Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Another Year Down, part 1

Blimey. This years gone by FAST. My last blog entry was in January. I’ve now been in Hove a year and have realised that I’ve not updated at all. The last 12 months have seen me winding down my “professional bum” lifestyle as I gradually work through the last of my available house money. I’ve yet to find a full time job, but things are still ok contracting with L&G. Looking back over the last 12 months, its good to see I’ve still been making the most of my part time status (even if most of my spare time still involved drinking, music and holidays!).

London Tattoo Convention Sept 2012
me, getting tattooed by Mary
So I moved into the flat in Hove, was there three days, then went up to London for five days, staying at the Double Tree Hilton (mega posh!) in Tower Bridge and working at the London Tattoo Convention with my friends Mary Joy Scott and Doug Hardy (from Tattoo City in San Francisco). The guys had asked me to be their booth helper for the weekend, and I jumped at the chance – mainly because I love spending time with these guys and because I’ve always wanted to experience a convention from the other side of the booth for a change. Was a brilliant 5 days. The convention was mental – it was insane the moment the doors opened on the Friday till close on Sunday eve. I got a 6 hour tattooing on my right calf from Mary (where I had to balance myself on a table in a corridor so everyone could gawp at us), and met up with some very cool people – the main one being Uncle Allan from Berlin (more on that later).
Either side of the convention was spent with Mary, showing her around London – Friday we ended up at the Family Business pre-Convention party in Exmouth Market at Café Kick. Great little bar, that played great 60s music – and was absolutely packed with tattooists from all over the world. Was a bit mind blowing, and was quite hard to deal with at first.

Monday we went to the British Museum to see the mummy cats, did a bit of shopping in the west end, and took Mary for a bangers and mash at a typical London pub. Then she tattooed my armpit back at the hotel. This was such a great weekend, and was so great getting to hang out with Mary and Doug outside of San Francisco. I really wanted to do the following year after this (again, more later).

Amsterdam Nov 2012

Went to Amsterdam for my birthday, and got to hang out with another couple of friends who were also celebrating
thanks Guen!
their birthday while they were there. it was totally random that they were in the same city at the same time, and we had a blast - and a particularly boozy blast at that! Main reason for going - i got tattooed by Guen Douglas at Salon Serpent on Walk-In Saturday. Was such a great session, and since then Guen has tattooed me a further three times, shes so awesome. I also managed to get to the Maritime Museum this time - such a brilliant place, definately check it out if you are in Amsterdam.

ATP Dec 2012

Managed to get a group of us to attend the Shellac curated ATP at Camber Sands. Wow Pontins is a total hole – was nowhere near as awesome as the old Minehead venue! We still had a great time though – highlights included Shellac twice, Future Of The Left, The Ex, Uzeda, and The Membranes. The place ran out of beer on the Saturday evening. It took us a whole day to heat up the chalet. Tonio cooked us a nice meal one afternoon. Ian and Phil kept hiding my bedding, and we went on the beach every day (luckily it was sunny). Saturday morning, we followed my iphone googlemaps to go check out Camber Castle – and ended up in a nasty little working-mens type pub called The Camber Castle. It was such a great time, we are going again this year.

