this old church

it's not the best name, but the new blog has been started:
this old church


like on the A-Team?

no, that was just plain old face. this is facebook, some new-fangled contraption the kids are on about today. for what it's worth, i've joined the revolution as well.

and now that i'm up in powell river, i will have to start a new blog. i'm going to try to work on that this weekend.


i'm baaaack!

bowing to pressure, i am writing a new entry. apparently people are tired of me constantly returning from malta. as i think everyone knows by now, i am back home in vancouver, the result of a carefully-planned surprise attack. since i told no one of my impending return, i booked a couple of nights at the ramada hotel which also conveniently houses my favorite bar, the morrissey. i am still 'of no fixed address' but will be heading up to my brother's church in powell river on monday from whence i will write further.


t+342: malta

have just returned from a fascinating week in malta. i had been thinking of croatia but couldn't really find any cheap deals. i went into a travel agent who told me that the cheap deals to croatia haven't quite started yet, but how about malta? smack dab in the middle of the med, temples older than the pyramids, a 3 hour flight direct from amsterdam and only 500 euros for a week including air, hotel & breakfast. how about malta indeed!!

arrived mid-afternoon and experienced my first bout of HMHGS: High Maintenance Hotel Guest Syndrome. unbelievable i know but like most unbelievable things, completely true. i insisted on viewing 3 rooms before (rather predictably, i thought) settling on the original. by this time, it was late afternoon-ish so i tootled around the town of bugibba which is your pretty standard resort area (aka tourist ghetto), yet pleasant enough. and i was staying a 4* mercure hotel which would lead me to expect a fairly high standard. however, the bar decorations of banana tops made into dolphin heads leaping out of a pools of blue curacao and joyfully holding maraschino cherries in their mouths might lead one to suspect differently. and let's not mention the live 'entertainment' this evening. suffice to say, he's no paul weller. he's more on the lines of a shabby nearly neil, although it must be admitted that he has the most majestic comb-over i've ever seen. but, i shouldn't be too hard on the place. it is a family holiday type of place. in fact, vaguely neil has given way now to the children who are doing the 'hands up' dance. not so long ago, it would have been a gaggle of 20-something females circled around their handbags doing the same thing. only very, very drunk. this version is infinitely superior.

first day of the vacation was warm but a bit cloudy so took the opportunity to head inland to the medieval walled city and former capital of mdina. also known as the 'silent city' owing to the fact that cars are forbidden within the walls, it definitely lived up to its nickname. even though there were several cruise ship groups trolling through the streets, it was still easy to find quiet avenues and keep away from them. the cathedral is very impressive as well. and the maltese are no slouches when it comes to religion and churches. the island where st. paul the apostle was shipwrecked has a population of only 400,000 people and encompasses an area just over 300 square metres, yet it is possible to go to a different church every day of the year. of course, some of them are only open one day a year so choose wisely.

malta is actually a group of 5 islands so i hopped a ferry to the second largest, gozo. this is reportedly where the locals go on vacation and, although much smaller than the main island of malta, also manages supplies most of the fresh produce. not much to do here but loaf and enjoy the scenery. sign me up! took the local transport to the coast and the azure window. not much else to report except more 'went here, did that, saw this' type of stuff. best just to look at the pix which i'll be posting to an album later today, along with barcelona.


t+333: newsflash! scientists perfect bacon butty!!

the good ol' bbc news service, always bringing us the stories that matter. and let's not forget those inquisitive young minds at leeds university, striving to make the world a better place.



t+316-324: barcelona & manchester

NOTE: it's a loooong entry today. many apologies for any abject boredom that may ensue.

first stop: barcelona

got into barcelona fairly late in the evening saturday so saskia and i had a fairly early night of it and jumped on a metro to the ramblas mid-morning sunday. waaaaay too many people, but there was starbucks, much to saskia's delight. after a caffeine respite, we got off the overcrowded ramblas and into the narrow alleys of the barri gotic where we managed to catch the tail end of a parade with the craziest giant puppet figures. not sure why it was but there it was.

