Travel

Blackpool was heaving

Visited Blackpool yesterday, to take Alex's Nan out for the day. I have been to Blackpool a few times, once with my flat mates and then once during lock down but I have never seen it so busy. Even after lockdown the place was heaving, many people out and about with their families, I guess making the best of the inability of being able to go abroad. You would have to queue to get into almost any of the attractions, including Sealife, Madam Tussauds and the game arcades. To be honest Blackpool isn't normally my favorite place to go but this time it was actually quite good and a really special day taking Alex's Nan out.
Travel

End of my little WFH break in Suffolk

Loved being back in Suffolk for the past week. An opportunity to see different scenery and catch up with different family and friends. I think I have made a good start at getting back to some level of fitness this week. Drank some good coffee and spent some time with Mylo and the pup that I had to look after for a short while. As the Bank Holiday approaches,  it's time to go back to the city. Looking forward to Freight Island on Monday. I'll post some photos!
Travel

I haven’t been to Alton Towers in years

It was amazing to go back to Alton Towers last weekend. I think the last time I went was back in around 2004-2005. Rita Queen of Speed wasn’t even there when I last visited!
Travel

Guten Morgen Berlin

Just recently I visited Germany for Agritechnica, one of the worlds largest Agricultural shows. This was in Hannover just East of Berlin. After some pretty strong determination to get to Berlin in 2019, I managed to make one of the two airports so I could travel to Hannover. On the way back after the show, I decided to book an Airbnb for a two night stay so I could explore the city. Berlin, to me, is just one of those cities that I never got to when I was younger. I hear so much about the history and the music scene from people within my circle that I really have been itching to find out what its all about. I managed to get the train back from Hannover straight to the Berlin HBF, navigating the train network was pretty easy, thanks to Google. I had the address already pumped in. Im on of those people that when you book accommodation, you go straight on Google Street View to look at the surround area, so I had a little bit of an understanding of what to expect. I got off a train stop early, mainly because I wanted to have a walk and get my bearings. As my visit was in November, It was dark already. I noticed all of the posters and graffiti on the walls and around the streets. My Airbnb was in an area called Falckensteinstraẞe which is toward the central east of the city. [caption id="attachment_8724" align="aligncenter" width="506"] The Uber JUMP scooters[/caption] Fortunately, it was pretty good weather and no rain predicted. I was pretty adamant on finding a gym and some good breakfast. My friend Emma has recommended a cafe for me to try, serving a vegetarian breakfast I was up for trying something new. Also, I decided that I didn't want to explore the city by foot as I had way little time, nor did I want to go on a train or a bus, but I found out that Uber had JUMP scooters to hire, so I worked out how these operated and got on board. I was to meet my friend Jack for lunch, so I planned a little trip taking me right into the centre. When I caught up with Jack, he took my on a stroll around passed the Berlin Wall, in fact he gave me some pretty good history of it. We managed to have a beer or two by the river and spoke a lot about the music scene and the best time to come and visit to experience the nightlife. In the evening I caught up with Emma, for a poshhh old Mexican. I haven seen Emma in years so it was awesome to catch up. I'm planning to revisit Berlin very soon to experience the nightlife.
Travel

