Tuesday, May 31st, 2005, (7:00 pm)
I got my car back from the body shop on Friday complete with new roof, new seals, new wind-stop and newly repainted trunk. If you recall, someone slashed the roof of the car and stole some stuff the other week. They stole my wallet and four cans of beer which I will admit was a very stupid thing to leave there on the passenger seat. My excuse was simple, I was only popping into my apartment for a second, but alas, as it turned out I took a second too long.
The thief tore three great big holes in the roof and scratched the trunk of the car, damage that was most definitely an insurance job. In the end the complete bill (paid for by my insurance) was ¬£1891, in American dollars that’s a staggering $3,448.05!!
In the end though it was a bit of a stroke of luck. The old roof was a little on the leaky side and aside the little repairing I could do, there really wasn’t any way it could be fixed and I wasn’t about to stump up the cash for a whole new roof. However, the new roof now means that the leak is fixed, the rubber seals around the windows are also replaced and we snuk in a couple of other goodies too, including a rear wind stop. This alone has changed the car because now the air doesn’t rush back into the car from behind. So for folks with long hair who might be in the passenger seat their hair doesn’t get messed up and on the chilly nights the car stays toasty warm inside with the heater on.
Can you tell that I’m pleased? The bonus with having it back on Friday was that I had it for the holiday weekend and on Sunday Posh and I drove over the border into Wales in it. We ended up driving around the beautiful twisty country lanes of North Wales, roads that I’m sure were more used to seeing tractors and horses rather than cars.
North Wales has some of the most beautifully forgotten places I know. Castles are commonplace, strewn like abandoned toys upon the faces of hillsides brushed in the oils paints of history. Many are ruins, protected by laws and societies and the fact that most are simply unaware of there existence. Standing in the ruins of an almost inconceivable past I sometimes wonder what these hills would have looked like in the days when these ruins were yet to succumb to the cruelty of time.
Other castles have been restored, some into museums, some into homes. Above is a Castle that overlooks Ruthin. It’s more likely an old fort or perhaps a Victorian folly. Folley’s are so common that amazingly they are not protected buildings. There are many across North Wales that are crumbling because, despite being Victorian, they are actually too ‘new’ to be considered historically important enough to spend money protecting or restoring. As a young boy I used to dream of living within the walls of a castle. I actually came pretty close once.
One of the best things about this time of year in England is the late sunsets. We drove all over the show and only at 7pm when we were deep in the Snowdonia Mountain range, did we decide to head for the coast to watch the sunset. We had time though because sunset wasn’t going to happen till nearly 10pm! (Flipside being 3pm sunsets in the winter.)
On the way we stopped to take some pictures of an old forgotten grave yard beside the sea. The final resting place for old local fishermen and people who once enjoyed the view. We read some of the graves that told us nothing much more the the barest information of the people at rest there. Beloved son, beloved father, beloved wife, beloved daughter. Even the newest graves were old.
Then we headed to a favorite shoreline of mine, one which seems to always be deserted despite it’s vast alluring sandy beaches. It was an awesome sunset too. The best of the weekend as it turned out. Really beautiful stuff. I took loads of pictures as you might expect, but mostly we just stood there watching the sun dip behind the foothills of Snowdonia, entranced and loving life.
Friday, May 27th, 2005, (1:18 am)
WHAT A NIGHT!
I joined three quarters of a million people who turned out to see Liverpool football club bring home the Champions League trophy after the teams sensational comeback to win Wednesday nights heart-stopping match.
The victorious team rode in an open top bus parading the cup to the waiting crowds, many of whom had traveled all day to see the team parade. The parade started near the clubs home just outside the city at 6:30pm. It was supposed to end in the city centre at 8:30pm but didn’t actually reach the final destination of St George’s Hall until almost ten o’clock, however this did not dampen the spirits of the 300,000 strong crowd around St George’s Hall, of whom I was one.
