French people, Irish bars and fast cars

This time last week I was absolutely exhausted after my trip to the French GP and a long day travelling.  But let’s start right at the beginning.  On the Friday night we travelled over to St Malo on the ferry and that was a really nice crossing.  I discovered some very cheap wine in the duty free which I would proceed to consume over the next couple of nights.  Also the beer on the ferry was exceedingly cheap too so a couple of cans of Grolsch were most enjoyably sunk whilst chilling out catching some rays at the back of the ferry.

When I say rays sadly you’ll have to use your imagination – in fact i’ll have to use mine too since it was weeing down out there, but still nicer than sitting inside.

Got to St Malo fine and for some reason since the last time I was there a few years back they’ve now introduced this little coach that takes you over to the ferry terminal which is oooooh maybe 20 meters away.  I’m sure there’s a good reason for it but its beyond me right now.

On to the coach then for a 6 hour drive down to the town of Bourges in France, which itself was about 90 miles away from the circuit but obviously someone somewhere thought it was a great town to stay in.  Not sure why though since it’s about as sleepy a town as I’ve ever been to in France, but more about that in a bit.

Half way along the way we stopped at this motorway services in Le Mans.  Nothing enormously exciting about that, other than of course the connection to a certain 24 hour race but I don’t think this services was actually anywhere near the circuit.  But still stopping off in Le Mans is a nice detail to add to the story.

We arrived in Bourges at about 6pm in the end, although 10 mins later we seemed to arrive back where we started in the town, around by this funfair that had been set up.  The natives were getting restless by this stage and one of the more drunk members of the group (who had found what must have been the only can of lager in the service station – and proceeded to be late back to the coach drinking it) asked the courier how long it would be to get to the hotel because he was tired – ahhh bless.

She was apparently taking us for a sightseeing trip around the town.  Unfortunately, her cunning plan was rather foiled since I was sitting right behind her and being a reasonable French speaker I knew straight away both her and the driver hadn’t the faintest idea where the hotel was.  Another half hour of fumbling about followed and we eventually arrived about 7.  I wandered up to my room, had a shower then thought about wandering into town to see what was going on.

That was a mistake – apparently just about everyone in our group either stayed in the hotel bar until some pathetic early hour or just had a meal in their rooms.  Poor show I say.  I came down about 8-ish and had the idea that I’d wander into town find some cafe bar and sit down, maybe have a meal but certainly have lots to drink and maybe find some people to chat to.

It didn’t work.  Firstly the town of Bourges is actually tiny.  We were given these maps of the town and it didn’t take me long to discover than you could walk from one end to the other in about 15 minutes.  First shops you come to in the town is a kebab house on the left – gave that one a miss – then a stupidly named pizza delivery place on the right (Speedy Rabbit Pizza!) – let that one go too.  Then past the sex shop on the right and finally you can see a bar.

A rather less than traditional French pub that made a big fuss about selling Guiness and which still had last New Years Eve’s merchandise from Guiness on their walls.  Very odd really but was good enough to quickly get back my confidence speaking the local lingo and good enough for 3 pints of murky beer.  Then onto the next cafe bar – except none of them really appealed so I just wandered around for a bit, got familiar with the town layout and went back to the hotel.  Not to bed though, watched something on Eurosport for a bit then went down to the bar.  They had some magazines about the GP down there to read and of course there was much more to drink.  Went up to my room about 11 and soon realised I was a touch tipsy, but it was fine really.

Woke up next morning feeling good.  Then onto the coach the next day for an hour and a half coach ride down to the circuit.  Again the driver was lost arriving there or quite possibly the travel company hadn’t bothered to pay for a parking space.  Either way it was all a bit of a mix up, but we still arrived in time to catch the final practice session for the F1 cars.  Just in time in fact for a red flag brought out by some astroturf being pulled off by the circuit.  Then we watched the Porsches qualify and then a break during which Michael Schumacher took Zinedine Zidane around the circuit in what looked like a Ferrari Enzo.  Only trouble with that was that the commentator must have been so excited about it since he read those two names out about 40 times during a two lap ride.  Very strange.

