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Saturday, 11 December 2010

The Football Marathon

This is all about stamina and being able to cope with a fast food diet of mainly football with a sprinkling of Rugby Union and Cricket thrown to keep the interest going. With Cheryl away in London it meant I had the chance to tick this off the list, with great success as well. I had a couple of mates come round to help make sure I did this properly, thanks to Chris and Joe for your support and valued punditry hahaha. Cheryl came back early Sunday evening and it was good to have a break, I did feel that I could carry on watching another game and then I would really make Cheryl a football widow haha.

First game kicks off at Ipswich with blue lines!
Overall the quality of matches was poor to average, I think after watching Barcelona battering Real Madrid 5-0 in the El Classico earlier that week I was kind of expecting some more scintillating football. Having been spoilt like that it was always going to be like after the Lord Mayors show.  Hopefully you followed my Twitter feed to see how it all happened, you can also search for #footballmarathon and it should come up with my time line of events. With some games overlapping I had to make an executive decision about what to watch but I continually watch sport from the Saturday to the Sunday. A good result all round.

Me and my mate Chris came up with the rules for the football marathon which were the following.
1. Only allowed to watch live matches
2. No watching re-runs of matches including Match of the Day
3. Watching ESPN Classic is not allowed
4. As long as I am near the TV and can hear the match it still counts (just so I could go to the toilet and make food.)
5. Twit at least once about each game on Twitter
6. If a game overlapped with another it would be fine to switch over to the other game.

Having a break from the football to watch some Rugby.
The list below is off the games I watched.


Ipswich vs Swansea City, The Championship
South Africa vs Barbarians, Rugby Union International
Schalke vs Bayern Munich, Bundsliga
AC Milan vs Brescia, Serie A
Barcelona vs Osasuna, La Liga
Real Madrid vs Valencia, La Liga
England vs Australia, The Ashes


West Brom vs Newcastle, English Premiership
Sunderland vs West Ham Unite, English Premiership

What a save! Schalke vs Bayern Munich, Bundesliga
Peace, Love and Bananas xxx

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Imax Factor

I had never properly been to watch a film at the Imax, I did a radio documentary project once at Farnborough College on the future of Cinema. I went to the one in Bristol where I interviewed the manager and was allowed to watch a nature programme for free. I had heard about how amazing it was to go to watch a proper film at the Imax.

The Printworks, Manchester - a cool old building.
Me and Cheryl went to see Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1, which is a fantastic film. We went to the first showing on a Saturday morning, which is always a bit surreal when you have been in the Cinema for a couple of hours and you come out and it is still daylight. 

With the screen being as tall as seven storey building it really looked fantastic and the sound was something else. I am really glad I went and The Printworks is a beautiful building architecturally. Having not really explored that part of Manchester before it was really impressed with the area ( it was like art and media hub type of area) and I finally found out where the Urbis is where the National Football Museum will be moving to next year. Along with this we stumbled upon some of the Christmas Markets that were being held across central Manchester. That was really cool and it got us into the festive mood. 

After watching the film we tried finding a pub where it was showing the England vs South Africa game in 3D, but no luck so we ended up just watching it in boring old 2D with commentary from the Tennis being played instead of the Rugby guys. Apparently there was a fault with their Sky box so it was an interesting take on the game! Next up is the Sports/Football Marathon which should be interesting and I may have square or football shaped eyes by the end of it.

Peace, Love and Banana’s xxx

The Chil-e Factor (The Fear Part 2)

I never thought it but I might be a natural at this Skiing lark, ok so it is only a one hour taster session at the Chill Factor but it was a lot of fun and I did really well. Which I am really shocked at considering I am not very well balanced and my co-ordination is not great. It was a lot of fun and I would like to do it again. Having just started a new job at West Lancs Borough Council it was a great it was a long day as Cheryl came to pick me up and go across to Manchester to meet Alan and Sarah. There we had a meal at Nandos, which it was only in York back in October where I experienced it for the first time and I love it! We had to wait ages for the food and we were getting worried that I would miss my taster session.

My impression of Eddie the Eagle
This was the brilliant Birthday present of my Brother-in-Law and FiancĂ©, Alan and Sarah, if you were wondering. So we had to wolf our food down and went off to get sorted with the Ski stuff. Having got changed and then trying to figure out how to put on Ski boots which was like giving a banana to an alien. Finally got all the gear on and went out to what felt like being outside as the temperature was around about the same I think about minus five. I was amazed how the snow was actual real, I thought it would be synthetic powder type stuff. Trying to put ski’s on was the easy part, trying to walk was another thing all together. It felt like having giant flippers on your feet with boots locked halfway up your shin, a weird sensation for the first 20 minutes.

Left to right: Me, Alan and Sarah.
The instructor was good and taught us how to walk up the slope to the halfway point which was far enough for me before I started slowly sliding back down again. I finally got use to it and we started to ski down trying out different ways to jump, balance and turn direction. I only managed to fall over twice and the second time I just fell over while the instructor was talking. It felt like it was in slow motion and took a couple of attempts to heave me back up again. The instructor and Cheryl watching from the balcony said I really done well for a first timer. It was a fun hour and something I would like to try again.