There was a carnival like atmosphere across the entire city as the streets began to fill with fans wearing the clubs red colors and waving flags. By half past seven the streets around St George’s hall were completely closed and covered in people making up a staggering red sea that would only part for one thing, the players open top bus!
The noise was just incredible as the huge crowd sang and cheered when the team eventually arrived in the city centre. Fireworks along with red and white ticker tape shot into the air adding to the party atmosphere which carried on well into the early hours of the night.
My friend Emmett and I decided to drive around the city streets in precession with the hundreds of other cars that were slowly driving through the city sounding their horns and waving at the crowds who seemed reluctant to want to go home on such a night.
The first picture shows the vast crowd gathered outside North Western Hall on what would usually be a busy city intersection spanning several lanes.
The second picture is a shot of Emmett and I in the reflection of an inflatable cup.
The third shows the team arriving to a rapturous reception at St George’s Hall in the open top bus.
The picture below wasn’t taken by me, but it shows just a tiny selection of the crowd at St Georges hall in the city centre. This was where the parade ended and where I took the videos that I have linked to below.
At the risk of boring you all to tears with this, I had a friend encode the video clips I filmed into a Windows Media format which I hope you’ll be able to view okay.
The equalizer goal is scored by Liverpool
One of 300,000 people in the city centre as the team return ‘home’
A continuation of the above video clip.
Revelling Reds finish city parade
Victory tour seen by a million
Liverpool FC official site
Wednesday, May 25th, 2005, (10:59 pm)
As good as beaten at half time. Three goals down and not a goal for Liverpool, the fans feeling almost defeated. I was working at the club and the atmosphere was so low that I contemplated going home but I decided to stay.
Fourteen minutes into the second half Liverpool have scored three goals and equalized! The atmosphere at the club, in the town, and probably in the entire Merseyside region, was electric!! (For you Americans, Liverpool is effectively the ‘capital’ of the Merseyside region.) Not a car was on the road, EVERYONE it seemed was watching the match.
Eventually the team win after extra time and a penalty shoot out. The most amazing and unheard of comeback in Champions League football. It was amazing – and I’m not even a fan! :)
I have to go into the city tomorrow afternoon for a meeting. They’re going to parade the cup through the city, I’ll see if we can get out of the meeting early enough to watch the team parade the cup through the city which will be a sea of red. The atmosphere in the city will be amazing I’m quite sure of that.
Liverpool score!! (as I saw it in the club) Movie (Quicktime 7 required)
BBC : Liverpool win stunning game
Liverpool fans in ecstasy
Pictures from the match
Pictures from the night @ the club I work in
General and Photography
Wednesday, May 25th, 2005, (11:50 am)
I’m usually inspired to write when I’m on trains and planes and I’ve written some of my favorite ‘meanwhile’s‘ in exactly those situations. It becomes a little harder when you’re driving to feel inspired but as I drove back home from the south of England the other night that’s exactly how I felt… inspired.
I waved goodbye to my Mom and Dad who live in a 14th century village in Essex. The houses lean over the narrow main street that leads to the village church that still has a place to leave a horse, should that be your chosen mode of transport to church. As usual they stand at the foot of their drive way and wave until I turn the corner. I give one last wave out of the window before turning, a full arm stretched wave. I quickly scan the rear view mirror and see them doing the same, then they’re gone from view.
I have a long drive ahead of me as I chase the setting sun toward the horizon in a race I can’t possibly win. The roads are clear and quiet, what few cars there are speed along, the drivers right foot pressed firmly on the accelerator charging through their tunnel vision in a hurry to get from A to B. They pay little attention to the surrounding fields or rape and corn that stretch for miles and look like a patchwork quilt when seen from the air.