MCR – my second thoughts

Spent the bank holiday up in Manchester. I booked an airbnb in the local village or Didsbury, south of the city. This really really friendly Irish lady hosted me. I can honestly say I think she was the best Airbnb host I have ever had. I have stayed at 11 places before and I have never had so many towls, food or a walking to a local tram stop! Don't worry, I'm straight on leaving a good review. Back up officially for the 3rd time this year, I wanted to explore the city with no plans. I planned to have no plans and the freedom that gave me to make decisions right across the weekend was awesome. My mission was to find out the best areas and of course find the cool little cafes. I was in Didsbury, and approximately a 20 minute tram ride from the centre. I stayed out that way because the Pride festival was on in the centre and hotel prices and availability was challenging considering I made a last minute decision. This being my 3rd visit I really started to see the contrast of the areas. I think this is due to understanding them a lot better. I spent some time in Ancoats and Deansgate where I found this great coffee shop called "Grindsmith". Normally you would look these coffee shops up on a blog or a review site but I just strolled into this one on the way to the gym, it turned out that it was in the top 10 coffee shops in Manchester. The place has cool working spaces where you could knuckle down to work also a theatre for presentations. I'm a massive fan of black coffee and their long black was sooo good. http://www.grindsmith.com/ I am working in Spinningfields next week so I thought I'd steer around that area for now. In Ancoats I found the Kettle Bell Kitchen which was right next to one of the Pure Gyms. This is a Mancunion company, specialising in Health food. Perfect for me who tries to eat well, when on the road. I tried the burrito bowl and the firecracker chicken that I tell you, is f***ing hot! They even do delivery via Deliveroo and also send you pre-packed boxes for a whole week! https://www.kettlebellkitchen.co.uk/ I couldn't visit Manchester without a good music gig. I returned to the Albert hall for the second instalment of Glitterbox, this time with Simon Dumore (the owner of Defected Records) and then Roger Sanchez. Interestingly, they also had a vocalist this time, Julie McKnight who is famous for so many dance classics including The Kings of Tomorrrow. I love that venue, just the perfect space for a gig. Simon Dumore has just announced a Defected Gig on new years day, I must get to that. I did a lot of walking this time. I used the tram to get back on forth for accommodation, but I really made good use of my legs and felt like I had really got my bearings of the city. One thing I did notice more this time, was the amount of construction going on. High rise glass buildings in the South of Deansgate and also many apartment blocks all around Ancoats.
Travel

Woahhh we’re going to Ibiza

Okay, so Ive been a little bad at posting since May. I really want to keep my blog up and running as best as I can. At the beginning of the Summer I had a few DJ gigs two at the RAU in Cirencester, one at a garden party and two at the homemade Heavenwood Festival. The Heavenwood Festival was crafted by 4 guys and myself. We kept it a private event and had various Djs (our mates) take part in creating a party in the woods. But I'm not going to go on about that here, you can visit heavenwoodfestival.co.uk for all the info and photos. Finally, after two years, I made it back to the white isle, Ibiza. This time instead of supporting a very tame stag do, I went with three mates do engulf in some clubbing. Now, if you know me well, its quite easy for me to get lost in music. I absolutely love my music and attempted to get to every club and nightI could get to. I last went in 2016 but inly made it to a fraction of the venues, this time I got to many more. Our little party calendar looked like this: Friday: Cafe Mambo and Glitterbox at HI Saturday: Ants at Ushuaia and Elrow at Amnesia Sunday: Blue Marlin and Solumun +1 at Pacha Monday: Circoloco at DC-10 Cafe Mambo Last time I went here I was able to watch the sunset from a speed boat but this time we got a table on the decking. I noticed the shear amount of people that flock to the area for the sunset every day. Being on the San Antonio side of the island, this is where the sunsets and normally a famous DJ plays as the sun goes down. In our case it was Hot Since 82, a DJ that I have wanted to see for ages. After the sun sets they pump up the music thought the venue on their Funktion One system. I managed to get right inside Mambo and behind the DJ at one point. Hot Since 82 was playing Pacha after Mambo that night. Glitterbox at HI After the renovation last year, Space turned into HI owned by the Ushuaia Group. So seeing the transformation of the club was a big eye opener for me. I had been to a Glitterbox in Manchester a few months ago but this was its home, Ibiza. I am believed that they spent around 16-17 million on HI and was by far the most technical club on the island. If you hadn't of noticed, I'm a bit of a technical boff so I look at these things all the time. Anyhow, Glitterbox is about the Disco and House music, full of vocals and glamour. The club had two rooms the main room and the terrace, this is what most of the clubs on the island call their smaller rooms. Roger Sanchez and Joey Negro were a couple of the DJs that played in the club that night. Ants at Ushuaia I have never been to Ushuaia before, this is a complex sat on Bora Bora beach which includes a hotel, restaurants, bars and a huge outdoor stage and arena for all kinds of event throughout the season. Saturday night is the ANTS event. Very clever branding and decor turn the whole venue into a crazy party, they have some of the best DJs on and with the flight path directly over the top of the place, makes it a great place to be. We got there early around 5pm and the venue only was half open as to keep everyone all in the same place, they then opened the whole stage area at 7pm. We went upstairs on the back part and you got an amazing view of the stage and also the sunset that sets in the West. Andrea Olivia was Djing. Elrow at Amnesia I have been to an Elrow party before in Space, renowned for its madness, bright colours and 80s/90s decor. I just had to go back to its new location in Amnesia. I hadn't been to Amnesia before, it was on my bucket list to go and it seemed like the right night. Eats Everything was playing as well as De La Swing and other DJs. The sound was incredible and the blast from the CO2 Cannons was intense, along with the tonnes of confetti and inflatables from the celling. People were hanging from bungy cords, floating beds and bath tubs. Yes, it does sound mental doesn't it? Blue Marlin After a little trek out of Ibiza town is the Blue Marlin Beach Club, an outside venue sitting on the beautiful coastline. It was also a restaurant, you could eat there while there were famous DJs playing right over the wall. Heidi from Radio 1 was playing on the night followed by Dennis Ferrier. Solumun+1 at Pacha  Pacha was an old villa back in the 70s and has bloomed into this whole complex just North of Ibiza town, Solumun take along a guest to play on a Sunday night. A more down tempo night of Techno though their pretty epic sound system. There is always a fantastic community of people that come to Pacha, this it what makes it such a great club to be at! DC-10  The club I have been itching to get to for years! DC-10 sits right underneath the close passing of aircraft to the airport. Outdoor area and two massive rooms inside. The night was Circoloco, pumping techno, house and disco. The party began at 18:00 and went right through right until the early hours. I got there early and made some new friends by dancing right at the front. The bass was so good, and a great way of listening to some new DJs I had never heard before including DJ Tennis, Guy Gurber and Honey Dijon. Defiantly my favourite night on the island.
Travel