Look no hands! - who needs poles!?!
Peace, Love and Banana’s xxx

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Ch, Ch, Changes (again)

Some of you eagle eyed people may have noticed the list has changed somewhat. Due to time and finances things have been changed so I am able to complete the list by 31st Decemeber 2010.

So far I am happy with what I have achieved and the changes made and now that I have got some work at last it has come at a good time as I have done most things on the list. Now there is not much left, which at some points in the year I would not be able to get it done. With on the final straight it has been an amazing year and I am proud what I have achieved but I will be glad when it is over come 1st January 2011, no more list I can relax.

I will blog soon about the Chill Factor Ski Session I did and going to the Imax Cinema at The Printworks, Manchester.

Peace, Love and Bananas  xxx

Monday, 15 November 2010

The Fear (Part 1)

I am still aching all across my back and arms after conquering Rock Climbing. It was well worth the pain now as it helped me get over my fear of climbing heights. Me and Joe (who helped me prepare for the walk up Mount Snowdon) went along to Westview in Preston. Their facilities was very impressive with various types of climbing walls and we tried a couple out which went really well.

I struggled at first with just my trainers on (I was wearing clothes as well; I was not naked just in case anyone is thinking of that).  Lindsey brought over a pair of rock climbing shoes for me and that worked a lot better. This meant I actually had grip going along the mini wall and not slipping off every 10 seconds. 

On to the bigger walls and I was quite apprehensive climbing at the first attempt, getting to the top was fine. I did not look down until I got to the top and then I got scared. When I was a kid I use to get stuck once I got to the top and my body would just freeze. The instructor was good and brought me down and I felt fairly confident I could go up and down the wall again. I manage to do that a few more times as me and Joe took it in turns to have a go. With each time going up and down it became a lot easier until the last go when I felt the burn and I was just two more steps from the top. It was tiring stuff and I think I used too much of my upper body strength.  I just have to remember to use my legs to power up the wall. 

This is after I did the climbing walls, my arms grew another four feet the next morning lol.
The instructor, Lindsey, was brilliant with us. She really helped me keep Joe hanging around up there hahaha. Seriously though, it will be something I will come back to do in the future. It rounded off a great day with England battering the Aussies in the Rugby (Union is the game that only matters in the Rugby codes).

Up next is trying out skiing at The Chill Factor in Manchester, I expect my backside to be black and blue after that one. It should be fun and a little less painful hahaha. The Fear: Part 2 will be about the Skiing session, if it goes successful like a Hollywood movie franchise then there maybe a a third instalment.

Peace, Love and Bannana's xxx

York - one year on from when it all started

It started as day one on October 25th 2009, year zero for me and Cheryl. It was like a new start and what a year it has been since the day we got married. One year on and it we went up to York to celebrate our first wedding anniversary.
The resident Cat in the pub.
It was fantastic to celebrate our first proper anniversary in York, we cannot decide on what the actual date we got together on. We first stopped off at this Pub which had two resident cats in which I found amazing and amusing at the same time. One cat was dozing on a stool next to the bar, which clumsily I almost the poor thing by accident. I had to do a double take on that one. Me and Cheryl came to sit down for some food and then the ginger tabby cat came and sat at our table looked at us as much to say “hhhmmm...nice food, will you save me some” then I fussed the cat and it then curled up on the seat next to me and went to sleep. As we were finishing off are meals the cat then woke up and just stared at us waiting for some food. I don’t think the cat really need any more food I think it had plenty of the good life in that pub. On to the hotel and we found ourselves to be upgraded which was really nice by my future sister-in-law Sarah who works for the Hotel chain. We had a stunning view across the river and we could see York Cathedral rising above the rooftops of the beautiful picturesque city. A big thank you to Sarah for the booking and getting us a really nice room with a view plus a nice bottle of wine from the management.

The view from the bridge near the hotel.
We had an explore around the City and it was dark by then and we latched on to a couple of ghost tours, by accident we are both giant scaredy cats. We ventured down the cobble streets and we were getting really scared by the stories the tour guides were talking about. So we decided to find the bright lights of the town centre.
Clifford Tower - impressive home. Now just find that spare million or three. Would they except Monopoly money?
The next day we went to York Dungeons, walked around the castle walls, wondered through the old shopping part of York where we followed part of the ghost tours. York Dungeons was brilliant and very scary with my heart racing constantly and both me and Cheryl spooking each other or laughing at each other as we took it in turns to jump at various points throughout the tour. I think the worse bit was thinking a hand was coming to get me then it appeared it was an actual real person in a cloak trying to grab me. I literally ran as fast as I could and ran straight into Cheryl and almost rugby tackling her. I had never been so scared since I went to Disney World in 1992 where me and my parents went in the Haunted House. After getting out both our hearts were pumping so fast I thought I was running the 10k all over again. We instantly found a Costa Coffee just to sit down and get a caffeine fix to calm our selves down. Thinking about it I am sure it made us more jumpy and scared plus being Halloween everything else seemed slightly more scary especially at night. After lunch we had a wonder around the nooks and crannies of York town centre and then for a nice wonder around the City walls and York Minister Cathedral. That was good, my imagination went into overdrive and I started to think how it would look like from Roman times up to the dark ages. 

