karohemd: (Photo)
[livejournal.com profile] crocodilewings mentioned recently he needed a new avatar and yesterday we happened to be in the same area so we met up at a pub and took a few photos:

Rikk Rikk Rikk
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Beer)
Around 2, I went over to [livejournal.com profile] raggedyman's where his mother picked us up and drove us to Stansted. There we waited at the Krispy Kreme stand for the others ([livejournal.com profile] mansunite, [livejournal.com profile] razornet, [livejournal.com profile] devalmont, Graham, [livejournal.com profile] robinbloke and finally Jon). After a few donuts and checking again we had everything we made our way through customs where [livejournal.com profile] razornet was the unlucky one to be picked for special treatment but we made it through in one piece. A quick "pizza" and a couple of shots later, our flight was finally called and we trekked to the far end of the airport (Gate 54, where no handy train thing goes). We waited in the queue for what seemed like ages but miraculously, when things finally got moving the plane actually left on time and arrived in Krakow 10 minutes ahead of time. The two hour and a bit flight was relatively painless and was spent chatting and reading.
Going through customs and arrivals in Krakow was OK, too, although there was quite a queue. The airport is tiny so while some of us got money out of the cash machine (exchange rate was 5:1), others went for a smoke and [livejournal.com profile] raggedyman even found a flask of vodka for [livejournal.com profile] robinbloke. After looking for the nonexistent hotel shuttle and asking a helpful member of staff we decided to take two taxis to the hotel which worked out quite cheap for the journey (our hotel was at the other end of Krakow). We got to the hotel just after 10, checked in and were told that the bar would close in a few minutes' time so we quickly dropped off our bags and then proceeded to make a good dent into the bar's stock until around midnight because we had an early start the next morning. Nobody asked us to leave and they kept serving us so I guess their opening times are arbitrary (as are other rules as you'll see later).
Getting ready at the airport Hotel bar Hotel bar

The hotel rooms were basic but functional and clean (two beds, wardrobe, desk, two chairs, bathroom with shower, loo and sink), all we needed for a weekend.

The breakfast buffet had hot sausage and "scrambled eggs" and lots of more continental style items like cold cuts and cheeses, rather good bread and bread rolls, boiled eggs, salads, cereal etc. perfect for providing the base for the day's (drinking) activities.
Our first item was a Crazy Guides tour of the communist legacy of Krakow. Our guides were Yoolka, Kielbasa and Nyzio and we were driven around in the Red Devil (standard Trabant), The Frog (Trabant Kombi and the Polski Fiat. How they managed to fold [livejournal.com profile] devalmont into any of them, especially the Fiat was a miracle. We visited Nowa Huta, a huge part of the city build during the Stalin era to house 100,000 steel workers. For communist architecture. this was quite beautiful (if all covered in soot from the pollution) and positively huge and still the biggest district in the city. All communist trappings like the Lenin statue in the main square have been removed so it all looks quite pleasant. In an old restaurant which was the main attraction during the communist era and still makes a lot of business we had a drink (two different shots of vodka) and a bit of a history lesson of the years after WWII until the late 80s. As a centre of heavy industry, Krakow was also one of the major centres for Lech Walesa's Solidarność trade union.
The steelworks itself we didn't visit, just the main gate as there was some celebration going on (some anniversary related to Solidarność. After the steelworks, we stopped at a random street corner where an old Soviet tank was parked which we had a good look around and posed with.
Tanktastic Communist Krakow tour Tanktastic

We were dropped off somewhere in town (at the Square of Ghettos Heroes as I now know) from where we wandered around a bit until we found a small restaurant where we stopped for lunch. We had two flavours of pierogi (pork and sauerkraut), breaded pork neck and other delicacies as well as a couple of beers and more vodka (I held back a bit there as I can't drink much during the day without falling over). After finding out where we actually were, we made our way into the old town proper. Apparently because Hitler loved it, Krakow was never destroyed during WWII so there is a lot of historical architecture from all eras, mostly Central European so not much different from, say, Berlin or Vienna. We walked around, watched the fattest pigeons we'd ever seen, visited the very impressive cathedral which among other lush features has a huge altar piece by Veit Stoß, a German sculptor who also worked in Nuremberg and Bamberg and then had a couple of drinks before wandering more to find The Wodka Bar where they didn't serve food so we went around a couple of corners until we found a restaurant where more excellent food and cake for little money (by UK standards) were had. The menu mentioned mushrooms on my veal escalopes that turned out to be girolles so that was nice. This was also when we discovered that tax often isn't included on the price shown on the menu but the added surprise wasn't that big. The rest of the evening we spent at the vodka bar sampling a variety of vodkas guided by [livejournal.com profile] robinbloke and the very helpful barman. Having had quite enough around 10, we got taxis back to the hotel where we propped up the bar for a bit until midnight or so.
8 do Krakow Cathedral Cathedral Wodka Bar