after some sandwiches at a fairly cool cafe, we headed up to parc guell, designed by antoni gaudi and filled with the most incredible art and architecture. and at least one naked guy lurking among the agaves. yes, that is correct. full frontal. quite a strange occurrence. saskia and i had hiked through the park and climed to the top of this lookout area partaking of the view over the city when we saw some movement in the bushes. as we looked closer, this man stood up and revealed himself in the most revealing manner. a little disturbing and as there were quite a few people up there, including families, i was a little surprised that some outraged spanish papa hadn't thrashed the chap yet. but maybe he had just got there. we didn't linger too long and as we hiked down, were asked by another woman if there was anything to see at the top. 'why yes!' said saskia, 'there is a naked man lurking in the agaves!' she and her teenaged daughter seemed very intrigued by this and her husband did offer to stay behind with their young son if they wished to go up. i'm not sure if they did.

then, we hit la pedrera, an apartment building designed by gaudi. the queue to get in was fairly substantial but we really didn't have to wait too long. a truly incredible building, inside and out. the attention to detail is truly incredible. it was originally designed as an apartment block for the mila family and although there are thousands of visitors, it appears that at least some of the apartments may still be inhabited, either by individuals or businesses, i'm not sure which.

dinner had to be tapas, of course. found a great little place and swallowed the yummy vittles down with great lashings of tasty red wine. happily though, the only one suffering the next day was the sink. ask saskia.

decided to try out the very cool camper hotel for coffee monday morning but were thwarted by the elitist swine who apparently only open their hotel to paying guests. we were highly offended by this outlandish snobbery but managed to find a suitable caffeine dispensary in a nearby square. undeterred by this height of pomposity, we still deigned to shop at the camper shoe store near the pedrera. as luck would have it, saskia and i bought the same shoes. good thing i'm leaving for canada soon!

by this time, we were fairly famished and made our way for some more tapas. at least, we thought that it must be tapas from the incredibly tiny prices and were very surprised when we saw the sizes of the portions that arrived at our table. we rolled out of there uncomfortably full and i had the vague idea that a revival of the roman vomitorium might well be a viable business opportunity. no dinner for us that night!

tuesday, our final day in barcelona and saskia's birthday (see pic). weather was a bit naff (apparently, it always rains on her birthday) so we took the opportunity to hit museums and la sagrada familia, gaudi's crazy church. first stop was museu d'historia which is an excavation down to the roman ruins of barcelona. very, very cool. enroute, we stopped by the incredible palau de la musica and stopped in at a cool cheeese shop run by, oddly enough, a scottish woman. after museu d'historia, we were lured into a cool clothing store, run by yet another scottish woman, where we each bought the same dress. very, very good thing that i am leaving soon! by the time we had lunch and made it to la sagrada familia, it was really too late to go inside. we thought that it closed at 8pm but it closed at 6pm and as it was 5pm by this point, we wouldn't really have enough time for a decent visit so contented ourselves with the outside which, despite all the cranes, is extremely impressive.

next stop: manchester

headed to the airport and arrived amsterdam around midnight. saskia went home but i decided to stay at the airport as my flight to manchester was at 9am. i was unfortunately unable to stay in the post-security areas so spent a basically sleepless night by a coffee kiosk near the check-in desk. morning came at long last and i arrived manchester an hour late. sadly, the same could not be said of my luggage, which arrived not at all. and my cel was all but dead so i was not able to get hold of rich who was hopefully still waiting for me outside the gate. and, of course, his ciggies were in the suitcase. his feeling of unease would not have been alleviated when he heard his name paged over the intercom. anyway, made it to his place at long, long last, had a much-needed shower and fell into bed for a proper sleep. bliss!