Apparently the longest street name in Britain and also the shortest as well.
On the final day we went around on the red bus tour which was really good as we both got a really good look around other parts of the City we did not see. We did try to get to the Jorvik Viking Centre but there was a queue of 45 minutes to get in. Which we thought, no sod that, so we went to try out Nando’s for the first time ever. I would definitely go back again and it changed my view point that it was a northern version of Bath. York really stands out on its own as a unique city and has its own eccentric ways just like Bath in the buildings and atmosphere. 

Love the name, I would like to live there one day lol.

Peace, Love and Banana's x

Monday, 25 October 2010

Birthday stuff

For some of my birthday presents I got was related to the list of 30. A big thank you goes to Alan and Sarah for getting me a sking lesson at The Chill Factor. Which should be fantastic if not a little painful, having never skied before! Talking of pain Cheryl treated me to a back,neck and head massage and to a very nice Italian meal at Checco's (a new Italian Restaurant in Preston). The massage I had was amazing it was painful at the start but good pain though if there is such a thing hahaha. When I was on the table and the lovely lady was working away on me I tried not to dribble as I started to fall asleep. Then I tried to wake my self up so I did not end up snoring! Lucky enough I did not, yet I was in a catatonic state of being half asleep and awake at the same time. Thank you to Cheryl for getting me such awesome present, she also got me Danger Mouse pj bottoms (picture below) which really put the cherry on the cake.

Also thank you to both sets of parents who have helped with our mini break to York to celebrate our first Wedding Anniversary. I can't believe how fast the past 12 months has flown by! I thought preparing for the wedding over 18 months went quick, this year it has been on super fast forward.

When I was at home I got a leaflet from Uncle Dave for the Clevedon Boxing Day Run. With my knee almost back to normal I can start training again soon, currently I have been doing rehab in the pool to strengthen the muscles. Cheryl has said I should do Pilates on the Wii Fit to build up more strength in the muscles/ligaments.

I am very excited and really looking forward to York now as we travel up from Bev and Keith's in Huntingdon on the Great North Road (A1) planning how and when we are going to get the other things done on the list.

Peace, love and Banana's xxx

P.S I can see why they call it the Great North Road, it goes on forever. The Romans most of had this on their Sat Nav's as a favourite route. It's all straight up!

Location:Somewhere on the A1

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Finally made it to 30! Who would of thought it?!

When I was a kid I would be cheeky to my parents sometimes and other family members, even other adults and they use to say..."Do you want to see past your next birthday" or "Do you want to reach 30?" Well I have now reached the big 3 0 and I have survived to tell the tale.

Very nice! Mum's birthday cake for my birthday, brings back memories of all the cakes she made when I was kid.

And this is my tale, not my whole life story - no that would be just silly of me and plus have you got a spare six months? Just that it could take a while and you would have to get very comfortable as some bits are just not that exciting. So this is the story of my 30th Birthday and how I managed to celebrate for almost a whole week. Which I think is pretty impressive, and justified too! As the next big one is 40! Bloody hell, that makes me shudder with the cold shiver you get when people say someone has stepped over your grave. Why is that by the way? Have they been to the future and seen some drunken person stumbling over it or some kids playing hide and seek in a grave yard!
Getting to the celebrations of my 30th birthday and the whole reason for this blog. It all started with going down to my parents in Clevedon, North Somerset as my birthday was during the week (a shame really, got to blame the Romans for this one and the arrangement of the Calender we have today). Me and Cheryl went down back home early as I was and still unemployed so I could make the most of birthday weekend at home.

On to Friday night and we went to see Bath play Gloucester in Aviva Premiership (Rugby Union) at The Rec which was a great night out in the beauitful old Roman city. Going to the game was part of my birthday present and also meant I could tick at least half of one of the objectives on my list. We are still thinking about what we are going to do with reaching the second Premiership Rugby ground. On the night it was a really good atmosphere and we had a great view (see picture below) along with a beauitful backdrop of Bath it really does live up to a picturesque ground of real beauty. It is not until you really start scratching below the surface that it is a ramshackled ground with real character. Due to half the ground having to be packed up when the Rugby is not on and letting the general public use it for whatever they want. We walked in and it was a strange place with a Wurzels type tribute band playing in one of the beer tents and the toilets being portaloos like you get at a music festival which were next to the bars. There were also the smell of pasties and cider which Cheryl seemed to be so shocked by, she could not belive Bath was living up to the West Country stereotype.

A view of the posh end (Hospitality and Prawn Sandwiches included)
From the picture below, saw people watching the game from the huge house behind the stand and there was also a porch area we could just about see. We loads of people watching with their cider and wine in hand enjoying  the spectacle of a fierce and competitive West Country derby.

The game itself was a a good, Bath did not really front up and looked like they did not want as much as Gloucester did, sorry for the use of a very old sporting cliche but it is the best way to describe it. A shock win for Gloucester at the Rec was an amazing achievement. I think there record down at Bath is 2 wins in 20 years, impressive result.

The teams just starting to come out on the pitch.