I’m not speeding, I feel no urgency to get home. I’m gliding along, letting those in a hurry rush past me like water rushing over a rock in a stream that has no plans to move along with the flow of its surroundings. This road cuts its way westward through the sprawling English countryside, carrying cars like blood-cells to and from arteries. But tonight for some reason, despite being the driver I feel more like a passenger, not in this car, but in this greater journey for which no map can prepare you for the roads ahead. It’s a strange an almost lonely feeling, but oddly one that I enjoy.
A small dark cloud moves in-front of the sun and the sky fills with the trails of sunbeams striking lines outward from behind the cloud. In a sudden and unplanned move I turn off the main road and into a small lane where I stop my car. This is the last sunset I’ll see today so I’m going to take the time to witness it. Leaving my car behind with the drivers door still open such was the haste of this momentary change of course, I clamber through a field waist deep in a bright yellow sea of flowering rape. And then I stand there and look across at the setting sun. Watching it slowly make its way to faraway places like a ship on the horizon, fading away like ripples on a pond, and feeling like I could be the last person on the face of the planet, like I was being granted a glimpse of the heavens.
A while later and back behind the wheel, clouds congregate in a darkening sky, gathering in number like delegates for a meteorological event. The dull rhythmic sound of my windshield wipers sweeping unexpected rain from the view ahead tries to cast me into that near hypnotised state that can so often entrance a driver. I lean forward in my seat and look out at the sky marvelling at how rapidly the weather has changed it’s mind about this evening. But as I sit back in my seat and ready myself for a long and boring drive homeward through the rain, it stops, just as quickly as it started.
As the clouds begin to slowly go their separate ways nature decides to return color to this evening with one of its favorite crowd pleasing gestures, a rainbow. Its arc spectacularly crowns the landscape like a monument to all creation, or a magical bridge to a place so breathtaking that if it were possible for a person to go there they would surely never return. But like many of natures most delicately beautiful creations its ephemeral existence leaves me, and others on this road, little time to admire it.
I continue my journey under a blanket of dark blue clouds above which stars are taking their positions for the night ahead like musicians taking their place in a vast orchestra about to give another well rehearsed concert performance. Headlights appear in the distance then slowly pass me on the other side of the road. I’m playing some mellow music on the stereo which is backed with the familiar sounds of cars swooshing past from time to time. The trace of day gently fades with each passing mile and the sky becomes a deep shade of blue.
There’s still a long way to go on this journey.
Sunday, May 22nd, 2005, (9:50 am)
Wow! I didn’t take either one of these pictures. We don’t get clouds like this in England. See more by clicking here and here.
Friday, May 20th, 2005, (5:51 pm)
WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
The other day I was reading the blog of a guy in Texas who was telling the tale about how he and a friend had confronted and detained a young man who had broken into one of their cars while he was spaced out on some kind of drug. After an hour the Police had still not arrived and so they decided to release the young man into the custody of his parents who they had also called. When the Police did eventually arrive the officer commented that the incident highlighted why it would be prudent for all people in Texas (and presumably other states too) to own and carry a firearm.
Such a story baffles me as an Englishman, living as I do in a country where hand guns are flat out illegal and rifle ownership is massively controlled. People in the UK don’t have guns, and the kind of incident described in that blog are not uncommon here too. Criminals in the UK rarely have guns too, and with the exception of specially trained and deployed officers, the Police here in the UK do not carry guns either.
Of course many Americans will rattle on about the fact that ‘the right to bear arms’ is their right under the constitution of the United States, and that can’t possibly be changed. But wasn’t it also their right to keep slaves at one time too?
One person commented on the blog that “Americans’ right to bear arms is what keeps our government in check. It’s not necessarily to protect us from modern criminals, but from the government (i.e. formerly the British) taking our land, possessions, violating our rights, etc.. it’s really what keeps America’s system in check… at least at the moment.”
While that argument does indeed have a factual historical truth to it, is it really a solid basis for the defense of gun ownership in the face of a shockingly high body count as a result of gun related homicides each and every year? And further…. [Click here to continue reading this article at ‘Meanwhile’]
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