Where did all the rock clubs go?

Suicide by Cop, Bradford Zuu

Suicide by Cop, Bradford Zuu

And onto Saturday. The early start did mean one thing – I could catch Linda in Lister Park at 8am as she helped prepare for the first Bradford ParkRun (see www.parkrun.com for more information).

Our brief catchup – I’ve not seen her or her hubby in over 4 years – ended up with me marshalling the run! They were a great group and if I wasn’t such a lazy sod, I’d have joined in. In fairness, I also didn’t have a decent pair of shoes on. I’d have crippled myself. OK, and I’m very unfit.

After some time chatting, I headed into town and met Tracey. Like myself she’s got a CineWorld card and we went to see Shelter as it was the next film starting that we’d not seen.

Despite the weather being nice, yes, I sat in a dark room for 2 hours. I also got a nudge from Tracey about fifteen minutes in as I’d started snoring. The film was OK, I was a little tired!

While walking around town I did notice that the place has changed a lot in recent years. Roads are different, shops have closed and opened. Still, it’s fairly familiar and I can find my way around OK.

I grabbed another chip butty for dinner on the way up to Chunky’s, picked him up and drove him to Kaz’s from where we got a taxi to the Fighting Cock. There we indulged in a bottle of their house fruit wine to start the evening.

This will not end well either... Fighting Cock...

This will not end well either…

Then down to the Black Swan (aka Mucky Duck) for a couple of pints and to help the DJ download some new music. After that, up to the New Empress for more Brown Ale.

Kaz sings in a band who were playing that night in the Zuu bar upstairs, so we wandered up just after they’d started. I also know Alec and Ste who play guitar and drums respectively.

Ian was also there – always a pleasure to see him – and as luck would have it, one of my old work colleagues from the Exchange was there. I’ve not seen her in years and she now lives in Madrid.

Around this point, memory gets hazy… We wandered round to the New Rios which was pretty near empty. I did catch up with Fraggle, another mate from the old days, before we gave up after one drink and walked back round to Zuu.

I have some vague memory of being fed more beer and a couple of shots before Kaz and I got a taxi back to her’s.

After all the booze and so little sleep the night before, rest assured I slumbered well and deep that night!

What’s more amazing is that I took £50 out with me. And still had it in the morning. Some people are just too generous and I owe a lot of drinks. Wish I could remember who to…

That was pretty much it for my trip away. I had a great lie in the next morning and bacon butties for brunch before I clambered into the car and headed back to Glasgow. With good weather and with it being the end of the weekend, there were loads of caravans. Fortunately, the damn things were all going the opposite direction to me so I actually enjoyed my drive home.

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Back in Bradders

I just made it to King’s Cross in time for my train courtesy of the Tube stopping for fifteen minutes. Still, I did catch it so I can’t complain. The rest of the day was good fun, but fairly little to report.

Chunky picked me up and we went to see Kaz who’d kindly agreed to put me up the next night. Only fair she got to see what she was contending with! We talked for that long that I had to change other arrangements, and instead enjoyed a proper chip butty (I couldn’t find one in London – only those bloody oven chips) for brunch.

Vee was my hostess for the evening and I paid my rent in the form of a stir fry. Bargain! Asda do some good stuff for a very low price, just so you know.

As she had an overtime shift the next morning, we just ate and watched Son of Rambow before crashing. Upside – an early night for me. Downside – a 6:30 wakeup on a Saturday. Argh.

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Back to Yorkshire

I headed off fairly early down to Yorkshire, hoping to catch up with Sharon who lives just off the A1. Unfortunately, she was rather ill and texted me before I arrived to tell me she wasn’t really up to meeting. I stopped in a layby, recalculated my route using Google Maps on my phone and set off for Bradford.

Now, Google Maps works out the shortest route, I think, not necessarily the quickest. I wasn’t too fussed as I had some time to kill and the route it came up with was past Ripon and Harrogate and through the Yorkshire Dales. All pleasant.

However. After heading over a bridge and onto a country road I found that I’d drifted off the marked route. Strange as I didn’t recall any turnings. I doubled back out of curiosity even though my current position would allow me to marry up with the correct road later on.

Then I spotted it. A grass track. Something that only qualified as a road by virtue of the fact that a few 4x4s had churned the mud up. How on earth it was marked on Google Maps as a valid B-road was utterly beyond me. I still gave it a go and managed to get around 80% of the way across before realising that this wasn’t a good idea with a little Renault Clio.