By the time we got to go and watch Bristol play Bedford Blues at The Memorial Stadium we tried to catch up as many people as possible. It was good to catch up with family and firends it was a whirlwind weekend with hardly a chance to catch my breath. Saying that on Saturday night in the Pub it was so nice to have a proper pint of cider on tap as well! The next morning the hangover was not too bad hahaha. On to Sunday it was off to watch my hometown team, Bristol play Bedford Blues in the recent restructured and much critcised new league The Championship (copying what they have done in Football).

Scrum time in the game Bristol vs Bedford, The Memorial Stadium

Try time for Briz?

It was good to go down and see Briz play and shout myself hoarse, Briz did not win but they came close within seven points which meant a losing bonus point. After losing out to Exeter Chiefs in the first ever Championship Play-off Final, Bristol has seen half their squad leave and a major resructure of the whole club went on over the summer. A very simliar position which the whole country is going through at the moment. On to the match and a new look Bristol still trying to find their feet in this division played well and should of and could of won the game. It was good to see they showed passion and heart turn round a dour first half performance into an almost match winning performance. It was a great weekend and the celebrations carried on for most of the week as well with various other things going on. More about that later though.

Me and Cheryl at The Memorial Ground, home of Bristol Rugby.  

Peace, Love and Bannana's xxx

Monday, 20 September 2010

Well that was easy. So what's been going on?

A week without Twitter or Facebook was fine and I did not get any withdrawal symptoms. Maybe it helped that I was on holiday in Menorca. When I was on honeymoon in Mexico, I thought it was exciting to update on Facebook to let people know what was going on and what an amazing time me and Cheryl were having. Even on holiday on the small Spanish island I was tempted to tweet or update my status as I had a great time with the Burtons (the in-laws). It was not until two days later that I checked any of my social networking accounts. So I feel have well and truly passed that test.

The sunrise in Menorca - a view from the Villa we stayed in.

With being on holiday for almost a whole month of August was good, but hard to get going again. Trying to get back into a routine has been hard but feels like I am getting back to it again. I am back on the job hunting trail harder than ever. I have been on an Employability course with CXL which was handy and good to brush up on the job hunting and interview skills. Along with this I have started my Level 2 in Adult Numeracy at Preston College and I have the target of getting it done by Christmas (2010). As my maths skills has not been the strongest part of me so fingers crossed it goes well. Yesterday, I started my PTTLS course (Preparing To Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) which will help me get a job back in the Education sector where I really enjoyed working in.

Well the big 30 is coming up fast - YIKES! I was thinking of buying a couple of the national newspapers on the day of my birthday. As it is a momentous day just like the wedding last year ( which was the scariest thing I have done so far!) it would be a good idea to have as a keepsake. The idea came from Dan who I grew up with as he lived across the road from me. So the plans are to go home and see family and friends down in Clevedon. Then I will do something up North, which I am not too sure what yet. I do like what my best man (Ben) did and done a video about pushing 30. So any ideas from anybody?

Update on the knee injury: After damaging it from the 10k Great Manchester Run and walking up and down Mount Snowden. It is almost back to normal and I have started the rehab by going swimming three times a week. Wholes couple of weeks ago I tried a 10 minute run which was okay until the end when the knee started hurting badly. So going back to the Doctors to get the all clear next week hopefully.

Peace, Love and Bananas xxx

Thursday, 19 August 2010

No Twitter or Facebook for a week! How do I cope? Easy!

It has been a busy old time since my last blog. With the world still spinning around and my knee getting better then injuring it again twice since the Manchester 10k Run it has been frustrating time. Saying that there has been about five job interviews I have gone to and have come very close to getting at least three of them.

Along with that I have been away to Newquay in Cornwall for a week with my parents and Cheryl. That was a great week away to get rid of all the stress and strife going on at the moment. Also we got to my Cousin's new baby boy, Brayden.
Land's End was cool and with their own fight for independence it felt like England had it's own Catalonia, (obviously without the football team)

Cornwall was fantastic and I had forgotten what a great place it was. I use to go there or Devon a lot when I was growing up on family holidays. It was amazing to go and see the Eden Project, which was a wonderful and colourful place teaching people about the environment. Lands End was great, too think this is the last post off England before you have to swim a lot of miles to get across to the Americas. While we were walking around you could sense and almost touch out and feel the historical events that happened here.

The view from our hotel room at sunset in Newquay.
This week I am off on holiday to Menorca with the in-laws which should be a brilliant time. It also means I get a chance to tick another item off my list. I am banned from checking Twitter and Facebook and it includes not updating my status either. I can cope without the social networking sites and Cheryl think I will crack by the middle of the holiday. Yet I am allowed to blog, so I may do this on holiday as a get out clause or a cunning plan hehehe. Check out the rest of the photo's from our holiday in Cornwall on my Facebook page.

Congratulations must go to my cousin Lucy and Luke on their first baby, Brayden, he is amazing little fella and it was great to see him when me and Cheryl were back home in Clevedon. Good luck to them and hopefully they can get some sleep soon.

Peace, Love and Banana's xxx

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Mount Snowdon is conqured!