F1 qualifying was quite an experience – the circuit is that much less crowded than during the GP itself so you can see the cars clearly and the noise they make is something you just don’t get a feel for on the telly.  It not so much the sheer volume but they just sound so much more real – stating the obvious I know but I’m not sure I can explain it better – the TV sound just seems very much like it could have been created by computer.

Then after qualifying they had the GP2 race or at least they should have done.  There was a stupid crash at the start but then a nastier one around the back of the lap, just out of where I could see it, although I was looking in the other direction at something that was going on further along the road.  You can see a video of the crash here.  In that clip if you go along to 31 seconds into it you see a Vodafone board – I was standing about 5 rows back in line with that – in case you’re curious.

Anyway, that resulted in a red flag and because the coach driver had to get home or something we couldn’t stay to see any of the race, which was a pain in the arse really.  That evening really involved much of the same as the night before but avoiding the “irish” bar.

The next day was of course race day and this time we arrived too late to see any of the second GP2 race, mainly because the driver parked in the same non-parking area and because we couldn’t use the same entrance as we did the day before we had to walk all the way round to the other side of the circuit to get in – not good at all.

We did see the Porsche race in pretty horrible rain but it was funny watching a lot of nasty handling cars with drivers making lots of mistakes.  It dried out for the GP and other than the noise thing already mentioned not much new happened.  It was so so much busier on the Sunday though – obviously all the French Renault and Ferrari fans only turned out on the Sunday but they were all there in fine voice and complete with air horns.  The atmosphere was absolutely electric even if the race wasn’t – apart from watching Alonso trying (and generally failing) to overtake people.

After the race we got to have a wander around the track itself and right now sitting in the lounge is a little souvenir – a little bit of rubber picked up off the track which will take pride of place until we forget what it is and chuck it out since it looks like some naff beaten up piece of rubbish – which quite frankly is exactly what it is.

And apart from a meal out on Sunday night with a bloke I watched the racing with that was about it.  Same trip back on Monday stopping off once again at Le Mans services and another nice boat trip back.  All good but very very tiring.

Would I do it again?  Maybe – the travel agency really did make a mess of the arrangements but I think I’d be tempted to make my own way down and camp at the circuit itself.

Well that’s the end of a very long blog and more than enough for any of you to read i think – next time I’ll tell you about our next little adventure off the island, planned for the end of the month.  Catch you soon


Some random stuff before I go to bed

A selection of thoughts that have crossed my mind today that I thought I’d blog about.

1. Watched the F1 Gp this weekend and was rather shocked by the Kubica crash.  Eerily familiar to a fatal one I saw five or six years ago which took the life of Greg Moore.  Robert was a lucky man

2. Been contemplating changing jobs but ultimately I do still enjoy what I’m doing.  I guess if I’ve gone so far to think about alternative jobs and I’m sticking with the same one it might just be right for me.

3. It’s only 2 and a half weeks until I head for France and the last GP to be held at Magny Cours.  And I can’t wait 🙂

4. One more thing about the Canadian GP at the weekend.  I thought ITV’s coverage was shocking.  The first British GP winner for ages and they can’t even be bothered to show the press conference just because it might leave Corrie fans waiting for 5 minutes.  Very poor effort

5. That’s all for now – time for bed. Bye bye

Can’t leave food anywhere

Still some brief mumbling from me before I get back to working for a change.  Most of our house move things seem to be falling into place although there is still one fairly large potential problem with the house we’re buying but at least our sale looks pretty much perfect now and I think that’s the most important one really (although I guess having somewhere to live after would be quite nice too!)

