Oct 11

Love, Maps, Spotify, Headphones and Heartache

What an interesting week.

This week I learned several things.

  1. My wife buys me the best birthday presents in the world
  2. www.airbnb.co.uk is an amazing service
  3. Android has some things pretty well worked out
  4. London is quite pretty
  5. Swansea is not the arse end of the world

That’s a lot of things to learn in a single week.

Well, let’s unravel what went on.

Firstly, this week saw me stop booking my accommodation in London in the corporate hotel.

For 4 years I have been living in hotels and always within a few minutes’ walk of the office. There was a break for 18 months where I stayed in the company flat which was nice but then I lost my housemate to Boston and our offices moved from Kings Cross to Moorgate so we terminated the flat as it was too costly for only one tenant.

So the hotels have been fun but I am bored stiff. I never get to see London, I seldom see my friends, and no-one wants to come back to city centre after work so the place is a wasteland.

I was chatting about this with a friend at the office and he recommended using a service called airbnb.

I checked it out, people renting their spare rooms, whole flats and shared rooms for low rates but all over the place. Seemed like a chance to get out and about a little more so this week I stayed in my first airbnb booking just outside of Whitechapel (and yes, walking to the flat I went past a guided Jack the Ripper tour… Exciting stuff.

My flat was lovely and my accommodation cost me less than a single night at the hotel I usually stayed at, so the business is happy…

I had no idea how to get there… enter my Samsung Galaxy S3 and Google Maps…

I figured, no problem, I will just plug the address in and walk over there following Google Maps. Easy as pie!

I then thought a 30 minute walk cannot be done without banging tunes so I fired up Spotify, set the radio to start off of Electric Hellfire Club and donned the beautiful Bluetooth headphones Emma got me for my birthday, cranked the volume and set off.

About 200 yards into my journey, the music stopped and Google Maps told me to “Turn right on whatever street” and then Spotify carried on as if nothing had happened.


Maps talks to you while you have a headset connected!

So I kicked it up a notch and carried on walking all the way to the flat without once having to fiddle with my phone to look at maps, without having to look for new music, without having to do anything but look at the sights…

That was pretty awesome and exactly how the next 3 walks went – loved it.

Yesterday I left the office and headed home with a detour to Stonehouse near Gloucester to go and look at a second hand seven seater 4 miles out of Stonehouse.

The detour cost £51.50 and had me add several hours to my homeward journey.

I got to Stonehouse and discovered that there are no taxis at the station. In fact, the station is nothing more than a ramp.

So I drag my wheely bag and my sorry ass into town looking for a cab, walk up the high street and ask a few people and all I get is blank stares.

After 10 minutes of this I phone the dealership. They tell me there is a cab office near the post office so I head to it and lo and behold the fucking place is shut with a note saying “call this number if the office is locked. I call.

No answer.

I call again. No answer.

I call again, voicemail.

I leave a message “Help, I am standing outside your office and need a ride to Claypit – call me on blah blah blah”

I phone the dealership and tell them the cab is not there so the dealer tells me that when the people he is with leave he will come get me if the cab hasn’t pitched.

45 minutes later the cab driver phones me.

During this time I have established that there are no other cabbies operating in this little town.

The 3 cabs I did see drive past me that didn’t stop despite me waving my arms like atman learning he can’t actually fly. Turns out this is because they don’t “work” the area.

So the cabbie calls me and says she is 5 to 10 minutes away.

10 minutes later she arrives and as she is pulling up the dealership calls me to tell me that they have just sold the car to a couple that arrived 15 minutes ago.


That wasn’t my finest moment.

I then had to walk back to the station and wait for an hour and a half in the cold for the train to come and get me out of this little hick town.

Stonehouse, you can gern, gern fuck yerself.

So, instead of getting home with a nice new car, I am getting home several hours later with no car, no patience and a packet of “I can’t be dealing with a diet right now” M&M’s.

All in all it’s been a weird, wonderful and totally shite week all wrapped into one.


Jul 19

PhotoFriday – Mobile Phone Photo

Right, I take many pictures with my mobile phone so this seems like as good a week as any for me to embark on PhotoFriday.

Murder in the mist

Murder in the mist

I took this picture the other morning. We’d been having (and still are) such warm and sunny days here in Wales and then we had a morning where the entire estuary was invisible because of the heavy mist. The crows seemed a little bedraggled and after mucking about with SnapSeed I got a pretty awesome photo.

Jan 15

On the road home

barleyAs the sun set, the last dregs of the draught went pouring into Ged’s throat. With a smack of his lips and a loud belch he stood up and spun round addressing the general area, “Right then! I’d best be off!”

“Best be off what? Your head?”

