tube train if you’re not a resident, up north it’s the metro, in the states the subway) I do love it. The trains usually run on time and they are pretty regular. It does however have some funny quirks. List time? You bet.

1)Pregnant ladies. Is it better to make a fat girl cry or a pregnant women stand? On a recent journey I did the former. On a very busy train I stood and offered the ‘pregnant’ woman my seat. She looked at me, then at her stomach, then back at me and said no. I could tell I had upset her. No matter how much cake she had eaten she most certainly was not pregnant. I went to sit down again but some crafty person had slid behind me into my seat. I was left, stood next to the lady I had insulted, her staring at me. I got off at the next stop, still miles from home, and waited for the next tube. Ooops. That is why the seat on the end with the sticker over it is known as the danger seat.

2)How old before offer a seat. This is a real double edged sword. In essence, by offering someone a seat due to their age you are saying that they look not only old but feeble.

3) eyes down. One of the unwritten rules is that you do not look at other passengers. They will think you are a little nuts. Conversation is an absolute no no. I lived up north (York) for a whole year and couldn’t get used to random strangers striking up a conversation on the bus. It’s a southern thing I suppose.

4) elbows out when you disembark. This shows my mean side really. I believe that people should wait to get on until everyone has got off. If they don’t, and if I am getting off, then it’s elbow time.

It doesn’t take long to get used to, and so take for granted, the underground system. Years ago while flat sharing, one of the lovely Australians we lived with got very annoyed at people crowding onto the train. This led him to shout, with no sense of irony and in a thick Aussie accent ‘bloody tourists’. The looks of those around him are one of my funniest memories of the time.

So yes, you can get into trouble and yes, you can feel like a sardine and yes, you have to mind the gap. The tube though is, in my humble opinion, a real reason to be a proud Londoner.

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