A pretty uneventful day really although I have seen the power that free food has over seemingly rational people.  I was in a meeting for about 10 minutes earlier and in that time someone brought a tray of unused sandwiches out of one of our meeting rooms, put them in a kitchen and the ravenous hordes then descended on the cheap lunch offer such that by the time I discovered that there was free food going there was one rather sad pathetic looking wrap left lying there which looked like either it had been driven over a couple of times or maybe someone had just poked it and licked it and put it back maybe.

Anyway, enough of my rambling as I’m sure you all have better stuff to be doing.  And I have free food to think about!! Bye

Some random music

Inspired by a survey I’ve just completed in my MySpace bulletins I thought I’d come here and do something I occasionally do and pick some random tunes from the collection on my PC and ramble on about them semi coherently.

1. “The Promise” – When In Rome – a fab tune I hadn’t heard in years and had long since forgotten about when I stumbled across it inadvertently while reading about the film “Napoleon Dynamite” which itself I only started reading about because I was so intrigued by its name.  A wonderful song which really doesn’t sound like it’s nearly 20 years old.  Kind of like a slightly more melodic New Order (speaking of whom very sad to hear they were splitting up again, but if it means more Electronic and Monaco or whatever Hooky is doing these days then it’ll be ok)

2. “Hide” – Matthew Sweet – a nice chilled out tune to fit with my mood.  Not sure if I’ve ever rambled on here about Matthew before but he’s a fab singer/songwriter in sort of a Neil Young type of mould – now normally that would put me off and to be fair some of Matthew’s output doesn’t exactly inspire but at his best he’s fab.  Top tune is “I’ve Been Waiting”.

3. “I wouldn’t wanna happen to you” – Embrace – not their finest moment ever in my view but still a good single from a great band.  The “Out of nothing” album should be an essential purchase for anyone’s CD collection.

4. “Catch” – Kosheen – one of my favourite singles of the early 2000s.  Personally, I have no idea why this wasn’t loads more successful in the charts than it was at the time, especially with the really cool video it had but hey it wasn’t and to be fair this is just about the best track they’ve produced in their 2 albums released to date.  New one out in June however and it’s just made its appearance in my Amazon wish list now.

5. “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” – Bon Jovi – I’m sure Paula will approve!  One of the more unlikely tracks I played on the first night I worked as a DJ in the Bistro Central, and got a suprisingly positive reaction (or was everyone hammered??).  I really quite like this song.  Just discovered that the video apparently contains a man in a dog suit……interesting…….

6. “Free to decide” – The Cranberries – oooh here’s a lovely song I haven’t heard in ages.  Just reading up a bit about the band has reminded me about “Linger” which is one of the sweetest pop tunes you will ever hear, which apparently in the Adam Sandler film “Click” – see the film but I don’t remember it.  Anyway, this one’s not up to that standard but still pretty good damn good.  Looking forward to buying lead singer Delores O’Riordan’s solo album in due course.

7. “The Hindu Times” – Oasis – a pretty good comeback to form by Oasis this was.  In fact the whole album was something of a revelation although in some ways I never thought the band had really gone away.  Alright “Standing on the shoulders of giants” wasn’t that good (and had a very pretentious title) but it did also have a great tune in “Sunday Morning Call” but that was about it.  Sure this tune isn’t the bands finest work, but it’s very listenable all the same.

8. “I’m With You” – Avril Ramona Lavigne Whibley (apparently!) – a beautiful tune for her amazing Let Go album.  One of the most re-playable albums of recent years for me.  It says here she was voted 7th most powerful Canadian in Hollywood although to my cynical mind that sounds a bit like winning 5th place in a chav beauty contest.  Not been quite so convinced about Avril more recent tunes but still very listenable all the same.

9. “Teardrop” – Massive Attack feat. Liz Fraser – I’m really not sure how to describe this tune.  Melodic trip hop is a phrase that comes to mind but that’s possibly a nice glass of red wine talking.  But check it out and in fact just go and buy the “Mezzanine” album because lots of it is great.