Raucous laughter accompanied the jibes as they found their way into his head and he snarled a little before a broad smile spread across his weather beaten face and he dipped into a formal bow and spread his arms as he dipped

“I’d love to be off my head but alas, I have important things to do”

Peals of laughter sounded in response to his mock display of court charm and warm comments followed him as he made his way off the terrace and through the building towards the road.

“Sun’s going down Ged, don’t you want to wait for Anburt to leave so the two of you can share the road?”

The barman’s grim look said far more than his timid words.

“I’m not afraid of children’s tales, nor is it far to go to the farmstead and if I wait any longer I’ll have reason to be afraid when I get home. You know what Renda’s like!”

Ged loved walking at night, he found that he could walk for hours without thinking about the weariness that usually crept over him during the day and he loved to listen to the creatures of the night as they played out their drama’s in the theatre of the night.

He had promised Renda that he would be home before it got too dark. With the sun now fully set, he had only a short time left before her good humor would evaporate and he would find the sharp end of her tongue threatening to eviscerate him.

With a sigh of resignation he pulled his knapsack tighter onto his back and started a long loping stride that would surely get him home before Renda had reason to be unhappy with him.

As he was thinking about his time with Renda, their children and how amazingly single minded she could be, he heard an unfamiliar noise from the path ahead. A definite chink, the sound of metal on metal and his blood froze.

With all the recent talk of bandits on the road, he had held to the belief that they were in such a rural backwater that bandits would soon grow weary of putting themselves in harm’s way, only to be rewarded with the slim pickings available from the rustic folk of Shentzalayin.

He immediately stopped and listened harder, directing his attention to the darkness ahead.

With the sun only recently set, the moon waning and almost no clouds in the sky, his eyes had long ago adjusted to the lighting around and he could make out much of the scene ahead but could see nothing out of the ordinary.

As a precaution, he stepped off the road, moving into the scrub on the side of the road and heading deeper into the field adjacent to the road. Barley, a decent crop, young and green, silent.

He crouched close to the barley as he made his way quietly forward, hoping to get an idea of what he was afraid of, what he was hiding from.

His breath quickened and his senses became tighter, more focused, he hadn’t felt this alive since the last time he and Renda had… well since the last time they had had a few too many drinks.

The last effects of the beer he had had earlier was washed away in a flood of adrenaline and he remembered his days as a footman in the Duke’s army. The fear of dying, the sweat of a thousand men, the muttering of prayers and the ever constant presence of death had been his companion in those miserable months, how he longed for his rusty old blade now.

He lamented the fact that the little training in committing violence that he had had involved shouting and running straight at a wall of spears and hoping that he would live to see another day. He had, he supposed, and so he should remember that while he was no born warrior, he was also not someone who could easily be beaten down, after all, his hands were responsible for farming the land, for coaxing the oxen, for hauling the heavy barley sheaves. He was not a big man, but he was not the smallest man in town.

With his resolve set, he moved on a little faster and the distance to where he thought the sound had come from was quickly covered.

He could see nothing in the gloom ahead. He could see nothing on the road and for fear of stumbling into an ambusher on his side of the road he moved very slowly, very quietly towards the road again.

As he went he felt the sweat forming on his brow and felt the pull of his clothes as they stuck to his damp skin. He knew he would have to move swiftly if he came across someone, fast enough that the advantage of surprise would help sway things in his favor.

He quietly removed his knapsack and held it in one hand, ready to use it as a weapon, albeit a soft one, or something to catch his opponents off guard.

As he drew closer to the road he heard the sound of footfall on the path and he crouched down, his breathing labored but quiet.

As the footsteps came nearer he burst from the scrub, waving his knapsack like a heavy iron mace, shouting in a lordly voice “I command you to lay down your weapons and prostrate yourself before me!”

With a shriek, the man fell backwards to the ground and Ged leapt forward, looking for the weapon he knew he carried.

“Ged you fool! You scared the life out of me! What’s gotten into you?”

Anburt’s relief was clear in his voice, so too was his fear and his face, such as could be seen in the gloom, betrayed the anger at this unwanted surprise.

Laughing hysterically, Ged quickly told Anburt what had happened and helped his friend up. As the two men dusted themselves off, they both started when they heard the distinctive sound of a sword being drawn from its scabbard.

“Well that was a laugh, don’t think I have ever seen that happen before!”

The man holding the sword advanced on them menacingly as his three accomplices surrounded Ged and Anburt.

“Give us everything you’ve got then, and we’ll let you on your way”

As the bandits rode away, Ged and Anburt walked on towards their farmsteads, naked, cold, angry.

Ged knew that Renda would be angry that he had been robbed, but also that she would be grateful that he was unharmed.

He headed towards his home with a smile in his heart.

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