Australia Jan 2013
We’d had no summer in 2012, and I’d basically spent the latter half of 2012 living in a country that was wet, cold, dark and gloomy most of the time. By the time we hit December, it was getting positively arctic. My projects at work had run down for the time being and I wasn’t needed back until the end of Feb – so I decided I’d go to Australia for a month, revisiting Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. My decision had nothing to do with the fact that the Bouncing Souls were playing with the Descendents in Perth! I was actually really lucky with music while I was there – Big Day Out was happening, so every city had a bunch of side gigs happening either side of the festival, so I managed to catch OFF twice (in Sydney and Melbourne), Sleigh Bells in Sydney, A Place To Bury Strangers,Against Me and Iron Lung in Melbourne, and Thee Oh Sees, Bouncing Souls and Descendents in Perth.
Got the trip booked by a very helpful lady at the Flight Centre, and was off on Jan 14th. Day I left, it started snowing. After a very stress-free 22 hour flight, I arrived in Sydney in the middle of a heatwave, the temp not being below 35 degrees every day. One day it reached 45 degrees – I thought I’d gone mad.
As you would expect it was a brilliant holiday. Sydney is still my favourite place, and had a great time hanging out on Manly Beach, nosing around Kings Cross, checking out all the local pubs – and local craft beers -  at The Rocks and generally enjoying being somewhere that was hot and sunny ALL THE TIME. I was glad I got to come back as it had taken me a few days to get my bearings last time I came. I stayed in the same hotel so knew exactly where I was this time, and didn’t have the hassle of trying to work out where everything was. The day I arrived, I checked in the hotel at 9.30am and was in my fave pub by 11!
By Sydneys standards, Melbourne was a little disappointing. It started well with the hotel I’d picked trying to fob me off with one of their old cheaper unfurbished rooms (I’d paid for one of their groovy rooms in the prison-like side of the hotel), but they soon sorted it out. Then I realised I was staying at the cr py end of the city – there was nothing where I was apart from a nice little deli/café. Every day I had a good walk into town – which gave me some exercise I guess! However, the hotel was right by a tram stop and the main station – so getting elsewhere in the surrounding area was easy, especially when I was heading to the gigs I’d booked at the Corner Hotel (and awesome little venue with a fab rrooftop bar - i even won a pub quiz here one night!). I got quite used to using the trams in the end!
Beer Deluxe!
I also found Melbourne very expensive, and I’d seriously underbudgeted. But there wasn’t much I could do – I like a beer and I like eating out. A basic night out in a pub with a pizza was gonna cost around $50-$60. One night the cinema cost me $30!!!
Luckily I had some friends around – Cara and Greg are old mates from London who met me the day I arrived and showed me around. I met up with them a couple of times over the 8 days I was here and had a great time with them. My other friends Martine and Mark (who I was staying with in Perth) also appeared one day, and had a great time hanging out with them, taking great pleasure in taking them to some of the pubs I’d found during my stay.
Melbourne certainly is a beautiful place, but I did find it a bit overrated. It didn’t have much more to offer than London or Brighton (or San Francisco for that matter) – but the weather was great throughout, everyone was friendly, and I loved walking along the river every day and hanging out in the botanical gardens. I went to St Kilda one day, thinking I’d get a day on the beach, but it was as windy as hell. Ended up getting a burnt face/head instead. I also did a day trip into the bush to see wild koalas/kangaroos/emus with the fantastic Echidna Walkabout people, which was pretty awesome.
All in all, it was a great 8 days, but in hindsight, I kinda wished I’d stayed in Sydney an extra day instead, especially as I hadn’t made any arrangements in Melbourne to get out of the city proper at any point. Also being a sports retard, I had no clue the tennis was happening while I was there. I was absolutely gutted I hadn’t realised (I fell in the Open was on the last day I was there), as that would have been a fab thing to have gone to see.
Final thing – I found a fantastic bar called Beer Deluxe in the middle of the city that did ace craft beers, and sold Murrays Angry Man Pale Ale that I’d had in Syndey. I went here every day, and got to know the barstaff quite well!
Next stop was Perth, slap bang in the middle of their hottest weather they’d had this summer. The weather was incredible, and was happy to be seeing my friends from back home again. First week I stayed with Ray and Shirley again in Rockingham (see last years travel blog) and generally chilled out by the beach, the second week I stayed at Martine and Marks (who had moved since last time to just outside Perth), and the final weekend I stayed in a nice little hotel in the middle of Perth city centre. Didn’t really do anything different than the last time I was here. Hung out in the pool at Martines friends house, drank loads, had a couple of BBQs, went to Kings Park, did a Swan River trip. Managed to get to the Lucky Shag again a couple of times, which is a favourite spot of mine in the city by the river.
me, Kelly, Bon Scott
Also managed to see Kelly and Alex again for a couple of days out. Went to Fremantle again, had an afternoon in the Sail and Anchor (another fave bar), then saw Thee Oh Sees at The Bakery in Perth, on one of the hottest days I experienced out there. They also took me to a wicked Mexican in Northbridge, and had another evening out in Mount Lawley where they live. Was great to catch up with these guys again.
Couple of highlights – Martine took me to City Beach and Point Walter. City Beach was totally empty, the sea was like a warm bath, and had the added bonus of a bar on the beach, Clancys, which was incredible. Amazing beers and wicked food! Point Walter is a small reserve with a huge sandbar that reaches out into the Swan River and I’ve always wanted to walk along it whenever I took a Swan River boat trip. So I finally got to do that on this trip. I’m obviously pretty simple, cos standing up to my knees in water in the middle of the river, being harassed by black swans, was one of the most hysterical things I’ve done.