10.“Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Joy Division – it will always spook me out a little bit to think that this is probably one of the earliest pop / rock songs to make an impression on me somehow yet I was only 5 going on 6 at the time and it was being sung by a guy who had committed suicide a month earlier.  In fact, Friday will see the 27th anniversary of Ian Curtis’s death and the song title here appears on the poor guy’s headstone.  Anyway, this song is probably the oddest request I’ve had in the six months or so I’ve been DJing and I only wish I had it on me that night because it’s a great tune.

Oh well – that’s passed a pleasant 50 minutes or so reminiscing about music.  Must be showing my age or something.  Bye bye again

A short post for a funny week

Too busy chatting right now, but wanted to post something anyway.  With two bank holidays here this week it’s been a really odd week at work.  Still quite a depressing week though but only because i’d rather not be there and would be far happier getting on with sorting stuff out for our house move (next Friday!!).

I did marshall at the local hillclimb on Wednesday and the poor fools had me down as a fire marshal – for the first time ever.  It was very uneventful until someone came past in a racing car which proceeded to blow its engine all over the hill which meant lots of cleaning up for us marshals.  Found a random bit of metal which someone assured me was a conrod – although they could have told me it was a wildebeest for all I know about such engineering gubbins.

Anyway, it’s wayyyyy past my bedtime now (sort of) so I’m going to get back to the serious business of surfing. Bye bye munchkins

Bit of a catch up (again)

Been a while since I posted here so thought I’d better catch up with the latest thrilling news in my life.  However, I am doing two more important things namely having a nice chat and also watching the snooker so I might ramble on a bit or otherwise lose interest.  Something like Myspace turns talking to yourself into an art form so I’m sure no-one will be too disturbed by my mumbling.

So, what can I remember about working in the UK a couple of weeks ago.  Well firstly, I seemed to be enjoying leaving my leather jacket in random places.  I left it first of all at the second meeting I was at on the Wednesday but I realised before I got too far away so we shot back there and picked it up.  However, then I managed to leave it in our Glasgow office on Thursday.  Not a big deal really since it was an old manky jacket, but a bit more of a big deal when you realise I left my passport in it.  Fortunately, the airline I was with don’t insist on you having ID when you travel.   Lucky escape there really.

The meetings we were at on Wednesday were useful / informative (as appropriate) but very very tiring.  It was nice to drop into our London office just to say hi and have a look around.  Only trouble was I had every intention of having a bit of a window shop around Oxford Street that night and by the time it came down to it I was happy just to head for the nearest Garfunkels and have a nice (albeit lonely and therefore quiet – as the guy I travelled with stayed at the office as his hotel was around the corner whilst I was in the Gatwick Hilton – of which more later).

I can always make room for a Garfunkels meal so a nice plate of stuffed mushrooms and whatever main course I had (can’t remember) followed, but after that I just couldn’t find any enthusiasm to go shopping so I just went back to the airport and therefore the hotel.

By the time I got comfy there I felt more in the mood for mischief again.  Only trouble was it was by now 8pm or thereabouts – 15 hours after waking up (yuk!).  A few of the shops in the airport were shutting so I could just about have a wander round a record shop and a couple of clothes shops and that was about it.

So, after that there wasn’t much else to do other than sleep awaiting another 5am start the next morning.

Oh apart from drinking……

Well they had the Chelsea – Liverpool 1st leg game on so I watched that whilst enjoying a pint or 3 of cider.  Very nice actually and pretty chilled out and just what I needed after a long day.

After the game I wandered over to Burger King (as you do) and tucked into a Bacon Double Cheeseburger.  I miss not having a Burger King nearer where I live so that made a nice change.  Then I wandered back to the hotel and instead of being sensible and going to bed I decided to wander down to the hotel bar and have a drink there.  Except in the airport bar a pint cost £2.40 but in the hotel bar they were up to £3.70.  Duly ripped off I had one pint whilst watching an Alan Ball tribute programme and then finally sneaked off to bed about half 11-ish.