After the previous night's heavy drinking, we had a bit of a lie-in before breakfast. The historic part of the day was Wawel, a castle complex that has been in use since the 9th century and continuously rebuild and expanded over the centuries in a hodgepodge of styles (quote [livejournal.com profile] raggedyman, "When you become king, you just stick on another bit to live in"). The whole complex is huge and you can walk around the outside areas and most courtyards. Various inside areas are ticketed but separately so you can pick the things you're really interested in. The weather was rather grey and rainy so we just picked up tickets for everything. We started with a guided tour of the royal apartments which were very impressive and lush. Some walls still had original, unrestored murals around the top edge of the walls. Other items like huge tapestries and furniture were equally well preserved. Our lovely guide covered quite a bit of history during that good hour and I learned a lot I hadn't known about Poland.
The armoury was equally impressive. As Krakow used to be the seat of kings, there were the crown jewels and other items from that era in one part of the building and the armour proper with a huge selection of weapons, armour and artillery in the other. Photography was prohibited in all the inside areas so sadly you'll have to take my word for it how interesting and fascinating all the items were, like the gunblades (short thin swords with double barrelled guns built into the handle) and firearms with intricately carved and/or inlaid stocks. One of the rifles looked like a Dwarven blunderbuss from Warhammer and there was a double-action wheel lock handgun, too. The most surprising aspect to me (remember I didn't know much about Polish history other than 20th century) was the strong Central Asian influence especially in the armour. The day before we'd seen a number of people in armour and uniforms wandering around the city center and posing for tourists who looked almost like Mongols to us which we found strange but was then made clear that it was actually local.
We took a break from all the wandering around the castle and then visited the oldest part of the castle (the "Lost Wawel"). For the most part, this is a walkway suspended above excavated walls and ruins as well as cases with items found in the ruins from arrow heads to shoes.
When we came out the sun had come out and on the way to the baggage area (you couldn't take bags into most of the inside buildings) I retook a few photos as things looked even more impressive. Then we climbed up Sandomierska Tower from which we had an impressive view over the city.
We exited through the Dragon's Den, a natural cave underneath the castle, said to be the legend of a great beast that was slain by Krakus, the legendary founder of Krakow. Randomly, as we came down the winding staircase into the first chamber, a short old bearded man in chainmail came the other way who very much like the old Knight Templar guarding the grail in the third Indiana Jones film and pretty much all of us thought, 'Did I just see that?'.
Outside, beautiful weather over the Vistula greeted us as well as a multi-headed statue that actually breathed fire every few minutes. This was a bit hard to photograph in bright sunshine but I got a reasonable shot, even on the G10. There were enough parts of Wawel we didn't see so could easily have spent another day there but we wanted to see some more parts of Krakow and were slowly getting hungry again so we made our way into town again.
Stepped privies Wawel Wawel Fire-breathing Dragon!
Wawel Fancy gargoyle Wawel

We wandered back into the old town and then found a veritable heaven of meat in the shape of Miod i Wino. The menu outside had things like veal shanks and pork knuckles but we went for the Hunters Feast for 8 which included wild boar, deer pierogi, poached venison roulade, breaded pork, red cabbage, pearl barley, ghoulash, various gravies and potato dumplings. As a starter there was bread and lard with crispy bits which amused my Brit friends greatly but was something I was perfectly used to from Germany (we call it Griebenfett). The whole meal was like a journey into my youth in Germany as I couldn't actually remember the last time I had roast wild boar. Suffering from the meat sweats ([livejournal.com profile] raggedyman tweeted "We have managed to give ourselves meatpoisoning by having a "Hunters feast". Currently we are sweating gravy.") we staggered back past the cathedral to the Southern bit of the Jewish Quarter to Singer, a bar [livejournal.com profile] raggedyman had found during his research. It was dark and cosy and the smaller tables were all antique Singer sewing machines. Many a vodka, beer and Slivovitz (damson brandy) were had before we got taxis back to the hotel and ended the night in the hotel bar (which again stayed up a lot longer than advertised). I turned in around 11 as I wanted to pack in peace, shower, rehydrate and write a couple of postcards and was in bed just after midnight.
Bread and lard with crispy bits Hunters Feast Hunters Feast
Singer Singer Singer

Up at 6:45, I crawled out of bed and dressed and stumbled downstairs as I felt the weekend's excesses in my bones. Seeing an ambulance outside made the feeling even worse but thankfully none of us needed medical attention and everybody was ready when the taxis arrived to take us to the airport. Tiny as it is, getting through security/customs was rather quick and painless (although the guard looked at my passport/me a lot longer than the others') and as we had been early we had to wait for quite a while. Getting on the plane was more annoying as there was only one bus and by the time the other half of us got on there were seats but no space in the overhead compartments left so I had to squeeze my bag and jacket between my feet. However, we left on time and got to Stansted ahead of time (that fanfare is really annoying). Getting through passport control with a chipped passport was quick as well and we ended where we started at the Krispy Kremes stall until everyone had made it (the queue for standard passports was much longer). Then we split up again, Andy and I got a lift to Cambridge and I collapsed at home, catching up with internet and TV, reheated dinner and processed photos.