MCR – my first thoughts

The weekend just gone, I managed to head up the A1(m) to the North to Manchester. Leaving on a Friday is always a hit and miss with the traffic especially around the Huntingdon area because if the major road works. I sailed through with no hold ups, and well the northern roads were fine too. It just took me about 3.5 hours. Weirdly, its actually quicker to go right passed Leeds and then head back down south. Still something i'm trying to work out in my head, perhaps its something to do with the peak district. Anyhow, I have only been up to Manchester once for the Warehouse Project quite a few years ago. So the sights within the city were very new to me. I stayed in the Ancoats area. After a night out with friends I had a good breakfast in a brunch restaurant near to the northern quarter. May I add that my breakfast had rump steak included! Apart from the visit before I mentioned earlier, I felt like i finally got my bearings around the city. Like London there is a business district, a primary shopping and leisure area and then a more historic area. Getting around in Manchester seems to be really easy, by car you can literally drive straight in and in the image above, there is a fantastic tram system coming in from all angles of the city. The Grand National was on this weekend, and a lot of the bars and pubs around the city were full of people waiting for it to be shown on big screens in the shopping centre square. I've been told that it rains a bit in Manchester. Although forecasted to be a cloudy day, it was sunny and warm. I have a brief walk around to the Manchester Arena, I felt like I had to. It gave me the chance to really picture the unfortunate terror attacks during the Ariana Grande gig in May last year. I did keep thinking how does something like this happen to such a special performance.  I guess everyone has their own opinions. Manchester also has a wasp as its symbol, it can be seen pretty much anywhere within the city, including bins, windows and like the sticker on the photo above. I went to the Spinning Fields area (which I want to explore more) and to a restaurant called 20 Stories. Like the name its up on the 20th floor of a office block. It gives you the best view of the whole city. Below are a couple of images of the view! One thing I also noticed, was how talkative and friendly people seemed to have been. It really makes a difference when you feel comfortable to talk to anyone. I mean you could in other cities but this just felt a whole lot more relaxing. I fell like i've just basically just reviewed the city but make its more of a post of my first thoughts. Hoping to visit again very soon.
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Travel