 Final weekend here was a total scorcher. I stayed in a nice hotel on Murray
in the middle of the Swan River
Street, which was handily right next to the James Squires pub and the venue I was seeing the Souls at on the last night of my holiday.
The Souls gig was a blast – Kate (Souls manager) put me on the guest list and I managed to watch the band from the side of the stage, and hang out backstage before and after with Mike, Pete and Bryan. Mike knew I was gonna be there cos he’d been following my travels on Instagram, so it was a blast to finally catch up with them. They played a blinder as usual – and was cool to see them do a different varied set for the Australian crowd, geared to them as they obviously haven’t played in Aus for a while.
However, after the Souls, The Descendents were a bit of a let down (again). I’m not denying it wasn’t great seeing them, and they do have a completely brilliant set of songs. That set list is incredible. However, they couldn’t quite get out of second gear, and yet again Milo had problems with his voice. He lasted until the encore, when he was replaced by the dude from Bodyjar (the support band).
I’d had a great two weeks in Perth catching up with everyone, but it was time for the final stop – Singapore! One of my favourite places, and I was so excited to be going back, even though it was only for two days. I stayed at the same hotel as last time (Park Regis on Merchant Road, right by Clarke Quay), and was ecstatic when I saw my groovy hotel room again! I only had two days, and had decided to take it easy while I was here – basically, I wanted to make use of the lovely hotel pool and also get a new lens from my Canon. So again I spent two mornings in the Funilife Digital Mall checking out lenses, and ended up with an awesome Tamron lens. Weather wasn’t the best - it chucked it down every morning till lunchtime (it was wet but still hot), but it didn’t put a damper (ahem) on the stay at all. Managed to take a Bumboat ride along the river to see the Merlion statue, and hung out at Boat Quay a couple of times, a cheaper food/bar area 20 mins down the river from Clarke Quay.
Clarke Quay was as busy as always. Managed to get a Hooters on the last day (the only one of the holiday!), and get recognised by the barman in Sque, a bar on the river I frequented last year. Final night I checked out the Blues Bar in Clarke Quay, the only “scummy” hang out there. The beers were slightly cheaper, and as much as I hate Blues, the band were great. My final day, I had to go to Chinatown, mainly to see Erich and his Wuerstelstand and get a giant sausage. He was on holiday – so I settled for a gigantic litre of Tiger beer - that cost me £3 - and sat in the sunshine getting slowly sozzled.
I love Singapore – I love how reserved it is, how you never see any tattooed or alternative people (there must be some here, right?), and how I don’t feel particularly short! I was actually really gutted to leave (whereas I was quite excited to leave Aus and come here), and was thoroughly miserable when I got on the plane!
I’m so glad I managed to do this holiday – it was very short notice and I didn’t expect I was going to manage another long trip away. It was amazing to be in sunshine for a month, in the company of some great beers, great mates, and some brilliant live music. I was gutted to get home – and have another 3 months of cold, rain and darkness until June!!

1 comment:

Ian said...

Reading this I just wanna go on holiday again! :P
I really need to check out Singapore some time!