A very good weekend indeed and I definitely want to go back to Poland to discover more of this wonderful country. There are many more photos on flickr.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
On Saturday I met up with [livejournal.com profile] skorpionuk at Jose Pizarro's sherry/tapas bar José for lunch. I had been to Pizarro (his restaurant) before and loved it but I fancied more variety this time. José is on a corner on Bermondsey St. There aren't any tables with chairs but counters along the windows with stools and a few tall bar tables as well as the bar itself. It's open all day on Saturdays from 12 noon and it will be packed very soon and it became apparent why very quickly.
Our first pick was "Pluma Iberica", seared iberico pork served rare. This might sound unusual or even dangerous but the quality of the meat is so high that the rawness is no cause of concern. On the contrary, cooking this superb meat any further would be a crime as it is wonderfully tender and flavoursome, almost melting on the tongue.
The other dishes we shared was a salad of radicchio with walnuts and blue cheese (well balanced flavours), sweet and tender squid with allioli and chilli, gently cooked chicken livers that were almost like paté and a fillet of seabream with morcilla (Spanish black pudding) and red peppers. The final reward was Crema Catalan, equally as good as the one I had at Pizarro. Everything was perfectly cooked, flavoured and seasoned, a joy to eat.
With two glasses of sherry and good conversation, almost two hours went past very quickly indeed.
Apologies for the lack of photos but it was a bit cramped and the food and company were just too good that I forgot, despite actually having a camera with me.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
Last night I met up with [livejournal.com profile] skorpionuk and took her to Alimentum in Cambridge to introduce her to the wonders of their kitchen. I had mentioned I was going on twitter and as both chefs follow me, they asked me if we wanted them "to cook for us" (which usually involves a tasting menu with some extra treats and new dishes) and of course I said yes. We were also treated to a different glass of wine with each course which, considering we ended up having ten (11 counting coffee/petit fours), made us rather jolly indeed and Ed poured rather generously, too. :D
Mostly in between courses (we were concentrating too hard on the food), we chatted about life, the universe and everything (thankfully not really about work) and it was wonderful to catch up and get to know each other better.
Over three hours later we were done and in a taxi to first deliver [livejournal.com profile] skorpionuk at the station in time for her (almost) last train and then me at home. Having arrived home, I crashed out on the bed but couldn't sleep due to too much wine so caught up with a bit of telly and rehydrated.

So, many thanks to the kitchen and FOH teams at Alimentum and to [livejournal.com profile] skorpionuk for being a wonderful dining companion. We should do this more often. :o)

Sneak preview shot:

And here's what we had: )
What a treat, I will never get tired of this place.

I'm on a foodie roll at the moment because next week I'm going to Tuddenham Mill with two twitter friends I haven't actually met in real life yet. :o)
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
Friday: Finished work at 2:30, took the train to London, trekked across London to Hackney and checked into my hotel room. Freshened up a bit, got changed into a nicer shirt and went to have the dinner experience of my life at Roganic. Being very happy and full, I took tubes and trains back to Hackney, showered and chilled before trying to find some sleep in my hot room (it cooled off later).

Saturday: The Victoria Line was out (which links central London to the Overground nicely at Highbury&Islington) so I had to take the Overground all the way to West Hampstead and then the tube to King's Cross for the Vivian Maier exhibition (which warrants its own short post) and then lunch at Pollen St. Social (blog post in a bit). Walking back from lunch towards Oxford Circus, I happened across the Pride parade which was ace. I guess I probably caught the second half and was a bit sorry I missed the first because it was really good fun to watch all those delightful characters, even those with a rather serious message. Because of the train/tube outages I didn't bring my camera because I wasn't sure I'd manage to take it back to the hotel and make it to the gig in time so I only had my phone. Just two samples, the rest are on flickr.

London Pride Parade 2011 London Pride Parade 2011

I then made my way to the Southbank where I wandered around a bit, watched a few performers and the world go by before I got some early dinner at Pitt Cue Co.'s trailer underneath Hungerford Bridge. They provide their take on American style BBQ with various and repeating dishes throughout the day. When I got there, they Pulled Pork had just come out of the oven and I leapt at it. Served in a cardboard container on top of a portion of zingy 'slaw, dressed with a spicy sauce and hot pickles and a chunk of excellent bread, this was excellent street food indeed. Considering the location and the quality of food, 7 pounds was still acceptable, I thought.

Pulled Poark from Pitt Cue Co.

Another trek across London to Hammersmith for an evening I'd been waiting for almost all of my life or at least since '85 when I bought the Scarecrow album, to see John Mellencamp live (again, a separate blog post for that but just to say it was amazing). Then, the worrying bit of making it back to Hackney on public transport began, various lines were partially or completely closed so I had to take first the Piccadilly and then the Central line to Stratford. Despite various delays, I caught the last overground train and made it to Hackney Central, saving a wad of money which would have been the taxi fare.

Sleep was hard to come by as tunes from the evening were still going through my head so eventually got about five and a half hours of sleep before getting up, packing and walking to The Roost for the day's photo shoot. Quite a few people were there already and the place was buzzing with photographers and models getting ready. I only had two things planned: Last July in the morning and [livejournal.com profile] druidess1982 in vintage dresses by [livejournal.com profile] bethany_eowyn in the afternoon. Here are two preview shots, a full post will follow after I'm back from holiday:

Last July Va Va Voom!

