Well, this past weekend was spent with a bunch of nutters in Ely and Cambridge – Dawn, Colin, Elly (Colin’s other – and much prettier – half) and Damo.

I drove down on Friday night as I had to drop a car-full of ZZ9 merchandise off with Dave who lives near Cambridge. One of the things I’ve had to give up as a result of my jaunt is the position of Merchandise Officer for the society. This has freed up a spare room I will no longer have when the house sells. This is a good thing. However, nobody’s volunteered to take over the job, which is a bad thing.

Dawn kindly took me in for the evening and poured tea for me while I ate a rather dodgy, last-on-the-shelf, reduced-to-clear bit of chicken from Tesco. I think we got about halfway through Blade on the telly before zonking out. I’m such a great guest.

Armed with a load of the worst spirits ever to be stored on top of my fridge, we headed for Colin’s in Cambridge. I’ve known this guy since we started school together aged 5 and he’s still not managed to shake me off, despite moving from Gateshead to Lancaster to Nottingham and then to Cambridge. Nice try, fella.

More tea (my bladder got a good workout this weekend) and a walk into town. On the way there, through the rougher part of Cambridge, I received a text from Lou saying “wish I was with you”. I looked around. It was about 3 degrees, less with the windchill. Litter on the streets. We were walking past a set of flats that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the back end of Glasgow and some kids were sat on bikes eyeing up my wallet. Louise is currently in Thailand, staying in a house on the beach with clear blue skies and balmy, tropical temperatures.

Who wishes who was where, now?

Once in town, we had a quick wander as we waited for Damo to escape from work. When he arrived, the Geordies outnumbered the southerners. Bwahaha! Dawn, I would like to point out, was modelling her shiny new tour t-shirt (buy one now! Proceeds to the RSPCA) while I was wandering round in my Toon shirt as it was Saturday.

Food was sought in a pricey Slug and Lettuce. After ordering it was still sought. For ages. Until they finally brought it. Well, most of it. And some even on the right plates. In fairness, the waitresses were very pretty indeed but I don’t think that made Elly feel any better about her chips never arriving.

There is now a cow wandering around with a 1lb 2-burger-shaped hole in it somewhere. If it’s any consolation I did manage to eat the vast majority of it without feeling too ill.

Next, we wandered around some of the college grounds to which Colin and Damo have free access as they both work there. Some photos were taken (not of us – the buildings were nice enough for me) and the pleasant weather enjoyed.

Colin then made the mistake of pointing out a fudge shop that did free samples. 5 minutes and almost £15 lighter, I left. I had been tempted to ask the guy putting the fudge into a box for me if he was a fudge packer, but:

a) he’ll have heard it before, and

b) he was bigger than me and had a knife.

Colin then decided to be doubly cruel and walked us to a Hotel Chocolat shop. I didn’t even know they had shops – I thought they were only online. After a swift beer, Damo departed to appease his fearsome girlfriend. With a heavy carrier bag and a heavier stomach from the huge lump of dead cow still actively resisting digestion, the rest of us headed back to Col’s on the bus.

Beer and whisky-cask cider was drunk as we watched Johnny Depp’s exemplary performance as a slighty gay Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Carribean before we tootled off to a nearby pub (recommended by Damo) for a few more sherbets.

And what a nice pub. Just enough people to have a bubble of talk, very nice beer, two huge pool tables (which we didn’t use) and a complete smoking ban on the premises. Superb.

Damo joined us for a quick one after he escaped from dinner with his outlaws and the night ended as we were turfed out at closing time.

Despite missing Match of the Day, a great time was had by all. Thanks to everyone for the use of beds, kitchens and wallets. Oh, and Colin bought a t-shirt. You should get one, too.

So that’s Stoke and Cambridge down. Next weekend, Boroughbridge (probably) and Billingham!

Updated plans

All the UK dates are the same as published in the first post, but after I arrive in Thailand… things get a bit hazy! I have volunteered to spend up to 6 months working at the Tiger Temple near Kanchanaburi and they’ve agreed to let me have a “trial” for a week in early April.

The only downside of this is that there is currently no free accomodation outside of the temple walls, so to save on housing I’ll have to live with the monks. This involved sleeping on a mat, eating one meal a day (at 8am) and following some simple guidelines. Hmm.

Of course, the upside is getting to work with tigers. Real, big, hairy, cuddly tigers.

In addition, one of the nice people offering to put me up in Melbourne has told me of an Australian guy who’s working with kids in Hanoi – the Blue Dragon Children’s Trust. Simply, he’s doing his best to keep them off the streets by teaching them things like how to play football and so on. Basically, getting kids out of poverty and encouraging them to learn and work – showing them there’s hope and a life they can aim for.

So I may be in Hanoi for a while as well.

If there’s anything else in that part of the world you reckon I’ve got to do/see, please let me know! There’s a contact form to the side somewhere, or use the comments.

Welcome to the new blog

As most of you are aware, the house is up for sale and I’m disappearing off to climates and pastures new for a year or so. Before I do, there are a load of you I’ve not met and a ton of you I have but want to have a last few beers with. Some dates are sorted, some aren’t.

London’s now a definite as I’ve booked my train ticket. If you’re around that weekend, please let me know and beer can flow! I’m also looking for somewhere to stay… Although one very kind individual has offered to take me to the airport on Tuesday for my flight.

The dates after arrival in Thailand are subject to change, based on flight prices, crash space availability, and how long it takes me to get bored of Asia. See the following posts for my more recent thoughts and ideas.

Feel free to add to the comments if there’s somewhere you reckon I should add, or if you want to head for one of the dates already announced or under discussion. Crash space is at the discretion of those who live there. If you prefer pretty pictures to lists, check out my online calendar and look for the little globes.

  • Feb 4/5 – Stoke
  • Feb 11/12 – Cambridge
  • Feb 18/19 – Middlesbrough
  • Feb 23/24 – Glasgow and Perth
  • Feb 25/26 – Newcastle
  • Mar 4/5 – Cardiff
  • Mar 11/12/13 – London
  • Mar 14 – on a plane to Bangkok
  • Mar 27 – Laos
  • Mar 29 – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Mar 31 – Melbourne, Oz
  • Apr 6 – Sydney, Oz
  • Apr 9 – Brisbane, Oz
  • Apr 17 – Auckland, NZ
  • Sept – Japan