headed into downtown manchester the following day and managed to get a shop to charge my phone for me (yay!) and also found the coolest leather jacket in the very cool affleck's palace, a rabbit warren of shops, for only 45 quid. and the airport called and my suitcase was being delivered to rich's office. things are looking up for the kid! it was refreshing to be able to communicate effectively with the locals and not feel as though i was forcing them to converse in a foreign language. i had, however, become very accustomed to tuning out surrounding conversations like so much white noise so it was strangely unnerving to be able understand everything being said around me. tmi! tmi!!! met up with rich for dinner and tried to go to vera duckworth's pub (corry reference) for a swift one but were instantly repelled by the appalling karaoke party occurring therein. retch.

friday was another grey manchester day, so a little more shopping ensued before i met rachele at the train station. we headed over to rich's mate george's house for some pre-concert libations. steven was supposed to come with us but was reportedly on his death bed, hence george's inclusion for the fourth ticket. we got to the gig to the strains of echo & the bunnymen so i ran in to have a gander while george queued for drinks. rich & rachele were on the floor but we had seats in the stands. it was a bit difficult to see properly from where i was stationed (gads! how i hate stadium shows!!) but as far as i could tell, ian mcculloch did manage to remember all the words to 'the cutter' which was not, i am told, the case when they played vancouver.

somehow, george spotted some people he knew on the floor and conspired to get their wristbands for us (good man, that george! thx again :) highlight of the show was probably when paul weller came on stage and sang 'a town called malice' with the charlatans. he is looking especially hot with his silver hair these days. let's not mention the tight leather jacket. my, my. *sigh* full review & pics

the following day, we rose late and headed to the pub for lunch and some dog hair. rachele and i had the giggles all afernoon, before we had even consumed any libation. yikes! i managed to shame steven into rising from his deathbed and come to the pub to see me. he even brought his girlfriend natalie with him (or rather, she brought him). rich hadn't even met her yet. apparently, she has already met the rest of the family but was (let's face it, understandably) reluctant to meet uncle rich. fortunately for rich, he paled mightily next to me and rachele on this sunny day. the soft cock! ;)

sunday, rich and rachele went to his parents' diamond anniversary celebration and i headed to the airport. there seemed to be hardly any queue for security so i indulged in a burger and some emails before heading through. i should have known. what i saw was only the tip of the iceberg and as i went through the doors about 30 minutes before departure time, i saw a queue that looked as if it could easily take 3 hours to get through. so, i barged into the fast lane and still had to run to get to the plane. luckily, i was not the last person to board as i had feared. it was a mercifully quick flight, i landed safely and, joy of joys, was reunited with my luggage in amsterdam.

since returning, i've puttered about utrecht. a little yoga. a little pilates. a couple of movies: music & lyrics [don't bother. see 'the wedding singer' again instead. although hugh grant does have some cute dance moves, it must be said.] and 'hot fuzz' [absolutely must see at least once!] and even my first dutch 'lock-down' at cafe belgie. i also went to a travel agent and have booked a vacation to malta.

happy easter everybody! :)


t+315: he's from barcelona

or rather, she's off to barcelona, home of manuel. who in reality is, of course, a german. but don't mention the war.

saskia & i depart tomorrow afternoon for a few days r&r in celebration of her birthday coming up on tuesday. we've got a cheap flight and a swank hotel and will be leaving greg holding the baggage in the form of the pups & the bakery until saskia returns on tuesday night. it will be good to get away as i must admit that i've fallen into a rather stagnant habit, not doing much other than generally hanging around and going to yoga.

after barcelona, i'm off right away to manchester to visit rich & steve and see the versus cancer charity concert on friday which should be a stellar night out, if i am any judge of lineups. and i flatter myself that i am. i rather suspect that there may be a little more blog fodder as well, as you, gentle reader, will be happy to hear.

however, i don't think there will be any updates until after i return as i will be handing the laptop in to have the dvd drive repaired and lord knows how long that might take. yikes!!