[livejournal.com profile] nevla was kind enough to give me a lift back and I was home just after 8, being rather shattered. I backed up the photos, caught up with telly and got a relatively early night.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
On Friday, [livejournal.com profile] pinkapplejam and [livejournal.com profile] raggedy_man aka [livejournal.com profile] hardcore_genki got married and probably should now change their names to pinkappleman and raggedy_jam as they now carry each other's names. :D I'm so happy for them not just because they are perfect together but also because it was such a perfect day.

The Happy Couple Emerge

All the guests be they friends or relatives from both sides got on really well and everyone had fun. I met many awesome people and all those wonderful drawings by [livejournal.com profile] pinkapplejam's artist friends in the wedding book made me feel almost a bit inadequate.
I also had a bit of a pang of envy during the reception when the DJ played some Rolling Stones and [livejournal.com profile] raggedy_man's parents stopped mid-conversation to storm onto the dancefloor. My parents aren't that cool. :o(
Mentioning cool parents, one of my favourite shots is the one of [livejournal.com profile] raggedy_man's dad channeling Cab Calloway during his speech:

Groom's Father's Speech

If you click on that photo and then on the link for the set, you can see all the photos from Friday and I wrote about it here.

I left just before 11 because I was knackered and had a headache from fuzzy vision.

Saturday was part 2 which involved drinks at the Pickerel, a visit of the Cambridge Folk Museum, a guided punt tour along the Backs and back, cocktails at The Snug and a dire dinner at Loch Fyne. Blog post here and photos via the following shot:

Cambridge Folk Museum

On Sunday I slept until noon, crawled out of bed, moaned and slowly got going and tackled the rest of the photos on my hard disk, publishing them on flickr, burning them on DVDs for the couple and their families and uploading highres shots for printing to photobox.

Dear [livejournal.com profile] pinkapplejam and [livejournal.com profile] raggedy_man, thank you very much for inviting me and allowing me to be part of your happy day. I am really happy for you (and I'll see you tonight to pass on your present :D).
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
After their wonderful wedding day [livejournal.com profile] pinkapplejam and [livejournal.com profile] raggedyman invited many friends to an afternoon and evening of exploring Cambridge.
We started off at The Pickerel in Magdalene St. where drinks were drunk and tales from the day before recounted.

At the Pickerel

Our next stop was the Cambridge Folk Museum (where many of us had never been despite having lived in Cambridge for years) and it was quite interesting. It concentrates on everyday life in the region and displays everything from farming, household and artisan equipment to reconstructed kitchens and children's toys and (disturbing) dolls.

Cambridge Folk Museum

Outside, we put the happy couple in a modern version of the stocks:

Cambridge Folk Museum

After a snack at Subway (dinner was planned at 9), two guided punts took us along The Backs and back. The weather was still good (if a bit chilly) so this was a lovely way to spend a late afternoon. Our chaffeurs/guides punted us alongside in two punts and were really cool, friendly, chatty and funny and didn't talk as much bollocks as expected but actually talked to us rather than at us.

On a guided punt tour along the Backs

Then a hike across town where [livejournal.com profile] raggedy_man checked with Loch Fyne they had received our order (this would become important later). We carried on to The Snug where we had to sit outside as there was no space inside. Cocktails and other drinks were had while chatting - and chattering as it was getting rather cold - so cold in fact we decided to go on walk back to the river, across Silver St. bridge and to the weir on the other side where Mike showed us what the rollers were for (getting punts from one level of the river to the other).

Back at Loch Fyne, we were seated in the back and then found out they had screwed up our order or rather, didn't know what to do with it. While at the Snug we had emailed an additional order of three (IIRC) so they had two orders, one for 18 and one for 3 people. Rather than assuming as they had been told that this was a combined order, they didn't know which one was the right one and didn't do any of it so we first had to order from scratch. (As we'd pre-ordered what should have happened was that we got there and were served pretty much immediately. One hour later, the starters finally arrived. Various people were happy with theirs (for example the squid) but my Norfolk crab soup was boring (there was no meat in the watery soup and the chilli on the bread that was served with it killed any crab flavour the soup might have had). My main was a whole grilled Lemon Sole and it was quite nice, although the fish was a touch over and the beans a touch under but the flavours were good. On the downside, at least two people's mains were actually cold. The general consenus was that nobody would go back (it was rather good about four years ago) but that probably won't make a difference to the place as it was crammed full, even when we got there at 9.

Many more photos on flickr.