If you were wondering, yes, I have survived and conquered one of the highest mountains in Britain by climbing/walking/scrambling to the summit which is at 3,560ft (1085 metres). Due to being very busy where things were getting in the way, such as life! I have not had chance to blog about my experience of tackling Snowdon. After the 10km run this was going to be the second hardest challenge on the list of 30 things to do to celebrate being 30. I think this has now become joint first with the run! 

The Great Explorers: (from left to right) Sarah, Alan and Me

We started about a quarter of the way up Snowdon where all the walkers/ramblers started their ascend up the mountain. The weather was good through out the day and I went through two t-shirts and water proof jacket after doing the walk. 

Going up Snowdon we saw a number of men running up and down the Pyg Track, which I thought was mad considering the rough terrain around us. To me that is madness, but then looking up and you saw some people walking along the thin edge of the Mountain. I am not an adrenalin junkie but they are off their heads, maybe it was just the thought of living on the edge and quite literally!

At times the terrain was steep then it would be flat for a while and then have to scramble up some of the rocks and climb over some massive boulders. When we would stop each time we got even higher and the views got even more spectacular! By the time we got to the top it was amazing, we got up to the last quarter and it was a winding track; just like a spiral staircase and it was really tough as it was getting steeper with each step. During this time the clouds were slowly starting to lift as we were walking up we were not really able to see the top. It was perfect timing as we reached the top the clouds rolled away gently and the land started to reveal itself and then you looked out and saw in the distance the Isle of Man. Unfortunately I could not see Ireland as it was not a clear enough day across the Irish Sea.

Above: On the way up Mount Snowdon

On the Way Down

After my lunch of sandwiches and some Alan's army rations which were really nice. We started the walk down and followed the Snowdon Railway track all the way down. This was probably the most painful part of the journey as my knee was really hurting and it took four hours to walk down. I had gone to the Doctor's a couple of days before and told them about the my knee when I was running that it felt like someone was stabbing my right knee with two sharp knifes. This turned out to be I had torn my cruciate ligament and needed rest. So when I told them about I was climbing Snowdon in a couple of days they just laughed! So it was just a stupid idea to do after what I did and still not regretting the walk, but my knee is.

At one point we thought we were pretty much half way, yet around 20 minutes later we reached the Half way Cafe. Irony does not do it justice at this point and felt slightly despondent at the thought of more walking. It was good to stop there and when we entered the cafe, among the news clipping of the silly and deadly stories of what happened to people in the past there was a poster. This poster had the results of a the run up the mountain, the fastest person did it in one hour and 6 minutes (I did a 10k run in that - I was knackered but a mountain that person is off their rocker). We hit the trail again and carried on walking and eventually we lost the railway track and we ended up going through a farmers field and then onto some country lanes which led into the back of a housing estate and on to the main road. We got picked up in the middle village while having a well deserved ice cream (mine was honeycomb and vanilla which was delicious).

What a buzz getting up to the top and it was on par with the 10km Great Manchester Run I did back in May this year. With a smile as big as the Menai Strait and punching the air just like I did crossing the line at the Great Manchester 10k Run it was a great achievement and a wonderful feeling.

The Facts:

3 1/2 hour climb up to the summit
4 hour walk down
4 sandwiches (fuel)

2 bananas
2 used t-shirts (swapped over at the summit due to the amount of sweat)
1 Walking stick for the dodgy old knee
1 Rain coat
1 Digital camera (to show proof I made it up to the summit)
And not forgetting one Alan and one Sarah.

Peace, Love and Bananas xxx

Me at the top of Snowdon  

Monday, 12 July 2010

Preston Historical Tour

On a sun baked day in Preston. Me and Cheryl went along to the launch of the Industrial Revolution Exhibition and Walking tour (this is to give the official title). On the tour we got to find out about the what part Preston played in the Industrial Revolution (Cheryl's favourite part of history). This special tour included actors at strategic points to signify the landmarks that were pivotal to the history of the then Lancashire town.

The picture below takes you down a side pass next to one of the Church's along Church Street and there in waiting is a lady in a black dress with a white cardigan over here. She talked about the total abstinence (also known as teetotalism ) movement that begun in Preston.

Picture above: Walking down next to the Old Cock Yard (there use to be cock fighting back in the day)

The tour took us on to Richard Arkwright's house where a working lady of the house at the time explained to the group about the important role the inventor of the spinning jenny had on the town of Preston. We then ended up at Winckley Square a beautiful little Victorian park just off the town centre (it is also known as the business quarter) where there is a statue of Sir Robert Peel. The people of Preston felt a great gratitude to the man and the modern Police force he set up which help keep law and order in this Lancashire town.

Picture Above: A lady working at the Arkwright House.

It was a great tour in the end and it was good to know what happened in Preston and learn more about the the history of Preston. Another one ticked off the list and it was good learn about a place I have been living in for 6 years now and knew little about it.

Peace, Love and Banana's

The Preston gentleman guiding the group around the tour of what was Industrial Preston - next to the Sir Robert Peel statue.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Time flies...the photo album

The last ten years have been interesting and it has flown. It is so true when your parents say to appreciate the time now and not to wish your life away or wanting time to go faster, especially approaching your birthday or Christmas when you are a kid. I have found since I have hit about twenty one it has got faster and faster.