About 6 hours later I was up again and not long after was on my first of 3 plane journeys that day off to Glasgow.  That trip went well and without event – nice to travel to a city I’d never been to before, although I didn’t exactly see the sights.  The main shopping high street was much like any other in any other UK city, but it was a nice sunny day so it was good.  The training in Glasgow went very well too so it was all worthwhile.

The trip back was a touch more eventful – partly because of stressing about not having my passport – but mainly because of stupid signposting in Gatwick.  There was something like 50 minutes between the scheduled arrival time on my Glasgow-Gatwick flight to the departure of my London-Jersey flight – not long I thought.  So I wondered if going through the flight connections area would help at all. I’ve never done it before but on the plane they advise you to so I followed those signs.  “Flight Connections” signs were all around when get off the plane so I kept following them.  Then a sign came up which said “International Flight Connections” so I thought “ok that’s not me so there’ll be another room / sign up in a minute”

Except there wasn’t – not a sausage.  Nope I discovered rather too late that there appears to be no such thing as non-international flight connections in Gatwick airport so you don’t seem to have any option other than go back out into arrivals then across into departures and then queue up (again) to go through security, even though you’ve just been through security in another airport.  Stupid signposting and planning.  Although there appears to have once been such a thing since someone had (badly) covered up the old signs with black masking tape.  But no good to me on this occasion sadly.

Anyway, I made it through to departures with about 5 minutes to spare so all was ok in the end, although I was amused by having someone else on the Glasgow flight flying onto Jersey and they were much much more panicky than me about making the flight.  Enough to queue jump the departures line which I suppose could have annoyed me but I stayed chilled.

And that was about it for the trip really.  I think the two 5am starts wore me out for about a week afterwards but I’m just about over it now.

Since then we’ve got back into working flat out(ish) on getting ready for our house move in just 18 days time.  Can’t wait really.  But at the same time I think we need every day we’ve got to get ready so I’m not exactly wishing my life away.  Everything seems in place for it now so we just have to pack and arrange removal men and stuff like that.  Oh and electricity, gas, telephone, mail redirection etc etc etc.

I guess I shouldn’t be wasting time here posting but too bad I’m here anyway.  Haven’t actually been watching the snooker at all in the end..  Been either writing here or chatting.  Guess that means I can multi-task a little bit but not a lot!!  Or maybe my chat is too important.  Or maybe once I start ranting about Gatwick airport it’s hard to stop me.  I don’t know……

This week I’ll be marshalling at a hillclimb on Wednesday so I may have some interesting tales to tell when I’m back here but anyway, I’m going to clear off now and leave you all in peace.  Bye bye!

Monday again – bah!

Back to work again on a Monday.  Mondays really should be outlawed.  They’re really good for nothing other than introducing a week and I’m sure another weekend day would do that just as well.

Anyway, what have I been up to this weekend.  Well on Saturday I was really busy.  I was going to buy a nice looking laptop however the little label that was on the machine which said it was a fab whizzy quick laptop was somewhat less than honest so by the time the scabby box came out which happened to have a completely different specification to what it said in the shop I ran away as fast as I could.  But I suppose that’s saved a few hundred quid which can’t be bad.

In the afternoon I joined in the stag do in progress but since I was driving I stayed sober and just got to laugh at all the drunk people falling about.  Highlight has to have been watching a grown-up 30something bloke giggling like a girl saying “Make X get on the coach first so we can all pile on him”.  Oh dear…..just like being back at school again.  Very funny though!!

And as I think I mentioned last week I was back DJing again at the Bistro Rocque and it was probably my best night ever there.  The restaurant was pretty busy anyway but the floor was busy almost all night and everyone seemed to be having a great time.  Especially this drunk girl who insisted on showing me this troll key-ring thing she had and asking for a Pink Floyd track.  Still that was a great night and now I’m quite looking forward to being back there in a couple of weeks time.

Right – that’s more or less my lunch hour over with so I’m going to get back to the serious business of real work. Bye for now!