After many good-byes I shared a taxi back with [livejournal.com profile] hardcore_genki and left them to get some well-deserved rest while I downloaded photos and watched Doctor Who.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
Today two of my best friends got married: [livejournal.com profile] raggedy_man who's been a dear friend for 15 years and [livejournal.com profile] pinkapplejam who I've known since they started going out and it was fantastic.
The wedding was held at Hotel Felix in Cambridge and as it was such a nice day, the ceremony was in the garden in, fittingly, a gazebo. The disadvantage of this was that it was quite noisy with traffic, tweeting birds, binmen and, just as [livejournal.com profile] raggedy_man was saying his personal vows, an ice cream van (which actually was rather appropriate). However, these issues only affected the audience and the official bit went along without a hitch. As the couple (now bearing each other's names in double-barrel fashion) emerged ([livejournal.com profile] pinkapplejam in a beautiful, scintillating red dress and [livejournal.com profile] raggedy_man in a more traditional morning suit with an appropriate top hat), their smiles couldn't possibly have been bigger:

hgwed1 079

There were cheers and confetti from all sides as people mingled and congratulated the newlyweds and photos were taken.

hgwed1 104

After lots of mingling and chatting, we were ushered upstairs where tables were laid out named after various cats (I was on Hector) with a great mix of people from both sides, friends and family) on each table and name tags, menus and tags designed by [livejournal.com profile] pinkapplejam. The menu consisted of a reasonable ham hock terrine (which could have done with a bit of either mustard or horseradish), a very well cooked piece of chicken with pomme boulanger and cabbage and a lovely choc mousse served with raspberry coulis, a hazelnut biscuit and creme fraiche. The slightly minty chocolate truffles served with the coffee were excellent. I usually can't stand mint chocolate but these had just the right amount of mint that left you with a clean, fresh taste in your mouth.

Then, the speeches: [livejournal.com profile] pinkapplejam's dad did a lovely, briefish speech on how much his kids meant to him, [livejournal.com profile] raggedy_man and [livejournal.com profile] pinkapplejam about how much the other meant to them, Nayyar's Best Woman speech was lovely and kind while [livejournal.com profile] robinbloke's Best Man speech picked out more fun (and embarrassing) memories from their friendship. [livejournal.com profile] raggedy_man's dad was last with more fun and "interesting" tales from Andy's youth and provided one of my favourite shots of the day:

Groom's Father's Speech

Then we were ushered downstairs again where we mingled on the terrace and in the bar while the upstairs was prepared for the reception.
That was good fun as well, the music wasn't objectionable (they had trained their DJ well), a cake was slaughtered and a buffet (which included some rather fine roast beef) demolished. Nobody kicked up a fuss, nobody got excessively drunk, nobody behaved embarrassingly.
I don't think it could have gone any better.
As I'm knackered, I'll close this with a shot of the first dance:

first dance

More photos on flickr. A lot more tomorrow. I was glad I wasn't the official photographer as I woke up with fuzzy vision and had two brief technology failures and the light on the dancefloor was so weak it was very hard to focus properly. :/

So, congratulations again to [livejournal.com profile] pinkapplejam and [livejournal.com profile] raggedyman. I am very happy that you are so happy together. Long may it continue.

ETA: The album with edited photos is now up on flickr.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Balthasar)
[livejournal.com profile] badgersandjam has just released Life in Captivity, a little book of poetry and you can pre-order it from the link above.
Oh, and if you buy it, you get a photo by me for free. ;o)
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Beer)
[livejournal.com profile] belak_krin kindly gave me a lift to Bar Hill where we met the rest of the party ([livejournal.com profile] robinbloke, [livejournal.com profile] devalmont, [livejournal.com profile] davywavy, [livejournal.com profile] twentypence and Alan) and set off in glorious sunshine in three cars to "Location X".
On the A14 we passed a Mitsubishi SUV of the "paranormal investigation team" WTFWT which caused some giggles.

Our destination was Thetford Forest, specifically the Go Ape! assault course. We signed in, signed our waivers and waited for someone to arrive (who didn't) and were then strapped into our harnesses and shown how the safety lines worked (you were always attached by at least one point every time, while you were crossing an obstacle by two). Having been apprehensive all week, I was surprisingly calm until I climbed up the first rope ladder. I (or rather, my knees) really didn't like the wobbling but I made it up to the first (training) platform from which you had to cross on a 1cm steel cable while clipped onto a wire overhead. There were ropes to hold onto and the wire was under high tension so didn't wobble and I was fine with it. That wasn't bad at all. On the other side of the target platform was the first zip line. These I thought would be the worse for me because I really don't like not seeing where I'm going to land, at least not with little control over my speed. However, this turned out not to be a problem and was a lot of fun and I actually felt really safe.
Then, the first proper obstacle, a platform quite high up, then a tarzan swing into a cargo net which you had to climb up (while still being connected to the tarzan rope) and traverse to the next platform. I realised how unfit (or at least lacking in body strength) I am when I realised how difficult that long rope ladder was. Climbing the cargo net was even worse as it was far too wobbly for my liking. It took me ages to get across (guided by [livejournal.com profile] robinbloke who told me how high I needed to go as I couldn't look around much because I was holding on for dear life) but I made it. The next two bits (crossing a wire, a rope bridge consisting of stepping planks just a step length apart and another bridge that was basically a net) were no problem for me. The zip line at the end of that bit gave me a real rush. :o)
All the others are a lot fitter for me and had little physical problems. [livejournal.com profile] davywavy was probably the bravest of us as he suffers from quite severe fear of heights but he did really well.
Looking at the next row of obstacles, I chickened out of completing the rest because there were too many wobbly bits for my liking so I followed the group on the ground and took lots of videos and photos. I wish there had been a lift up to the zip lines because they were a lot of fun but I couldn't get there. :/
The next bit consisted of a cargo net to traverse and various stepping and wire bridges, ending with another zip line.
After that was another tarzan swing with quite a drop, landing at speed in a cargo net and then across a series of swinging bits to another zip line.
The final bit was more swinging bits and the longest zip line back to the start.
Everybody had a good time, especially the groom so the first part of the day was a huge success. The beautiful weather obviously helped a lot, too.