Paris Travels

Just recently, I have managed to finally get to the French capital, Paris. I have been wanting to properly visit Paris for a long time and the only previous times I have been was for my step brothers marathon and a recent work visit to some offices. The Paris Marathon had just taken place in the capital and I went when the London marathon was happening back in the UK. Day One After an extremely early morning, the plane landed at Charles de Gaulle airport at around 8:30 am (Local). Tommy and I then got an Uber to the Airbnb flat that was located in the North West of the capital near a street called Rue de Rome. We met our host Sophie-Maria and she took us through the streets and showed us to our flat. We headed down to the metro and worked out how the ticketing system worked. Headed straight to the Trocadero to then walk down to the Effiel Tower. Obviously, the place where all tourists would head to first of all. The Effiel Tower was huge, far bigger than I imagined.  It was built in the 1880's and was only supposed to be a temporary structure. Clearly, it never got taken down and is used as a broadcast tower today. In the afternoon we headed to the Arc de Triomphe. Unfortunately, there had been a shooting there the previous day so there was a lot of aftermath reporting and also a huge amount of flowers been laid in respect. We had lunch in the middle of the street and took lots of photos. Taking photos was one of our main activities. Later in the afternoon we went on a big Ferris wheel down towards the Louvre and took some incredible shots with my DSLR. Day Two Having slept well we headed out first thing to go to the Notre Dame. Celebrating its 855 years since construction began, we headed inside to have a look at the history close up. I was blown away by the interior and was intrigued with the restoration plans for the upkeep of the cathedral. Later that day we visited the Latin Quarter where there was fresh food, markets and shops. We found a vintage shop and I made my one purchase I had intended, just a shirt. I had been doing some work with a big shopping centre called 'Forum Des Halles' back at home and I was really keen to go and take a look, so we did. It used to be a food market and was stopped in the 1960s by the government. Now it lies a multistory shopping complex. In the evening we visited the area of the Moulin Rouge, the area was full of bars, clubs and sex shops. We didn't go and see a show but just even looking at the Moulin Rouge was a tick in my box. Day Three  Today we visited a church in the Sacré-Cœur area, it's a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Paris.  As it was a Sunday, we had the chance of looking around the church while a service was happening, a very odd experience but as it was a great day there were hundreds of tourists doing the same. The church is on a huge hill in Paris. 180 metres above the rest of the city, we decided it was a good idea to get tickets and climb to the top. We got so many great photos and a panoramic view of the city. Later that day we visited a very famous Cemetary and explored the streets while indulging on lots of ice cream. In the afternoon we got a river cruise from the Bateau Mouche and took in as many sights as we could up and down the river. Day Four This being out last day, we still had lots of exploring time. So we decide to head to the Latin Quarter to go to some shops. We really like the area and we also went back to one of our favourite Cafe's "Le Saint-Régis" for some 'petit dejeuner'.  In the afternoon we went to the "Jardin des Plantes" and along the river bank before heading to the RER train at the Norte Dam metro.  
Travel

J’aime Paris

This week, thanks to where I work, I was able to travel to Paris for a day. I have never travelled to a country for a day and then come back on the return flight the same day. Even after getting up at 4am it is quite surprising how far you can get for one day. In fact even though feeling a little tired I could have quite easily spent a good part of the day in the centre of Paris. I took as many photos as I could throughout the day. I had downloaded a program for my Mac that I could develop the images I took on the flight, one of which is the main image of this post. The image below shows how close I was to the Eiffel.   [caption id="attachment_6763" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Edited by me using Affinity[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6766" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Raw image of the streets of Paris[/caption]  
Travel

Up Festival 

This weekend in Bristol is Europes biggest Street Art and Grafitti festival. In 2015 the festival attracted 30,000 people and 300 artists from all over the world. The festival takes place around North Street, in Bedminster which is South Bristol. Most of the art is spray based and many of the artists spend hours if not weeks before the festival preparing their work. Some of the work is displayed on the sides of buildings with huge array of colours. One of the most talked about are the Mr Men sprayed on one of the buildings opposite the Francis Church. As with every festival food becomes a big part and there are a lot of food outlets, everything from bagels to crispy squid. Some of the areas also play quite a bit of reggae and grime music.  Check out some of the photos I took.  Above: The Mr Men  Below: laurenmariahill.com