By some miracle and a bit of luck, I managed a U-turn and followed the rest of the plotted route into Keighley and on to Chris and Lydia’s. On the way I passed through several old villages replete with stone buildings and traditional shops. This is very much somewhere I’d recommend taking visiting Americans. Or Asians. Or pretty much anyone from a non-British background. Tourists like to see things they don’t have at home, and areas like this are pretty unique to this country.

The afternoon with Lydia was great with the three young kids to entertain me. Or me to entertain them. However it worked out. It was, of course, lovely to see little Sophie for the first time. Last time I visited, Lydia was a week or so from introducing this little bundle to the world.

My next stop was to visit Caz, just back from Denmark where she’d been living for a year or so. Her parents very kindly fed me before we wandered into town to try and find where all the pubs had gone. Pretty much everywhere I used to drink has closed or moved in the last year or so!

The Exchange, where I used to work, is seriously in trouble. No beer on tap as the manager “forgot to order any” and the fridges near empty. We didn’t stay long there. I bumped into Ste and Alec in the New Empress, which is about 1/4 the size of the old one but sells cold Brown Ale.

An early night, but good to see the old place.

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Northern England – part 2

Tapping up this quick entry in the abode of Tony & June in Durham, who I must thank for an awesome and huge home-cooked dinner!

Last night I stopped over with Steph C near Penshaw with her incredibly cute little kitty. He isn’t the spawn of Hell that she made him out to be, or it could be me doing my Dr Dolittle impression again. Given that he was fairly quiet, playful and slept all night cuddled up under my arm in the spare room instead of bothering Steph I think it’s me again.

We had dinner at the Country Park Inn and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re in the area. A decent regular menu and a huge specials board to choose from. Meals from £6 to £14 for the huge mixed grill. I settled on a pasta dish and finished off Steph’s chicken fajitas.

I also realised after I’d posted the previous entry that I forgot to give a shout out to Steve, my old neighbour (the nice one, not the chav who deserved disemboweling). Ta for the cuppas and the chat, fella. Stopped off for an hour, stayed for over four! He really helped to reaffirm how glad I am that I left Bradford, given the state the street has turned into in the meantime. Good luck with the house searching!

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A quick trip round northern England – part 1

Twisted spire

Twisted spire

I’m a little over halfway round a quick nip round to visit friends and thought it’d be nice to add an update to the blog.

In brief, I’ve travelled from Glasgow down to Bradford; hopped back over the M62 to Oldham for a night; returned to Bradford then driven down to Chesterfield and up to Doncaster; finally back to Bradford for another evening.

I drove routes I’d not normally take due to the GPS in my phone. It just uses Google Maps to show me where I am and does some bizarre route planning. Often the route from A to B is not the same as the route from B to A! As a result I’ve ended up going along a couple of awesome country roads I’d never have considered and seen some simply beautiful scenery.

After spending so long abroad, it’s easy to forget exactly how stunning the British countryside can be. It is nice to be reminded once in a while, even if it’s by a wayward route-finding algorithm.

Shouts out to the following:

  • Steph B for exposing me to the Balti Mossala restaurant in Lees. Incredibly good food and great staff
  • Chris & Lydia for just being awesome parents to two (and almost three! I expect a text message saying she’s arrived soon!) of the loveliest little girls one could ever hope to meet. Thank you for the wifi use and the blow-up mattress
  • Vee for being Vee and despite being knackered, staying up till silly o’clock catching up and nattering about old times
  • Mel for thew wander around the Media Museum in Bradford and the chance to meet her gorgeous new(ish!) daughter, Sienna
  • Tracey for the comfy couch and the chance to see Up at the cinema
  • Janice for being kind enough to give me a walking tour around and potted history of Chesterfield. Tourists – check this place out. The church spire is an incredible site and it’s a lovely old town. Thank you also for lunch and the use of your camera!
  • Bernie for being her usual hospitable huggy self and providing me with dinner. I swear she’s the one person I know who’s nicer to animals than I am
Chesterfield's oldest pub

Chesterfield's oldest pub

The attached photos are of Chesterfield and were taken on Monday. I was camera-less bar the one in my phone so I have to repeat my thanks to Janice for letting me use hers to take some decent quality snaps.

Right now I’m in a McD‘s in Bradford, about to head up to sunderland *spit* to see Steph C. Given I’ve not seen her for what must be five or six years I’m sure I can put up with the geographical horror of it all!

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