We drove back to Bar Hill, stocked up on supplies at the super tesco's and convened at [livejournal.com profile] robinbloke's house to recover with drink, delivered curry and more booze. There were silly cartoons and YouTube videos, games (Zombie Dice) and then lots and lots of Karaoke on [livejournal.com profile] raggedyman's Lucky Voice machine. Various people dropped out or went home over the next few hours but [livejournal.com profile] devalmont, [livejournal.com profile] robinbloke, [livejournal.com profile] belak_krin and I held out until about 3am.

I slept reasonably well on the squishy couch and started shuffling about around 10, helping clear up a bit. [livejournal.com profile] robinbloke cooked us bacon and egg breakfast and we spent the rest of the time until just after midday chatting.

Go Ape! - net Go Ape! - suspension bridge
Go Ape! - We're supposed to go where? Go Ape! - swinging bits Happy stag
Karaoke time! Karaoke time!

Bigger and more photos plus a couple of videos )
Yet more photos and videos (finally all of them are up) on flickr.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
After a rather long train/tube journey (KingsX line was screwed so had to use the Liverpool St. line), I (on [livejournal.com profile] ditzy_pole's recommendation) first had lunch at Gordon Ramsay's Maze restaurant which was rather fine. I hadn't treated myself in quite a while so I had four courses from the lunch menu with the flight of wines:

Cauliflower velouté, smoked haddock, potato salad - light, with delicate flavours
Braised veal shin, rocket pesto, white onion risotto - my favourite dish, despite it being veal, this had the meatiest flavour, very rich
Lamb rump, fennel, samphire, lemon thyme jus - the accompaniments really made this, complimenting each other wonderfully
Guanabana parfait, mango sorbet, mint jelly, lime sherbert - this was great, too, really fruity and fresh

I can't remember the wines (I really need to write these down). The first was a young and fresh Sauvignon/Chardonnay, then a light but fruity Italian red (grape I wasn't familiar with) and with dessert a sparkly Muscadet (perfect with the rather sweet parfait)
Service was excellent, too, friendly, unobtrusive and eager to explain everything.
I also watched the sommelier deal with what must have been a rather special (and probably old) bottle of wine. He opened it very carefully, poured out a bit into a glass, looked at it, sniffed it (probably to check if it had corked). Then he poured a bit into a carafe and basically rinsed out the carafe with the wine before decanting the bottle.

Then off to Islington to meet my friend Maria for tea and cakes. Ottolenghi was bursting at the seams with queue outside the door so we went somewhere else which was OK. It was good to catch up and chat with someone I don't see as often anymore.

After that my main reason to go to London that day: Cirque du Soleil's Totem at the Royal Albert Hall. Randomly, [livejournal.com profile] ditzy_pole and [livejournal.com profile] asthier had also booked tickets for that performance and even more randomly, sat about 5 seats away from me so we had a little chat during the interval.
The show was less artsy-fartsy than some I've seen but had a similar format, all the acts flowing into each other with live music accompaniment. It was a fantastic mix of various acrobatics and jonglage. My favourite acts were the "Perches" because there were not only wonderful acrobatics but also feats of strength and physics involved and "Manipulation" because I hadn't see that kind of clever jonglage before. My least favourite bits were the clowns, especially that obnoxious Italian and the bit with the waterski. That was just a waste of time (and didn't get that much applause, either). As always, stage and costume design were marvellous, too.

Sadly, I couldn't stay and chat as I had to head off quickly so I could catch my train home in time. Due to a door fault, we were stuck on a rather hot Victoria line train for at least five minutes before it set off again. I just made it to Tottenham Hale and the train to Cambridge in time.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
was cool indeed. Varied selection of music (even [livejournal.com profile] technotom's set was less goffic than I feared ;P) Considering it's summer, the turnout was excellent, too, and people seemed to have a good time.