I have now completed my photograph's I have had printed over the last decade and I have put them in an album at last. That is another one to tick of the shrinking list. It was one of those jobs that you think about and never end up doing, you know a bored Sunday wet and miserable English afternoon. Well I have now done it and made a little more room on the shelf so Cheryl can carry building her own personal library. For me, personally, it was not a therapy session over a couple of days while watching the World Cup in South Africa. It brought a really sense of achievement and also bringing back memories that have been locked away in the dust bowl of mind. There were some photo's that Cheryl had never seen before such as the ones taken when I was at Farnborough College (1999-2001) and my holiday to Canada (2002) to see Ben (my best man at my wedding, a massive big thank you to him coming over from Canada - 2009). I have got now two photo albums worth of pictures from the last decade telling my story of 2000 to 2010. The University years will be a separate project me and Cheryl will probably end up taking on as there are hundreds of weird, wacky and what the hell?! photographs to put into an album.

It got me thinking about the next ten years and what will happen and who I will meet. Their will be people who will come into my life briefly for a moment who may leave a lasting imprint on me, then there will be the people who will never leave and celebrate the good times and commiserate the bad times. When I was 20 I did not even think I would be living in Preston, married (I always wanted to get married, but never put a time frame on it), gone to Glastonbury, holidayed in Mexico, run a 10km race, gone to Wembley to watch Bristol City play, worked for Bristol City as a steward and to Twickenham to watch England play Rugby. Also I never thought I would of gone to the University of Central Lancashire to do my degree and have such an amazing time meeting so many wonderful, cool, quirky, brilliant and beauitful people.

What about the hear and now, well since finishing University back in 2006 life and the world has sped up even more faster in a lot of ways. I have met a few more interesting and funny people (all in a good way) and the next chapter of my life who knows where it will take. I am currently hoping England win the next Rugby Union and Football World Cup 2011 and 2014, personally hope to be a stable job with some decent money is the short term aim. I kind of had a plan at twenty and for being thirty years old on this very old planet we live on (me being thirty is not even a mere speck compared to this planet and how old it is) I have a cunning plan, some bloke once said in an average comedy programme back in the eighties. That cunning plan is...well, ha! was some where...I think it was down the back of the sofa with the hidden treasure from Lord Lucan.

Peace, love and bananas xxx

P.S Ben I owe you big time bloke! As well as two trips to come over and see you.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Training for Snowdon - Pendle Hill, May Bank Holiday & Beacon Fell

After the 10km run I did in Manchester the training for walking up Mount Snowdon in North Wales was going to be a doodle compared to the months of training it took me to complete the Great Manchester Run. Proved slightly wrong about that prediction. On the last Bank Holiday of May I decided to take a trip up to Pendle Hill in the Ribble Valley of Lancashire. A beautiful wave of hills and country side on a very hot sunny day (I can not believe I said that about a Bank Holiday in England!). The walk was a gentle start through a tiny village and meandering through people's backyards to get to the actual ascent up a great big massive hill.

(Above: Going past people's backyards up to Pendle Hill)

(Above: Pendle Hill approaching with Joe leading the way.)

When we got through to the start of the steps which were back of a farmer's field I looked up to find what looked like not a very steep steps. The steps up to the summit proved to be like the steps from Cirith Ungol from Lord of the Rings. They were so steep that I had to stop several times to catch some air in my lungs and start again. With Joe being an amateur rambler, he seemed to shoot up the hill like a Roberto Carlos free kick. Once we got up to the summit it was a great site to see how far we came up and also the distance we could see across the land. I imagine the Pendle Hill Witches on Halloween having a lot of fun up here and scarring the locals half to death.

(The worst stairs I have ever walked up - so long, winding and twisting with the summit seeming never yet near enough but so far away)

From the summit we walked along the top for a little while and the ground seemed to look a lot like what Mars seems to be from the pictures you see from the satellites NASA send over that way. In the end we kind of went down and around Pendle Hill and ended up following a stream that turned into a dried up river via a big reservoir with a cool looking tower in the middle of it. Also the natives (the sheep and rams) seemed to be quite disinterested in the people walking down if not a little nosily in protest from spoiling their Bank Holiday.Overall a real good introduction into what to expect at Snowdon and a good day out.

(The Lancashire version of Mars)

(Me at the summit of Pendle Hill - soon to conquer a small mound of rock called Mount Snowdon)

Beacon Fell was a good stomp around the Preston countryside with my brother-in-law Alan the other week, as this was the final walk before tackling Mount Snowdon. It was a good training walk and despite getting lost a few times or was it more taking accidental short cuts, definitely the latter. It was a fairly easy walk compared to Pendle Hill with it mostly being flat until right at the end. A sudden sharp incline came into play coming into the forest with a scary looking forest entrance it was (see below). It felt like you could be swooped away by an evil flying monkey from the Wizard of Oz or being chased by the Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. It was good to reach the summit and to see the pillar on top saying how far places were depending where we were standing.

A warm greeting from one of the rejected Easter Island heads. A strange sight to see when you are about to go off a walk around the stunning and beauitful country side of Preston. Maybe this is just ward off any of the local natives.