A huge thanks to all my friends for feeling [livejournal.com profile] xambrius welcome, he had a good time. :o)

I'd picked him up earlier from the station, checked him into Westminster Collage (I hate not being able to offer crash space), then we had dinner at Tanh Binh and took a leisurely walk through town past Reality Checkpoint until we ended up at the Dev. After a pint of Sparta, [livejournal.com profile] razornet joined and we had a good chat about stuff and another pint or two.
Then [livejournal.com profile] xambrius was being silly and called [livejournal.com profile] martinhesselius, handing his phone to me (in revenge for the same thing Glas did at ICC a few years ago ;)

This afternoon we'll be doing the touristy thing in Cambridge (incl being lazy and have us punt down the Backs). Anyone who would like to join us is more than welcome.
We'll probably end up doing a little pub crawl in the evening, again the more the merrier. Probably Cambridge Blue, Dev, Elm Tree, ending at the Pickerel because that's closest to Tim's abode. ;)

Photos to follow.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Beer)

Yesterday, I slept in til well past noon and then just relaxed, catching up with TV and getting nothing else done because I was feeling kind of meh but I still headed down to London for [livejournal.com profile] ginasketch's bday drinks at the Bree Louise in Euston. There were no fast trains (which I found out about too late) so I only got there a bit after 7. [livejournal.com profile] nadriel and [livejournal.com profile] colonel_maxim were there, too, as well as a few other of G's friends who I hadn't met before. It was a good evening with lots of chats about silly and excellent films (what was the spy film DT recommended?), gaming, martial arts and other things as well as lots of cider (@omlongden and [livejournal.com profile] vyvyan would have been in heaven) as I wasn't in the mood for warm beer (great and well kept as they looked but I like my beer slightly under room temperature). I also had a steak and kidney

I had to leave just after 10 to be able to get home not too late. Unsurprisingly, the train was packed but I managed to get a seat and read more of Perdido Street Station. Stupidly, I decided to stay up for Dr. Terror's House of Horrors on BBC2 which was even delayed by half an hour so I was again in bed far too late. Bah, there's simply not enough weekend. :/
I also started watching Avatar which was quite boring and just an excercise in CGI and felt like a huge video game cutscene. ETA: Still the same impression after having seen the rest of it.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Cinema)
Sunday started with Psycho. A new digital print combined on the big screen was perfect for appreciating the superb cinematography properly. Absolutely wonderful.

After that, I watched too bits in TV Heaven (Children of the Stones - sadly only two eps - and Dark Season - which was very 80s cheese by RTD).

Patrick was next, excellent thriller with a psychokinetic coma patient.
Is it just me or did the doctor have a rather striking resemblance to the Albino from Mark of the Devil? I checked on imdb, it's not the same actor.

Then another Screentalk with Stanley A. Long about his career, his films, difficulties with (and bribing of) censors and anecdotes of Roman Polanski and other people he's worked with. Another very enjoyable talk with a great character.

His Screamtime, a collection of three shorts was next and indeed excellent. I will never look at garden gnomes the same way again.

That ran straight into The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue which was hilariously cheesy and a fitting end to the festival.

All in all, an excellent festival with excellent films, good friends old and new (@Crawther, yay!). Really sad it's over.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
So I'm finally awake enough to do this. I stayed far too long last night/this morning but for some reason I wasn't tired anymore and made a good headstart on the photos. So here goes.

I slept in, packed, got ready and took the train down to Stansted where the flight had a "short" delay of one hour. The flight itself was OK, though (having short legs helps on easyjet flights). As I had no luggage to claim I made it down to the station relatively quickly, too. I had to wait a bit for the next S-Bahn but the train/underground journey wasn't bad (about 45 mins). Another 10 mins walk (or even less) later and I was at Heidi's apartment building in central Munich. Many flights of stairs later (she lives right under the roof), I was greeted by her and Mithril and Smaug (her two kitties who thankfully accepted me immediately). By the time we'd caught up with the most important things it was 2am so we turned in. The sofa was very comfortable indeed so I slept as well as anywhere on the first night. It was also very quiet, despite being in central Munich but the street isn't a thoroghfare so there isn't much traffic.

I was woken around 8:30 by one cat using my arse as a springboard and the one pulling the duvet off me so I lounged around with and took a couple of photos of them until Heidi got up. The weather was perfect (warmish for the time of the year and sunny) so we had breakfast at a nice little cafe and then wandered around Munich a bit with another stop at one of Heidi's favourite cafe's for coffee and awesome cake. We wandered back, chilled a bit and then headed out to the Tollwood Festival which was less than 15 minutes' walk away (very handy!). We strolled around the stalls and marquees, had some organic mulled wine and a really nice Gyros for dinner. Then it was time to head to the Grand Chapiteau for the Tiger Lillies gig so I handed over my camera and we went separate ways.
The gig was fantastic. The TLs were on great form and the circus/freak acts really added to the experience. The trapeze double act during was eye-poppingly fantastic. Really really good.
The show was done around 10 so I walked back to Heidi's. I wasn't really up for anything else so we played on her PS3 until 2am. Turns out I seem to have a knack for playing evil Sith. ;)
I slept really well without interruption (not even the kitties woke me up) until it was simply too bright. We again went out for breakfast where I had an awesome Kaiserschmarrn (fluffy pancake) and then took the S-Bahn out to Ebersberg where Heidi's mum had a stall selling her awesome Platzerl (Christmas cookies). I got a very generous free sample and they really are excellent and almost too pretty to eat. We also walked around the town a bit and watched apprentices doing some impressive smithing at the market.
After taking the train back, we relaxed a bit, looked through the photos and played with the kitties (or rather, Heidi did and I took photos). Afterwards, we had very nice Thai dinner at the Lotus Lounge, walked to the next underground station and went our separate ways. Getting to the airport and through customs/security was quick and easy but getting on the flight was a bit obnoxious and the flight was delayed by almost half an hour (without explanation/apology this time). Then again this meant I didn't have to wait for the train in Stansted and I got an immediate and fast connection to Cambridge and the first taxi so I was home just before midnight.

It was a very good and relaxing weekend.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
When someone invites you to help devour their huge amounts of pork, you don't say no, especially when it's a fellow foodie like [livejournal.com profile] i_am_toast.
After my huge dinner last night (pork tenderloin, peppercorn sauce, dauphinoise potatoes, wilted chard) I wasn't really hungry (didn't even have breakfast, just a banana) but when the gnocchi starter appeared (very nice indeed for a first attempt and not stodgy at all) so did my appetite.
There was a mindboggling "Gin&Tonic" sorbet while we were waiting for the main event:
Pork roast, THE BEST ROAST POTATOES EVAR (super crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside), sauteed cabbage with bacon and walnuts (excellent combo) and baby carrots. A bucket of gravy, too. Nobody could fit in any dessert so we left that in the freeze.

We shambled upstairs to flop on couches, chat and watch the fab Bubba-Hotep which was just the right fodder.

Thank you again for a wonderful Sunday afternoon!

On my way back I missed the bus by a minute (I was just at the Mitcham's Corner pedestrian crossing when the bus came round the corner. If there had been any people at the stop, I could have sprinted up but this way it just carried on) and it being a Sunday, I walked home (which took me as long as waiting for the next bus so it made sense). Walking off a few of those calories actually did me good.

At home, I caught up with stuff online and watched the interesting first episode of Stephen Fry's Last Chance to See (revisiting and expanding on the places/species Douglas Adams visited in the original). If you didn't see it, catch it on iplayer.
karohemd: (Photo)
Here's a small preview of what we got up to yesterday. There's lots more to come. Except for the silhouette ones (which were a spur of the moment addition, anyway), we're really happy with the results.

karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
Thursday evening I took many trains to arrive in Brighouse at 22:35 (as scheduled), wandered down to the Old Ship and had Liberal Drinks with [livejournal.com profile] miss_s_b, her dad, [livejournal.com profile] innerbrat, [livejournal.com profile] matgb and someone whose name I don't remember. After closing time, we headed to [livejournal.com profile] miss_s_b's for being enthusiastically greeted by the mad dogs of the house, a bit of chat and then an early night.

Friday morning I stopped being able to sleep rather early (a combination of the usual first night in unfamiliar surroundings and the bright light in the morning) so I went downstairs and joined [livejournal.com profile] innerbrat in playing LEGO Batman on the wii. After a quick breakfast, [livejournal.com profile] matgb kindly gave us a lift into Bradford (parking turned out being cheaper than bus tickets for everyone), we picked up our passes and had to wait for a bit for the first film because Bradford had just been declared Unesco City of Film and the announcement was made at the NMM. We also ran into the usual suspects from the Brit Horror forums.
After Flash Gordon we parted ways as we watched different films, around 10 I had late dinner at Omar's (the largest Naans in Yorkshire and they're not lying), being joined by the BritHorror crowd and then reconvened with SB and the other lot for the fun midnight showing of Shaun of the Dead. Home and sleep.

Saturday morning we went in quite early as we wanted to see the Short Films (which were very good, more in my film post). Dinner was at the Love Apple where I had some lovely griddled halloumi and then quickly back for the highlight of the day, Aliens in 70mm. No midnight film so we drove back and relaxed at SB and Mat's.

Sunday was another early morning which I started with Gnaw, being joined by the others for Call of Cthulhu. Had lunch with [livejournal.com profile] innerbrat at the lovely Vegetarian Indian buffet (really tasty dishes, one with chickpeas and paneer, the other was a veg jalfrezi. I didn't have the sweet potato one but [livejournal.com profile] innerbrat did, the fried starter bits were great as well, just the dessert was a bit too sticky for my taste (but lovely and cinnamony). Back to the NMM for a bit of wander around before I left [livejournal.com profile] innerbrat in the TV section and watched Terminal Man.
After that I listened to Mike Hodges (director of Flash Gordon, Terminal Man, Get Carter etc.) being interviewed by Tony Earnshaw which was really good and funny and I was a bit sad I had to leave before the end because I had a ticket for Star Trek at the IMAX (which was big and actually a bit too big for my taste, despite sitting rather far back).
After a nice bottle of Black Sheep and a muffin at the bar, we parted ways again, me to watch Suspiria and the others for Scar Crow with a Q&A session with cast and crew afterwards (which took quite long to finish).
Back in Brighouse, SB cooked up some fine pasta with tomato sauce and a leaf salad which was a nice end to the weekend.

Monday I got up, packed, had a quick breakfast, sad goodbye to hosts and other houseguest, wandered down to the station in glorious sunshine and had perfect train connections to Cambridge. Went shopping (which will be cooked soon) and caught up with stuff online. I really don't want to go to work tomorrow...
karohemd: (Photo)

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