More blog entries still to come as I have been on a Historical walk around Preston and the second biggest challenge on the list - Walking up and back down Mount Snowdon.

Peace, Love and Banana's X

Monday, 14 June 2010

Bouncing around the world with the Harlem Globetrotters

They were awesome, enough said!!! Well I will say a few more words than that. I had a great weekend away in Birmingham and the Harlem Globetrotters were the cherry on the top of a wonderful weekend with Cheryl. It was blazing hot on the Friday and it stayed like it until we got back home.

It was a fairly uneventful drive down the M6 (I hate that stretch of motorway it is hell!). The tricky bit came when we got to the City centre. Spaghetti Junction was not a patch on what Cheryl had to drive through. So we got ourselves sorted and started sight seeing around the City centre. It was odd sitting outside the Bullring shopping centre and next to it was a church from the 17th or18th century. A clash of modern and old ideologies clashing in Birmingham. We wondered around for the afternoon through the market stalls and on to the canal area via the City museum. To round of a really good day we went to have a curry with a Curry House conveniently next door to the hotel. Birmingham living up to it's reputation there.

On to Saturday and we warmed up for the Globetrotters with a really nice trip to Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-Upon-Avon, a town which has a real charm about it and they have kept a lot of the old Tudor houses in good shape. A blazing hot day again and we went on a really gentile cruise along the canal which kept us a cool for a while. With the hot weather it reminded both of us of being in Mexico on honeymoon (good times). We ventured or really meandered along taking in the beauty, charm and wonderful archtecture of Stratford.

Now for the main event; the Harlem Globetrotters at the LG Arena (formerly the National Indoor Arena or N.I.A for short). Entering the venue was like heading into a funky 1970's club as it was a massive reception area where you could eat, drink, play Basketball it was so vast. We went in and got our seats and you saw that there was not going to be a big crowd there that night. Basketball is not a real popular game in England but has a small following. Basketball has a difficult job to attract and market the game in this country due to the established sports that have existed in this country for over a century now.

The game itself was the Globetrotters against the Washington Generals (the usual suspects they seem to be playing through out their tour). Parts of it was a very impressive display of skills and tricks and what I remember from watching on video and television when I was a teenager. There was also the American over acting that appears in WWE wrestling which felt really cringing at times for me. For the kids and their families they loved it most probably. At times they over hammed their acting and the microphones they used did not work very well and we could only hear about half what they were saying. At the end with my programme I got a couple of autographs from the players as partly proof of being their and being like a kid again. The crush was unbelievable as there were pushy parents and kids trampling over each other to get their first. Sad, yes but it is all in the name of getting the list done. Overall a great weekend away and really happy I got to see the Globetrotters.

Peace, love and banana's xxx

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Cycling to work has been done - tick!

That was not too bad, I have been helping out at Cheryl's work painting the education centre at Preston North End's Deepdale stadium. So with learning how to paint this week I thought it would be a good time to tick another one of the list. I got on my bike and rode to Deepdale every day this week as I treated as work even though it was just a voluntary work. It felt like it was an achievement to me as I am still out of work and the hardest thing is keeping yourself motivated along with getting out of bed in the mornings. The weather in Preston has been fairly decent this week and I have took the massive steep incline at the bridge next to Tulketh Mill that goes over the railway lines. The route took me along Blackpool Road along Moor Park and turning on to Deepdale Road to the Stadium. A decent ride and has meant I have not carried on running this week, but I have missed the buzz of running which I will get back to next week. Probably my knee's are glad of it as they have been a bit sore lately from the running and walking up Pendle Hill (more about that in the next blog entry).

Peace, Love and Banana's xxx

Me on my bike going out to do the last cycle to work.

Friday, 4 June 2010

So much time, so little entries

As summer comes, we wave goodbye to a harsh and horrible cold Winter.

So as we reach halfway, time to hurry up and get things done on the list. I started to train for my walk up Snowdon by going up and around Pendle Hill with my mate Joe (part time professional walker). That was Bank Holiday Monday and It was a good walk of three and half hours in the beautiful surroundings of the Ribble Valley/Forest of Bowland.

Currently on the road and heading south to Birmingham for a great weekend which includes the mighty Harlem Globetrotters at the N.E.C on Saturday night. A dream is finally getting realised, check out the earlier entry about them and why I am going.

Peace, Love & Bananna's xxx

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The Bupa Great Manchester 10K Run

What an achievement, training since early February this year and I done it in a time of 1:05:05. The training at times has been tough and I have bits of chaffing and plenty of aches and muscle strains. I have never done a 10km run in my life before and the nearest to running that distance has been doing the cross country run at school. This has been all part of the journey to achieving one of the hardest goals I set my self on the list of 30 things to do to celebrate my 30th Birthday.

Pre-race glow here or is it more I am thinking there is no going back - it was worth it though!

The run was fantastic, the atmosphere was electric and a big thank you to Brother-in-Law Alan and his Girlfriend Sarah for letting me and Cheryl stay over in Manchester and cope with the nerves for that big day. We meet up with Sarah's mates from work and got warmed up with the other 14,000 in the last wave to go. The weather was perfect for running the 10k run, warm but overcast with a slight a wind (hmm...I should do this weather forecasting on the television - easy as pie). The first 2k seemed to take forever, it probably did not help with everyone still quite bunched up but it got easier after then I got a good rhythm going. I had my Ipod to listen to as I was going around the course with a playlist (see below) I created specifically for the 10k which I used in training as well. Around the route there were random bands playing all sorts of music from funk, rock, classical to weird jazz! Also there was the Key 103 and XFM (Clint Boon DJing live) had there own stage pumping out the tunes. That was okay, just a bit annoying at times when I wanted to listen to my own tunes, but Clint Boon was good though, he was playing The Charlatans and the track that is currently being used in the Cadbury's chocolate advert 'The Only One I know'. It was a good route as well passing around Old Trafford and Salford Quays and the Imperial War Museum and back into the City centre. The last two k was hell my legs were gone (they were in so much pain) I was struggling to breath. Thankfully as I was trundling past the 8k sign the NHS were handing out jelly babies and clumps of Vaseline. I did not need the Vaseline, but the jelly babies were very much needed as the sugar gave me the boost to get past the finishing line.

Coming down the hill from Chester Road I started to see the finish line and I used up the energy that I had left in the tank to make a storming run and to get a quick time, I saw the time on the board and I thought...WOW! 1:06 but I actually shaved off a minute when I got my text through for the official time. As I was running around the course I thought of what celebration I was going to do when I crossed the line, well I managed just to pump one fist in the air. With the crowd roaring you on in the last 500 metres it really helped me to get my backside across that line. The feeling off crossing that line was an unbelievable sensation and I was buzzing for the rest of the day. As soon as I crossed the line I felt like I was going to be sick and one of the First Aider's came over to offer me a sick bag. My thought was do I look like I am going to be projectile vomit across everyone and I have just run 10k I am not going to be sick! Amazingly even though I felt sick I thought I can still carry on for a little longer, I never I would feel like that but something inside me said you can still do it! Keep on running, maybe it is a primal instinct that I have unearthed. By the time I got showered and dressed we went to the pub to meet up with the rest of Sarah's workmates and their families. I was part of the John Hughes Trophy which was part of a small group of people who were running it for a bit of extra fun. I managed to come third overall. Which considering my odds were at a respectable 20-1 before the race (according to the organisers of the John Hughes Trophy).

Will I be doing it again next yea? Yes I will! the buzz of the day was out of this world and I want
to get under an hour for next year. Thank you as well to everyone who sponsored me for the event with all the money going to the British Heart Foundation.

Peace, Love and Banana's

'What do you mean I am running the London Marathon next week...!?!'

My impression of Rick Astley from the Peter Kay gig

 The Playlist of songs I listened to training and running for the 10K run. 
Acapella Kelis
The Age Of The Understatement The Last Shadow Puppets
All My Life Foo Fighters
Eat My Goal Collapsed Lung
Another Chance (Afterlife Remix) Roger Sanchez
American Dream Jakatta
Long Train Runnin' The Doobie Brothers
Radar Love Golden Earring
Foo Fighters
Some Velvet Morning (New Version) Primal Scream
The Distance CAKE
Turn Up The Sun Oasis
Eyeball Tickler Oasis
Get Ready The Proclaimers
Empire State Of Mind (Part II) Broken Down Alicia Keys
End Credits Chase & Status
Proper Education (Edit) Eric Prydz vs Pink Floyd
All Along The Watchtower Jimi Hendrix
Wake Up
Arcade Fire
Rebellion (Lies) Arcade Fire
Millennium Robbie Williams
No Regrets Robbie Williams
Robbie Williams
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine The Killers
I'm Not Alone (Radio Edit) Calvin Harris
Beastie Boys
You Don't Love Me The Kooks
The Kooks
Warrior's Dance The Prodigy
Don´t Fear The Reaper Blue Oyster Cult
Fu-Gee-La The Fugees
Paris Is Burning Ladyhawke
Are You Gonna Go My Way Lenny Kravitz
You've Got The Love Florence & The Machine
Headshrinker Oasis
My Vision Feat. Seal Jakatta
No Time for Tears The Enemy
Something Good '08 [Radio Edit] Utah Saints
Singin' In The Rain Mint Royale
Cry For You September
Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer) Freemasons Feat. Sophie Ellis-Bextor
Devil In Me 22-20s
Television Hard-Fi
Get Off
The Dandy Warhols
No One Knows Queens Of The Stone Age
Spanish Hustle The Fatback Band
Stop The Rock Apollo 440
Eye Of The Tiger Survivor
She Said
Plan B
Little Lion Man Mumford & Sons
Smooth Criminal Alien Ant Farm
Black and White Town Doves
Tied Up Too Tight Hard-Fi
Sweet Disposition (Original Version) The Temper Trap
Take A Look Around (Theme From M:I2) Limp Bizkit
One To Another Charlatans
I Am The Resurrection The Stone Roses
Highway To Hell AC/DC
Underdog (Album Version) Kasabian
Fast Fuse
When Love Takes Over (feat. Kelly Rowland) David Guetta
Wide Awake The Twang

(Below: This is not me straight after the run but! This was taken about a week and half afterwards)